Buying online can be a great way to get a deal. But if you shop on eBay, there are few things you should remember:
1. Always read the fine print: Sometimes the item pictured is NOT the item actually being sold. We recently saw an auction where the picture had hundreds of coins pictured but the winner was only going to receive 10 random coins from the picture. I’m guessing some of the bidders were not paying close attention. Their bid was way higher than expected for only 10 coins.
2. Check the seller’s feedback: The seller’s feedback can give you a great idea of what to expect from your purchase. We usually disregard a few of the lowest feedback comments. Anybody can have a bad day and sometimes mistakes happen. But if there is a consistent thread of negative feedback, beware. You may be asking for trouble if you don’t pay attention.
Sometimes we will take a chance on a seller who has no feedback yet. Recently we made a purchase with a seller that had no feedback. This was his first selling experience on eBay. We communicated with him and decided it was a risk worth taking. We were very pleased with the purchase and proud to give him his first positive feedback.
3. Check where an item is coming from: We have ordered from sellers who live in other countries before. But if you do, remember the shipping time will be much longer than if it is coming from a neighboring state. We once ordered a Christmas present from Hong Kong that didn’t get here until a week after the holiday. Check the feedback, then make an informed decision.
4. Know your limits: Bidding on an online auction is very exciting and can become very addictive. If you are a person who is driven by adrenaline, then you need to know exactly what you are willing to spend. Set a limit and don’t go over that number. If you need to write the number down on a post it note and attach it to your monitor, then do it. eBay has a lot of great deals, but I have seen many auctions end at an amount that is much higher than it should have been. Sometimes the buyer has even spent more than the item would have cost in the store brand new. The buyer got auction fever and just kept increasing the bid.
5. Do your research: Before you buy an item online, check to see what the brand new price is. You should never pay for a used item on eBay that cost more than a brand new item in the store.
6. Consider shipping costs: Buyers always pay the shipping costs on eBay. So when you are ready to bid, make sure you count the shipping as part of your bid. If you want to cap your bid at $20 and shipping is listed as $5, then you should not bid more than $15 — that way your final payment will be $20 not $25.
7. Successful bidders add an extra penny: You can put your maximum bid amount in if you don’t plan to be around when the auction ends. This is a great option for those who want to bid today and then forget about it till the auction is over. The eBay program will only increase your bid up to the top amount you have entered. It will only increase the bid amount if someone tries to outbid you. The system will not go over your maximum bid amount.
Tip: Most people will put the maximum amount at an even number. If you want to get an extra boost at winning, try making your max bid an odd number — instead of $15, try $15.01 or $15.62. The extra pennies may help you be the winning bidder.
Buying and selling on eBay is a great opportunity to find some great deals. But you want to shop smart. Got any suggestions to add? I’d love to hear!