Auction websites awash with unwanted Christmas gifts


By Genevieve Gannon

CLOTHING, kitchenware and lots of socks are expected to flood websites in the next few days as savvy online sellers seek to cash in on unwanted Christmas gifts.

New Melbourne website Cardlimbo, which buys back unwanted gift cards, and eBay have reported high traffic since Christmas.

eBay spokeswoman Jenny Thomas said there was a spike in sales listings after Christmas and this year was no exception.

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The most unusual thing she has seen listed for sale was a rabbit-foot bottle opener.

An eBay ”unwanted gift” search yesterday returned more than 100 items, including cosmetics, crockery, Ikea curtains and a CD of housework songs. One ambitious soul was attempting to sell a candy cane (condition: brand new). Bidding had reached $5.11 by 4pm.

Ms Thomas said clothing was the item most frequently listed for sale on eBay after Christmas. ”It is so difficult to choose clothing for someone else. It might not be the right size, the right colour. It is our biggest category.”

A Galaxy poll in October found that people were already planning to sell Christmas gifts to make money.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said this was one of the reasons people were more cautious with gift-giving this year as a record number opted for gift cards. The association estimates the sale of gift cards increased by about 30 per cent on 2009 figures.

Cardlimbo chief executive Fergus Koochew said he expected a lot of people to exchange unwanted cards for cash.

The Cardlimbo site – launched in March – doubled its average monthly gift card sales in December after workers received many gift cards from employers. Mr Koochew said about 10 per cent of gift cards were unredeemed, based on research conducted by Cardlimbo in partnership with Melbourne University. The retailers’ association puts this figure at about 2 per cent.

He said many people redeemed gift cards for the sake of it. ”Not because they really want something but because they have the gift card.”

Mr Zimmerman said eBay was a good option for those with unwelcome gifts and that consumers should be mindful that retailers were not obliged to provide a refund or exchange if people simply did not like the item.

Consumer group Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said eBay provided a good secondary market for unwanted Christmas gifts.

But Mr Zinn said there was a pitfall when it came to selling gifts online: ”There is a danger that you can be sprung.”