Need advice from successful HB eBay Sellers!


Well, due to a downsizing lifestyle (divorce, etc.,), I'm going to have to attempt to eBay off my collection of some 500 calculators, including a good number of HPs. For any seller out there who might care to respond either here or in private (, I have a few questions.
Firstly, what information should always be included in an HP auction to fetch the best price? In other words, what do HP collectors always want to know from an auction listing? Are they any auctions listed at the moment that you consider great examples that I might model?
Secondly, and I know I might get some razzing for this, but are there any techniques to listing that generally lead to higher prices? IOW, in general, do the best HP sellers start with a low initial bid? or a high initial bid? and what about reserves?
My wife is going to take me to the cleaners, so I really need to do as best I can in order to keep myself in foodstuffs and shoes.
That being the case, any other thoughts you might have about selling both to please the buyer and to please the seller (me!), would be greatly appreciated.





I have sold a lot of HP calculators on EBAY at a good price. What I do is as follows:

1) PICTURES Take GOOD pictures, Infocus, well lit and big (not too big, big enough to see properly but small enough to load quickly). Include front and back, battery compartment, accessories etc
2) DESCRIPTION: Include genuine condition, does it work? state of battery compartment, any damage etc. Also include serial number.
3) Accessories: List all your accessories carefully
4) Start at a lowish price, No reserve, 7 day auction
5) Advertise your sale in the classified section of this website
6) Be careful about the title include the words "HP" "Calculator" "Hewlett Packard" and the model Number eg "41 CX" helps people find it easily!

Just my opinion! Others may do it differently!

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The above list is pretty good towards successful selling and I would only add a few things to it.

1. Try to schedule your auctions to end in the late evening of Saturday or Sunday. That's 'prime time' for e-bay watchers.

2. 'Break up' items from a set of things where it makes sense. Often listings have several items in them where a bidder may have an interest in only one of them. Hence, they'll shy away from bidding, not wanting to pay more.

3. Don't limit yourself to any one payment option (e.g. only Pay-Pal). It limits your pool of bidders, and ultimately the size of the bids.

4. Answer any and all e-mails promptly, no matter how stupid the question.

5. Package well and ship promptly. None of that 'I only go to the PO on Friday' stuff. Require insurance or at least delivery confermation.

6. Be honest. Point out anything that is less than perfect on your item. If it ain't mint to you, don't tell someone else it is.

7. Save all e-mails relative to an item. Keep them till the auction end, and any from the winning bidder till they leave feedback.

8. Treat buyers like you wish to be treated. It's no different on the net than it is down at the corner store.



Just a question about breaking up more-or-less complete packages. It really is the best thing to do both for the community & for my wallet?
For instance, I have a boxed HP 97, with manuals, soft zipper case, and lots of other whoo-ha. In that case, I would maybe sell the outer cardboard box separately (it being relatively rare, I'd guess), the manuals separately, and then maybe sell as one package the 97 itself, with the zippered case, batteries, charger and whatever else is leftover. Correct?
Same thing with my HP 65 set -- sell the calculator itself separately from the hardshell plastic carrying case, separately from the manuals and so forth?
Lastly, with individual calculators -- how much does it add to desireablity to include batteries (in most cases dead) and the charger? If I've got the soft formfitting cases for these calcs, include 'em or piece them out?
Again, thanks for the help. I've got about 40 HPs to auction off and doing so is going to be a daunting task but the advice here is already helping me out a lot.


If you have boxed sets sell them as complete boxed sets, dont break them up. Much more valuable as a complete boxed set than seperate items.
Batteries: If the batteries are custom HP rechargable they must be included in the auction but ship them outside the calculator in plastic bag (hopefull the batteries arent stored in the calculators at the moment!!). People need the hardware in these original battery packs to rebuild a new battery pack. Always comment on the state of the battery and battery compartment in your description. Corrosion in battery compartments reduces price significantly! Also include comment on the state of the battery compartment cover.
Power supplies should always be included but make sure you tell people what mains voltage they are set for and what type of mains plug they have.

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if there are matching serial numbers on box and calculator.


This Message was deleted. This empty message preserves the threading when a post with followup(s) is deleted.


Thanks, guys, for the tips! Another question occurs to me. In the past selling on ebay (non-calc items) I stated that I'd only sell to U.S. residents, because the hassle of going to the PO outweighed any extra money I thought I might make. It occurs to me, however, that where HPs are concerned, it might be wise for me to open up the bidding to all comers, from anywhere in the world. What do you think? Will I really limit myself if I sell only to the US?


I am from the UK and I would like to be able to bid.

It might push up the price!!


Absolutely. Most eBay'ers are not well versed in shipping methods and never find out what is involved. Sending stuff internationally using the Post Office is easy. Once you know the weight, you can go online and get the costs for all classes of service with a couple of mouse clicks. Just look for the shipping calculator at The customs forms information is available there as well. It takes about three minutes to complete the forms required.

You should also without question accept Paypal. Some may advise you otherwise but it really makes a difference in buyer confidence. Don't consider it an endorsement for PP, just an observation as a buyer, seller and watcher. While their fees are the highest around, it works well for the currency conversion.


Do a yahoo search on these terms:



and you'll find lots of horror stories from the seller's perspective. Apparently, if an unscrupulous buyer uses paypal to pay you, you can be stuck with no way to get your $$.

Do the search. Read up and then decide for yourself.

Hasn't happened to me, but then I no longer accept paypal when I sell things.

The actions of a few have influenced my decision and unfortunately now make life worse for me and any prospective buyers. :-(


I have sent/recieved to/from USA, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Spain... Never frauds

Edited: 19 Jan 2004, 2:13 p.m.


Randy wrote:
> You should also without question accept Paypal.

As a buyer, I would like to second this suggestion. Despite the problems associated with PayPal, sending money from one country to another without using PayPal can be very expensive.

I bought my HP34C from a person in the the UK and I wanted to send the money from Greece. The bank asked for 27 EURO to do a transfer from my bank account to the bank account in the UK. And that using the Europe-wide standardised account numbers (without this number I'd have to pay 37 EUROs).

For tranfers within the EURO-zone the cost is still high (17 EUROs). I don't know whether its just the Greek banks but such fees kill cross country commerce.

PayPal essentially allows you to use your credit card for such payments, making the whole process cost effective and painless.

Yes there is a possibility for fraud, but if you do business with unscrupulous persons, you'll get cheated no matter what.

Sometimes courrier service employees steal contents that can be easily resold. E.g. a friend of mine who sent stamps using a well known courrier service received the envelope without the stamps.

You just have to factor-in the possibility of fraud in the price of everything you sell.



PayPal warning:

In my case, I never advertize that I take paypal. You never know who might bid on an item.

I only accept paypal from people with excellent feedback or people that I know. PayPal is probably the most fraudelent used payment method available.

PayPal will come back to the seller and simply take the money out of your account or card, if something goes wrong with a transaction. They will leave you holding the bag.

Plus, unscrupulous bidders can demand "chargebacks" and send you back different merchandise, if they send anything at all. Paypal only cares about "proof of mailing" not "what actually arrived."

If someone want's to use a Credit Card, they can use Western Union Auction Payments. They are back to normal now and there is absolutely no risk to the seller by fraudelent use of a credit card and no chance of a chargeback.

Edited: 19 Jan 2004, 5:03 p.m.


This is exactly the type of thing I was referring to.

Really, do a yahoo search and read the horror stories for yourselves.

I really thought things would improve once ebay bought paypal, but ...


The U.S. postal service does not offer insurance to some (many) countries.

I always put a requirement in my auctions that international bidders must contact me before bidding. This is to assure that I can verify insurability. You are at risk, if you can't insure your international shipments.

Another advantage of insurance is that if a package is not accepted at the receiving end or cannot be delivered, it will be returned to you, without any postage due.

If you don't have insurance, you might be stuck with postage both ways. Even if you have the address correct things can go wrong. Sometime postal authorities in other countries don't deliver for bogus reasons. I had one returned because it didn't have an invoice, when it did. Some countries require invoice in duplicate or they won't be accepted.

When you are stuck with a returned package, that means you are stuck with both postages. Then, you'll have to send it back to the seller again. Think he'll pay for 3 posstages? Not likely. With insurance, a package can be returned and sent back, all on the same postage.

And, I'm not just paranoid about this possibility. I currently have a shipment that has been to Italy and back once already. The postage was $144.00. Had it not been insurred, I'd be out $432 in shipping alone. Once to Italy, once to return it and once to send it back. $288 would have been my responsibility, since it wasn't the bidders fault. However, insurance prevented all this postage double-charging.

Italy seems to be one of the toughest countries to ship to. I have had multiple problems shipping to Italy.

Edited: 19 Jan 2004, 5:16 p.m.


good golly, now I'm plenty pleased that in my previous ebay sales, I decided to skip foreign countries. what a hassle! that said, for my calcs, i think i'll do better by opening up to just about everywhere. but what countries are, in fact, most full of hassles? based on mike's experience, i think i'll rule italy out. any other countries i ought to consider excluding?
again, thanks!


I have never lost a package to an international destination.

I had one take 6 months.

However, if you are insurred, you shouldn't have any problems. They eventually show up.

Countries that I have never had a problem with: Canada, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Japan, Australia, Belgium. I have shipped a number of times to these countries. These are very reliable. I have had some problems with France and Spain (delays) but never lost anything.

Edited: 19 Jan 2004, 7:07 p.m.


Weeeell... thanks Mike for your help in barring my country out of the game ;-)

BTW: Mike, haven't you auctioned some items in the past with a PayPal only? Do I remember correctly?

Anyway I must admit that ours is not the best Postal Service in the world but it (almost always) gets the job done, even if not in record time.

I had about 250 transactions on eBay and most of the time I used PayPal that greatly simplifies sending the money around the world (Australia, New Zealand, most of Europe, Canada and USA too). I confess that I usually prefer shopping abroad rather than next door.

I only had a few bad experiences (only two, not counting misrepresented items or fictious shipping fees); one from USA (a padded envelope badly closed - open I should say - which contained only the manual and no calc on delivery) and another one from Singapore (I think) when the seller disappeared after cashing my money.

In these circumstances I didn't use PayPal.

I hope to find auctions open worldwide; the seller has the right to ask for insurance or decline any responsibility in case the items gets lost or damaged.

Just my 2¢ (.02€)



Italy is fine, so long as one buys insurance. With insurance, the item will come back, even if not delivered and it won't cost any additional shipping.

That was the point I was trying to make.

UPDATE: It may also have something to do with the weight. The only ones I have had problems with were vintage computers that weighed 30+ pounds. Never had a problem with a calculator, that I recall.

Edited: 20 Jan 2004, 12:47 p.m.


as Italian buyer, I can confirm Massimo's experience (even if much more limited).

Biggest problems so far, was my lack of patience and I got 2 sellers that didn't answer my emails for several days, but the packages were already shipped and arrived. Another was blocked in customs office, and suffered a 15 days delay under xmas, that's it.

I, as BUYER, always require the seller to send it insured. You should take note, however, that we have rules that my be different from US, for example a valid italian phone number must be included into shipping address.

See USPS site:

Paypal is a good service in my opinion, it remains the best option with credit cards. They should *implement* customer service, and explain clearly that you are requested to sign for a premium account to receive credit card payments but what other choices are really available outside US?
Western Union online is not active outside the States, money orders are slow, postal orders are not always accepted and so on.

Giuseppe Marullo


Hi: This is an interesting discussion, so I thought I'd put in my 2 cents (Canadian). Many HP auctions on Ebay say they do not ship outside the US. This is frustrating for me since I have to pass up bidding on many things that interest me, or that seem like a good deal. In many cases, I ask the seller if they will ship to Canada, and most say yes after I explain that I'll pay the difference in cost. However, some are very adamant about US bidders only. I cannot think of a negative about opening up to international bidders - more people bidding will only drive up the price. And furthermore, I am positive that many US buyers appreciate it when someone from outside the US is selling a nice HP product on Ebay. In those cases its a given that shipping to the US is OK. A little give and take!


At the moment the US$ is quite low against the euro and Pound sterling so Europeans might be willing to pay more.




Definitly sell to USA,Canada, UK, Europe, Australia etc. You might want to avoid certain locations which have a repuation for fraud. I have sold quite a few calcs worldwide and never yet had a fraudulent transaction.

Selling outside the USA will increase your potential market significantly.

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For your better items, offer a decent warranty, something like "If not as described in auction, let me know in 3 days after receiving, and your money cheerfully refunded less shipping charges."


For every item, top quality, trash, rare, or common, describe it accurately! If you make a mistake in describing it, so that it is not as described when the buyer receives it (barring damage in transit), you should return the full payment including shipping charges, and pay the shipping charges for the buyer to return it to you. This way, he is not out any money as a result of your mistake. If you are careful in describing the item, this should not be a problem.



How much would YOU pay for her?? What sort of woman wouldn't want to dedicate her life to somone with a collection of 500 vinatge calculators? She obvioulsy has no soul!


I'm seeing a lot of suggestions. Many are what bidders would like to see, rather than what are good ideas for a seller.

I'm not sure I agree with advertizing a warranty or return policy, unless you are a business or technically inclined person. This could be a real headache. Of course, if you don't deliver what you describe, you should take it back. I also don't advertize "as is."

I prefer to deal with sales on a case by case basis. I have had a few people try to return something because of buyers remorse. These are easy to spot. But if you offer a warranty, you'll have people "buy and trying" your stuff and then returning it.

If you are brutally honest about what you are selling, and show clear, focused and detailed photos, there shouldn't be any need for a return.

Try to anticipate what people will ask and provide those answers. Here is what I try to tell bidders. This is what bidders should ask. Try to address those in the auctiion. I rarely get asked questions.

Edited: 19 Jan 2004, 5:35 p.m.


Thanks for your seller's perspective, mike!

I'm about ready to start testing my HPs, and I do believe all my battery packs are dead (and some, of course, are full of corrosion). To use the chargers, I know I'm supposed to have a battery pack installed. Is that true for all HP models? And, do I have to use good battery packs or what?


It's always better to use a good battery, while on adapter. Some don't cause problems if only on battery but why take a chance.

Most packs are easy to rebuild. Waterhosko sells many of the classic packs and it is well worth the cost to get one to test classics.

But, please don't do as some do and solder wires to the battery terminals to test. This make calculators worth less (not worthless ) and is just plain ugly.


I have two Topcats -- a hp-10 and a hp-19c, along with the charger that goes with them. Sadly, I don't have a single suitable battery pack. Is there any safe way I can test em out sans battery?

Also: is there a more-or-less standard series of tests (simple ones, hopefully) that I can perform on my HPs so that in my auctions I can state with near certainty that they work (or don't work) as advertised? maybe there's a webpage somewhere that tackles this, to benefit both buyer and seller.

btw, i finally counted up all my HPs. I've got 63 of them in various cosmetic conditions, from utter crap to pretty darn good. All I can hope is that at least a few of them work! (And that my wife doesn't find out I'm selling them and demand half the proceeds ...)


The Woodstocks, especially the ones with continuous memory, i.e. the 25C and 29C, will die if connected to a charger without a good battery in place. You don't even have to turn the calc on to kill it, because the RAM is conected to the power all the time. Also, a battery alone is not enough, it must also make reliable contact to the battery terminals.

If in doubt, use 2 standard alkaline batteries (for a total of 3 Volts) to test them or charge the batteries outside the calculator.

Oh, and one thing about testing: As the RAM chip in the Woodstocks can go bad quite easily, test it explicitly by storing values into the registers and seeing if you can recall them. Also, test if the program memory works. If the RAM is bad, you will be able to store values and programs without receiving an error message, but on recalling the contents will be empty, and the program memory will only contain the default GTO 00 instructions.

The card reader models (65 and 67) will work without a battery, but the card reader won't because it draws more current than the charger can provide. The additional power has to come from the battery.

Hope this helps. Cheers, Victor


Victor kindly writes: ``Oh, and one thing about testing: As the RAM chip in the Woodstocks can go bad quite easily, test it explicitly by storing values into the registers and seeing if you can recall them. Also, test if the program memory works. If the RAM is bad, you will be able to store values and programs without receiving an error message, but on recalling the contents will be empty, and the program memory will only contain the default GTO 00 instructions.''

If you would, could you offer explicit instructions on how to accomplish the above? Given my dismal level of expertise, it might be best to start with ``turn the thing on'' and go from there, step by step. Thanks much!


They don't have a self test like newer machines, so you have to do it yourself. It's not too difficult:

- Turn it on. Do a few calculations of which you know the results, and see if they come out right.

- Enter -8.888888888 EEX -88 into the display and see if all segments work. Press CLx, then 1111111111 and trace the decimal point. it should always be visible. If both tests are OK, then your display is fine.

- Enter any non-zero number and store it in a register (e.g. press STO 2). Then clear the display (press CLx) and see if you can recall the previously stored number from the register (RCL 2).

- Switch to program mode and press SST. If it's a non-Continuous-Memory-model, or if the memory has been cleared, a HP-25 should display a GTO 00 instruction (13 00) as step 01. I'm not sure about the HP-29C, as I haven't got mine running yet, but it's supposed to show R/S (code 74) by default. If you see anything else, press [f] CLEAR PRGM, the SST again. You should now see the default program step.

- Now press a few keys, like numbers, +, - etc. You will see each command as it is recorded in program memory. Switch out of program mode, press [f] CLEAR PRGM (this resets the program pointer to 00 *if* you're out of program mode!), then go back into program mode and press SST several times. Check if you see the commands you previously entered.

- If you cannot recall a stored number, or if the program steps you enter don't come back, then the RAM is dead.

- Finally, switch into program mode and test the keyboard. Press [f] CLEAR PRGM, then start pressing all directly executing keys several times and see if they register as many times as you press them. The keys you cannot test this way are the ones that need an argument to follow after them to yield a complete command: STO, RCL, GTO, [f], [g], and, on the 29C, GSB. Test these prefix keys by pressing two of them alternatingly and observing if the display registers every key press.

- If you've come that far, things seem quite alright. In any way, leave the calc turned on for half an hour and repeat the tests. Some of them need some time to warm up before they work right! They have a life of their own...

- For the models with Continuous Memory, after doing all the tests, turn them off, wait a few minutes, then turn them on again and check if the memory and program contents are still there.

Hope this helps. Testing procedures for Classics are, of course, similar, except that if a card reader is present (HP-65 and HP-67) , you will have to test it, too, e.g. by writing a program to a card and then reading it back.

Hope this helps a bit! Cheers, Victor


Fantastic help, Victor -- muchas gracias!


Actually, I think Mike has some of the best ads for calculators on eBay. Linter, you asked for a model, and I believe Mike's ads are good ones to follow. He's got lots of pictures and provides good descriptions. It certainly makes the ads attractive and conducive to bidding!


The charger cable connection to the calculator is a common source of problems... particularly the HP35/45/55/65/67/70/80 charger. The wires like to break inside the connector. Check your chargers with a voltmeter while wiggling the wire at the connector in all directions.


You may wish to check this link out on how NOT to post information about yourself on Ebay. I especially like the last line on who gets negative feedback!

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