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Welcome to Ebay Shopping 101. You are the select few, chosen to be trained as sharp-shooting Ebay bidders, capable of finding the best deals and winning every auction. So pull up a chair and let’s get started.

Shopping on Ebay isn’t really like shopping on Amazon or any other shopping site. On most sites, you search for the product you like, find it, and if there are enough left, you buy it at the best fixed price you can find and then wait for it to arrive in the mail. On Ebay, not so much.

There are a few important things you need to know when you decide to buy something on Ebay. These things involve doing your research about the timing of the end of the auction, details about the seller How To Be An Online Entrepreneur With Thrift Store Shopping On eBay How To Be An Online Entrepreneur With Thrift Store Shopping On eBay With eBay, you can turn yourself into an online entrepreneur by flipping items you can find nearly anywhere -- online or offline. Best of all, it's pretty darn easy to do, and this means you... Read More , and of course details about the product that’s actually being sold. Ebay is a great place to buy some really cool stuff at amazing prices, but you’ve got to be a little more careful, because in most cases you aren’t dealing with a major business with a reputation and a brand to protect. Often  you’re dealing with someone selling that “really cool” stuff right out of their own home.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it means that you have to go about doing business a little more carefully.

Searching for Things to Buy

Lesson number one is this – you really shouldn’t bid on just anything on Ebay. If you do, you’re far more likely to lose your money and not get the product that you want. On the other hand, if you follow the rules outlined here, you’ll have a pretty good success rate, and very low odds of ever losing your money or getting a bad deal.

When you’re searching for what you want, listings have options at the top to switch between “Buy It Now” sales, or just “Auction” sales. Most people prefer straight auction sales because you can get much better deals. Of course, if you’re in a hurry and want more of an Amazon experience, then you can go with a “Buy It Now” sale – but the need to research the seller is no less important.

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Pro-tip #1; if you are a collector and find yourself searching for the same sorts of items on Ebay over and over, you can click on “Follow this search” as a convenient way to quickly see new items that show up.

Pro-tip #2; if you’re new to Ebay, sorting by “Time: ending soonest” is one of the best ways to get the lowest price on anything at all on Ebay. Of course, this also depends on the time of day that you’re able to do the search. There are prime hours to be a buyer when prices are lowest, and there are prime hours to be a seller 11 Critical Tips On How To Sell More On eBay 11 Critical Tips On How To Sell More On eBay eBay is one of the top 10 most trafficked sites on the entire Internet, so it's no wonder that when that pang of consumerist desire hits us, we head straight to eBay. Auctions can be... Read More when prices are highest. Your best bet as a buyer is to bet on the sellers that don’t realize this, and have posted their auctions to end during the prime time for buyers.

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Aibek actually explained this best when he wrote that searching Ebay during major events or TV specials when most people won’t be online, is the smartest way to get a great eBay deal 3 eBay Tips to Get the Best of Ebay 3 eBay Tips to Get the Best of Ebay Read More . The idea here is to shop when competition is the lowest. Some people shop on Friday nights during mid-summer, during major holidays, during very early morning hours in the U.S. – just be creative.

Once you sort the items by when they are ending, it’s time to scroll down the list and find the item you want that’s about to end in just a few minutes – or up to 30 minutes from now. Waiting 30 minutes to bid on something isn’t such a bad thing if you get a smoking deal out of the wait.

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Once you find the item that you want, then it’s time to move on to the next phase of your research.

Researching the Seller

Pro-tip #3; when you buy the item that looks perfect, don’t just bid on it immediately. First, you need to do your homework or else you’ll end up in a bad situation, and with a really bad taste in your mouth whenever you think of Ebay. To keep every experience you have buying on Ebay on a positive note, you need to make sure you know everything there is to know about the seller.

You can see the seller information just off to the right of the “Time left:” area of the auction. Make sure you pick an item with at least 15 minutes or so remaining so you have the time to do your seller and item research.

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First click on the number next to the seller name, and that’ll take you to the seller feedback page.

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I know a lot of people who only buy from sellers that have 100% feedback rating for the last 12 months. That might give you nearly perfect odds to never have any issues with anything you purchase on Ebay, but it can also really limit what you can bid on. The truth is, there are a whole lot of fantastic sellers who, through no fault on their part, ended up getting negative feedback from bad buyers.

You can identify patterns like this pretty quickly when you examine the feedback ratings for buyers, which are broken up into 1 month, 6 month and 12 month sections. For example, this buyer only had one piece of negative feedback within 12 months, but zero negative feedback as far back as 6 months ago.

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Of course, there were two neutral feedback ranks, so you’ll want to scroll down and see what those were all about. In this case, the buyer said that the seller was a “bad communicator”. The other neutral feedback was unintelligible. It looks to me like the feedback ranking for this particular seller is pretty stellar despite the fact that the overall rank score is 98.6%.

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Of course, you will want to scroll down and find that negative rating just to make sure it wasn’t something completely horrible on the part of the seller. In this case, the buyer only wrote that the “Seller refused to complete transaction”.

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Given the overwhelming number of positive feedback rankings, I think it’s safe to say that this particular negative score – and the failure to complete the transaction – was probably the fault of the buyer, not the seller.

Researching the Item

Once you’re satisfied with the seller, it’s time to research the item. Pro-tip #4; take the time to research the item. Don’t just scan, because there may be some details about the item that you want to know about before you buy it. Remember, like I said above, this is likely someone selling a used item right from their home – so it’s probably not going to be perfect. Make sure you know about every imperfection there is.

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Most good sellers will make sure to note any imperfection whatsoever – so don’t just skim the item description. Read it.

Another important factor to check is the shipping. Different sellers have different methods of shipping – and sometimes they might actually overcharge for shipping, so you need to know about this before you bid and end up facing a surprise with the final bill. Beyond the shipping cost, check out where the item location is so you have some realistic idea how long it’ll take to get to you.

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You’ll also want to be sure the seller accepts the form of payment you want to use. In most cases that’s PayPal, so make sure PayPal is accepted before you bid!

How to Snipe and Win Every Time

Pro-tip #5; the best deals come from everything above, but the most important advice of all is taking the time to bid in such a way that you’re nearly guaranteed to win the option. This is especially important if the item is being closely followed by a lot of interested people, like the one shown here.

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With 13 minutes, you’ve researched the item and the buyer and you’ve decided you want the item. The first thing to do is make sure you’re properly logged into Ebay. The last thing you want is a login-request at the last second when you want to bid. Then, right click on the “Place bid” button and open it in a new window.

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Move that window over to the side – or even better, to a different screen, so you can watch the timer countdown on the item page itself. Type in your maximum bid in the “Your max bid:” field.

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Don’t mess around here. Stretch yourself as far as you’re willing to go. For example, in the case above, I only wanted to bid $160 at the most. Now, sure I could bid exactly $160, but if there’s anyone else looking for the laptop at the same price, they’re likely going to bid $160, $160.01, or $160.50 – the most common techniques to win at a certain price. To outbid all of those folks, I’ve bid $160.97.

Now that you’re on the “Confirm Bid” page, it’s just time to wait for the countdown.

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This is the the important part, and it’s where most people freak out and bid too early.  Since you’re on the very last confirmation page – just one step away from officially placing your bid, wait until the very last moment, providing only enough time for computer and Internet lag – about 15 to 20 seconds.

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Breathe slowly, don’t panic, and keep your cool. When the clock clicks down under 15 seconds or less, just go ahead and click the “Confirm Bid” button, and wait for the confirmation page that you’re the winner of the auction. Congratulations!

What eBay advice can you give our readers? Did you come up with any useful pro-tips of your own while you were shopping?

Image Credits: Shopping time Via Shutterstock

  1. Bella
    November 14, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    I have a question if someone can help, I want to purchase a vehicle and have had communication with the owner, she wants us to do a money gram but I don't know how to get the money gram to ebay. And is it legit that if we give ebay the money gram, they hang on to it till purchase is final? Including shipping?

  2. junaid
    April 29, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    hello
    i should pay after the bid or when i received the delivery and pay.?

  3. Tristan Bell
    September 3, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Imbidding on a truck from a dealership. My question is if i put $100.00 for highest bid and noone ever sees it will i get it for $100.00 or is that going to be like a down payment or will they make me pay something else or is that straight up the price ill pay

  4. Nalin Indika
    July 19, 2015 at 11:47 am

    can i leave feedback right after buying. some people say that will leads to suspension of my both buyer and seller accounts when you do that few times.

    • Marva
      February 7, 2016 at 12:53 am

      I've never heard that before.

  5. Rhonda
    April 8, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Lol! It worked! I won! Thanks!

  6. Guest
    January 24, 2014 at 4:03 am

    Do you have to have a PayPal account to BUY from eBay? Or can you just pay outright with a charge card or debit card? Can you pay with check, money order, Traveler's Checks or even cash if you don't have a charge card? Some people can't or don't want to apply for charge cards. I myself only have a debit card with checking through my local credit union (I don't trust Visa, MC, Amex, Bank of America, Citibank, etc.). What about eBay gift cards, do those exist?

    • Min Xuan X
      February 15, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      You can pay outright with a charge card or debit card, though they will usually still be processed by PayPal. The payment methods that you can use depend on the seller. Many will only accept PayPal, but some may accept direct transfer of money, listing their bank accounts in the product description. Or they accept payment on delivery (only if the seller is in your area), where you and the seller meet up (after placing your order, maybe at the seller's shop or some other central place) and perform the sale on the spot.
      Here is an example of a sale that accepts all 3 payment methods listed: http://www.ebay.com.sg/itm/231141861146

      Oh, and eBay does not have a stored value service, so there's no such thing as gift cards on eBay. You can use PayPal gift cards instead.

  7. otis_the_lab
    January 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I just bid the highest price I willing to pay for the item at the start and let ebay's proxy bidding do the rest. I figure if someone out bids me they wanted the item more than I did, and are willing to pay for it more than I. The important thing to me is don't get emotional about that 1 item chances are if you don't get that one there is another one for sale just like it.

  8. Stephanie S
    January 20, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Excellent article and I tweeted it because of that. I have used E-Bay a total of one time. I am intimidated by it, I think. I had a great experience that one time but I didn't do the bidding thing. I use an extension/add-on (Firefox) called Invisible Hand (also an app for I-phone and I-pad). I was looking to buy an iPad Mini for myself and knew that the local Best Buy (hope it's okay to use brand names) had it for sale at $329 (plus California sales tax which is the highest in the nation, I think). I decided to check Amazon for their price. My little software extension popped up at the top of my screen telling me that I could get the item for $300 at E-Bay. I clicked over and, sure enough, there it was for $300. Free shipping and NO sales tax! Boy, was I happy. Again, I didn't go through the bidding thing, just clicked "buy it" (or whatever it is), and it was a done deal. I did note the seller had a good rating. I at least did that part. :) Within a few days, my new iPad was at my door via USPS. I am a happy camper. It was brand new, by the way. I just don't like the complications using E-Bay. I guess I don't want something that badly. Now hubby has used it quite often and had excellent results. For the most part, he has purchased used auto parts! He has never been stung either. But he has more patience and is more willing to take the risks than I am. You should hear the stories of what he does on his computer. He goes where no man should go - sometimes with disastrous results, I might add. :)

  9. Jo-anne P
    January 19, 2014 at 4:18 am

    Wow where were you 3 items ago? If I knew then what I know now I would have had a few more items and a lot cheaper. Thanks for the info I learned quite a bit.

  10. Don
    January 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I use Auction Magic to place my snipe bids 13 seconds before the auction closes. I don't have to be at my PC at the time--it places the bid for me as long as I've enabled it to do so on that item. All information is stored locally on my PC, so I don't have to worry about a third party web site having access to my eBay login information. As I understand it, you get a lifetime license when you purchase it.

  11. Bud
    January 18, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I stand corrected.............the person's name is Jenny!!! And your comments to me are WAY OUT of LINE!!!

  12. Bud
    January 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Where in HELL does a "no named" respondent on/at make use of. reply to me about my negative post about eBay, with an email message with NO NAME or inability to reply, and then has the gonads to say I must work for Amazon, and then proceed to tell me that many others "know how" to access eBay's links ??? For one thing, I'm retired and NEVER worked for Amazon, but did express my opinions over their ease of use and happy results. Sounds to me like that snake of an individual who sent me HIS email message, IS A SHILL for eBay !!!

    Whomever you are, you sure know how to really piss a person off !!!

    • Jenny
      January 29, 2014 at 4:02 am

      Again, learn how to use that Costco Tablet you got on Christmas. Don't speak for the rest of us, marketplaces and small businesses are not there to scam you. If you have a bad experience, is sad but keep your hate deep inside and learn how to comment online. Have a nice day!

  13. Jenny
    January 18, 2014 at 5:23 am

    * Important Shipping & Delivery Tip, eBay sellers are small businesses and individuals, do not expect to have next day shipping, be realistic about the service you pay for and check the item location, if you are in California and order from Florida or NY, is not going to take the same time as if you buy it from a seller in Las Vegas or San Fransisco, also compering sellers delivery time is just not appropriate.
    If you need it fast, pay for it, ask before buying or buy from a seller near your location. Otherwise just wait for it.
    * Buying on a Friday and expecting on a Monday is just naive, sellers don't rush to the post office as soon as they get an order, give them at least 1 business day, again, business day.

    * Asking a question: give sellers enough time to reply, 1 business day is normal.

    * Sellers on eBay get discounts when they get a lot of positive feedback and they usually pass the discounts to buyers just to be competitive, leaving negative feedback means that you eventually pay higher prices, get blocked by sellers or get blocked by eBay. Unless a seller is rude, there are a thousand reasons why a transaction can't go not as beautiful as you expected it, learn to shop and do not reflect bad shopping choices with negative feedback, is just bad karma. A buyer that leaves a lot of negative feedback can only show that he or she are very bad buyers, sour angry birds or plain rude and can get blocked and bad service right from the start. Great tips here, and I hope you become an eBay pro.

    By the way, Amazon charges more commission to sellers than eBay does, so 99% of the time, eBay will have a cheaper item, trust me, compare and save, you'll thank me later.

  14. Nate
    January 18, 2014 at 4:52 am

    To explain my last comment a little better, after I have researched an item, I am of a firm mind that I either want it or I don't want it. I never decide that I "maybe want" something. If I decide that I want it provided I can get it at the advertised price, then I want it for sure - I have no interest in waiting to see whether I "bought" it or not. To me, that is not "buying" that is just playing a game. I think that is why eBay traffic has fallen off so much in the last few years. I think the novelty has worn off because I am not the only one that thinks this way about consumer purchases.

  15. Nate
    January 18, 2014 at 4:40 am

    Not everyone is of the personality that suits eBay auctions. I hate gambling casinos when on vacation as well as online auctions. When I decide I want something after I've researched it, I want it at the lowest fair price from an honest and reliable seller., unless it is a trivial purchase, in which case I am willing to go on eBay only when filtered for BuyItNow. Otherwise, I am very happy to stick to places like Amazon. Why? Because Time is Money and Money is Time. When working and supporting a family, that was true; and now when retired and time is so precious at my age I wouldn't for a minute consider wasting it chasing a "winning bid" on eBay!

  16. uchefe atuyota
    January 18, 2014 at 4:27 am

    What about a site called 1sale.ccom claims to pick a piece of equipment and put it at ' as low as possible' are they for real.Any experiences anyone

  17. Ron Allan
    January 18, 2014 at 2:37 am

    Is E-Bay one of those auction sites that advances the bidding time by 15-20 seconds for every successful bid? It seems to me that such an auction site would require a super-fast computer with a person with infinite patience to win anything!

  18. PJ
    January 18, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Don't sit at your screen and babysit the auction!!! Usa a sniping program like the very well created jBidwatcher from http://www.jbidwatcher.com/
    You just need java and you don't have remember when/what at the last minute. It will do all of the work for you at the very last second!

  19. Ted McNicol
    January 17, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Another thing for the buyer to beware of is the shipping timeframe from the Reviews. Lately, there have been a number of sellers who delay shipping for several weeks on a regular basis (presumably to acquire the goods they've sold). The seller has use of your money during this time, which could indicate they are on shakey financial grounds. It's happened to me three times last year, especially on electronics. Paypal eventually got me a refund but not before their own lengthy delays while they "investigate".

    • Jenny
      January 18, 2014 at 5:27 am

      You are way very wrong. Unless a seller price items at hundreds or thousands of dollars, it is wrong to think that a seller will take away with your $10 dollars. eBay and Paypal monitor sellers very carefully, but if you live in a place where weather is affecting deliveries, then your package will take a while to be delivered and is not the seller's fault. You really need to search online before blaming sellers on eBay, Amazon or any other store, the USPS, Fedex and UPS have a lot of delivery issues.

    • TedM
      January 18, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      Sorry Jenny but you didn't read my comment very well. I'm talking about sellers who delay shipping for weeks after they receive your money. Eventually you will get your goods or your refund (after a struggle with Paypal & eBay who delay any resolution even when the seller says to request a refund) but during the time you've waited the seller has had the use of your money. And when they do this with multiple customers this can add up. But during that time you've lost the opportunity to buy it elsewhere from a more reputable seller.

    • Jenny
      January 29, 2014 at 3:58 am

      You are correct TedM, there are some dishonest sellers but it is a very small number. If your package does not show up in 7 working days and after contacting them they don't even give you package status, maybe is time to ask for it and if they don't reply after 24 hours, then yes, you can open a case.

  20. Robert B
    January 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    There are a couple of things that you should do if you really want a particular item. First off you should do your home work and know what the true value of something is, if it is used. Sometimes you will be bidding on new items, if this is the case then know what the normal retail price is. Then next thing you need to ask yourself and anyone going to an actual auction in person usually determines before they begin bidding is how much you are willing to spend on the item. This is very important when bidding on Ebay, on Ebay they have a system of auto bidding where you put in the max amount you are willing to spend and their computer auto bids for you up to that amount. Have you ever bid say 5 dollars over the last bid just seconds before the end of an auction and you immediately receive an message saying "sorry you have been out bid" what has happened is someone has put in a max bid that may be a lot higher than what you just entered and you do not have any time left to counter. I got a laptop this way, I knew what they were really worth and I had made up my mind that I was willing to spend no more than 250 dollars as my max bid when the current bid was only around 90 dollars about 60 seconds left in the auction. I wound up getting the laptop for 100 dollars. Also one thing to keep in mind is that to NEVER pay for anything by any other means than through Ebay and use Paypal. If you do this you never have to worry about ever loosing your money. If there is a problem say you do not get what you are supposed to or the item is not what was represented etc and the seller does not immediately send you another one or refund your money then report it to Ebay as well as Paypal. It is a good idea to contact both Ebay and Paypal first to inform them that there is a problem because it may take a while to get the seller to respond. Worse case Paypal will refund the purchase price back to the method of payment that was used. This even works for other places where you have paid via Paypal. I had purchased several items from an online retailer and they never indicated that some of the items were not in stock. They even took the money and then informed me via email that some of it was on back order. After several email exchanges over several weeks I still did not have the missing items so I contacted PayPal. I was not aware that they have a maximum length of time, not sure how long, where they will do anything but since it was the first time I ever had an issue and I was not aware of their time limit they waved that and investigated the matter. About 5 days later I got an email from PayPal informing me that they had credited my credit card for the original purchase. Then two days later I got an email from the company telling me that the missing items were shipped that day, I guess that they decided that it was worth it to them to fulfill the order even though I had been reimbursed by PayPal.

  21. Bud
    January 17, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    My personal experiences with eBay was a disaster ! They post phone numbers to speak with someone trying to resolve a problem, but when you click onto that link, you are sent back to either the original page or another page. If you do connect, their customer services is by far-and-away, the absolute worst....THE PITS !!! Will NEVER, EVER USE eBay, AGAIN !!!

    As for Amazon? THE BEST of THE BEST !!!

    • Jenny
      January 18, 2014 at 5:29 am

      You must work for Amazon, if you know how to use that brand new tablet you got at JC Penney 2 weeks ago, then you will learn how to click on those links, millions of people use them every day, without an issue, read the tips here, they will help you a lot.

    • Don
      January 18, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Bud,

      I won't offer any inflammatory comments here. Just my experience with eBay.

      Please forgive me if some parts of this are jumbled a bit. I did do a quick look-over but my touchpad is too sensitive and sometimes moves the insertion point where I am typing to a different place.

      I personally (your mileage may vary, and it apparently has to some extent!) have had few problems with eBay. I have bought probably 1,000 or more items, and sold a few myself, with almost no issues at all.

      The few times I have had an issue, contacting the seller almost always allowed me to work out a satisfactory solution if I was willing to keep the item. A few times I negotiated a refund of the shipping costs. I bought a laptop for parts that had stated that the screen was working when it was not. I was still able to use it for parts, but it was not worth to me what I paid for it, so I asked for free shipping. This was one time I had to get PayPal involved due to a non-response from the seller. They got the seller to either agree to my offer of a refund on the shipping since it was SNOD (significantly not as described) or to make a counter-offer or a full refund if I shipped it back. She refunded my shipping.

      However, almost all of my transactions were uneventful (which is a good thing!) and I had no issues with them. I even purchased a head violinist's violin for $600. I was concerned about the purchase because of the amount, but it arrived in great condition and works beautifully.

      You can avoid eBay if you wish--that is your choice, but I think, if you pay careful attention to the items mentioned in the article, especially the buyer's feedback and the number of items that feedback is based on (you want probably over 50 items the feedback is based upon), the shipping charges (which CAN surprise you if you don't consider them beforehand), and the stated condition of the item, you will likely be safe.

      I actually have been able to get through to PayPal on more than one occasion, mainly on questions about the account, using my telephone. I have never needed to personally call eBay, so I can't comment on that one for you, but I can expect that, with the volume of transactions happening on their site, they will automate everything to deal with buyer's issues and that patience would be required. I pay for everything with PayPal, though, and they are easy to deal with if you ever need to. Once I needed to get in contact with a seller over a small matter and I found out that there is an automated way to get the seller's contact information. They get your contact information in return for that request, of course. The matter was settled amicably. Keep in mind that, with as many purchases as I have made, I would expect a few issues. But I have had less issues than I have had with traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

      I do agree with you that Amazon rocks as far as customer service is concerned, and they are not difficult to get in contact with. I have never encountered a better company to deal with.

      However, I have found the same items on eBay for less at times, and if the shipping isn't high, I will buy from eBay and just wait longer to receive the item. I have Amazon Prime, which gives me free 2-day shipping on many items. (For college students, you can get Prime for free!) So there are times when I will pay a little more on Amazon to get an item quickly and/or because of the free shipping.

      If Amazon could set up an auction site like eBay and run it like they do their current business, with reasonable seller's fees, great customer support, with buyer's guarantees, etc., they would get much of my business from eBay!!!

      I have had some issues with sellers on Amazon, also, probably a higher percentage than I have had with sellers on eBay. However, resolving these issues is an easier process on Amazon. And, something you won't see on eBay: I once got $50 back when Amazon dropped the price of a Brother multifunction printer from $199 to $149 about a week after I made my purchase. I contacted them and asked if I could get the difference back rather than send my printer back and order a new one at the new price and they refunded the difference!

      I have to agree that eBay does not make it easy or intuitive to resolve matters between a buyer and seller. Once I only intended to ask a question and accidentally escalated the matter to a dispute, which was not what I had intended to do!

      Hope this was helpful.

      Don

  22. John
    January 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Don't forget that ebay is global. Perhaps your new toilet brush should be bought in a local shop for two pounds?
    Also, look out for USA items on UK ebay - like a five dollar toilet brush with postage fees of twenty dollars!
    Finally, type "china" in the search box with the item you are looking for. It is perfectly possible to buy the toilet brush and have it airmailed from Hong Kong for 99 pence. Where do the think the local shop got it from so they could sell it for two pounds!

    • Godel
      January 17, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Yes, a note to US Ebay sellers, you may be losing a lot of international business by charging ridiculous postage costs for something small and robust that could be simply posted in a padded bag.I note UK sellers ship a lot of goods that way. You could even add a couple of dollars extra to cover "self insurance" for the occasional parcel does go astray.

  23. PacoH
    January 17, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I really doubt your theory about best times to bid. Maybe on less popular items with short-term end times but not on popular ones with longer times. With eBay's proxy bidding system, bids are already in place for the best items. I think another article on how to interpret listings and seller ratings is in order. This is most important. You have to learn to read between the lines on both these because they tell you a lot. Be sure to ask seller a question on items you are interested in, even if it is a basic question. The answer speaks volumes about the seller. A good seller will be very professional and helpful. A bad seller will not respond, or will be rude and evasive, indicating that the item is questionable. As for sniping, I learned early on that you absolutely have to snipe because your competitors certainly will. I use a free online sniping service that bids within the last 5 seconds, faster if you pay. Much more reliable than software on your computer because they have redundant servers that can get the bid in faster than your computer can. Forget about sniping 'by hand' as you describe. It is very unreliable and stressful. Very old school. With an online service, you just decide your maximum bid based on total price you want to pay, including shipping, "set it and forget it". No stress. No waiting. I have won many items this way.

  24. Tim T
    January 17, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    I agree with all this, I've successfully won every item ever bid on. Hopefully you'll cover SELLING on eBay in a separate article. Reading the multiple pages of fine print will keep you from being disappointed. I had no idea that eBay held your money for 21 days even if you have a 100% satisfaction rating in the hundreds, something I find displeasing. Plus when you set your minimum price to accept, make sure you see a confirmation somewhere because I sold an item for $900 that I would not have taken less than $1100 for and have no idea why it didn't save my preferences. Then you have the 10% commission fee and the PayPal fee. Also eBay estimated my shipping to be around $37 to $47 and it ended up costing me $111.00. Not a good experience at all. I may check out Amazon next time.

  25. John Dugue
    January 17, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    When snipping, no need to open second window. Just place bid near end of auction, once the confirmation page comes up, there is a countdown timer you can watch to time placing your bid.

  26. Derryl
    January 17, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Hildy J mentioned it. Research what other similar items have sold for by going to Completed Items. Green means it sold for that price and red means it did not sell.

  27. Vitaly P
    January 17, 2014 at 4:54 am

    Thanks for the guideline, Ryan!

    Would you recommend Ebay sniper/bidding software for Ebay bidding?

    • Andy
      January 17, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      The authors whole first paragraph talks about sniping, yet as Vitaly P mentioned he cleary failed to mention sniping software, so abit of a fail of an article if you ask me personally.

      • Ryan Dube
        January 17, 2014 at 5:53 pm

        I don't use sniping software and don't really advise people to use it. First, most aren't free. Second, if you enter a snipe bid way ahead of time that isn't over the incremental next bid, you still lose. When sniping manually, you can visually see where things are at minutes before end of auction. Third, I personally feel that I can beat most sniping software bids by waiting right up to the very last second. I've never lost yet.

    • Andy
      January 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Also get used to being outbid many times if you place a bid around the 10-15 second mark.
      I wait till 3 seconds to place my bid.

      • Ryan Dube
        January 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm

        At least 15 seconds was the advice - no more than that. I also wait until about 2-3 seconds so by the time it's processed the auction is over - and it beats out most auto-snipers.

  28. Swaminathan V
    January 17, 2014 at 1:35 am

    So, did you manage to get the Vaio? The suspense is killing me! :)

    • Ryan Dube
      January 17, 2014 at 1:54 am

      HA! Actually it was a staged example of what I did to buy two nearly new Acer laptops at about a 1/4th the cost they normally go for on Ebay. :-)

  29. Hildy J
    January 16, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Two notes to first time buyers - you aren't necessarily the only who waits till the last second and the high bid you see might not represent the max bid the buyer has put in. Ebay's software looks at all the confirmed bids and puts in the winning bid. In the example, if the bidder who bid $151.50 actually has a max bid of $175.00 ebay will look at your max and his max and give him the item for $161.97 (the increment above the lower max bid depends on the price).

    As far as research, also check what other, similar items have sold for. Somebody probably once bought a $500 laptop for $100 but chances are you won't be able to repeat that feat. Make sure your max bid is at least close to what similar items have gone for.

    • Ryan Dube
      January 17, 2014 at 1:56 am

      Thanks Hildy - yes, it's a combination of bidding the highest and bidding last. However, if you're competing against someone who is sitting at the end and hoping to keep bidding up by a dollar or two and hoping to outbid the very last bidder - the technique in this article will help you win because a bidder like that won't have time to bid again before you've already won the auction.

  30. Kare
    January 16, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    anyone know how to get an RSS feed for an eBay search? there used to be buttons at the bottom of the page for that. thanks~

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