How to Handle Criticism About Your eBay Business

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Ahhh, the joy of owning your own business. Flexible hours, freedom to run the business the way you like, and the more you work, the more money you make. But what if your business is something unusual, or downright off the wall, that other people don’t understand? Most people respect entrepreneurs who have mainstream businesses like restaurants, boutiques, hair salons, chiropractic clinics, or auto mechanic shops. If your business is selling used junk on the internet, you are probably not getting the respect you deserve from friends, family, or even acquaintances.

eBay sellers often receive criticism, strange looks, or are mocked for selling used items online. Of course, you will never be able to change someone else’s opinion about you and your eBay business. Here are a few ways to respond to negative or even humiliating comments from people about your eBay business.

Why Would Someone Buy That Junk, Anyway?

The response to this question will vary among sellers, but the general concept is the same. Millions of people buy it and we don’t have to know why. Emphasize that collectors will buy just about anything. Have some examples ready to back up your story. For example, if you sell used clothing:

“Well, I sell used clothing and the brands are generally pretty expensive new. Have you ever heard of Anthropologie, Banana Republic, or Ann Taylor? Most new items retail for over $50. I find these brands for about $3 at thrift stores and sell them for $30 or more on eBay. The customer gets exactly what they want and I make money. People are becoming more frugal these days so I am doing them a great service providing quality items at a lower than retail price.”

If you sell collectibles, give examples of amazing sales. You could say:

“Collectors are my main customers. I find items they are looking for. I’m even shocked at what they pay. Last month I found a set of Bakelite salt and pepper shakers for $1 and they sold for $200. I don’t need to know why they pay so much; I just need to keep finding things for them to buy!”

If you ship internationally, say:

“We live in a country of abundance and over-consumption. It isn’t like that everywhere else in the world. Some countries don’t manufacture much and others have product shortages. Did you know that I sell to customers all over the world?  Just last week I shipped a pair of shoes to Australia. The buyer paid $30 plus $25 shipping for a pair of shoes I found at Goodwill and bought for $3. Isn’t that amazing?”

Of if you want to watch their head explode, say:

“eBay has 162 million users over 50 countries, so I have a huge client base!”

You Actually Left Your Full Time Job With Benefits for This Silly Hobby?

Sound familiar? Many sellers have made a major life decision to leave a full-time job with benefits to improve their lives and have more control over their own and their family’s future. Most people who make this comment are insanely jealous that they don’t have the courage to do the same thing. Criticism is often jealousy in disguise. Here are some tactful ways to explain your position:

“Actually, my eBay business gives me more benefits that a traditional full-time job. I never have to explain to the boss why I can’t come in when one of my kids is sick – I don’t have to send a sick kid to school because the boss demands I come in. I can still work at home while a sick child is resting and I don’t miss a beat. I don’t have to miss important events because I am stuck at work. I don’t have to worry about getting fired for doing something wrong. I don’t waste hours each week sitting in traffic.  I own my time and have complete freedom to organize my life in a way that works best for me and my family.”

Sometimes people will focus on the fact that you don’t get a steady paycheck. Here is how to respond:

“That’s true, but I would rather work 60 hours a week for myself and be in control of my time than 40 hours for someone else. And the great thing is, the more hours I put in, the more money I make. I don’t have to wait for the boss to decide to give me a promotion, a raise, or a bonus.  My income is directly related to the amount of effort I put in. Can you say that about your job?”

But You Don't Get Health Insurance

This is a touchy subject since health insurance costs have skyrocketed lately, and the Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to have health insurance or face a fine on their tax return. A tactful reply:

“My employer’s insurance costs went up so much that I could barely afford it at my job. As a small business owner, I could qualify for the Affordable Care Act and get a subsidy for health insurance. The government sends a 1095-C each year for my CPA to use when filing taxes.”

Or, if the Affordable Care Act doesn’t apply, you could say:

“We are covered on my spouse’s plan” or “There are plenty of companies that offer private health insurance like Blue Cross, Humana, Coventry One, Aetna – it is a long list.”

Oh, So You Work at Home. Must Be Nice to Sit Around and Watch TV All Day

This one really chaps an eBay seller’s hide. Stay at home moms get this one too, so it is a double whammy when the seller is also a stay at home mom. An easy and effective response:

“Well, not exactly. I’d love to have you come over one day and shadow me so you can see exactly what I do and give me a hand. Tomorrow I have 10 items to ship, 25 items to clean, photograph, and list, and will be getting my quarterly taxes ready for my CPA. I also need to order some shipping supplies and meet with a consignment client about selling her Hummel collection. What time can you come?”

I’ve never had anyone take me up on this. Once the naysayers realize eBay selling is work and a responsibility, they don’t want any part of it.

So What Do You Call Yourself, a Professional Scavenger?

Granted, there isn’t really a cool-sounding name for us eBay sellers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make some up.

“Actually I prefer Redistribution Specialist. Or ecommerce Specialist. Or Modern Day Fred Sanford.”

(I stole that one from a grocery store stock boy. His name tag said Redistribution Specialist under his name. I asked what that meant. He said, “It means I take stuff from the back and put it out on the shelves. It sounds better than stock boy.”)

Why Would You Want all That Junk in Your House?

Actually, the average American Household has over $7,000 worth of items that can be sold online. Your critics already have “all that junk” in their house, it is just their own junk. eBay sellers agree storage solutions can be a challenge, but there is always a workaround or easy fix to storing inventory. Most sellers have already figured this out by organizing inventory in a basement, garage, storage unit, or in plastic tubs inside the home.

Are You Paying Taxes? The Government Can Get You for Not Reporting Your Income

This comment comes up a lot almost as if it’s a scare tactic. Most eBay sellers are on board with taxes and either use GoDaddy, the eSales Book Keeping Spreadsheet, or have a CPA. A great response to the assumption that you aren’t paying taxes:

“Of course I pay taxes! As a matter of fact, Paypal sends a 1099-K every year to sellers who gross over $20,000. I also have a CPA who files my quarterly taxes. I just love my CPA! She takes care of all my tax stuff so I can focus on what I do best – finding and selling items. My CPA is also an entrepreneur, so by hiring her I am helping another person who owns a business and supporting the small business community.”

What About Job Security?

Ahhh, touché. Your critics are setting themselves up when they make this remark. The better question, is who does have job security today? The Small Business Association (SBA) reports there are 28 million small businesses in the US and they account for 54% of all business. You are in good company!

Remind these folks of corporate layoffs where thousands of employees were let go. Even the US Army laid off 40,000 service people in 2015. The same year, Hewlett Packard let go 30,000 employees, and Microsoft let go over 6,000. Job security doesn’t exist anymore. The only boss you can count on is yourself.

An insightful response:

“Let me ask you a question. How do you know you won’t walk in tomorrow and get a pink slip? Has your company ever fired anyone? Nobody has job security these days.”

Rather than be insulted or defensive when your critics ask questions, give them educated answers and show them how smart and resourceful you are.  Be proud of what you do because not everybody is cut out to be an eBay seller. You don’t have to try to convert anyone to sell on eBay, but critics are usually ignorant to something new and different. Some people will get it and think you are brilliant, others won’t get it and think you are crazy. Crazy like a fox – and you are laughing all the way to the bank.