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Buying on eBay

Updated on October 3, 2014

When, Why and How to Buy on eBay

Even if you like the immediacy of brick-and-mortar storefronts, there are times when it makes sense to buy online. Here's the inside scoop about how to shop on eBay, one of the World Wide Web's premiere shopping destinations. You'll learn how to do your homework before you bid, how to buy safely, and what to do after your purchase.

When -- and Why -- eBay Makes Sense

So you let your fingers walking through the yellow pages. Your feet walked through the mall, Wal-mart, Target, the flea market, and all the specialty shops within a 50-mile radius. But they did not have what you wanted! It's rare or old. Maybe they quit making it 50 years ago. You feel you just have to have it! You could go to every estate and garage sale within 200 miles, or ... you could shop on eBay.

You want the latest, and seemingly greatest, new gismo on the market. The price is too high at local stores, so you want it used. But since it's a popular new product, where can you possibly find someone who's actually selling theirs? You could check all the pawn shops in town, or ... you can shop on eBay.

You want to take a vacation, but airline and cruises tickets are too high. Or, they're already booked. You could call every travel agent in town, or, ... you could shop on eBay. With a little luck, you might find someone who had to cancel their vacation plans and want to sell their tickets cheap.

You may be ill, disabled, or older. You may just want to avoid the hassle of shopping mall crowds, escalators, steamy cars, freezing winds or icy sidewalks.

At times like these, it's far easier to go to eBay the first time. EBay, like a global garage sale, has many used and hard-to-find items which will cost you less. And they are all accessible from the comfort of your home, office, or library computer.

Shop for unusual clothing sizes, film cameras and lenses, vintage records. Even put in a "Want it Now" request to merchants when you can't find your item listed.

eBay Buying Tips

Do your homework before you bid!

Before you buy, you'll need to open an eBay account and set up a payment procedure. Don't wait until you've won a bid, figuring you'll just use your charge card. Some merchants require payment through Paypal, a free money transfer service. It's a good idea to set this up beforehand.

Paypal will have to get the money from somewhere, so you'll have to link your account to a credit or debit card, a bank account, or have enough money in your Paypal account before you buy anything. A credit card can be listed on only one account, so your husband or wife can't use the same credit card on a separate Paypal account. An echeck from your bank account takes three to five business days, but a debit card from your bank will allow instant payment.

You may need three days for Paypal to verify you as the bank account holder through a test transaction. You will be asked to get a code number from your bank and submit it to Paypal before you'll be authorized to use your account.

It is a good idea to link your Ebay account with your Paypal account to facilitate transactions.

While all this takes a bit of extra time, it will give you more flexibility and credibility while transacting business online.

Before bidding, know the current market value of your product. Check the selling price at local stores, Amazon.com, AND Ebay. When you search listings on Ebay, look for the completed auction box on the left side of your Ebay page. Mark this and you'll find what the product has sold for on Ebay recently.

This figure will help you bid more intelligently, and hopefully, help you avoid losing a coveted item for underbidding.

Buying Safely

Rule #1 -- If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. This is an old saying, but the reason it has hung around is ... because it's true. This sage advice very likely has saved many from being conned. Pay a fair price and there's a greater chance you're dealing with a reputable business person, someone who has been in business awhile and makes their living from it. They have a reputation to uphold and it's important for them to be honest and fair in their dealings. While you may indeed stumble on that super deal of a lifetime, there's also a good chance someone is playing on your emotions. If no legitimate business person can sell for that price, they are not legitimate or they are not in business.

Rule #2 -- Deal with established sellers. Okay, so you've found that great deal, the perfect item being sold by an individual who needs cash, or who wants to clean their garage. Their trash is your treasure. Great! Check them out first. Avoid buying expensive items from those who don't have a track record. Look for those who have been on Ebay for years, not months. Email them with questions and learn if they are quick to respond, professional and courteous. Are they a power seller? Do they have lots of great feedback? While feedback is important, it can be faked. So look for an individual or business who has been in the community awhile, and looks like they want to stay.

Rule #3 -- Buy with PayPal and your credit card, or through your credit card. Do not wire them money! Paypal is an expert in online transactions and can guarantee up to a $2,000 purchase. Some items only are guaranteed for up to $200, so check to see if you and your item qualify for a full refund in the event your transaction goes sour. If Paypal only guarantees up to $200, you'll be relying on your credit card company to cover the balance should there be a problem.

Rule #4 -- Contact the seller if you have any difficulty. Try to resolve the issue yourselves. If there is no solution within 10 days, enlist EBay's help by filing a dispute. It's in EBay's best interest to keep both buyers and sellers happy with their marketplace. They've also been around long enough to know when it's time to be patient, or proceed with a claim.

After the Purchase

After you buy on Ebay, you'll receive a confirmation notice and be given an option to pay for your item. Paying promptly helps you receive your purchase quicker!

This is where all that preparation comes in handy. You won't have to go scrambling to set up a Paypal account, or verify your bank account, or worse yet, ask the merchant to send a money request to your spouse, parent, or friend. While all of those are preferable to backing out on your purchase, it's better to avoid the stress!

Sellers also will have an opportunity to leave feedback and you want yours to be good, helping you establish yourself in the EBay marketplace.

It also is courteous to leave feedback on the merchant. This will help other buyers decide with whom they would like to do business.

Be sure to pay any taxes due on your product. Some areas require a sales and use tax, or other taxes, for purchases made online.

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Cheryl Rogers
Cheryl Rogers

About the Author

I am a free-lance writer and self publishing assistant in Tampa, Florida. I have authored a number of ebooks, including Fast Track to Victory, A Christian Guidebook. Fast Track is a 40-lesson devotions book aimed at new and young believers, or all who are eager to seek God as they run the race set before them. My other titles include What You Should KNOW About Self Publishing and Book Selling Strategies for the Reluctant Marketer.

My nature images are available on Scripture posters, nature posters and other products through my website and Zazzle store.


© 2008 Cheryl Rogers