The "I Want an iPad" Challenge
I've made a decision - I want to buy an iPad when they are released in the UK.
That is supposed to be the end of April so it doesn't give me much time to come up with the money.
Using savings is too easy and a bit boring. There must be a more fun and rewarding way to come up with the cash (probably around £400) hence this page.
In the past I've made a fair few quid buying and selling on eBay and documented some of my tactics on one of my other websites - eBay Tips and Tricks.
That site tends to attract a reasonable number of visitors every month so I guess some of what I wrote is pretty relevant. As you can see from the dates of some of the articles, I haven't added to the site in quite some time. Neither have I sold much stuff on eBay in quite some time.
What I have at the moment is a load of stuff that I do not use anymore and that is cluttering up my house and various cupboards at work. If I could muster the energy to list it all on eBay then I imagine that I could raise a few hundred to go towards the iPad purchase.
The plan: List anything I can find (and that I do not use anymore) on eBay using special techniques to try and get the biggest possible return from each item.
The time limit: This little experiment will end on the day that the iPad is released in the UK (which seems to be a moving target at present).
The aim: There are several aims; (1) Raise enough money to buy an iPad, (2) clear some clutter without having to add to landfill and (3) hopefully provide some interesting tips for those who wish to sell on eBay.
The story so far:
The first batch of listings went up on Saturday 3rd April 2010. These were Buy It Now listings for 2 sticks of desktop RAM and two sealed DVDs that I've had in a box in my spare bedroom for years.
Buy It Now (BIN) listings were chosen simply because I had a good idea of how much the items were worth.
In the case of the memory sticks it was easy to look recent completed sales on eBay for the same type of memory and then price the items slightly below the typical price. For the sake of a few pennies I wasn't going to push for a higher price and I wanted these items to go quickly. On searching, I found that 256MB 2100 DDR RAM was going for around £3-4 so I priced my RAM at £2.99 per stick with free postage.
As for the DVDs, it turns out that these DVDs were no longer on general sale (they had been "deleted") so they were worth more than normal. I listed them for sale at £14.99 each but with the opportunity for potential buyers to "Make an Offer". If I get reasonable offers I will accept them.
On Monday 5th April I added a 10 day auction lot, starting at 99p because it is free to list auction items starting at 99p; 43 DVDs in one batch with £10 for postage. I also listed another sealed DVD for £4.99 (similar items had gone for between £4-6 and a second hand DVD for £9.99, both BIN.
Then on Tuesday 6th April I listed several auction lots for various SCSI-related computer parts that I no longer need. All are 10 day auctions so they will end on a Friday lunchtime, hopefully catching some computer enthusiasts whilst they're on their lunchbreak.
As of 13:30 on the 7th April I've sold both sticks of RAM and a DVD to take my total up to £7.01 out of £400. The items have already been sent out.
Now we wait - updates will be made when new lots are added...
Three more BIN listings added last night and then a further 5 auctions have been started this afternoon. eBay recently decided to abolish listing fees on most auctions that have a starting price of 99p meaning that you only pay if the item sells. However, they've just announced that this will be limited to a maximum of 100 99p auctions per user per month from June 2010. No further sales yet so the running total remains at £7.01.
Another BIN item sold last night at just before midnight - the buyer paid immediately and PayPal tells me that I have the "Seller Protection" but, strangely, the user is now listed as "Not a Registered User" on eBay. He must've bought the item, paid and then somehow been "unregistered". Still, the item is now on its way and the running total increased slightly to £10.42.
The 99p auctions are being noticed as well it seems. One that I added yesterday already has 7 watchers and 1 bid with 6 days to go. Should I start getting excited?
Two more BIN items sold over the weekend - I guess I priced them right! One buyer paid through PayPal and the other is posting a postal order which is probably a rare occurrence nowadays. As for the auctions, plenty of watchers but few bidders. Whenever I bid on an item I leave it 'til the last 6 seconds before bidding my max so here's hoping that all those watchers make a flurry of bids in the dying seconds.
The running total is currently at £15.50 with payment due for the 6th item.
Yesterday saw the BIN listings for two DVDs expire without any buyers or any offers. Perhaps my asking price is a little too much. The money arrived for the last BIN listing that sold and the item has been sent today taking the running total to an admittedly unimpressive £18.81
With 6 auction finishing tomorrow, here's hoping the the total is pushed up a bit. Especially since one auction has 14 watchers and another has 12. Let's hope these watchers are the kind who like to place large bids in the dying moments of an auction.
Mixed day today. Five auctions finished this afternoon including the one that had 16 watchers. A slurry of last minute sniper bidders took that particular auction up to a price of £31.01, an excellent result. Of the other four auctions, three finished at just 99p and the other was pushed up slightly to £2.20.
The moral of all this should probably be; always, ALWAYS, charge for postage when starting an auction at 99p. If I had offered free postage of those 3 auctions I would be well out of pocket now. As it turns out, those five auctions added quite a lot to the pot. All 5 items have been posted out and, following all eBay and PayPal fees and postage charges, the current total stands at £73.17.
On the news today it was announced that the iPad launch date has been put back a month so I now have a further month to try and earn the money by selling old stuff on eBay. Another auction finishes in 40 minutes, is currently at £35 and has 12 watchers. Expect an update tomorrow...
The bulk lot of 43 DVDs eventually went for £38 which is reasonable. The three auctions finishing today also gave reasonable results, going for 99p, £4.20 and £19. The only buyer that hasn't paid is the one that won the 99p auction - and I get the feeling that I'll never see the money for that.
So I've sent off a further 3 parcels this afternoon taking the total to a not-without-its-charms £113.41. Still some way to go but I've cleared a lot of space at work!
I've a total of 3 listings left now, all BINs. With the auctions not giving particularly impressive results I'm considering listing everything else as a Buy It Now. Auctions are good and can sometimes throw up a good result but many times you'll not get as much as you hoped. Now a lot of the un-used junk is gone, perhaps it is time for a change in tactics to get the remaining £290 or so I need for the iPad...
The winner of the 99p auction paid and then a BIN listing sold for £8.97 so once those are posted off tomorrow the total will be increased slightly. In the meantime I have added four auctions but changed strategy slightly. Instead of listing items starting at 99p, I've listed them starting at the "worst case scenario" price i.e. the lowest amount I would be happy to sell for.
This way if there is only one bidder, as was the case in several auctions last week, the final price will be more than 99p but if there are more bidders then the price will rise. It's like using a reserve but without actually using one. Reserves tend to put bidders off. All four auctions are 10 days in length.
All completed items have now been sold and posted and the running total is £122.05. That's from 7 BIN listings, 9 auctions and three listings that ended without selling.
The problem with listing items in a ten day long auction is that you have to wait for what seems like weeks for the auction to end. Of course, it does have its advantages - mainly that a 10 day auction gives you the maximum opportunity of getting your item seen by prospective bidders.
I had four auctions end today - two without bids. I'm not sure if I will even bother relisting these items as they attracted no bids. Of the other two items, one ended with a single bid (of the starting price of £19.99, which was satisfactory). The other became one of those wonderful auctions that is ramped up at the end by people "sniping" (bidding in the last few seconds). The auction went from £26 up to £52.21 in the last 12 seconds.
One of the winners has paid and hopefully the other will have paid by tomorrow morning when I go to the Post Office. An update will be posted tomorrow with the lastest running total...
One auction winner still needs to pay and there is one more listing up on eBay (more in a moment) but apart from that, everything has been sent. The current total is £167.61.
In yesterday's update I mentioned that two auctions had ended without bids - one starting at £4.99 and another starting at £9.99. It turns out that somebody who has previously dealt with me on eBay forgot to bid on both auctions. He has since emailed me and basically said "I'll have both, please invoice me for the items". A great stroke of luck I think you'll agree. And hopefully he'll actually pay for them!
The final item I have up for sale is a brand new mobile phone that I got last week. Basically Virgin let me know that I qualified for an upgrade so I got them to send me a Samsung phone which immediately went up on eBay on a Buy It Now. It hasn't sold yet but it does have two watchers and five days to go so I have my fingers crossed.
I received payment for the two unsold items that were sold against eBay's Terms of Service, tut tut. Not going through eBay saved me the hefty 10% final value fees they charged and now the total is £180.18. I'm still awaiting payment on the final auction from Wednesday, I've not heard anything from the buyer either. Maybe he's one of those people that only checks their eBay account or email once in a blue moon.
The mobile I'm selling attracted a question with the prospective buyer asking if he could buy it now but then pay for it in two weeks' time when he gets paid. I'm just considering the offer as the listing has 4 days to run and it may still sell to someone who will pay there and then. Not sure if I really want the phone hanging around for any longer - I want rid, and the cash...
Long weekend coming up so I will hopefully have some more updates soon after I try and find more stuff to flog. £180 is good but although Apple haven't yet released details of the UK cost, I figure I'm going to need at least £400 to get the iPad plus the accessories I want.
The phone finally sold, at the asking price, early on Sunday morning. The buyer paid immediately and I sent it out today. The lone bidder from last Wednesday still hasn't paid for his win but as far as I'm aware he gets 10 days to do so before eBay start sending him threatening emails.
The total is now £203.83 so I'm at about halfway. The problem now is that I've got rid of the stuff I definitely don't want around and I'm struggling to find more stuff to sell. I've put a home study course on eBay as a Buy It Now listing but I'm inviting offers at the same time. My hope is that someone will offer an attractive amount that will plump up the total. Apart from that, I'm not sure what else to sell...
The final auction winner paid up early this morning - maybe he does only check his email once a week - so I've been into the Post Office and sent his items. The total, with everything bar one listing sold, and all fees, postage costs and so on taken into account, is £222.28
My estimations are that I'll need about £407 to get the iPad and accessories that I want so I'm just over halfway. The item I currently have listed on a BIN is set at £170.00 but I'm inviting offers. If I can get anywhere near that amount I'll be almost there! With 5 watchers and 4 days to go, I will update with any developments...
Apple finally released the price of iPads in the UK and they start at a massive £429. That's far more that the price for US customers but there's no choice really - either you want one and will pay, or you can't have one.
I still plan to buy one but it looks like I'm going to need £514.
eBaying possessions so far has got me £228 which means I'm still not even halfway.
The item I had on Buy It Now for £170 didn't sell (or even attract any offers) so I have relisted it. I'm going to steadily add more items - stuff that's been sat on the bookshelf for months (probably years).
As per the initial objective, I need to sell all this by the 28th of May - the iPad release date - but that's unlikely to happen. Still, I have got £200+ so far which isn't bad. Time to start some more listings...
The running total now stands at £310.59. This comes after I received an offer of £100 on the item that I had for sale on a Buy It Now of £170. I had previously knocked back an offer of £55 for this item and that decision has now definitely paid off.
I accepted the bid and just posted the item so I now have no items for sale at all but I'm just around £120 away from being able to buy the lowest spec iPad (but actually almost £200 away from buying what I really want).
So now I really need to do some searching to find more stuff to sell. I'd rather not use my savings if I can help it so I need to find another £200 within a couple of weeks, maybe less. The iPad site says that they will ship in "June"...
The conclusion to this story is that I bought an iPad on the day it was launched - 28th May. Sadly I didn't sell any more items on eBay which meant I had to subsidise the purchase with some savings.
When it came down to it I was fully intending to hold out until I had sold enough on eBay to buy the iPad outright but on the day I decided to go to the Apple store in the Arndale Centre to see how big the queue was. I got there at about half one and couldn't see any queue. I walked right down to the tills and asked to buy an iPad. The shop assistant looked at me funny and asked if I'd queued outside. When I said no, she asked me to go back outside and queue.
As I walked back outside I must've been looking very bemused as one of the other assistants asked me if I needed help. I told him I'd like to buy an iPad and said I'd been instructed to go and join the queue. He said "oh yes, I remember seeing you in the queue before, come with me" and sorted me out with my new equipment.
So I got back to work with my new toy and quickly drew a crowd of co-workers around my desk. And that's about as far as I could go because I wasn't aware that an iPad is unusable until you hook it up to a PC or Mac running iTunes.
Half an hour later I'd downloaded iTunes and got my iPad up and running. That's when buyer's remorse set in. Without wireless access or any apps, a standard 16GB iPad is pretty boring. It wasn't until I got home later and starting adding apps that I really started to like my new piece of equipment.
So how did I do overall compared to the aims of this little experiment?
The aims were: (1) Raise enough money to buy an iPad - In all fairness I got close. I managed to raise £310.59 out of the £514 it eventually cost - about 60%. That sum is the net amount after eBay and Paypal fees, postage and any other incidental costs.
(2) Clear some clutter without having to add to landfill - I definitely did this and managed to get rid of a lot of stuff that was sat in cupboards, not being used. Some DVDs didn't sell because no-one would match my Buy It Now price but those can always be sold on in the future.
(3) hopefully provide some interesting tips for those who wish to sell on eBay - this aim can be considered a "work in progress". I have found that eBay in 2010 is different to the eBay of a few years ago. There are some techniques you can use to make sure you don't sell for pennies when you want pounds and I hope to elaborate on this in the near future. (Update - see below for the finished article)
So would I recommend an iPad?
The short answer is - it depends. For me, the iPad was worth the money because rather than carrying huge hardback textbooks I can simply load the PDF via wireless to my iPad. I also spend an hour or so commuting each day and the iPad is very portable and provides games like Command and Conquer that I can play on the move.
A friend asked me if it was worth getting an iPad over a Macbook but I had to say that a Macbook is vastly superior simply because you can do so much more with it.
The iPad's an expensive tool that offers great entertainment on the move. I'm not quite sure that it is worth the £429+ price tag but I'm happy with mine. On the plus side there is an army of clever programmers who are constantly creating inexpensive apps so I imagine it will become more and more useful as time goes on.
As promised I have written a summary of my findings from this experiment, please read it via the link below: