Buy and sell online without paying large fees

eBay is one of the all-time online success stories. It arrived in 1995, the same year as a Newsweek feature on why Internet businesses would never make money, and it proved them extraordinarily wrong. It survived the dot-com disaster and now trades in over thirty countries with twenty-two billion dollars in assets.

Unfortunately, growth causes its own problems. The service simply can’t respond quickly to every complaint while its immense popularity makes it a prime target for scammers and counterfeit auctions. Other complaints leveled at eBay are less innocent less defensible – forcing customers to use PayPal is all well and good… except eBay owns PayPal, and both services charge you for each transaction. The impersonal approach also leads to ridiculous restrictions on sales, with things like antique board games banned from sale under misapplied political correctness regulations.

It’s smart to have other options, so we’ve found five of the best other auction sites for your online buying and selling needs.

1. Artfire

Everyone knows about Etsy, including Etsy, which is why they charge you for every single listing – whether you sell anything or not (and they charge you again if you do.) The worst part is that the sales commission is 3.5% of the auction, because apparently the website has to do more work for the exact same transaction when they know they can take more money from you. Handmade product auction site Artfire understands that you don’t want to pay (more) for your hobby just yet.

Artfire Frontpage

Your first dozen listings are completely free, sales and all. If your sales take off, Artfire shifts to a flat fee for unlimited listings. No more nickel-and-diming you on every sale you even try to make. If you want a store, you pay for it, and as far as Artfire are concerned that’s the end of billing you. It’s an extremely generous package, especially with support for embedding their carts in your own site – and the ability to intelligently spur sales near relevant holidays with in-cart discounts and special offers!

2. eBid

eBid Frontpage

eBid started only 3 years after eBay and has been nipping at their heels ever since. They’ve been rated “#1 eBay alternative” by both WebUser magazine and TopTenReviews, and they’re still working hard to get rid of the “eBay alternative” part of that title. They cheekily include a direct comparison between themselves and eBay right on the front page – one compiled by a neutral third party.

eBid vs eBay Comparison

Look at the bottom of that table – the “seller fees” differences are a demonstration of why we don’t allow monopolies. eBay charges massively larger fees in every respect (infinitely larger for the things eBid does free), and that’s in a world with competition! eBid has 8 million page impressions a month, so you needn’t worry about lack of market. Various upgrade options allow you to focus attention on anything you need to move quickly, while the run-until-sold option lets you post and forget anything you want out of the house.

3. Listia

Listia Frontpage

Listia is barter brought into the future with communications technology, social networking, and video game logic. Instead of operating on money the site uses “credits”, allowing users to trade unwanted items. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and both men are online with millions more. Video game logic drives constant growth and participation – users get XP for every action, and anyone who’s played anything (or watched a friend disappear into Farmville or Final Fantasy) knows how effective that is. Simply registering on the site gives you 400 credits, and don’t dismiss this by thinking you need a million to buy a stick of chewing gum; 400 is enough for a few Nintendo games.

Listia Nintendo

The signup bonus alone is enough to buy new games!

It’s the ultimate rummage sale: you won’t find the latest and greatest products going cheap (although the site itself lists ridiculously good promotions from time to time), but you will find things you never thought to search for. And because no-one else did either, you’ll get them cheap. If you’ve ever bought or sold anything online you need to try this site. You could be in at the ground floor of something very special.

Listia Reward

A reward auction. This game normally retails for around $40

4. uBid

uBid is where you find some seriously cheap electronics. We’re not talking laser pointers and ridiculous electronic Dog Bark-to-English translatomatics, we mean notebooks, power tools, and HDTVs large enough to show football games life-size. If that sounds like a scammer’s paradise, that’s why uBid still exists – every single seller is verified before they get to list anything, and they never get to see the credit card information; uBid processes it for them.

uBid Frontpage

It’s all about making sure the site isn’t too good to be true – it just looks it. As another survivor of the dot-com destruction, uBid has spent fourteen years polishing their act. The results are extremely impressive.

5. Webstore

Webstore is everything eBay wants to be, except ridiculously profitable for the owners. Webstore takes the auction model and removes most of the fees: they charge nothing for listing an auction or making a sale, only applying a one-time fee for a ‘verified’ status, which is completely optional and not necessary to sell on the site. They are repeatedly commended on their prompt customer service, and features like the ability to leave feedback on buyers as well as sellers are things eBayers have been demanding for years.

Webstore Frontpage

The site is particularly good for memorabilia and collectibles of all kinds without restricting their range. It came second only to Artfire in the AuctionBytes 2011 Sellers Choice awards, making it the #1 anything-goes auction site in the survey (Artfire restricting itself to handmade craft items.) Webstore was also the most profitable of all eBay alternatives in the survey. Webstore understands that selling things means people pay you, and not the other way round.

Image credit: DSGpro / iStockphoto