Your first eBay bid can be an intimidating and confusing experience. A new shopper on eBay will have so many choices and options that it is easy to get overwhelmed with information. It is important to remember not to jump into any situation. eBay is so large, that only very unique items will never be up for sale again, and you can afford to look for another deal another day. If you are unsure of yourself, wait! Don't bid until you have done your research and are a little more comfortable with the process.
There are many helpful tutorials supplied by eBay. After your initial look at the auctions and listings, go back to the help section. Your understanding of this area will be a lot higher after you have looked around a little bit. The eBay help resources are quite extensive, so I only want to highlight a couple of key areas that I feel are very important. The first is the seller feedback. This can be found beside the name of any seller (or buyer), and is a really good indicator of reliability and honesty as relates to items listed for sale. You can read individual feedback relevant to items the seller has listed and sold in the past, and use this information to decide if the item you are considering is up to snuff. Make sure you go over this information to gain confidence in a seller. The eBay system is quite efficient in giving sellers a reason to give good customer service and accurate listing descriptions.
Feedback is also a good reason to be a good customer! If your payment is late, you complain about problems via feedback without contacting the seller, or are disappointed due to your own lack of research (see below), you may also receive negative feedback. Now the shoe will be on the other foot, and sellers won't want to work with you in the future. This is a very good reason to try to resolve your problem with the seller directly, and only use negative feedback as a last resource.
Another subject that is very important is research. A lot of new eBay shoppers look at a listing and think, “I can't believe how low that bid is! I have to get in on this deal now!" They jump in and bid on an item, not reading the shipping terms or comparing the item to others available. This can result in owning something that you aren't really happy with, or paying more for it than you thought you were going to.
Researching the item's value before bidding will help any buyer. One source of information can be a completed listings search, and is easily accomplished using eBay's search engine. This will show you what similar items have recently sold for.
If the item is for sale at a store in your area, look in a flyer or online to see what it is worth locally. It might be enough to find out that you can save $10 on that coat through an online auction.
Reading the complete item description a couple of times will give you the chance to catch anything you might have missed, such as a “Shipping and delivery not included, as is, where is" message. If you don't notice that one piece of info, you will be arranging your own shipping from afar. Make sure you are clear on exactly what you are bidding on, and how you will receive it. eBay's shipping calculator can give you a pretty good idea of your shipping costs. If you are buying internationally, you need to find out the costs specific to the item and the import rules for your locale BEFORE you bid!
Using this information should give you an idea of what you might be willing to pay as a maximum bid. Once you have decided on your maximum bid for an item, you should try to stick to it. Don't get into a bidding war and drive the price up on that coat, only to realize that you paid more than at the local mall!
Once you bid on a few items, you will learn quite a bit about the system and can again return to the eBay tutorials. Eventually you may be ready to sell your own items and will be well on your way to eBay success! Good luck and good bargain hunting.
author: Tim Ebl
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