Where do you start when using eBay?

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Answered by: Sandra, An Expert in the How to Shop on eBay Category
SURFING FOR BARGAINS - Where do you start when using eBay?

Everybody loves a bargain and that great feeling of satisfaction when you manage to get a longed for item at a knock down price, so using the most popular online auction site makes perfect sense. But, where do you start when using eBay?

Launched in 1995 it started out as little more than an online garage sale set up by Pierre Omidyar from his home in San Jose, California, USA. It now has over 200 million users worldwide, with around five million items listed daily. It has become so popular that many people now earn a decent income from trading on the site. The company have always encouraged a sense of community with a feedback system that allows users to show they are trustworthy and equally it exposes unreliable traders.

Almost anything can be bought and sold from cars to designer clothes to miniature collectibles, and a few other strange items in between!

Getting Started

Anyone can browse the items for sale on eBay but if you want to buy or sell you will first need to register with the site.

When you have found an item you want to buy, check the details carefully. Review the feedback as this will give you a good idea whether or not the seller is reputable. Decide what price you want to pay and then place your bid. Some items have a ‘Buy It Now’ option.

Bidding is the exciting bit, although it may seem complicated at first. The important thing is to decide the maximum price you are prepared to pay. EBay will bid on your behalf at fixed amounts up to your maximum price, until a higher amount is bid.

The amount of time you have left to bid will be shown in days and hours, and bidding can take place up until the closing seconds, so there is often a flurry of activity right at the end when people are increasing their bids to try and win the item.

If you are successful pay for the item and leave some positive feedback if you are happy when it arrives.

If you are selling you’ll need to set up an account. EBay charge a small fee to sell your items, depending on how much the item is sold for. Ask a realistic price. Take a look at the price of similar items to get an idea of what to charge. Always include at least one photo but preferably more with different angles and some close up shots. You can ask for bids or sell at a fixed price but make sure you have allowed for postage and packing. Don’t post the item until you have received payment. If all goes well leave some positive feedback.

Top Tips

     When buying read the description carefully

     When selling give an accurate description and include a photo

     Whenever possible use Paypal as it is a secure payment facility

     Compare prices when buying or selling

     When bidding, know your limit and what amount you are happy to pay.

There is almost no limit to what you can buy or sell and over the years there have been some very unusual items sold on eBay! The site once had to intervene to stop the sale of a human kidney. A man from Seattle tried to sell his soul! In June 2005 Tim Shaw, a DJ on Kerrang radio in the UK, was heard by his wife flirting on air with model Jodie Marsh. She put his Lotus Esprit sports car on eBay with a 'Buy it Now' price of 50 pence, requesting the buyer pick it up the same day. It was sold within 5 minutes! A single cornflake was sold for £1.20 by a university student in the UK. An air guitar was sold for $5.50 by a man from Arizona.

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