Buying Tips for eBay

Over the past decade or so, it’s become more and more popular to be thrifty. There’s really nothing quite like getting a good bargain and it's why BB4BM is here!  We love eBay, but we are always suprised how many people don't know the tricks of the trade that help make sure you’re getting the best deal - so if you are not 'in the know', see our top tips!.

Ebay Tips

Founded twenty years ago, eBay has become one of the heavyweights in online shopping. It offers discounted, used, and auctioned goods which is great, but the problem with it being so vast is that it can be hard to know if you’re getting the best deal.

Thankfully, there are a few tricks that you can use to help make sure you’re getting the best bargain and that you’re staying safe while shopping online.

1. Check Locally

eBay is so often associated with buying online and having things shipped to you. However, there’s a whole side of eBay that’s committed to local buying and selling. The best thing about this concept is that they usually get fewer bids. These are usually sales that need to be done quickly, whether for moving or personal reasons. Whatever the reason, the result is that you get a super great deal!

It can be a bit tricky to find the deals that are only available for pick up or that are local. Thankfully, there are several services online that can help you keep up with what’s for sale in your area. Just do a google search for tools to "track local eBay listings", and you should come up with a whole list of options. Money Saving Expert have one here

2. Look Overseas

If you’re okay with spending a bit more on shipping, you can check eBay worldwide for auctions across the world. All you need to do is check that the shipping is worldwide. As we know at BB4BM HQ, you can find great deals, especially in China where clothes are insanely cheap. Countries like the USA and Australia also have lots of variety and awesome deals.

3. Misspell Your Search

It’s a sad fact of life: People don’t know how to spell properly. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be an issue. But, since it is a problem, you might as well take advantage of it! You would be surprised at how many people misspell their eBay posts. Most people will search for the items they want, using the proper spelling, which means those with the incorrect spelling get overlooked. And that means more savings for you!

Try several misspelled versions of what you’re looking for and you’ll be surprised at what shows up. If you’re a bit overwhelmed with the prospect and don’t know where to start, you can search for a few online tools that already take advantage of sellers spelling errors.

4. Search for Forgotten Items

Have you ever come across a listing on eBay that is priced extremely low? You know that the seller is doing that to get people bidding, but no one seems to want the item? While this seems like a good action plan for some sellers, it can leave others with extremely low priced items and no bidders. You can take advantage of this by swooping in last minute and purchasing what you need for a steal.

Finding these last minute, low priced items can be time consuming, but there are several websites that do all the hard work for you. You can try LastMinute Auction or BayCrazy to see these types of deals without having to do any searching.

Word to the wise: Watch out for shipping costs. Some sellers increase shipping costs to make up for the low cost of their items.

5. Set Alerts

Alerts are a great way to get the information you need, without having to spend hours sifting through eBay posts. You can sign up for alerts on eBay, specifying exactly what you’re looking for, so you’re not getting frivolous alerts. All you need to do is search for what you want and press the ‘follow this search’ button to have the alerts sent to your email.

You can also have alerts sent to your phone through the eBay mobile app. This makes keeping track of your auctions and bids much easier. The app actually has a lot of great features that can help you save, like a price comparison you can use while shopping to see the prices of similar listings.

6. Do a Little Research

There are several ways doing a little research can save you big when it comes to shopping on eBay. First, you should compare the prices of the things you’re looking for with other websites. Sometimes you might be surprised that it’s cheaper somewhere else. However, remember to factor in shipping costs during your comparisons.

Another way research can save you money is if you compare on eBay. You can check the average costs for items by searching for the item you want and selecting the ‘completed items’ box. This will show you a list of similar items to yours and how much they sold for. A quick browse will let you know the average cost.

You can also do a little research on sellers to give you a bit of an edge. There are many sellers that accept ‘best offers’ for items. Basically, you can tell them how much you’re willing to pay and they’ll let you know if they accept. If you’ve found an item and the seller accepts best offers, you can look them up on GoofBid and check the sellers’ history. It will show you about how much they accept for items, giving you a good idea of how low you can go.

7. Buy Creatively

There are some crazy ways to get deals on eBay. For example, you can buy goods from police stations in the U.K. These goods were confiscated and, when the owners couldn’t be found, they’re placed online for a steep discount. Just search and see if your local force has its own auction page. You’ll be surprised at what you can find!

Another creative option is to buy lost luggage. That’s right! Airlines sell lost bags online when they can’t find the rightful owners. Obviously, this means you’ll be getting a mish-mash of items, but it can be extremely fun. And, what makes it even more exciting is that you won’t know what’s inside the cases until you purchase it! It’s like a surprise present you buy for yourself. You can always buy the cases for the actual luggage, then whatever’s inside will be an extra treat.

8. Bargain

Not everyone will be comfortable with this concept, but if you are, you’ll find that a little bit of friendly negotiating can save you some money. If the item you want is a buy-it-now offering and no one has bid yet, contact the buyer and ask politely if there’s a little wiggle room in the price. They’re within their right to refuse, but asking never hurt anyone.

If you see a listing that says ‘reserve not yet met’ then the seller has set a specific price for the item, even if it’s listed much lower than that price. Instead of going through the bidding process, you can ask the seller what the reserve, or minimum price, is for the item. Sometimes they’ll tell you and you bid that amount to ensure that if no one outbids you, you’ll get it.

9. Ask Questions Before Bidding

There are some lazy sellers on eBay, which is great for you if you’re trying to find a bargain. Sometimes these lazy sellers forget to put in descriptions and information that would attract other buyers. If this is the case, go to the sellers’ profile and ask for specifics, to make sure the item is exactly what you want. Make sure you do this through their profile, because if you do it at the item, they can just post your question, so the information is available for everyone.

When the bidding starts, buyers will overlook the item because it doesn’t have proper descriptions. And, because you’re in the know, you’ll get it at a steal. If you’re feeling extra sneaky, bid on the item if there are no bids, since the seller can’t make any changes or additions once the item has a bid.

10. Time Your Auctions

If you have a little bit of time, you can check which auctions are ending late at night. These auctions are less likely to have bids, since the majority of people don’t want to stay up late to purchase items. You can use this to your advantage by using these low periods to get what you want for a discount.

11. Check the Descriptions

Most times, what you’re looking for will yield several results just by searching through the titles. However, if you’re having a bit of difficulty, you can adjust your search to look in the descriptions, too. This way, even if the seller used other words in the title, if your item was mentioned in the descriptions, it will show up.

12. Pay Attention to Feedback

There might be some amazing sellers out there who don’t have any feedback or are just starting out on eBay. However, to be completely safe, you should try to work with people who have positive feedback in the high 90s. This just indicates they have a good reputation, which means you’re more likely to get the item you purchased, as promised.

13. Bid Strategically

Round numbers are beautiful things, but when it comes to bidding, rounding might cost you the item you really want. In bidding, whoever has the highest amount wins, even if it’s just a few pence more. If you have a top price you’re willing to pay, add a few pence to make it an uneven amount, which will increase your chance of winning.

14. Read the Descriptions

Again, there are some shady people on eBay. So, to protect yourself, when you’re buying something make sure you read through the entire description. Some sellers have gotten away with selling useless stuff because at the end of their descriptions they’ve stated what they’re really selling. For example, maybe they put pictures up of a Gucci bag and the title for the listing is ‘Gucci bag’. But, at the end of the description they say that the purse is one similar to the Gucci bag and you get a knockoff. Shady, but unfortunately it’s legal.

15. Buy it Now

If you have a little time, you can search through the buy it now section and find some great deals. Sometimes sellers are trying to get rid of things quickly or they don’t know that what they have is valuable, so you can swoop in and get these things at an incredible bargain. Of course, you want to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for, so read the descriptions and check the average selling price for the items you’re purchasing.

16. Write the Seller

If you really, really wanted something on eBay and someone outbid you, you’re not completely out of options. Sales fall through all the time and if you reach out to the seller and let them know that if this happens, you’re interested, you might get a second chance at getting your item.

17. Use the Watch List

If you don’t want to bid on an item, but you still want to keep an eye on it, add it to your watch list. This will keep you informed about the auction and you’ll even get an email letting you know when the auction is getting close to ending. It gives you time to consider whether you want to make the purchase, with no pressure.

18. Buy From Traders

If you’re worried about getting cheated, you can buy from registered business sellers on eBay. While this doesn’t ensure that the item you’re purchasing is exactly what you want and the quality you want, you are protected when buying from a trader. Because traders, or registered business sellers, are held to the same level as stores. This means your purchase needs to be of satisfactory quality or you can return it and/or request a refund.

19. Purchase Cautiously

There are several shady dealers on eBay. However, you can protect yourself by being mindful. First, don’t pay anything for information. It’s becoming popular now for sellers to offer advice on diets or business, almost all of which can be found online with a quick search. Make sure what you’re paying for is a physical item before purchasing.

20. Use Paypal

EBay and PayPal have a Money Back Guarantee policy, which means if you purchased your item through PayPal and it has problems, is fake, or isn’t even sent, you can get your money back much faster. In fact, most crooks hate PayPal because it’s so much harder to get away with the money. So, best bet when buying anything online is to use PayPal.

21. Stay on eBay

It can be tempting to make a deal off of eBay to get a bargain, but you should avoid this at all costs. Don’t make payments off of eBay and don’t send money to any address. EBay isn’t just for getting great deals, it’s also about protecting you and your money. So, as tempting as it may be to get a lower price off eBay, stay safe and stay on eBay.

22. Do Pick-ups Safely

Buying locally is great, you get the item cheaper and without paying those pesky shipping costs, but picking the item up can always be a bit scary. If you’re picking up a small item, do it in a public place that you feel safe in, like your regular coffee shop or favorite shopping center. If at all possible, take a friend or two with you. If you can’t take a friend, let someone know where and when you’re going to pick up the item. Stay on the phone with them the entire transaction if you have to!

If you’re picking up a larger item, always Google the location before heading out. If it looks questionable, like an alley when you’re picking up a fridge, just don’t go. Better safe than sorry. And don’t go inside a building if at all possible.

What is the Verdict?

MoneySavingPigDo you use eBay regularly? Let us know if you have any other tips to add. We love feedback so please use the comment section below.

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