Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ebay Tips:

In one of my more recent posts I mentioned that Ebay was a great place to purchase recycled goods. I realize that shopping on Ebay can be very overwhelming and intimidating. For this reason I asked my best boy friend Nicholas Jett of Enjoy Your Worries (who is quite the Ebay expert) to send me his suggestions for shopping on Ebay. Here are his suggestions:

When shopping on Ebay, check a seller's "feedback rating" before buying. If a seller has sold 2,500 items in the past and their feedback rating is 99.5%, they are most likely a trusted and extremely experienced seller. Every now and then, however, you might run into problems with sellers like these (i.e. slow shipping due to high volume of items sold, poor communication, etc.). For the most part though, these are the best kinds of sellers to buy from because of how experienced and reliable they are.

If a seller's feedback rating is low (like 66%) and/or they've only been involved in 4 transactions before, be weary of buying from them. People often sign up to sell items on ebay for short periods of time in hopes of scamming as many ebay members as possible. It can be unfortunate for new members who've never bought or sold anything on ebay before because other members sometimes approach their business with skepticism. Occasionally, sellers will ask that their bidders have at least 1 positive feedback rating before bidding on their item to prevent fake or problematic bidders from tampering with their auctions. Likewise, buyers have also completely abstained from bidding on multiple great deals because the seller was a new member that had a rating of 0. Don't let this stop you from signing up though: once you buy/sell an item or two and begin to establish good feedback, buyers and sellers become more than happy to work with you. Besides, it's not all that common for sellers to ask that you have prior buying/selling ebay experience anyways. Feedback is what establishes trust between buyers and sellers and is therefore the best measure of honesty and ensuring good service that Ebay can offer.

Another good thing to do when shopping on Ebay, is to check which payment options a seller offers. This varies from seller to seller. Paypal is always the most secure option and also the most common. Go to paypal.com for an explanation of how using a credit/debit card with paypal works. If a seller only accepts a check or money order, be cautious and contact them before using this option. If they only accept cash for some reason, do not bid on their item.

If a seller/store has multiple items that you're interested in, ask the seller or check their shipping options to see if they offer combined shipping. There are a lot of great deals on Ebay that can be ruined by high shipping costs. There are also a lot of sellers that specialize in selling certain types of things (i.e. antiques, books, memorabilia, etc.) and there's a good chance that they might have an assortment of things that you'd be interested in if you've already found an item or two of theirs that has sparked your interest.

To get an idea of how much things sell for on ebay, you can check "completed listings" from the search options page to see how much an item has sold for in the past two weeks (the amount of time each item is archived on ebay). Check the "completed listings" box and then search for a style of video camera or another item that you are interested in so that you know how frequently the item is listed on ebay and how much it typically sells for. Some items, like a specific type of camera, might be listed a dozen times each week while other items might only come up on ebay once or twice a year, in which case, you might not find a record of (if it was sold more than two weeks prior to your search).

There is also a helpful option that allows you to search for items being sold "worldwide." If looking for a French book or a Japanese painting, you might want to use this search option which will almost always yield more items than the typical search comprehensive of items only located in the U.S.

Also, when searching for an item, keep your keywords relatively broad. If searching for a cell phone, (in which case you might get a list of 10,000 items), it's best to type in the name of the manufacturer and the model, although it's not necessary to also write "cell phone" (for example, "Verizon 4.0"). If searching for a record or CD, it might be best to just type in the band's name, rather than typing in the specific record since sellers often list items using vague terminology and a broad search will always yield more results which you can then sort through. If searching for a bike, again, type in the manufacturer ("Masi") and leave out the model name, year, etc. Some of the best deals found on Ebay are from using broad searches because sellers sometimes fail to provide good item descriptions. As a result, things that should sell for a lot more than they do, can sell for much less because a lot of potentially interested buyers typically search for items using only specific terms.

Lastly, try not to get addicted to Ebay. Believe it or not, it's pretty easy to do. If there's something that you're looking for that may be rare or hard to find, it's a great source to track things down. If your eyes are bigger than your pockets, on the other hand, it may not be the place for you. Whatever the case may be, enjoy it; it's a great resource.

I also liked the post on Sea of Shoes that includes many suggestions for shopping on Ebay. Good luck!

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