Ignore The TV Commercials: Don’t Sell Your Old Phone On eBay

eBay is currently engaging in an ad campaign, timed to coincide with the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 plus, meant to coax people who don’t currently use eBay to use the service to find new homes for their phones. Yet people who are frequent eBay users think that this is a terrible idea, and not just because they’re sellers who fear the competition.

Here’s one of the spots, urging aspiring phone-sellers to “delete that middleman” and sell directly.

It’s a pretty nice deal, where eBay promises a $100 coupon to people who list their phone in an auction, but it doesn’t sell. The problem is that selling in an auction format can be confusing for first-time sellers, and selling big-ticket electronics on eBay can also lead to trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The editor and readers of industry site eCommerceBytes don’t think that selling used devices on eBay is such a good idea for the general public. Selling electronics on eBay and on Amazon can be tricky, requiring experience and a keen eye to protect yourself from fraud. For example, they point to one customer profiled by First Coast News who sold a broken, non-working phone on eBay, and the buyer turned around and complained that the phone…didn’t come with access to the original owner’s iCloud account, which wasn’t a condition of the sale.

The problem is that buyer-friendly policies meant that the customer received a full refund after complaining that they didn’t receive what was promised in the sale. This left the seller without the phone and without her money.

One of our own readers also shared a tale of iPhone sales woe two years ago. In that case, the seller took precautions, mailed the phone with delivery confirmation, and it disappeared while in the metaphorical hands of the U.S. Postal Service. Unfortunately, proof that he had mailed the package wasn’t sufficient for eBay, and they issued a refund to the buyer.

Can you get more cash by selling your phone on eBay? Sure, sometimes. The difference is that selling directly to a third party who lives far away introduces the potential for fraud, and even the most experienced eBay sellers end up without their money and without their phone.

Consumer Gets Burned Selling Used iPhone on eBay [eCommerceBytes]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.