I actually had to make a trek to the post office the other day like a commoner and the woman working the counter, upon seeing my eBay branded Priority Mail boxes (which oddly enough I was using to mail a non-eBay related item), asked me if I sold on eBay. I told her simply that I did and she launched into a rant about how I am wasting my time.

She used to sell on eBay many years ago, she informed me, and it was a waste of her time. She would buy things and then resell them and never made any profit. So now she’s made it her business to warn everyone she sees that selling on eBay is a waste of time. She concluded her rant by saying, “People should know that it’s impossible to make money selling on eBay.”

Now, I like this lady and we chat the few times I go to the post office. Lord knows I don’t want to get a postal carrier mad at me, let alone get into a fight about eBay with a random lady. But at the same time, as someone who has earned a part or full time income on eBay for the last 12 years as well as an author and blogger who tries to help people share the sort of success I have had, I couldn’t let this remark go by without saying something.

So I said casually that I have been selling on eBay for “a while” and have been happy with it.

Well, she counters, she sold on eBay for at least 6 months and made no money. From the way she said 6 months like it was a decade, it was obvious she felt like she had given it as much of a chance as it deserved.  How long have YOU been selling, she countered? It was a challenge but I really didn’t want to play.

I told her I started in March of 1997. Then came a list of antagonistic questions such as “You aren’t really making money are you?” which, when I informed her, begrudgingly, that I was, result in her looking at me with crossed arms saying, “Well then how do you do it?”

It was like she expected me to create and sell something on the spot so that she could see the profit with her own two eyes because she clearly didn’t believe me. At this point I am getting ticked that she isn’t even ringing up my postage so I said something about it being intimidating for newcomers but a great marketplace when you get the hang of it. Then I gave her my usual spiel about how much the marketplace has improved from what it was in the 90s, etc. Basically, I steered the conversation to eBay in general in enough of a bland way that there was nothing for her to fight me over.

She finally started ringing up my boxes again while I talked and, as I gave her my credit card to go, admitted that she had only tried it many years ago and that maybe she should give it another go. I have seen her since then and we are still cool but she hasn’t commented on my eBay boxes again, nor has she tried to “warn me” about eBay since then. I would love to think she has stopped warning people about eBay but I suspect she still is.

What is the point of this long story about my being harassed at the post office?

I think a lot of people go into eBay with the wrong idea. eBay is a marketplace where you can earn *some* extra money and, if you are good at it, it can become a full time job. This lady clearly went on the site expecting to get rich and felt it was her duty to warn people off this get rich quick scam. She felt that she got burned enough that she was evangelizing and warning people off the site based on only her one small experience.

So what is the moral of this story? eBay is not a one size fits all solution. It is a marketplace that works for some people, some businesses but not all. Just because you had a bad experience, doesn’t mean that my experience will be bad.

By the same token, just because I have had good experiences doesn’t mean that your experiences will necessarily be good. Sure, I can try to pass out tips or advice on how to make it more likely your experience will be good but, in the end, your experience will be totally unique to mine.