I have mentioned on here a few times that I have been going through things that we don't need anymore (I tend to hold onto everything that crosses my path, so there is a fair amount of stuff!) and selling them bit by bit.
This has worked out fabulously for me because each week my garage is a little less crowded, and each week we have a little money to spread around. The goal is to get the garage empty except for holiday/sentimental or necessary items, the laundry items (W&D, iron and ironing board), and my work out stuff (which I guess I should use some time, as it is currently "like-new, barely used!").
The problem I have encountered is a nagging war of ethics within me.
First, is the idea of selling things. People need things. People who can't really afford to buy them. I have also been the recipient of a lot of really great and useful things that others have freely given to me as a gift. At times I feel like I am doing something wrong by selling items instead of donating them or giving them away. I have had many people give me back stories as to why they need the item I'm selling, with the intent of the message being, "I really need this. You should just give it to me." As of yet, I have only given 1 thing away (and boy, oh, boy did people come out of the woodwork to buy this nice, but damaged (by the movers!) item). So there is guilt about selling v. giving away.
Then there is the issue of value. I try to assign a price to something that reflects what I paid for it, what it currently sells for, the condition it is in, considering use and any problems or flaws the item might have. I try to price things at a fair price that is a bargain for the buyer, but doesn't disregard the value of the item. Sort of a bit more expensive than garage sale, but less than thrift store or retail. I also price things a few dollars higher than what I would accept, giving the buyer the opportunity to ask for a better deal if they feel like the price is higher than what they want to spend. And sometimes I feel like that's wrong. Not that I price things TOO high, but just knowing that I am selling something to someone for my asking price when in reality I would have gone down a little bit had they only asked.
I have had one person get ridiculously mad at me and essentially stalk me via email because I wouldn't sell something to her for a tiny fraction of what it was worth. She asked me what the lowest I would accept was, and I immediately knocked $25 off the price (my asking price on this item was very good for the actual value of it, but it was something I would part with for quite a bit less). She then offered to buy the item for less than 1/4 of what I was selling it for. She was rude and demanding in all our correspondence, despite my civility, so I told her the price - $25 off and no less was firm. In reality, I would have knocked another $10 off if she hadn't been such a bitch. But I am not hard up for crack money and the item is not taking up a lot of space, so I can hold onto it indefinitely. I have had many inquiries, and it will sell eventually, although she reminds me via email that she is delighted to know that I have not sold it yet. Woe is me that I did not take her ridiculous offer.
Should I feel guilty that I'm not selling something I really don't need or want for FAAAAAAR less than what it would cost at retail? I mean, should I just essentially give it away?
Another issue is packaging/marketing. I try to make my items appealing. Groupings that make sense and are useful. Photos that are appealing. Descriptions of uses for the item and value (my asking price v. retail price). Selling items in season or when in demand to maximize my ability to get them sold, and to get them sold for a good (to me) price. Is that dishonest?
And finally, I am uncomfortable when dealing with many offers for a single item. I go by first come, first served. I don't do the "whoever offers the most" thing. Sometimes people are interested at different times, but one follows through more quickly. I always feel bad for the others who intended to buy but didn't respond quickly enough. I had a lady who wanted to buy something but when it came time to arrange for pick up she told me she had to wait until payday, so she could pay me half upfront and then I could hold the item for a few days and then she would come pick up and pay the balance. I had to turn her down, and I felt bad about it, but it was just too complicated for me. I didn't want to hold her money and NOT give her the item, but I wasn't going to give her the item and then wait and see if she paid me the rest of the money. Later that day I sold the item outright to someone else who had the money. I did feel guilty about that, but I really don't want to deal with weird issues. I also only accept cash because I'm not willing to take a risk with bouncing checks.
And yes, I know I have to report this as income. That's not an ethics issue I'm confused about. Everything else, however, is negotiable. Make me an offer.