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Tips For Buying on eBay

Updated on November 29, 2010

I have been buying and selling on eBay for many years. While the vast majority of transactions have been wonderful, I have been burned a few times.  Sometimes it is my own fault, other times it is the fault of the seller.  Either way it is NOT fun to have a transaction go bad.  Here are some tips I have come up with to do everything I can to prevent a transaction from going wrong.

  1. Do your research.  Before trying to win an auction on eBay you need to know exactly what you are looking for.  Research how much the item is elsewhere (either new or used) and how much the item has sold for on eBay.  In order to find out how much an auction ended at you need to have an account with eBay.  Log into your account and do an advanced search for the item you want.  Check the box that says "Completed Listings" and search.  This will show you exactly what the final price was for an item.
  2. Once you know the going rate you can decide the maximum amount you are willing to pay.  This should be a total that includes both the item and the shipping.  Maybe you will find the item with free shipping and will be willing to pay a bit more.  Or maybe you find the perfect item but the shipping is high.  Adjust your bid accordingly.  Stick to the amount you have decided and don't get caught up in the auction.  This will prevent regrets later.
  3. When searching for an item on eBay you need to read the fine print very carefully.  Read every word of the auctions you are interested in.  Pay close attention to the condition of the item, the cost of the shipping, payment methods accepted and the item details.  This will prevent you from being surprised when the auction ends or after you receive the item.
  4. Ask questions before the auction ends.  If you have any doubts or questions at all, don't assume anything.  Always ask.  Most sellers check their email frequently and will get back to you in a timely manner. 
  5. Read the seller's feedback.  Don't just go by the feedback score (although it is very helpful) because it doesn't tell you everything.  By looking closely at the numbers and the comments you can tell if the seller is honest, timely, deceiving, slow, a poor communicator, and more. I will only bid on auctions from reputable sellers.  If someone only has a few feedback, I will typically pass that auction over.  I also want a seller to have a very high positive rating. 
  6. Pay for your item right away.  If you delay your payment, the shipping will be delayed and can create hard feelings between the buyer and seller.  It is also easier for a seller to keep up with things if the payment is made right away. 
  7. Be patient and give the seller time to get the item to you.  They don't need you bugging them just two days after the auction ends.  If you have read the fine print in the auction carefully you will know when to expect shipping and arrival.  I would give it a week unless you paid for overnight delivery.  
  8. If you don't receive your item in a timely manner or you receive the wrong item email the seller.  Stick to the facts and be polite.  We all make mistakes sometimes.  We can't control how the box was handled and that the plates got broken.  We can't control something getting lost in the mail.  Most good sellers will do everything they can to fix any problems as quickly as possible.  If you followed tip #4 then you should be dealing with a good seller.
  9. Make sure you leave honest feedback when the transaction is over.  This will help others have good experiences on eBay as well.


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    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 7 years ago from Utah

      This is what I need to know. I haven't bought on eBay because I just haven't taken the time to figure out how it works. Thanks for the tips. I know a lot of people that get good deals from eBay.

    • profile image

      helene.bliss 7 years ago

      Great tips! I'm having second though whether I'm going to buy or not at ebay. I will surely use these tips when I finally made my decision.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Great help and I do put the ads on my hub but so far nothing. I would to develop this more.

    • rwelton profile image

      rwelton 7 years ago from Sacramento CA

      Great hub - I am relatively new to hub pages and to selling on eBay. I have bought a few things on eBay and so far everything worked out.


    • cwarden profile image

      cwarden 7 years ago from USA

      Really good tips! I wish I had been able to read something like this a couple of weeks ago before I failed to follow Tip #3 and ended up with a Spanish keyboard replacement for my laptop! Oh well, hopefully this hub of yours will prevent someone else from making the same mistake. Thanks!

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 7 years ago from Great Britain

      l´ve only recently started buying on Ebay, so this was surely a timely article for me . A great help. Thank you.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I occasionally buy on ebay, but fortunately my experiences have been good.

    • gulnazahmad profile image

      gulnazahmad 7 years ago from Pakistan

      I have not bought or sold anything but I am planning to buy an ipad so your tips will work. I will surely follow your tips.

    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 7 years ago

      Very informative hub. Nice tips for people who use ebay to buy different products.

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 7 years ago from Maryland

      Great Tips!

    • profile image

      ShawnS. 7 years ago

      Good ways to save money and avoid being hurt on E-Bay. Thank you!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Nice tips and very understanding. I am glad to follow your advice. Good job, my friend. Success for you. Take care!

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Seems the same as life: treat others the way you want to be treated and "trust," but confirm...

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 7 years ago from Ireland

      Very good practical tips to stop getting burnt on Ebay. Thanks.

    • vic profile image

      vic 7 years ago

      Very informative. Thank you.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Good tips for Ebay. I haven't sold or bought anything on there in a long time but I use to quite frequently. I should check it out again.