Online auctions – Trade Me Advice

We have been Trade Me members since November 2001.

During this time we have learnt by trial and error the best ways to present an auction, to pay for a purchase, to deal with postage and much more.

We have had the privilege of trading with wonderful people up and down this beautiful country also the profound privilege of trading with overseas buyers too.

Over the years we have used Trade Me as a Sales and Marketing tool for our business too. With products Trade Me can be an interesting a fun vechicle to reach customers. It is more difficult to auction services because there is no tangable item but an inventive marketing type could create something that could work for you.

I would like to outline just a few things we have learnt as part of the Trade Me community. 

12 Things we have learnt

FEEDBACK First and foremost..Always give feedback for every single trade. 
This is how the Trade Me community knows who to deal with and who to blacklist. This is how you will determine yourself who to trade with.

RULES Read the Trade Me rules and abide by them. 
You can’t do any trading if you break the rules. If you see some else breaking the rules use the Community Watch and report what you see. This is how the Website stays safe for the whole community. It is everybody’s responsibility to look after the running of Trade Me.

USE THE HELP information that is provided on the Website, as a phone call to Trade Me will cost $1.99/minute + GST. 
Don’t waste your money asking questions that are already answered for you. The Help feature even has a calculator to work out the Success Fees which stays open even if you close out of Trade is excellent.

PAYMENTS The best way to pay and receive payment for an item is on-line banking. 
If you don’t already have internet banking arrange it, it will save you a lot of time, money and hassle. Fantastic not just for Trade Me too. For international trading the best payment method we have found is Paypal..I am not keen to except Credit Cards from Overseas buyers but using Paypal they handle all of the exchange and banking for you. Very worth it and very easy.

POSTAGE When listing an auction always have the buyer pay for postage and packaging.. 
You are not a charity and you can’t guarantee the final selling price.This caught us out a goodie when we listed one of our first auctions for $1 and it sold for $1…the catch was .it was a printer and had been sold out of town.

PACKAGING When packaging goods that you have sold always pack them like they are going to be thrown out of a plane to their destination. Neither a courier company nor NZ Post are 100% infallible but don’t let this stop you. Know what insurance your postal company provides so you can take advantage of it if required. A pair of scales can come in handy for weighing parcels that go by NZ Post. The NZ Post has a weight, price, destination calculator. Use it so you can get the right money for the postage and do not forget to add at least $1.50 to cover the packaging. Some sellers add more, it depends on what the item is. If you think the postage and packaging is unreasonable, say so but consider the costs first.

AUCTION LENGTH I tend to stick with the 7 day auction offered for free. 
It gives a good amount of time for many different buyers to find and bid on your auction. Use the other date options if you are going away and need a sooner finishing date. Don’t list an auction and then go away on holiday when it is about to close. This will get you bad feedback as a buyer wants contact within the first couple of days of winning. The same goes for buying..don’t bid on something that you are not able to complete the transaction the Trade Me rules.

START PRICE Start your auction near the price that you want for it. 
I have found the most effective auction is one where the start price and the reserve price are the same. It also means that the first bid is a buying bid and you will not lose the sale because the reserve price has not been met. With Trade Me there maybe only one or two collectors for your item so if you start your price too low it will not go any further unless there is more than one interested party.

BUYER QUESTIONS As a buyer ask as many questions about an auction as you need to decide if you will bid or not. 
If you have no intention for making a bid refrain from asking questions. Only ask for a Buy Now price if you intent to buy the item straight away and be prepared for the seller to say no. It is an auction not a shop! It is important that your questions are relevant and appropriate. When you ask a question you are added to the list of interested buyers that an offer can be given to after the auction has completed.

SELLER ANSWERS As a seller try and answer all the questions HOWEVER you do not have to answer questions that break the Trade Me rules. 
You also do not have to answer any questions that are inappropriate. You do not have to add a Buy Now price if asked, it is your choice. Describe the item you are selling warts and all. This will earn you respect and good feedback

FREE LISTINGS Don’t be tempted to do a Free Listing.. 
While this sounds great you limit severely who will look at your listing. A .45cent gallery listing will very much improve your chances of selling your item. A buyer will search for key words but will look at the pictures first then the words in the title and then the listing itself.

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH Finally, research what you are buying and selling. 
Know what you are dealing with it is key to getting the best out of a system like this. $1 Auctions can make you some good money if you did not want anything for your item in the first place.but if you do want something for your item research it’s value so you can choose a good starting price. Some good places to do research are:

  • Google search engine or indeed any other search engine
  • Trade Me
  • Ebay
  • Local shops that sell your item already
  • Trade and exchange

So, with all the above advice under your belt.. don’t forget to research, measure, describe and photograph your item. Add maker’s marks, stamps, certificates and anything else that will prove authenticity. Be courteous in your questions and answers. Be generous in your feedback. Most of all treat others, as you would like to be treated and expect nothing in return. You will be pleasantly surprised at the kindness and generosity that exists in New Zealand and in the Trade Me community. Finally, do not exclude overseas customers as they bring a Global Market dimension that does not exist in normal retail shop or auction house. Some of my best money has come from Overseas buyers.

We continue with Trade Me as a vehicle for our endeavours and recommend it to all as a great place to buy and sell. Have a go it could work for you too.

8 thoughts on “Online auctions – Trade Me Advice”

  • How to find out what my rights are after Trademe sale has gone through & there is a problem with the product in the first week?

    Iphone was reported stolen – this was not the case as I has purchased phone
    Seller was horrified as he had been using phone & it worked
    Turns out seller purchased from someone else who has reported as stolen

    What are my rights ???
    I want my $$ back, can I ?

    • Hi there, Thanks for your comment, in a case like this where stolen goods are the centre of the issue, you will need to (if you haven’t already) go to Trademe and probably the Police. The quicker you can do this, the better the outcome is likely to be.

      I hope you have success in getting this resolved


  • I just had an interesting interaction with a buyer of my item. She bought, paid, did not make contact or send her postal address then blamed me for not telling her as she felt i should have seen her transaction in my account and told her she had not made contact. First time ever this experience. I can kind of see her side but really, i think take responsibility.

    • Sounds like a trap for young players. Both the buyer and the seller need to be aware of the final stages of the auction transaction. If you have the money but no place to send the goods then trying to make further contact would be a great idea. Conversely, if you have sent money but see no further contact then maybe a followup email would be a great idea too. The auction doesn’t finish when the bids are over, the auction is completed when the goods/money have exchanged hands and you are able to place feedback. I hope your next experience is a better one.

  • I won 2 auctions last month,the trader sent her banking details,when I pay on internet I keep getting refunded to my account reason,wrong details.I hve emailed several times ,but am told details are correct.Isuggested cash,registered,I presume one can still use this service? could be old hat now.I have had no contact for a couple of weeks now.Should I just forget about it? I wouldn`t put bad feedback.Trademe emailed me to place feedback,on something I havn`t got where now? cheers

    • Hi Denise, there’s a couple of options open to you. 1. You can go to the bank concerned and try banking cash straight to the account. If the account has been closed then you will know for sure. 2. You can go to the Post Office and do a Money Order, here is a link about it. but ask the Seller if they are ok with that option.

      What you can’t do is send money in the mail…it is illegal these days.

      I recommend getting back in contact with the Seller and discussing payment options, if they are still not helpful then I would contact the Trademe Helpdesk and ask for their help as you could very easily end up with bad feedback. It will cost you a few dollars but they are excellent in matters like these.

      All the best and good luck
      Joanne Gardner

  • Hi agreed a buy now price and the seller posted buy now and within the minute to click it someone then bidded thu skilling buy now- is the buy now deal I made still valid

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