You Won that eBay Auction! Now What Do You Do?

8:32 AM

You Won that eBay Auction! Now What Do You Do?

It's a heady feeling when you win your first eBay auction: a mixture of happiness and perhaps just a little fear. After all, there seems to be so much to do before you can actually get your item. What do you do next?

The simple answer is: you send payment to the seller, as quickly as possible. The quicker you pay, the more your seller will like you, and the sooner your item will arrive. But how you go about it? That all depends on how you plan to pay.

PayPal.

PayPal is one of the most popular options for paying on eBay, to the point where eBay decided to buy the company. It allows instant electronic payment across the Internet. Money goes instantly from your credit or debit card to the seller's PayPal account, where they can either use it for Internet purchases or transfer it out to their bank.

eBay offer incentives for using PayPal, and almost all sellers now accept it. Its instant nature makes sellers very happy, and means that they can have your item packed and sent and leave you some positive feedback within a few hours of the auction ending. When paying by PayPal, you will be covered by PayPal's own insurances and guarantees, as well as any that your card might have.

Cheques and Money Orders.

This is payment the old-fashioned way, and will lead to a long wait to your item. You need to post the cheque or money order, then the seller has to take it to the bank and get it cleared, and only then do they send the item. The only reason to use this method is if either you or the seller distrusts electronic payment methods. If you're willing to go to the trouble with these sellers, though, you might get an item very cheaply, as most buyers just can't be bothered.

When you pay by cheque or money order, make sure to print the eBay order confirmation page (it will be emailed to you) and put it in the envelope with your payment. Underline or circle key information like your mailing address and the item number. Finally, remember to be patient: keep in contact with the seller, as it really can take a month or two before everything falls into place and your item turns up.

Money Transfers and Bank Deposits.

Some sellers may ask you to pay them using a wire service like Western Union, or simply give you a bank account number and ask you to pay money into it. Unless you really trust the seller, this is generally a bad idea - these methods are hard to trace and you're unlikely to get any money back if anything goes wrong. Paying in cash, it hardly needs to be said, is an even worse idea.

It's all a lot to take in, isn't it? I'm sure by now you've got a few questions, which is why the next email/post will be a little eBay buyer's FAQ. Let's hope we can solve any problems you might have.

When and How to Withdraw Your eBay Bid (and Why You Might Not Want To).

8:31 AM

When and How to Withdraw Your eBay Bid (and Why You Might Not Want To).

eBay are a little strict about letting you withdraw your bid. They call it a 'bid retraction', and have a stringent set of conditions that you must meet before you are allowed to do it. Here are eBay's three acceptable reasons for withdrawing a bid.

You made a typographical error: This means that you accidentally typed the wrong amount into the bid box, bidding a far higher price than you meant to. This can be scary: imagine bidding $100 and accidentally adding an extra '0'! You are entirely allowed to withdraw your bid in this situation, and bid again if you want to.

The item's description changed: If you bid on something and then the seller updates the description, you have the right to withdraw your bid. It wouldn't be fair, after all, to force you to take something that you now realise you don't want.

The seller is uncontactable: If emails to the seller bounce and they don't answer their phone, then the auction obviously can't continue, and you can cancel it.

So How Do I Retract My Bid?

eBay hide away the bid retraction form a bit, because they don't like people using it. You can find it by going here: http://cgi1.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?RetractBidShow.

Now all you need is the item number from your auction: this can be found on the item description page's top right corner. If you can't see it on the page, look in your browser's title bar, and in any emails eBay have sent you about your bid on the item. Choose one of the three allowed reasons, click 'retract bid', and you're done.

Are There Any Consequences?

Well yes, there are. The more unethical among you might have considered that you could just cancel bids anytime you feel like it by saying that you accidentally entered the wrong amount. eBay are one step ahead of you. Each time you retract a bid, it is counted on your feedback page for all to see - and anyone with a lot of retracted bids looks more than a little dodgy. eBay also say that abusing the bid retraction feature could get you banned.

So is there a way to retract your bid without facing a penalty? There is if your seller is nice, and most are. Sellers can cancel bids on their auctions at any time, and if you email them with a half-decent excuse then most will be more than happy to do this for you. After all, it's not in their interest for their item to go to someone who won't like it, as you might leave negative feedback.

Of course, retracting your bid should still be a rare thing: you won't win auctions that way! If you've followed us this far, the chances are you've won an auction by now, or you're close - but you might be a little puzzled about what to do next. Our next email will give you a few pointers.

eBay Auction Buyer's Tips and Tricks.

8:30 AM

eBay Auction Buyer's Tips and Tricks.

eBay isn't just an auction and a marketplace: often it can feel quite a lot like a game. Like any game, you can get ahead if you think strategically, using your head to outwit the other buyers and get the best price. Here are a few things you can try.

Shop in the Summer.

This is simple, but effective. Summer is the quiet season on eBay - almost everything sells for less. While everyone else is out enjoying the sun, invest a little time to find some real bargains.

Beat Them by a Few Cents.

Outbid people by a few cents instead of a few dollars - if they don't check back before the auction ends, then you will be the winner. To avoid people using this tactic on you, though, always bid strange, hard-to-guess amounts instead of round numbers.

Play Dirty.

If you know when the auction ends, you can get in there at the very last second and outbid your rivals. The chances are that they won't have the time to sit in front of the auction waiting for it to end - as a rule, he who stays wins. If someone else does retaliate at the end of the auction, though, try not to get carried away in those last few seconds and end up paying too much!

Take Risks.

This is a strategy for the braver eBay buyer. All of the advice you will see for eBay beginners tells you to buy items that have good pictures, clear descriptions, trustworthy sellers and all the rest. If you're brave, why not take a risk and do the exact opposite?

Many buyers won't want that item from the seller with a feedback rating of 5, no picture and a one-line description. If you take a calculated risk and bid anyway, you might be able to make a tiny bid and win by default. There are people on eBay who make their living from winning auctions like these, taking good pictures of the item, writing a good description and then reselling it at a huge profit. Be careful, though: do this for long enough, and you will inevitably lose your money at some point. It's especially unwise to try it with very high-value items.

Avoid Bidding Wars.

There are few things on eBay that are so rare that you'll only see them once and never again. There are usually quite a few sellers who have an item. What's more, they will generally have more than one to sell, even if they haven't listed them all at once. Always check your seller's history to see whether they sell your item all the time - and if they do, then wait for the next one instead of bidding to the skies.

Now, there may come a time in your eBay life when you realise that you've screwed up your bid, and you wish there was an 'undo' button. Here's the good news for you: there is! The next email/post will be all about withdrawing your eBay bids.

When to "Buy Now" and When to Bid.

8:30 AM

When to "Buy Now" and When to Bid.

You will often find yourself facing the choice of whether to pay a fixed price or keep on bidding. This choice might be presented to you in a single auction, or you might be choosing between different auctions of the different types. So should you use that 'Buy it Now' button or keep on trying to outbid everyone else? It's all a question of weighing up the advantages and disadvantages.

Buy it Now.

- The Advantages.

When you use Buy it Now, you know the asking price and you can take some time to decide whether to pay it or not - you can even negotiate. You don't need to keeping your eye on the auction, or get caught up in the last-minute bidding frenzy that is now inevitable on any popular item. Not only that, but the seller will be happy to get a fixed price for their item, and they're likely to nicer to you than usual. Some sellers can be a little resentful when they feel that you got a little too much of a bargain on their item.

- The Disadvantages.

You will almost certainly pay more for the item, especially with more expensive items. Also, it takes some of the fun out of eBay. Aren't you there for an auction, after all? If you want to pay a fixed price then there are thousands of online stores you could be visiting. It's like pressing 'collect' instead of 'gamble' on a fruit machine: it's the boring option. But then, maybe that's what you want.

These rules are relatively constant: there are few times when using Buy it Now would allow you to get something cheaper, or when bidding would be an easier way to do it. In the end, as with so many things in life, it's a simple question of price vs. convenience, and it's up to you.

There are those times, though, when the strategic use of the Buy it Now button can be a useful tool to help you outwit your competition. If the current bid is almost as high as the Buy it Now price, then why bid higher and keep the contest going? Clicking that button is a no-brainer. The same goes for times when a seller has, for some reason, set the Buy it Now price only slightly higher than their starting price for bids. Why bother to go through all the hassle of bidding?

You might also find that there are times when you should leave the Buy it Now button as a last resort: it can be a useful way of ending last-minute contests with a decisive 'this is mine' gesture.

In fact, there are all sorts of tricks you can use on eBay, if you want to get ahead of the game. Remember that most buyers on eBay are casual, and don't know what they're doing: a little knowledge can go a long way in getting you an advantage. Our next email will have a few tips and tricks for you.

Understanding the Different eBay Auction Types.

8:29 AM

Understanding the Different eBay Auction Types.

Over the years, eBay has introduced all sorts of different auction types, in an effort to give people more options when they buy and sell their things on eBay. There are many people who don't like the idea that their item might sell for a far lower price than they intend. Equally, there are people who have hundreds of the same item and don't want to sell them individually. This email gives you an overview of the different kinds of auctions and how to spot them.

Normal Auctions.

These are the bread-and-butter of eBay, the auctions everyone knows: you bid, others outbid you, you outbid them, and the winner gets the item. Simple.

Reserve Auctions.

Reserve auctions are for sellers who don't want their items to sell for less than a certain price - a concept you'll know about if you're familiar with real auctions. They work just like normal auctions on eBay, except that you will be told if your bid has not met the reserve price set by the seller. If no-one is willing to meet this price, then the auction is cancelled, and the seller keeps the item.

You can spot these auctions by looking out for 'Reserve not met' or 'Reserve met' written next to the current bid on an item's description page.

Fixed Price ('Buy it Now') Auctions.

Buy it Now auctions can work in one of two ways. A seller might add a Buy it Now button to a normal auction, meaning that you can choose either to bid normally or to simply pay the asking price and avoid the whole bidding process. Some sellers, though, now cut out the auction process altogether and simply list all their items at fixed price. Recently, eBay added a twist to fixed price auctions: the 'best offer'. This means that you can negotiate a price to someone who offers their items using Buy it Now, which could be a great way to get a bargain on things that don't seem to be selling.

Fixed price auctions are easy to spot, as they have a little 'Buy it Now' logo either next to or instead of the current number of bids on the search listings page.

Multiple Item ('Dutch') Auctions.

These are auctions where a seller is selling more than one of a certain item. Dutch auctions can be done by bidding. Buyers bid a price and say how many items they want, and then everyone pays the lowest price that was bid by one of the winning bidders. If you have trouble getting your head around that, then don't worry - everyone else does too! These auctions are very rare.

What is more common is when a seller has a lot of one item, and lists it using a combination of two auction types: a multiple-item fixed price auction. This just means that they say how many they have, and offer them at a fixed price. You can enter how many you want and then just click Buy it Now to get them.

After all this, you might find yourself facing a dilemma: when you have the option, should you bid, or should you just use Buy it Now and save yourself the hassle? That's what the next email will be about.