Mac Musings

Color Classics on eBay

Bill Brown - 2001.07.09

This article is adapted from a posting on the Compact Macs email list. It is published with Bill Brown's permission. A lot of the advice applies to eBay purchases in general, but some is very specific to the Color Classic.

I have spent quite a bit of time shopping eBay specifically for Color Classics. This directed search has gained me some quantifiable observations related specifically to ferreting out Color Classics on eBay. I thought I'd share them.

Many are the same as generic observations of patterns on eBay, but some are specific to the human behavior shown about Color Classics on eBay.


  • Many winners are first time bidders out to buy a Color Classic (CC) as a one time massive assault at any cost. Do not bid against them - or bid 'em up early for fun. I do.
  • Many bid on several CCs at the same time. The bidders with high numbers of completed buys are commercial and often shrewd. Note their names and cut off point. Learn.
  • Some CCs get lots of bids; some get few.
  • Some who bid many CCs wholly miss bidding on other comparable CCs. Is this a search term issue?
  • All CCs sell with multiple bids. No CC goes unnoticed. Ever!
  • Bare CCs sell as well as endowed CCs.
  • Endowed CCs attract more bids than bare CCs, yet the prices are comparable when adjusted for the endowment.
  • The bare CC with high numbers sells for the highest relative price.
  • On average, ethernet cards alone do not increase the sale price; 10 MB RAM and larger hard drives do increase the price.
  • Adding a printer or external CD-ROM and other weighty item is not a dependable way to make the most of your buying or selling.
  • The CC is the target. No matter the extra, it is likely not the specific extra a buyer is willing to pay extra for the item or shipping.
  • Systems with extras do sell for more, but not more relative to the actual eBay value of the extra item. Bid/sell a printer or other extra in a separate ad.
  • Ads with a picture generally sell for more - but not always. Good copy writing always gets a good bid.
  • You cannot judge the degree of yellowing nor many cosmetic defects in a picture.
  • Many pictures are file pictures rather than of the actual CC being advertised. Read the text carefully. Ask questions early.
  • Read what the ad actually says rather than what you want it to say. If it doesn't say it in clear, easily diagrammed sentence structure, it doesn't say it. If it does say it, it may or may not be true.
  • Ads with more clean searchable terms in the title bar get more bids.
  • The term "classic" as in

    will turn every Color Classic on eBay. It will also get you four pages of chaff. Most of that chaff relates to the Classic, Classic II, or other compacts, so it is not wasted fans of compact Macs in general. Misspelled renditions of "classic" are the exception. Try a search on "clasic," as that seems to be a popular misspell.
  • When posted the ad, shipping prices within the U.S. are all over the place. They range from $20 (very occasionally less) to well over $40 for a bare CC.
  • Check the shipping prices early. It is obvious many bidders do not. Some regular sellers make an art form of turning shipping costs into a profit center.
  • Volume business sellers/shippers receive a discount from FedEx/UPS on shipping. Look for those who pass on this discount to you as in the $20 shipping charge.
  • Business sellers are usually, but not always, very good at packaging. One time sellers often try hard but don't do well. Think about why this might be and what it means to you.
  • Good packaging is the best insurance. No insurance claim ever makes you whole or brings a CC back to life.
  • Watch for an acceptable CC in your geographic area or where you travel. Picking the item up can save money or allow you to bid more for an equal final cost.
  • Being in a hurry to sell or buy only costs you money. A low-ball win near to you paid with cash is cheaper than a gotta have bid at any price paid for by PayPal shipped at any cost.
  • High minimums deter bids until the closing moments. A reasonable minimum, even if high, usually does not affect the final selling price.
  • High reserves are a death knell to selling at all. A reasonable reserve, even if low, turns bidders off because of the guessing game that must ensue.
  • High reserves indicate that a seller has little intent to sell. They are wasting their time, your time, my time, and eBay's time.
  • "Buy it now" is a crapshoot. If the spread is small or none at all, go for it.
  • People like me are superb last moment snipers. We seldom care if we lose one. Mostly we win.
  • Fire off a question to the seller for the slightest reason, and fire it early. If nothing else, an answer will allow you to capture the seller's email address.
  • Shifty, shady, unscrupulous sellers will not answer your questions. They do not wish you to know their email address nor identity until they have a contract in hand.
  • Many sellers will not answer for a myriad of good reasons. Sorting the good, bad, and ugly is an art form.
  • Sellers refusing to sell/ship out of the U.S. get fewer bids and sell for less. These sales are good for U.S. bidders. What a bidder in Japan or Germany will bid for a CC shows U.S. bidders to be pikers.
  • Hotrod CCs are a caveat emptor - buyer beware. Actual performance, operating problems, and workmanship are not resolvable after the sale no matter what is said or written. My "Mystic" will become your mystery. You puts down your money and takes your chances.
  • Timing can be everything: Any evening at 08.30 p.m. PDT is a time to pay high prices. 06.30 a.m. on a Saturday morning is a poor time for sellers to get a good price for anything.
  • Very, very seldom are the names, handles, email addresses, or other identifiers used members of the Compact Macs List ever seen in eBay CC transactions. It could be be that most CC sellers/bidders are not list participants (or they might be "lurkers") or use another of your bazillion names and addresses.
  • eBay is an auction run by published auction rules. eBay is not a garage sale, thrift shop, or license to steal. Learn something about auctions, auction rules, and people who do auctions. What people think is wrong with eBay, auctions, or people who win at auctions is wasted thought.
  • I am just approaching the 100 items mark on eBay. I've run into two sourpuss'. The rest were okay to great. That is a damned good ratio considering all of humanity.

And, yes, I have captured some good CCs at a price leaving me a good profit margin at my Saturday market sales. And I'm looking for more.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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