Mac Musings

Selling Well on eBay

Daniel Knight - 2001.08.28

Shopping on eBay can be a frustrating experience - so can selling.

I've been trying to find a nice WallStreet or Lombard on the cheap for my 14-year-old son. eBay helps the process by with a PowerBook G3 category, but that only gets you part way there. You still need to wade through the PowerBooks, the PowerBook batteries, the upgraded 1400s with G3 processors, the PowerBook parts, etc.

The easiest thing to do should be to search by model, such as "WallStreet" or "Lombard" or "G3/300." Well, that's what you think. What many knowledgeable Mac users call a WallStreet may also be listed on eBay as a PowerBook G3 or a PowerBook G3 Series.

Sometimes you can't tell from a listing whether a PowerBook G3/250 is the original PowerBook G3 or the WallStreet. Ditto for the PowerBook G3/233, one version of which contains a level 2 cache, while the original version didn't. Then there's the PowerBook G3/400, which might be Lombard or Pismo.

It's enough to make you send a lot of emails to sellers - and hope they'll respond before the auction closes.

It would be so much easier if they did a little research and followed a standard format. At the very least, it would stop the emails from people like me asking, "Which G3/233 are you selling?"

Here's my suggestion:


No need to say Apple or Apple Mac - PowerBooks are always Apple and designed to run the Mac OS. Start with the label on the computer, such as PowerBook G3. But that's only the start.

Be sure to list the speed in the subject line. If you're selling a beige G3 with a 266 MHz processor, list it as a Power Mac G3/266. In computer shorthand, the number after the slash refers to the clock speed.

If there's a common code name, consider listing it in the title. If there are two or more common code names or user names, be sure to list all of them in the description. This will help those looking for a Pismo, Lombard, WallStreet, or Kanga - all code names for G3 PowerBooks. I prefer these designations to Apple's less interesting "Bronze Keyboard" and "FireWire" appellations, but you might want to include both if there's room.


It's disappointing how many descriptions are incomplete. At the very least, include the model name and CPU speeds, how much memory it has, and the size of the hard drive. If you're selling a portable, include the screen dimension. If it has CD-ROM, CD-RW, or DVD, also mention the speed of the drive. If there's a level 2 (L2) cache, mention it and the size if you know it.

For instance, here's one WallStreet listing I was tracking on eBay:

Wallstreet G3 Powerbook, 233 MHz, 2G HD, serial ports, 11" monitor, PCI slot. Includes Epson 740i Color Printer, auto adapter, Targus carry case. All like new - bought 1n sept '99, used less than 2 weeks, includes all receipts, system software and documentation.

The seller got the important code name, WallStreet, along with the clock speed and hard drive size. But there's no mention of the amount of RAM, and Apple never used an 11" display - WallStreet sizes were 12.1", 13.3", and 14.1" (BTW, avoid 13.3"). WallStreet has two PC Card slots, but no PCI slot.

For me, the crucial missing element is the presence or absence of the L2 cache. If it's not present, this is the Road Apple WallStreet; if it is present, this is the much better PowerBook G3 Series II model. I wouldn't bid on the first for my son, but might be interested in the second - if it has the 14.1" display.

Listing the dare of purchase, level of use, and condition is very helpful.

Here's how I might list this model:

PowerBook G3/233 "WallStreet": 32 MB RAM, 2 GB hard drive, serial ports, 12.1" screen, 2 PC Card slots, level 2 cache. Also known as PowerBook G3 Series II. Includes Epson 740i Color Printer, auto adapter, Targus carry case. All like new - bought new in Sept '99, used less than 2 weeks, includes all receipts, system software and documentation.

I'm making some assumptions based on the purchase date and base configuration of the computer, but anyone looking at this ad would know exactly which G3/233 is for sale, eliminating the need to ask the seller questions.

And if you want to include a link to the appropriate profile on Low End Mac, you have my blessing.

Whether all that will help you get a better price is hard to say, but at least prospective buyers will know exactly what you have without having to await feedback from the seller.