eBay has added a new enhancement to make things easier for sellers.  Now we can feature the condition of our items near the top of the listing by using the item condition notes field.

This, after all these years of hammering on about condition,condition, condition.  Honestly it’s about time.  Where real estate is all about location, if you sell non-new items on eBay, it’s all about condition.

I’ve always gone the extra mile to list condition as accurately as possible, and so has Monique.  Some of my feedback actually says the items were better than described, and the buyer was pleasantly suprised.  Accuracy is better, and you don’t want to talk potential buyers OUT of a sale, but it was nice that they appreciated my condition description.

Unfortunately, it’s human nature to make assumptions, and not pay attention.  Have you ever tried to ‘push’ open a door that’s clearly marked ‘pull’?  I have…

I also spent over a decade in the Air Force as a Graphics Specialist.  My whole job was to make signs, charts, and briefings.  More often than not, they were completely ignored.  Being government employees, sometimes our ‘upper level management’ went overboard with the concept.  I still remember being asked to make signs for the (I’m not kidding) Handicap Olympics Blind Foot Race.  To identify where and when the race took place.  And they asked me to create it in ordinary text, and in Braille.  Only thing, this sign was very large, and to be posted in a location… above the reach of any ordinary human being.

Bless their hearts, they meant well.

Back on subject, when listing an item that’s not absolutely new, it’s best to be very thorough about any flaw.  We like to take detailed pictures to go along with the condition descriptions.  Even then, sometimes people just don’t pay attention.  A few years ago, I bought a digital projector that could display computer and video feeds on a wall or projection screen.  It was portable, and worth about $2,000… if it worked.

I bought it in broken condition, because it was cheap, and because of its unusual provenance.  It had been corporate-owned.  When it broke, the tech department identified what needed to be fixed, shopped for the necessary parts, and estimated a repair bill of a couple hundred dollars.
Based on the projector’s age, they decided the company would benefit more from buying a replacement, and sold this one.  The technician documented every phase of his research, including which parts needed replacing, where to buy them, and the cost of each part.  The projector came with complete documentation, carry case, power adapter, and cables.

Under the circumstances, this was a great deal for somebody with the ability to do their own repairs.  In my eBay listing, I included all of this.  Even transcribed the technician’s repair prognosis.  Took pictures of all the parts, the diagnosis reports (page by page), and the detailed cost analysis.  I was mildly surprised that the projector eventually sold for $134.00, but that’s reasonable overall, so didn’t really think much about it.

Until I got a letter from my buyer.  In essence it was friendly in tone, and read “I’m going to need a full refund on the projector, it doesn’t work.”  Talk about floored.  How does someone think they’ve bought a working unit when the entire listing is a step by step detail of what’s wrong and how to repair it?  The title even said ‘needs work’.  So I wrote him back, and said “Ummm… I’m kind of at a loss.  Are you sure you’re thinking of the right auction?”

As nicely as possible, I asked him to take another look at the auction listing.  Here’s where my customer stood out from the crowd.  He owned his mistake, in a gracious, friendly, even happy, manner.  Wrote me back, and all he said was “Oops… my bad!  :^)”  Even with the smiley face.  Lucky for him and for me he actually had the ability to do his own work.  But he had ordered multiple units from multiple sellers, and simply lost track of which was which.

I was lucky from both sides of the fence.  On his side, because he was willing to stand by his commitment.  And on mine, because I had gone far beyond the normal in spelling out the condition.

And now eBay offers a dedicated field at the top of the listing for item condition.  It took a long time… but other than that, Bravo.  This is a much-needed addition to our listings.  If there’s a consistent location to check on item condition, then buyers can confidently quick-scan an item without fear of missing something important.

Protection for both sides of the transaction.  Because ultimately, it’s not about being ‘right or wrong’, it’s about everybody being happy.  As sellers, we want the buyers to be pleased with the transaction.  As buyers, we want to know what we’re getting, with no unpleasant surprises.

It’s really nice when a new feature is beneficial to everybody, and the item condition field really manages it.