Skeptical Shopper: Tired of eBay? Consider These Alternatives

eBay is no doubt by far the best place to bid on new and used PCs, gadgets, and electronic components. It is also one of the best places to auction off your older equipment--and make some money to fund your new purchases. But some critics of the online auction house argue that it has gotten too big for its own good. Luckily, alternatives are out there.

One of the biggest complaints about eBay is that its seller fees are constantly increasing. At this writing, its fees were $1 for every item listed at $50 to $200 and $2 for every item over $200. Although these listing fees might seem small, they add up if you are selling multiple items.

For buyers, another problem is that the market is so large that scoring a genuine deal is difficult. So many products are listed that finding just what you’re looking for can be overwhelming. And of course, eBay has a history of having counterfeit, forged, and bootleg items for sale.

Lastly, eBay’s user feedback system is weak: The site allows users to post only 80 characters of feedback for a seller. That’s not nearly enough room for a disappointed customer to speak out about how they got ripped off or why the product was unsatisfactory.

The Trade-Off: Slower Traffic

Fortunately, alternative auction sites address some of the problems--but be aware of trade-offs when going the non-eBay route. The big one is that traffic is a lot slower: Fewer people will see your items, and selling something could take weeks. Also, as a shopper, you won’t find as many products to choose from.

Here, then, are some of the best online auction-site alternatives to eBay.

eCrater provides free tools to help you build your own Web store. It has no listing fees, and you can easily import your eBay products into your storefront. All wares are monitored by Google’s Product Search Marketplace, which provides up-to-date information about your offerings to potential buyers.

Bonanzle is a hybrid of eBay, Etsy (an online marketplace for homemade products), and social network. More of an on­­line garage sale than an auction house, the site encourages a sense of community and individuality among shoppers and sellers.

As a site that is also more about unique and collectible items than mass-produced products, Bonanzle presents a good se­­lection of older-model cameras and camera ac­­cessories, cell phone accessories, and computer parts. Although the site does not charge sellers listing fees as of this writing, it does take final-value fees--which are slightly more expensive than eBay's.

Of the alternative auction sites, uBid has the largest selection of computers, TVs, and assorted electronics and components. If you're a seller, however, uBid isn't the site for you--it auctions only excess inventory from brand names, not individual sellers.

iOffer lets you either purchase an item at the seller’s asking price or make the seller an offer. Stores are also integrated with Google Analytics, so sellers can track visitors and keywords to help them optimize the stores’ design. To protect buyers, iOffer provides a rating chart that gives a visual summary of seller transactions and past rating history. Finally, listing items on iOffer is completely free--regardless of asking price. But if you want to have your items promoted on iOffer’s homepage or category page, you have to join the company’s premium listing service, which charges fees.

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