Buying and selling CB Radios on eBay – 10 things you need to know
Everyone these days is buying stuff on eBay, and it’s a great place to shop for deals or hard to find items. As far as CB radios are concerned it’s a goldmine, but only if you know what to look for, how to avoid the scams, broken radios, and worthless junk.
This article was written to give anyone who wants to buy CB radio equipment on eBay a quick guide. This info should be helpful, but nothing can make up for good old fashion common sense.
#1) The seller with no feedback or negative feedback
Pretty much everyone knows this rule by now. Do not buy anything from anyone who has a (0) feedback score. It means that they have never sold or bought anything on eBay which is not a good sign. Either they truly are a newbie which means their knowledge of how to complete a transaction is nada, or they are someone who was banned by eBay and opened a new account under a different name which is even worse.
In general I do not buy anything from anyone who has a rating of less than 97%. If I’m buying from someone who has any negative feedback whatsoever I read through all of their feedback very carefully to determine if the negative feedback was their fault. Reading through someone’s feedback is always a good idea and it gives you an idea of who you will be dealing with.
#2) The seller with a radio that is “untested”
In my experience “untested” means non-working. Now this isn’t true in all cases but with eBay radios I’m very careful when anyone uses the term.
Often you’ll see a base radio being sold as untested – even though the radio runs on 120AC. To test the power all the seller would need to do is plug it in. Then at least in their listing they could say “tested for power, but not tested for TX or RX”.
The truth of the matter is that they probably did test the radio and it isn’t working. A radio that has the slight possibility that it might work and is labeled as “untested” will sell for a higher price than the one that is “non-working”.
Another part of this plot is that most people who sell CB Radios on eBay buy and sell quite often. A good thing to do is to check someone’s feedback and item history.
If someone has sold more than 3-4 CBs on eBay you can safely assume that they are familiar with CB radios, own a CB radio, own a CB antenna, and own a CB SWR meter. The fact that they put “untested” means that the radio is not working.
There is one seller who I see on eBay quite often who will state that he tested a radio for transmit by jumping the microphone pins with some wires, but he doesn’t know if the radio receives or modulates because he doesn’t have the proper microphone so the radio is sold as-is. This to me is just bizarre. If someone has enough knowledge to use a small wire and jump the microphone pins to test RX and TX than they obviously have the ability to rewire a microphone to test the radio thoroughly. These are the types of statements that really say to me “BEWARE”.
Sometimes you may see people who bought a bunch of items at an estate auction and are selling them as “untested” and this to me seems to be the only real scenario when someone wouldn’t test a radio because there are 20-30 of them or because they are an antiques salesman and have no idea how CB radios work.
#3) The too good to be true scenario
This one doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. It’s the old adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.
This can apply to a number of different things on eBay: radios that are “new in box” but look used in the photos, radios supposedly labeled as “rare” or collector’s items, radios with a $20 “buy it now” price even though normally you see them sell for $100-200.
There are a lot of great deals on eBay, but many of them aren’t as good as they seem.
#4) The magical radio
People keep falling for this one and I just don’t understand it, the sellers must have some kind of mind control device.
I’m talking about the “magic” radio. The Cobra 148 GTL that the seller says has a 60 watts output because he did a special tune up himself on the radio. Or the guy that says his Uniden Pro 510XL will out talk any of the more expensive radios because he put a swing kit into it. Don’t believe the hype, these people are either lying or have no clue about their equipment. Two reasons to steer clear of anything they might be selling.
When looking at CB amplifiers for sale on eBay these claims can even get more ridiculous. Even with CB antennas you’ll see sellers say that their 4’ antenna will do better than any full size antenna available.
There are certain facts that can’t be denied in the CB world and no amount of hype will give these radios the magical qualities their sellers claim.
#5) The offers to end your auction early and sell at a flat rate
If you have ever sold anything on eBay you’ve probably run into the person that sends you a message saying they will offer you a certain amount of money for your item if you end your auction and sell to them.
In many cases this can be a good thing, but only if you are an experienced seller and know the value of your items.
For many beginners who decide to sell their dad’s radios on eBay these offers are like poison. If you don’t know the current street value of a radio just let your auction run full term. Do not accept any early offers.
Here’s the thing to remember – if someone is willing to make a cash offer for your item it most likely is an item that will sell at auction. Their plan is to make you a good sounding offer which you will agree to, but their offer is usually 20-30% lower than what the selling price would be if you let your auction run full term.
Now of course there are some times when they may make you a good offer that is reasonable and you have no problem agreeing to the deal, but in most cases people making you offers are trying to save themselves money and snag a radio or amp for cheap.
It’s always tempting to agree when they offer, but do yourself a favor and let your auction run full term. People will often start bidding wars near the end of your auction and you’re likely to get quite a nice sum for your equipment.
#6) Don’t get caught up in the bidding frenzy
Everyone hates losing, whether it’s on the field, at the bowling alley, or on eBay. Human nature drives us to want to win and to have what we want when we want it.
When you see that mint condition Golden Eagle D104 on eBay you begin to drool and find yourself placing a bid. 10 minutes later you’ve been outbid and you go back and take another look at the D104 and say to yourself “that mike is beautiful, I want that sucka” and you place another bid. This goes on each day until the end of the auction when bids start flying from every direction. By now you’ve looked at that same microphone 20 times and have been outbid 8 times. You begin to feel like you “need” the microphone the same way your five year old tells you they “need” that new GI Joe toy they saw at the store. Other people keep outbidding you but you know you can beat them and finally you place a high bid of $350 in the closing seconds and win the microphone.
Perhaps you do a victory dance after winning the auction, or maybe you brag to your CB buddies about the microphone you will soon be receiving in the mail.
Then three days later you log onto eBay again (your beautiful mint condition mike already in the mail on its way to you). You happen to do a search for Golden Eagle D104 microphones and to your horror and surprise you see a brand new in box old stock Golden Eagle D104 with a buy it now price of $150. At this point you begin to cry and see the folly in your ways.
Okay so maybe it’s a long, drawn out example, but it’s the truth. For every perfect radio you see on eBay and decide you “must have” there will be five or six more posted in the next month.
CB radios are not like Buffalo Nickels and most of the time there will be 5-6 of the exact same models in similar condition posted on eBay at any given time. Don’t get yourself locked into the idea that you have to have the first one you see. Be flexible, stay loose. Place a bid here and a bid there. Keep searching using different search terms and eventually you will find your diamond in the rough for the perfect price.
#7) A picture is worth a thousand words
If you plan to sell a radio on eBay do yourself a favor and buy, borrow or steal a high quality digital camera so you can take a proper picture.
You can write a 1000 word description of your radio for sale but if your picture is dark or out of focus no one is going to bid on your item.
When selling a radio make sure to take close up pictures of your radio showing all of the controls, the model number, microphone jack, power wires, radio case, etc. This is especially important if you have a radio in really nice condition – why waste its good looks with a crappy camera.
Often people don’t take the time to get the proper lighting or venue for their picture. Don’t take a picture of the radio on your bed with your dirty underwear showing in the background. Lay down a solid color blanket that will bring out the color and features of your radio. Make sure that there isn’t a ton of glare or reflection in your picture.
And lastly – clean your radio. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen dusty or dirty radios on eBay that sell for way less than they are worth. This happens because the radio looks like crap in the picture. It’s common knowledge that when you sell your car you wash it and wax it. It’s the same with your CB radio, wipe it down with a wet cloth and get the dirt and dust off it. Polish it a little until it shines.
By spending ten minutes prepping your radio for its picture you might be increasing the sale price by 15-25%.
I often will buy dirty radios on eBay cheap then will clean them up and resell them for profit. Don’t let me make the profit on your radio. Spend five minutes and make it look like a collector’s item.
#8) When selling your CB make sure to write a good title and description
If you are going to sell your radio on eBay you want people to bid on it right? And for people to bid on your radio they first need to be able to find your radio.
When you are looking for something on eBay you type the item’s name or model into the search box. Well that search box goes through and searches all the titles of all the items on eBay. The more detailed and effective your title is, the more likely your item will be found in a search.
As an example, if you are selling a Galaxy 959 radio you would want to make sure to fit the following search tags into your title –
Why are these words so important? Imagine you want to buy a CB radio on eBay, most likely your first search would be for “CB Radio”. Maybe you want a radio with SSB so you might type in a search for “SSB CB Radio”, or a “Galaxy CB Radio” and if you are very specific maybe a “Galaxy 959 SSB CB Radio”.
If you had just titled your auction “Galaxy 959” in the example above you would have missed out on 50% of the searches right away.
The second thing that’s important is your description. Always make sure to include the full model number of the radio, all of the features and factory specifications if available. In addition you can tell people about the working condition of the radio, how many years you’ve owned it and why you are selling it.
I always try to include as many important search terms as possible in my description as well in case people use the “search title and description” option. I’ll put that the radio has SSB in the description but I’ll also write out later that it works great on Single Sideband just in case someone searches using the full name of the feature.
Don’t forget that people buying CBs on eBay are getting all of the info about that radio from your picture and description and that’s not a lot to go on. The more information you can give them the more comfortable they will be bidding on your radio.
#9) Shipping costs – what’s reasonable and what’s not
This one is very important because most people have no idea about how much it costs to ship a radio from one place to another in the United States.
When buying a radio on eBay make sure that the shipping cost is realistic. Also talk to the seller about other types of shipping options. There are some great ways to ship radios that are cheap and effective. My favorite is the United States Postal Service flat rate $8.88 box. The post office will give you the box for free and it’s one price to anywhere in the United States. The only thing is that the boxes are a little small, but most radios similar in size to the Cobra 29 will fit in one with room for padding and the microphone and power cord.
If someone is selling a Cobra 29 and the shipping cost from Florida to your home state of Pennsylvania is $20 you probably want to skip that auction or send a message to the seller to negotiate a lower cost before bidding. That’s just not a realistic shipping price.
As a seller the lower the shipping cost the more likely people are to bid on your item. Most people take the shipping cost into consideration when bidding so the more accurate you are on the shipping the better chance you have of selling the item.
As an example last month I sold a video game system and I offered FREE shipping. It sold for around $130. When I researched other game systems of equal value to mine I saw that many sold for around $90+$15 shipping. So even though the cost of my system ended up being higher, people were more willing to bid on the item because of the low shipping cost.
#10) eBay is just one of many
eBay isn’t the only place to sell your stuff. Yes, there are a million people a day visiting their website, but only 1,000 of those people might be looking for a CB radio.
You may be better off selling your equipment on a Ham or CB radio website or forum as the people there know the value of the equipment and are always interested in purchasing new radios.
As a buyer make sure to check Craigslist.org, Yahoo Auctions, and your local “buy and sell” publication (in my area it’s called the Little Nickel).
The best deals I’ve found on CB equipment have been at swap meets and garage sales.
So although eBay is a great place to shop, don’t limit yourself to eBay as there are plenty of other deals to be had elsewhere.