You may well have heard the horror stories of eBay shoppers who go bid happy. Setting your maximum bid high and allowing the system to bid on your behalf is a sure fire way to lose money. After all, you trying to buy at below retail price.
So, with that thought in mind, here’s my 5 step plan on how to bid on eBay (and save yourself some money).
Think Like A Researcher
It’s easy to search eBay, find the item you want and go bid happy. I know, I’ve been there. The fact that you’re bidding in an auction makes it even worse. There’s a sense of urgency in the back of your mind that screams, ‘buy it before someone else does’. Put your slippers on and relax.
Research will save you both time and money.
Finding the real value of any auctioned item is easy. Use the search box but make sure you include listing for items that have closed (it’s in the Advanced settings of the search box). I find that working out the average price of the last twenty auctions gives a realistic price for what the goods you want to buy.
Don’t be tempted to pay over the odds. The “Buy It Now” option is certainly fast and efficient but you still need to research the price. If it looks like you’re going to pay over the odds then move on.
Timings Can Be Critical
Check out the end time of the auction. If you can find an auction that finishes at an unsocial hour then you’ve just cut away most of your competition.
Like you, other bidders are looking for bargains but most of them aren’t prepared to sit up until 1 AM just to win the auction.
Any listings that are scheduled to end after 10 PM are good candidates for you to bid on.
Local Listings Are Ripe For The Picking
Have you thought about looking for listings posted by sellers in your local area?
This a great way to save money. Email the seller and ask them if they’d be interested in taking cash in hand. I’ve done this a few times as it’s a great way to cut costs for both the buyer and seller by removing transaction fees and postage costs.
Warning:This approach is against eBay’s terms.
Every time a sale is completed the buyer is invited to leave feedback. A new seller will typically have very little feedback due to low sales volume. This can be your gateway to more savings.
People with low feedback have a tendency to attract few buyers. Use this fact to your advantage.
Before you discount a particular seller, look at their feedback and find out why it has a low score. Is because they’re new and have had little in the way of sales? Is because they’re slow getting the goods out to their customers?
If there are no suggestions of fraudulent selling and you’re happy to give them a chance then go for it.
A word of warning: if the feedback is low because of repeated non-delivery, damaged goods or sub-standard goods then avoid them.
A Picture Paints A Thousand Words
Has the seller added plenty of pictures? If not, get them to email you more photos. Take a flat screen TV as a prime example. A picture of the screen is all well and good but what else do you need to see? Is there a remote control? Is there damage on the body? Do you need verification of all the connectivity options?
Likewise, the lack of an accurate, detailed description will put many buyers off. Look for goods that have a poor description. Don’t accept the template descriptions that appear on eBay. Ask the seller to send you a full description via email.
It’s a well know fact that eBay auctions that lack an adequate description are passed over by buyers. Move into bloodhound mode and sniff out the slackers in order to save yourself some money.
Stacking Up Your eBay Bids
What do you look for when you searching eBay? Do you only bid on items that have all the accessories you need included in the auction? If so, you’re missing a trick.
Many items on eBay are overlooked because, quite simply, most buyers are too lazy to do a little footwork. For the next example I’m going to assume you’re in the market for a decent, second hand computer.
For most buyers, a computer will include, at a minimum, a keyboard and mouse. Some of you will want the works and actively search for a PC auction that also includes a monitor. Getting everything in a bundle could be costing you more.
Bearing in mind postage costs, it may be more cost effective to buy the parts individually. In some cases, it may actually be cheaper to buy some parts locally. A keyboard can be bought in a local computer shop for as little as a couple of pounds. Likewise, a standard mouse will set you back a fiver.
By all means, buy yourself a computer and monitor from an eBay seller but consider buying each part from a different seller. By doing your research, you may well find you can get a better deal.
That’s all for today. Next time you’re bidding on eBay make sure you cast your mind back to this post in order to make some savings.