I have been a doll collector for many years. I search for dolls almost every day on Ebay and have learned quite a bit about the practice of selling of dolls here. I would like to share how I go about deciding if I want to watch, bid, and ultimately purchase a doll.. I have purchased lots of dolls here so I hope this guide will help new sellers on Ebay, or seasoned sellers who are new to selling dolls. Doll collectors take this very seriously so I wanted to share from a buyer's point of view.
The first thing I look for is the item description. I want to know as much information as possible about the doll. I pass by any doll that has little or no information regardless of how the picture looks. Please be as specific as possible. Describe the material from which the doll is crafted. Example: if the doll is porcelain, bisque, plastic, rubber, composite or other, tell me. If you are not sure, say so. Not everyone is an expert, we all know that. It is better to say you are not sure of the material the doll is made of than to guess and be wrong. You can always use words like "feels like" or "looks like" but be sure to add it is only a guess on your part. That is being honest and honesty is always appreciated.
Then tell me the condition of the doll from her head to her toes. Tell me if there are flaws in the doll itself and what they are, where they are and tell me the same about the doll's clothing. I bought a lovely doll here not all that long ago from an honest seller who explained in her description that the doll's thumb was broken but that she had the thumb, that it was a clean break, would be included in the package and should be able to be easily fixed. I bought her because of this honest information and I fixed it. I would defy anyone to tell me which hand had the broken thumb. The piece was there and the repair was easy to do just like the seller explained. Should I, one day, decide to sell it, I will mention the repair honestly in the description.
If a doll is listed as "pure porcelain" for example, but only parts of the doll are porcelain i.e. the head, neck, breast plate, lower arms and legs, tell me so. Also tell me what the body of the doll is made of. I have had to write to numerous sellers asking this question because the description says, "porcelain doll" and does not mention if it is full body porcelain. This is important information and should be mentioned. It is also quite helpful to let a potential buyer know if a doll is jointed or articulated and can be posed. Sometimes porcelain dolls have arms which can be moved for display, or the head may be moved and posed. Buyers are interested in all details.
Here is an example of a poorly listed bride doll. "Stunning bisque bride doll complete with a beautifully made gown and full length veil." Believe it or not, that was the entire description! Sounds good, but it does not tell me if the doll is completely bisque, it does not tell me if the doll has shoes and stockings or socks and it does not tell me the size of the doll. It says nothing at all about any flaws or damage to the doll or her clothing and accessories, if a stand is included, if it soiled, or if the clothing is removable.
It says nothing except that to the seller, it was a "stunning bisque bride doll with a beautifully made gown and full length veil." The picture was pretty but I passed. I watched this particular auction and the item did not sell. I didn't even know if there was a box, paperwork, certificate, or the condition of these if included. I didn't know if it was new or vintage, the maker or artist, NADA! I would have had to ask way too many questions before bidding. It was a shame she didn't sell because she was nice though even the origin of the doll wasn't mentioned. I decided to write to the seller and suggest things to include in her description. She took my advice and guess what, the doll sold the second time around!
Make sure the pictures are upright. I hate it when the pictures are all sideways and you have to break your neck to get a view. I realize that sometimes the doll's eyes close and a sideways picture will show that with the doll in a sleeping position, but give me at least one good view of the doll in a standing or sitting position as well, which is upright and easy to see. Please tell me too, if the doll is pictured standing if she is able to sit and if sitting if she is able to stand.
On the listing, please be specific. Using the words,"baby doll" or bride doll" in the listing tells me nothing. I don't know if it's vintage or new or really anything but the type. I probably won't even click on that link. When you list a doll, use any sub catagories that apply. Those are helpful tools if applicable to your specific offering.
Tell me the size of the doll, everything that comes with it, the approximate age, if there is a stand, if it comes in the original box, the condition of the box, if it has a COA, if it has a wrist tag, the maker and artist (if possible) and the general overall condition of the doll. The more information you give me the more likely I am to consider a purchase. I always appreciate knowing if the clothing is removable for cleaning.
If you are listing a seven inch plastic doll for a low starting bid and then turn around say the shipping for a doll that obviously weighs only a few ounces will be twelve dollars, I am not going to bid. When it comes to shipping, please use reasonable shipping and if necessary, handling. I realize you have to pack it, drive to the post office or other shipper and your time is important and worth something too. We all know that, but be reasonable.
I know sometimes people use the shipping charges as their profit margin. We all know about that practice and doll collectors can spot it a mile away. Please don't start that practice, it will only serve to start you out with a reputation you don't want. Rather than trying to get your desired price with outrageously inflated shipping and handling charges, start the bidding a little higher and explain more about your doll giving very precise DETAILS. You can always use a reserve price too. Of course the shipping may seem high on a small doll that is completely porcelain because she will have to be packed especially carefully taking extra time and packing materials. Likewise, the shipping will be high if the doll is large and the body is stuffed making the doll quite heavy. Just share that information with your prospective customers and they will understand why the shipping seems out of line for your doll.
Nothing is more annoying than to see a doll with a starting price of one dollar and a shipping cost of twenty five or thirty dollars with no reason given especially if the potential buyer is familiar with the average cost of shipping a similar doll and knows it should be only five or six dollars. You can be sure that most doll collectors are very much aware of what similar dolls or even your exact doll should ship for.
Please don't start your description with a negative comment. Example: I recently saw a lovely doll I would have bid on immediately except for the first paragraph. This seller stated in the very first paragraph, "If you do not plan to pay do not bid. Payment is expected in seven days or the item will be relisted, I will leave you negative feedback and file a non paying bidder complaint with EBay." YIKES, that even scared me off and I always pay immediately when humanly possible!
This seller did not accept Paypal or other instant pay options, only money orders and only certain money orders at that, The doll was almost 3000 miles away from where I live. I have no control over how fast mail is delivered. I realize you have to set a limit, but keep in mind that snail mail can take several days to reach an even closer destination. It took a week for a letter from my mother who lives only 60 miles away to reach me recently. If you feel the necessity to warn bidders, then do so at the end of the description. Start the description with a positive statement about your doll. If you've had bad experiences with non payers or slow payers, explain why you are making such a terse statement. People will understand and even empathize with you. Just be positive about your product in your opening paragraph and give warnings if you must, later in the listing.
(If you set a time limit without having an instant pay feature available, and if you are asking for specific money orders, remember it may take time to find that money order and to get it in the mail. Please take those things into consideration when setting a time limit for payment. Also, in this particular listing, (above) the seller wanted the buyer to wait for an email total. It can take a day or more to receive an email, then there is the time needed to get the requested payment method and try to get it to the seller within a short time. I was sure I couldn't do it in seven days. The bidding ended on a Friday night, I would have had to wait for an email which I probably would not have received until at least Saturday morning, make sure I checked very frequently all weekend for that email if delayed, then try to find that specific money order, mail it and pray it made it clear across the country in just the few days I would have left. I didn't want to chance ruining a perfect feedback history because of such an unreasonable demand).
I also take a look at what others have had to say via the seller's feedback. I don't have to see a 100% positive feedback score for a seller to buy, but when I see over and over again neutral and negatives for the same complaint, i.e. slow shipping, poor packaging etc., and the seller has not followed up with an explanation, it sends up a red flag; at least to me. And if the answer to a negative feedback calls the buyer names or is sarcastic, I'll pass that up too. Negatives can be answered in the form of a polite explanation that satisfies potential buyers. I recently purchased a lovely doll from a seller who answered her few negatives with statements like, "I am sorry, I offered a refund", or "I offered to make this right," etc. I had no problem with the doll when it arrived and I am very happy with the purchase and the seller.
I also check out the feedback of the person who left a negative to see if it is a pattern for that particular buyer to leave negatives. In my humble opinion we should all do that. It isn't always the seller's fault that a customer was disappointed. Buyers remorse is common. And let's just be honest here, we're among friends, some people wouldn't be happy no matter what a seller did or didn't do. And I am saying this as a buyer NOT a seller. I truly feel sorry for sellers sometimes. With some buyers, they just can't win. I have not sold much here at all as of yet but when I do, I hope I get buyers like me *smile/wink*.
I check the seller's feedback left for others as well. If it is unnecessarily rude, I move on. Words of a personal nature like "cheater", "horrible", and similar adjectives send me running in the other direction. Words like, slow payer, non payer, etc., are all I need to know. I am not impressed when a seller slams a buyer with unnecessarily negative words. I know we all get angry, but before you write, calm down and think about the fact that potential buyers are looking at what you say about others.
I know Paypal and other instant payment options charge a fee for using their services but when a seller uses this method, it makes things go so much easier. My bank and/or credit card number is kept private and I can pay immediately which is something I truly strive to do on every transaction. If a seller adds a shipping calculator, I am ever so grateful. This is a wonderful tool. Even a fixed amount is better than no amount at all. If neither of these are used, at least invite the potential buyer to write you about shipping to their particular zip code. Then answer as quickly as possible. Buyers are usually content with a shipping range i.e. 5-7 dollars etc., but at least give them a ballpark figure. Figuring a bit higher is better than saying six dollars and then at the end charging eleven. I'd much rather see seven dollars and have it turn out to be lower rather than almost double. This only happened to me once and that was once too often!
Sellers, PLEASE answer your email. Interested buyers are really turned off when they ask reasonable questions and those questions are ignored. If a seller won't answer a simple question about an item before it sells, how good will the contact be after the sale? It makes me wonder.
Be careful with words like "mint or minty". I purchased a bride doll described and pictured as minty. When she arrived her head was not even attached. It was actually wrapped separately. It wasn't even the original head for the doll. I didn't leave negative feedback, but on that occasion I should have. There is nothing MINTY about a headless doll deceivingly described and deceptively posed like she actually is"minty".
Pack your dolls as carefully as you possibly can trying your best to make sure the dress and hair if applicable, are protected from unnecessary mussing. I once received a little vintage plastic bride in a mailing envelope! Can you even imagine the shape she was in when I received her?
It is always appreciated if you drop a line to your customer when the item ships. It is just good business and only takes a few seconds. Always leave feedback. Buyers want a good reputation just as much as sellers do. It is important for several reasons the most important being that some sellers won't sell to buyers with less than a certain number of good feedback scores.
You may not agree with everything I have to say here, and that is perfectly OK. All I suggest is that when you list, take a little time to tell the potential buyer as much as you can about the doll. Age, height, weight, material, condition, stand, shoes and socks, clothing and hair are always important as well as hang tags, box or lack of, condition of box if available, paperwork, accessories and some history of the doll if vintage and you know something about it. Mention any objectionable odors if present and if it has been stored where animals or even moisture have had access to the item. Some buyers have allergies and this is important information for them. Then give the buyer time to get payment to you if you don't accept instant payment methods and be very careful in wrapping and shipping a doll. Doll collectors love their little friends and want to have them delivered in good shape.
Remember too, that doll collectors are usually familiar with manufacturers of dolls and doll artists. They usually know about what a doll is worth or if new, what it costs. So don't try to fool a collector. If possible, try visiting the website of your doll's manufacturer. You may find your doll is selling for much less than you think, (I see this happening quite often with certain dolls) or, it may be selling for even more than you thought! Be honest and be reasonable with your pricing. You should have great experiences if you follow these tips.
Think like a potential buyer when you list a doll for auction. What would you want to know?
I hope this has helped new doll sellers and I hope I am your next customer. I love collecting dolls, especially brides and if you take a look at my feedback, you will see that I have only good feedback and only leave good feedback.
I hope that if you take this guide to heart, you will be on more favorite sellers lists than you can imagine! I ask you to take a moment and read the other doll guides and description guide if you found this one helpful. Thank you so much for all your support.
Best of luck with your doll and all your auctions!
Thanks to you all who have written and said this has helped you. I am ALWAYS on the side of the seller and I am only a buyer for now.I I rarely sell. So take comfort in knowing this good buyer is in your corner, I have your back!