How to Sell Broken or Defective Items on eBay

eBay has a reputation as an online marketplace for quality used items and well as, increasingly, brand new items. However, it is also a popular forum to sell broken or defective items. In fact, the first item sold on eBay in 1995 by founderĀ Pierre Omidyar was a broken laser pointer. Almost a throwback to the (very) early days of eBay, here’s a quick start guide to selling broken or defective items on eBay.

The market for broken or defective items on eBay

When considered, it is easy to understand why there are so many broken and defective items available for purchase on eBay. Most people have at least one or two broken items laying around the house at any one time. If these items have no valid warranty, there are not many other options other than recycling or throwing in the trash. Selling these items on eBay however, can be profitable and also reduce waste (particularly beneficial when considering electronics, which can be more difficult to dispose of).

The real question is, therefore, why do so many people buy broken and defective items on eBay? There are a number of reasons, with the most prominent being:

  • To save money: If someone has the knowledge and tools, repairing an item can be much cheaper than purchasing brand new. This is more often true for items at the higher and mid-range end of the market.
  • To fix and resell: For those with the skill and business mind to do it, purchasing broken items to fix and then resell can be lucrative. This business model can be entirely conducted on eBay.
  • For parts: Even though an item may not be fixable, the parts may be useful to refurbish or fix another product. A buyer may be using the parts for a similar item or something completely different.
  • To complete a collection: Though not perhaps considered ‘broken’ in the traditional sense, the ‘for parts’ category on eBay also includes pieces of larger sets e.g. Scrabble tiles without the game board. A buyer may be looking for a missing piece.
  • Just for fun: Some people just love taking things apart and reassembling them again. eBay is a convenient source for finding items to disassemble.

Examples of broken or defective items to sell on eBay for profit

The broken or defective item market on eBay is surprisingly large. Here are a few examples of popular or common ‘for parts’ items listed on eBay:

  • Cell phones and tablets – most commonly, iPhones and iPads
  • Musical instruments – stringed instruments
  • Video games and consoles – limited edition alongside older consoles
  • Watches – both vintage or modern
  • Jewelry – gold, silver, gemstones, costume
  • Coffee makers – including replacement filters, carafes, water tanks

Essential tips to sell broken or defective items on eBay

Selling broken or defective items isn’t a radically different process than selling any other item on eBay, but there are a few important considerations.

Start with research

Checking the market and competition is critical with so many facets of eBay, and this niche is no different. Use eBay’s Advanced Search Tool and see how much interest there is in the type of broken product you wish to sell. Examine how other sellers are listing similar items. Consider whether it would be worth disassembling the item if several parts are in demand.

Take original photos

It is best practice to always take and use your own photos of items on eBay, but it is especially important when selling a broken or defective product. Stock photos could mislead and confuse the buyer and eventually lead to an ‘Item Not As Described’ case later. Instead, take the time to take well-lit photos of the item, with the damage (if applicable) clearly demonstrated.

Write a clear description

The most important thing here is to be clear, upfront and descriptive about the damage in the item listing. The title and description should both mention ‘for parts or repair’ or ‘broken.’ The condition of the item should also read ‘for parts or repair.’ In the full description, explain exactly what is broken and how it happened. It is also a good idea to write a list of what exactly is included in the listing.

Consider a different return policy

There’s no doubt about it, eBay prefers sellers to make returns easy for buyers. With broken or defective items, however, it often is simpler to sell ‘as is’ with no returns. This prevents some of the risks with buyers unsuccessfully fixing items and then returning them. Of course, sellers need to keep in mind that most items sold are still covered by eBay’s Money Back Guarantee.

Broken, but still profitable

The extensive market for broken and defective items is just one example of the many interesting niches on eBay. It is a niche that many full-time eBay sellers could choose to take advantage of alongside their own business, to create profit from broken items around the home. It is also a lucrative space for aspiring eBay sellers with a skill for repair or ‘upcycling.’ Either way, this is one niche that doesn’t look to disappear anytime soon.

Do you have any experience selling broken or defective items on eBay? Share your experience in the comments below!

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.

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