There is a thriving market for second-hand prams and pushchairs on eBay. This guide offers a few hints and tips to make your sale smoother, including packing and posting large items.
Getting the pram ready for sale
The last thing any buyer wants to receive is a buggy that's encrusted with baby sick. So do clean the pram, but do it carefully.
It's best to clean the pram before listing it for sale on eBay so that you can show it at its best in the photos. You will also have the chance while cleaning to inspect it more closely for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Plus, should the worst happen, and you damage something while cleaning it (believe me it does happen!), you won't be put in the awkward position of explaining this to your winning bidder.
If there is something missing or broken, a quick phone call to the manufacturer may be able to sort it out. Look them up on the internet. Some spare parts are quite cheap and you may be able to restore the pram for only a few pounds (and some spare parts cost a small fortune, in which case you can't, but it might be worth a phone call to find out.)
For non-removable covers, a big improvement can be achieved by a light vacuuming, paying particular attention to inner corners. Spot clean any small dirty marks with a bar of soap and water.
If the covers are removable (and you have the instructions to tell you how) that makes it far easier to clean. But don't assume that means you can just bung everthing in the washing machine... perfectly good fabrics have been ruined this way with glued parts coming unstuck, wadding shrinking, binding losing its colour, labels falling off, and hoods breaking (don't put the hoods in the washer, please!). Many pushchair covers are supposed to be handwashable only, this is true of most of the Mamas & Papas ones that I sell. If you must put it in the washing machine, then use a 30 degree or cold wash on a gentle setting: it's high temperatures and hard spins that do most of the damage.
Posting a pram
It's worth offering postage if you can, because it will increase the potential number of buyers. Many sellers are put off by the expected cost, but it's probably not as expensive as you might think. In any case, you can put the price of postage on the auction, and let the buyer decide if they want to pay for it. More on prices in a moment. Your other option is to let the buyer arrange their own courier.
If you're going down the posting route then you need to be able to answer "yes" to the following two questions: Are you available to wait in during the day for a courier to pick it up? Are you prepared to put a bit of effort into packaging it?
Packing is the most crucial part of the whole posting scenario. There's proper packing, where it is all boxed and lovely. And there's good enough packing. Then there's half-a-bin-liner-trailing-off-it-and-it-arrives-a-week-late-because-the-label-came-off packing (and you were lucky it got there at all). We don't want to go there. Packaging doesn't have to be expensive, but it does need to be done properly. Most courier problems are caused by poor packing. If you pack it well, its very unlikely that there'll be a problem.
Packing a pram
Boxes are best. The original boxes are great, if you still have them, or can get some more (I have begged original boxes from Mothercare and a Mamas & Papas retailer in the past). If you don't have any, then you may be able to source boxes from elsewhere.
Some suggestions for places to get boxes are the local recycling center, small local shops (you may have to ask them to save one, and come back later). Maybe your place of work has them, or even supermarkets, which do still put out the wine boxes at the checkouts sometimes. Two 12-bottle wine boxes are great for packaging an umbrella fold pushchair, one on each end, securely taped in the middle. Widescreen TV boxes are excellent, as are computer boxes. If the box is too large, it can be cut down to size without too much trouble, just make a score line with a sharp knife across the inside to make a new fold. You can also buy boxes from removals firms, office stationers and of course on eBay.
Good enough packing involves wrapping the buggy tightly in several layers of heavy duty plastic that are well secured with plenty of proper parcel tape (not sellotape). For infant car seats you would want to use a good quantity of bubble wrap underneath as well. On the outside there needs to be a good flat area where the buyers name and address and the couriers own label can be stuck down securely.
Another tip is to make sure you include your own name and address somewhere on the parcel. Some couriers recommend you put a piece of information with this information on it, plus a phone number, inside the parcel as well. Then if the parcel does end up at the wrong destination, you have a much better chance of seeing it again.
Last, but not least, which courier? I usually recommend Parcel Force, because prices are reasonable, they are pretty reliable, and their size limits are quite generous. Maximum size is up to 1.5 m long, and a girth of up to 3m, where girth = 2 x (width + depth) + (length), the length is always the longest dimension.
The best price is from a service called Senditnow -- this is a subsidiary of Parcel Force aimed at eBayers. The basic price is £10.99 for a single parcel up to 25 kg to just about anywhere in the UK. If you are sending a multiple parcel consignment, such as a 4 in 1 pram, then you may find it cheaper to go to Parcel Force's main Website, where they charge by the total weight of the consignment rather than the number of parcels. Use the bathroom scales to find the weight, it doesn't need to be exact. As a guide a 4 in 1 pram weighs approx 30 kg, and will cost approx £30 to send.
Both of these services can be used by anyone - you don't need to have an account - and in my experience they are simple and hassle free to use. Senditnow must be booked and paid for online; Parcel Force can also be booked over the phone, but its online prices are discounted. Both will allow you to chose your day of collection, and will give you a tracking number immediately and a print out for the collecting driver to sign.
There is another service, sold on eBay by a seller called Payperdrop_uk, which provides an economy delivery with DHL for £5.99 per parcel with maximum size 120 x 60 x 60 cm. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. The service is not time guaranteed, so DHL might decide to keep it in the van for a week just for the fun of it. And should something go wrong, then don't expect any help from payperdrop, and certainly don't expect to get much satisfaction on the 0870 numbers of DHL customer service. It's also worth bearing in mind that sellers of ultra cheap parcel services do have a habit of suddenly disappearing and taking your money with them, simply because they're selling it too cheap and go bust or they lose the account with the courier. Payperdrop will be good while it lasts, but it entirely depends on you and your attitude to risk whether you use them.
*** UPDATE 28/11/07: Payperdrop appears to have lost its account with DHL. I suggest you avoid them ***
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I'm not saying posting a pram is completely hassle-free, but it's definitely possible. If the pram is older, and you're only expecting to sell for a price comparable to the shipping cost, then you may think it's not worth the effort of posting it. But for newer prams, especially trendy makes like Bugaboo and Mamas & Papas, offering postage will increase the number of potential bidders and should increase your final sale price.
If you think my Guide is useful, please give it a vote.
UPDATE: 19/09/2007: I've added in some more info on packing and also payperdrop.
UPDATE 10/06/2006: I have updated the Guide to add in Senditnow, Parcel Force's new portal, because to my knowledge it offers the best price. Parcel Force has to put up the prices for all resellers and agents, and then undercut them with its new portal (which some might consider to be a bit underhand, but this is business). What this means for you is that if you see anyone selling parcel services on eBay for less than £9.99 per parcel they are probably not an official Parcel Force reseller and should be avoided because they may not be able to solve any problems that might arise.