Tuesday, May 27, 2014

EBAY: The Buying Edition (Part 2)

There are a few things to know before you start snagging all that good stuff just waiting for you on ebay.  Check out what I wish I had fully understood at first.  (You're welcome.)  

My first buying edition was mostly singing the praises of ebay, but check it out if you want more information.  This edition should give you some concrete information to get started.

Basic ebay terminology:

Auction price: The current bidding price for an item.  If you bid on an auction price, you'll have to wait until the auction ends to win the item, then seller can take one or more days of handling, then the item would ship.  So keep the auction end time in mind if you need something quickly.  

Buy It Now: The price for which you can buy that item immediately.  It is at least 30% higher than the opening auction price, but it means you don't have to wait for the auction to end, nor worry about being outbid.  The item is yours and will ship right away.  If you really like an item, it's a highly competitive type item, or you need it to ship sooner than the auction end time, consider using this option.

Watch List.  This adds items to a list where you can track them.  When I'm searching for particular items (say a size 4T pink dress shirt), I create my search, then I add all the options I like to my Watch List, then go back to the list to compare prices and details on all of the options (i.e.: this one is brand new Ralph Lauren but is $15, that one is used BabyGap for $9, this one is also used BabyGap for $5 but has one spot on the sleeve).  Once I've seen all the options together, I can decide which item is best for me and then place my bid on that item.  Or I may just decide to keep an eye on certain items to see if they sell, or if they don't sell and are relisted (sometimes for a lower price).

Maximum Automatic bid function.  This allows you to put in a bid for an item you want, but you enter your top price right away, so the system will automatically continue to bid up to your maximum price if others were to place bids on the same item.  Let me put your mind at ease: Adding the highest price will not automatically raise the bid price.  If no one else bids on the item, you will win the item for your original lowest bid.  But, if others DO bid on your item, as long as they don't bid over your top price, you'll still win the item.  (Which is why you just put in the top price you are willing to pay - if someone else is willing to pay more, let them have it.  If you're sad you lost it for that price, you should have used a higher top price.)  

"EBAY SPEAK".  You'll often see these kinds of descriptions within ebay listings.  When I was first shopping on ebay, I had to ask my sister what some of these meant, so here's a shortcut for you:

NWT: New with tags
NWOT: New, without tags
EUC: Excellent used condition
VGUC: Very good used condition
GUC: Good used condition

You may want to check whether the seller has a description of what these terms mean to them (some of them do put that information in the description section of the listing).  While I've had mostly positive experiences, and ebay does protect against blatant fraudulent claims, I have found that one person's "excellent used condition" is another person's "good used condition".  The tips below can also help protect you from buyer's remorse.  (Although, again, I'd like to stress that of the MANY items I've purchased on ebay, all but one or two experiences weren't positive, and had I followed these tips, I would have avoided those experiences.)

1. You bid, you buy.  If you win a bid, even if you realize you don't want that item, you found a better item, etc, etc, etc, you are expected to complete the purchase or you will receive bad buyer feedback which could end up getting you blocked from bidding.

2. Check the description section of the listing BEFORE bidding, not just the photos.  Sometimes flaws don't show up well in the photos, but are well described by the seller in the description.  Or, a lack of description along with subpar photos may signal you need to ask the seller a question prior to bidding.  See #1 - you are contracting to buy an item by bidding on it, so make sure you're confident about the item BEFORE you bid on it.  A good seller will answer your questions.

3. Watch for inconsistencies in the listing.  Sellers aren't perfect, and some sellers are listing a bunch of items all at once.  You may see a size listed that doesn't coincide with what looks to be the size in the photo, or the photo may not match the listing.  Use the CONTACT THE SELLER option (way way way at the bottom of the listing) to ask the seller a question before bidding.  Better safe than sorry.

 4. Pay attention to seller feedback!  I mentioned this in my original ebay tips post, but it's worth repeating.  If the seller has less than 50 stars, go check if they have sold before (you can sort feedback by seller feedback).  You can save yourself a bunch of hassle if you avoid being a sellers first-time sale.  Or, you may decide the price is worth it, since you may well win an item without other bidding since others avoid low-feedback sellers.

5.  Contact the seller prior to leaving negative feedback.  Many sellers will refund your money if you are not happy, even if they don't say they accept returns.  Most sellers want to make it right, so if you contact them in a reasonable manner, and describe the issue, they will most likely work with you so that you are both satisfied.  Just don't haul off and leave negative feedback, then expect the seller to fix the issue, as even revised negative feedback shows up in ebay.

That's what I can think of as a starting point.  Let me know if you have any specific questions, or if you have tips that have helped you!  I plan to add more information later, as there is an art to getting the most from your ebay shopping...  (Or so I like to think!)

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