Win the bid on eBay

If you love garage sales, auctions, and second-hand stores, you will thoroughly enjoy poking through the various corners of eBay. Whatever you collect, however obscure, eventually it will come to be listed on eBay. On any given day, there are millions of items listed – everything from Hummel figurines and old watches to front row Shania Twain concert tickets and a 40-foot humpback whale skeleton. eBay is an online auction house which now boasts 68 million members around the world.

Enjoy window shopping
There are two ways to look for items- one is “browse” and the other is “search” for something specific. Browsing is like walking into a department store and wandering around the different sections. You can browse each section from the eBay home page. Searching is more like the store and heading straight for the audio-equipment section to look at DVD players – enter a specific item into the search box and see what comes up.

Register with eBay
To bid and sell on eBay, you must be an eBay member. It is easy to sign up. You choose a user id (or alias) and a password. If the user id you want to use is already taken, they willry to help you choose another. You also provide a valid email address and some other contact information. An eBay email will be sent to you and you must click on the button in that email message to complete the registration process. Then you’re all set!

No surprises, please!
Once you find an item you are interested in, be sure to read the auction listing carefully. Look for a description of the condition of the item – is it working? Is it in the right format for your DVD player?

Verify the seller ships to Canada and what he charges for shipping. Consider the payment options listed – can you fulfill your end of the deal? Most sellers will offer a few different choices such as a personal cheque, a money order or a Paypal payment (see next page).

Check the seller’s feedback in the top right corner – the number next to his user id is an indication of the number of auctions he has been involved with and underneath is information on how buyers have found him to deal with in the past. These numbers are especially important.

If anything is unclear, email him before bidding and ask – once you’ve won an auction you have to follow through with payment whether you’ve changed your mind or not.

Start small- don’t begin your auction career with a $2000 item – bid on a few items under $20 until you get a feel for how it all works.

Next page: How to bid like a pro

Pounce like a pro
If the auction is not ending in a few hours, click on “Watch this item”- then click on “My eBay” at the top of your screen and log in with your new eBay user id and password. You will see that item has appeared in a list of “Items you are watching” complete with the time remaining before the auction ends and what bidding is at. You can watch up to 30 auctions at one time and then decide which auction to jump into.

If you act like a “newbie” and bid early on, sometimes this can drive the price much higher as more people jump in. Try to wait until the last half hour or even a few hours before the auction ends to bid if possible. When you’re ready to bid, scroll down to the bottom of the listing page and type in your bid amount. It will tell you there the lowest amount you can enter and allow you to set your maximum bid, the highest price you want to go. eBay will now bid on your behalf up to your maximum entered amount.  You will automatically remain the highest bidder until someone else bids more than your maximum amount.

Pay for items won
If the seller is here in Canada, you will have fewer problems with cheques and money orders than if the seller is based in the US or Europe. A Canada Post money order will cost $3.00 for Canadian money orders; $4.00 for US money orders. If you pay by cheque, the seller may hold your item until the cheque clears – usually 10 days.

Many eBay regulars are signed up with Paypal so they can pay for their auction purchases by credit card. In essence, Paypal acts as a middleman by paying the seller on your behalf – the seller does not get access to your credit card information – and then billing the credit card you have supplied them. Some people feel more confident having one credit card with a $100 limit just for using for eBay and for online shopping. Registering with Paypal takes a few business days so plan accordingly.

You should email the seller within 48 hours and let them know how and when you are paying for your item. If you don’t, he may assume you are a “deadbeat” and post negative comments about you, which will impact your ability to bid and sell in the future.

Feedback is key
When you first start out, you will have a (0) next to your user id. Some people may be reluctant to sell to you because you are new to the game – an untested participant. Politely ask your seller to leave positive feedback for you when he receives your payment and be sure to return the favour when you receive your item in the mail. Some sellers have dozens of items listed at one time and your request for feedback may be missed. If you are happy with your purchased item when it arrives, post positive feedback for him anyway- sometimes that little nudge is enough to get your due.

More information:
EBay has a very good tutorial section where you can learn a lot more  – be sure to check it out in the eBay Community section at their website.