Buying on eBay is fun, and should be a positive experience for both
sellers and buyers. Knowing what you want, and taking the time to look
for it, can be a rewarding experience in itself; but that is only half
the battle; you must also know what to look for once you find "It" (to borrow from eBays advertising campaign!).
First of all, utilize eBay's wonderful "Search" features. In the top right corner of every page in eBay, you will see the word, "Search" and a text box beside it. Type in the word or words that best describe what you are looking for. You can start off with general terms, and depending on how many pages result, you may want to include a certain size or color that you want. You may want to search all of eBay, or you may want to confine the search only to eBay Motors, or eBay Express (although every brand new item listed on eBay meeting a few criteria also appears in eBay Express). It is probably best to start from the eBay home page or from your own eBay page rather from a specific category, that way items that might be listed in a category you didn't think of, or that were accidentally llisted in the wrong category, will turn up in your search. Now, review the items that turn up in your search to get a 'feel' for the market. Learn the typical language used to describe that particular item by reading several (or all) listings so that you will know more about what to look for in a description. Look for important points, do not take it for granted that the used Clock radio has a cord/plug, make sure it is in the description or the picture! Don't limit yourself to only items newly listed, only items ending soonest, or only to auction style listings; be sure to check every listing if you have time, including store listings that typically fall at the end of all auction listings.
Now refine your search if you can, keeping in mind words or terms that mean the most to you in the quest for your item, such as "NIB" (New In Box), "Refurbished", "Mint", "authentic". Be sure to actually read the descriptions to see if the title words are substatiated in the listing. For example, a seller may have listed 2 similar items, and after listing a "Mint" condition item and then clicked the 'sell a similar item' button to list another item that was NOT in mint condition, but the seller forgot to change the title that was already filled in for him/her on the following page during the listing process. Most sellers try not to make such big mistakes, but we are all human, and mistakes do happen, so be sure to read the descriptions carefully. To bookmark items that interest you for later comparison or to bid on later, you can click the "watch this item" link and it will be saved in "My eBay" for you where you can easily delete later if you choose to do so.
The next most important thing to look at is the shipping on the item. DO NOT bid/buy an item if there is no shipping listed, and the seller has not included a shipping calculator (which is pre-set with the packed item weight, size, and any seller handling fees and tied to UPS, USPS, Fed-Ex, or DHL shipping rates, and automatically displays the shipping price if you are logged into eBay). Once you place a bid or click the "Buy It Now" button, you are legally committed to complete the transaction even if the seller later adds $1.000.00 shipping! (Which by the way is an exaggeration, but you get the point! Once you bid you are bound to complete the contract with the seller to pay the cost of the item and the shipping and is considered not negotiable after the auction) Pay very close attention to the shipping cost and add it to your bid/buy cost when making comparisons. It is a psycological fact that most people completely ignore the shipping cost when browsing on eBay, a fact that some unscrupulous sellers take advantage of. So do not be fooled by the 99-cent auction for the brand new mint condition CD in sealed package with $25.00 shipping - it is not as good of a deal as the $20 auction for the same brand new mint condition CD in sealed package with a $3.50 shipping! Be sure that any item cost or bid plus the shipping is an amount you are willing to pay for "It".
Ask questions. There is a "contact buyer" link on every eBay listing, use it to ask the seller for clarification on the description, to ask for another picture of the item, or for any type question you may have. A good seller is happy to answer questions and/or provide any additional information needed because they want you to be happy with your purchase. Remember, your bid is a binding contract with the seller, you want to be sure of what you are bidding on before you place that bid! Sometimes a seller may have left something out of a desription inadverdently, and sometimes it is left out intentionally because that particular aspect of the item is missing; you want to know which is the case before you bid.
Next, after you have narrowed your selection, is to check each seller's feedback. Recently, and for good reason, eBay changed the seller policy to require all seller's to have publicly viewable feedback (any registered eBay user has an "hide feedback" option, which has always been ill-adviseable on eBay). We all want to do business with reputable people, and on eBay this is established through the feedback left by other people who have had transactions with each other. If a seller has been selling for awhile and has a number of positive feedback comments from buyers, then you should feel comfortable purchasing from them. On the other hand, if a seller is quite new and has few or no positive comments, then it might be better to keep looking. You might not want to risk paying thousands of dollars for that diamond ring to a seller with only 9 feedback; (especially if all the feedback is from sellers, not buyers!) it just doesn't give a good representation of the seller's habits. However, you might feel comfortable paying $50 or $100 to that same seller. After all, we all started out with 0 feedback, and sometimes we should give each other a chance. That is the beautiful thing about eBay and PayPal, there are a number of buyer (and seller) protections in place should something not go well. When viewing feedback, take into consideration any negative comments and the apparent circumstances. By this I mean play detective a little bit, look at the other person's feedback that left the negative; do they make a habit of leaving impatient negatives? Is the negative comment simply retaliatory? Perhaps the other party is more the problem. Your potential seller's overall feedback should be considered in every case, one fluke or two of negative may not reflect accurately, unless of course the buyers who leave neutral or negative are saying the same things, like slow shipping, does not respond to emails, etc. then you need to consider carefully if you want to do business with the person. Please keep in mind that the odds are that every eBay user will get a negative comment eventually; whether it be deserved or otherwise. One bad 'apple' comment doesn't spoil the seller, it only proves there are emotional human beings involved!
Once you have found "It" pay as promptly as possible. Send your PayPal immediately, most sellers state something like, "payment is due within five days of auction close". Those five days are reserved for those mailing their payment, and that means the payment should be received by then, not sent out by then.. If you are using PayPal, there is no need to wait. If you need to wait for Pay Day, be sure it falls within a few days of the auction end, otherwise please do not bid, that is asking for trouble. There most likely will be another auction when the timing is right for you.
In the Real Estate business, the saying goes that the three things that matter are: location, location, location. Well on eBay, the three things that matter most are communication, communication, communication! I have already mentioned the importance of asking questions during the listing. but after the auction or listing has closed and you are the winner, you will receive an invoice, possibly automatically sent to you. Your response can be in the form of your electronic payment. If for any reason you are not sending an immediate payment, write to your seller and let them know when they can expect payment. Even if you mail the money order or check the same day, let your seller know, so that they are not wondering if you are going to follow through on your end. Snail Mail takes time, and that time is better spent by all than wondering what the intentions of another person are. We all are human, and we all know things come up. Whatever the situation may be, clue the seller in, and keep them in the loop. Not letting another person that is counting on you know that you are going to be delayed is just plain rude in the regular world and on eBay. Silence leads to speculation, and speculation quite often means drawing the wrong conclusion. Do not let that happen to you if at all possible, let your seller know what is happening on your end, more often than not, that is all that it takes to avoid a calamity. Remember, your feedback reputation is on the line, too!
Now that you have found "It", and "It" has been paid for, you should have received "It", but you are not done yet! Now it is time to let others know what kind of items, service, communication, etc. can be expected from this seller. Use words and phrases that accurately reflect your particular transaction with the seller, like "Great transaction" "fast shipping", "quick response to emails", "would buy from again" or "item just as described". Simply saying "thanks" tells the future buyers nothing. What were you looking for in reviewing feedback before buying? It is important to let others know important things, as well as whether or not you would buy from the person again. Yes, sometimes things happen; mail gets lost, items become damaged, or
the item simply does not meet expectations. Whatever the case may be, if you have an issue, contact the seller, give
them a chance to make things right with you, do not just shortcut to the feedback forum. Remember, communication, communication, communication! Do not ever leave feedback
for a transaction while you are upset; it cannot be taken back. Give
the seller and the situation time, and try to leave factual, not
emotional, feedback, after you have given your seller a chance to make
things right. You have up to 3 months to leave feedback for that transaction. Negative feedback should rarely be left, and should be
reserved only for a seller who is completely unresponsive. Otherwise,
leaving negative feedback will end up reflecting poorly on you, not the
seller. Hopefully you can find something positive to report about the seller, even if overall you did not get what result you wanted. Try to give accurate feedback that reflects the seller and their manner of doing business, do not leave untoward feedback just because you didn't like the ending of movie that you bought, your dog didn't like the toy, or the sweater made your mom look fat.
Tips for eBay buying "in a nutshell":
Search by words, not just categories
Read all the description
Shipping costs matter!
Ask questions before you bid/buy; don't assume
Properly evaluate the reputation of the seller
Communication, communication, communication!
Always leave factual feedback
Now, you are ready to go shopping for "It" ! Have fun!!