Tips and Tricks for Using eBay Search.

8:42 AM

Tips and Tricks for Using eBay Search.

If you know what you're doing, you can quickly find what you're looking for on eBay. Here are a few golden rules.

Be specific: If you're searching for the first edition of the original Harry Potter book, you'll get further searching for 'harry potter rowling philosopher's stone first edition' than you will searching for 'harry potter'. You'll get fewer results, but the ones you do get will be far more relevant.

Spell wrongly: It's a sad fact that many of the sellers on eBay just can't spell. Whatever you're looking for, try thinking of a few common misspellings - the chances are that fewer people will find these items, and so they will be cheaper.

Get a thesaurus: You should try to search for all the different words that someone might use to describe your item, for example searching for both 'TV' and 'television', or for 'phone', 'mobile' and 'cellphone'. Where you can, though, leave off the type of item altogether and search by things like brand and model.

Use the categories: Whenever you search, you'll notice a list of categories at the side of your search results. If you just searched for the name of a CD because you want to buy that CD, you should click the 'CDs' category to just look at results in that category. Why bother looking through a load of results that you don't care about?

Don't be afraid to browse: Once you've found the category that items you like seem to be in, why not click 'Browse' and take a look through the whole category? You might be surprised by what you find.

Few people realise just how powerful eBay's search engine is - a few symbols here and there and it'll work wonders for you.

Wildcard searches: You can put an asterisk (*) into a search phrase when you want to say 'anything can go here'. For example, if you wanted to search for a 1950s car, you could search for 'car 195*'. 195* will show results from any year in the 1950s.

In this order: If you put words in quotes ("") then the only results shown will be ones that have all of the words between the quote marks. For example, searching for "Lord of the Rings" won't give you any results that say, for example "Lord Robert Rings".

Exclude words: Put a minus, and then put any words in brackets that you don't want to appear in your search results. For example: "Pulp Fiction" -(poster,photo) will find items related to Pulp Fiction but not posters or photos.

Either/or: If you want to search for lots of words at once, just put them in brackets: the TV example from earlier could become '(TV,television)', which would find items with either word.

So once you've found your bargain item, bid for it and won it, what if it all goes wrong? Don't worry - eBay has a thorough dispute resolution procedure, and we'll cover it in some depth in the next article, so you'll be prepared if the worst happens.

Introducing the New eBay "Buyer's Credit" Program.

8:42 AM

Introducing the New eBay "Buyer's Credit" Program.

In an effort to compete with more 'traditional' shops, eBay has started to offer finance agreements though PayPal for expensive items. This means that, if the seller decides to offer it, you can now spread the cost of an item into affordable monthly payments.

This is good for buyers, good for sellers, and good for eBay. Buyers can get the kind of credit agreements they're used to in shops. Sellers can make their items more attractive to buyers who might not have all the money then and there, but eBay still pays the sellers upfront - they don't have to wait to be paid each month or anything like that. Buyers make their monthly payments to PayPal's credit provider instead.

The APR of the Buyer's Credit program is currently 12.9%. You can pay back $999 or more over 12 months, or $1,999 or more over 24 months. There are also interest-free options for purchases of $199 or more over 3, 6 or 12 months.

The reason why some of these credit offers sound better than others is that it is up to the seller to decide how good the credit offer should be and pay extra to PayPal to offer it. To give their buyer the best promotion, for example, of no interest for twelve months, the seller must pay 3.75% of the item's cost to PayPal.

Basically, this means that sellers pay less when the buyers pay interest, and sellers pay the cost of the interest on the interest-free offers. PayPal makes its interest either way, buyers are happy to get credit, and sellers are happy to sell more.

Can I Get This Credit?

On items over $199, Buyer's Credit is now being automatically offered to buyers in the USA only. Just click the link when you buy something for more than $199 and you will be taken through the application process, which includes a 30-second check on your credit history. Then you just go through the buying process as normal, and you get your item before you've paid a penny.

Why are eBay Offering This?

eBay say they want to "level the playing field", to allow eBay businesses to compete with the big chain stores, and they also want to promote PayPal as a payment method. Relatively few buyers can afford the more expensive items on eBay all at once, and so the introduction of Buyer's Credit seems likely to significantly increase prices and sales at the higher end of the market.

It is worth noting that you can use Buyer's Credit anywhere PayPal is accepted, not just on eBay. PayPal say it's "like a credit card - minus the card!" You don't get a card number - you can pay with credit with just your email address and password.

The only thing left to do now, then, is find the best deal for that really special item - the expensive thing you've been wanting for ages but could never afford. But how can you be sure you're getting the best price? Try our tips and tricks for eBay searching, in the next email.

How to Get eBay Coupons.

8:41 AM

How to Get eBay Coupons.

You have to be very lucky to be one of the chosen few who receive an eBay coupon by email. These coupons are just like cash that you can use towards anything you buy on eBay - the only conditions being that you pay using PayPal, and that you are using eBay in the USA, Canada or the UK.

There are two ways to get eBay coupons.

Wait for that Email.

Of course, if you just wait, you'll be waiting for a long time. You have to do something to make yourself look like the kind of person eBay would want to tempt back with a coupon. If you open an account, buy a few medium-value things and then suddenly stop, the chances are you'll find yourself with some kind of special offer - but still, not always.

Go Searching.

The better way, of course, is to go and find the coupons that are out there on the web. This is quite hit-and-miss, as eBay don't always have an offer on, but when there's a valid code you can guarantee that it'll be everywhere within a few hours. Just type 'ebay coupon codes' into your favourite search engine, but be prepared to pick through some rubbish. You might find you have better luck if you use a more obscure search engine, where people haven't taken the trouble to game the results.

If going through search engines is too much for you, then just keep an eye out at any community forums you frequent, where someone might just post one. You probably have the best chances if you make a few friends on eBay's own forums at http://hub.ebay.com/community. It can be fun and educational to chat to the regulars there too, so you really have nothing to lose.

How do You Redeem Coupons?

A coupon is basically a code, with some being quite long. All you need to do is pay with PayPal as usual for the item you want to use the coupon towards. After you choose PayPal as your payment method, you will notice a heading that says 'Coupons, Gift Certificates and eBay Anything Points'. Type the coupon code in here: they can be long, so you should use copy-and-paste to make sure you get it right. Just click 'Redeem', and it's good to go.

Don't worry about causing problems for sellers by doing this, by the way - they have no way of even telling that you used a coupon, as eBay just pay them for the item as usual. Coupons are good for sellers as they attract more buyers to eBay, meaning that they get more bids on their auctions. After all, why would they object to getting more money without you actually having to pay it?

Since you're interested in making your eBay shopping more affordable, you might be interested to know that you can now buy eBay items on credit. Our next email will tell you all the details of eBay's new 'Buyer's Credit' program.

Using PayPal on eBay.

8:40 AM

Using PayPal on eBay.

PayPal and eBay were made for each other - and now that eBay own PayPal, using them together is getting even easier.

What is PayPal?

People with PayPal accounts can send money to each other securely online. You can deposit money in a PayPal account from a bank account or a credit card, and withdraw money to your bank account. It is the most common way of paying on eBay, as well as being in widespread use on the rest of the Internet.

Opening a PayPal Account.

It's very easy to get a PayPal account. Just go to www.paypal.com and click the 'Sign Up' link. As a buyer, you should get a Personal account - you can always upgrade later if you decide to start selling. Then all you need to do is enter your address, phone number and email address, and create a password, and two secret questions. You'll be emailed a confirmation, and then you're done!

If you want to deposit money into the account now, then you need to register a credit or debit card or your bank details, and if you want to withdraw money then you need to register your bank details. There's no need to do anything like that just yet, though.

Paying with PayPal.

Paying with PayPal is very simple. When you win an auction and click 'Pay Now', you'll be given a list of payment methods the seller accepts. You should always check what the seller accepts before you bid, as there are still some sellers who won't take PayPal. If the seller does accept PayPal, it will already be chosen for you on the payment page.

Now you just need to press 'Next', type in your PayPal username and password and confirm the amount you want to pay. The first time you pay with PayPal you will need to enter the details of your card or bank account, but after that it will remember for you.

Becoming Verified.

You might have noticed that there is a limit to how much money you can send or withdraw using PayPal before you need to be verified. Verification has two steps. First, PayPal deposit some very small amounts of money in your bank account and you need to tell them how much they deposited. Second, they need to phone you to confirm your address and phone number. Once you've done that, all the limits on your account will be lifted. Log in at paypal.com and click on 'Get Verified' for more information.

While you've been paying for your items, what you might not have realised is that eBay occasionally offers money off coupons. But where do you get them? The next email tells you all about it.

SafeHarbor; eBay's Own Scotland Yard.

8:38 AM

SafeHarbor; eBay's Own Scotland Yard.

SafeHarbor are the eBay police department. If you break the rules, commit fraud or try to buy something you're not supposed to, they'll be after you.

When You Don't Pay.

This is the most common rule buyers break - it's all too easy to just change your mind and try to get out of the auction. eBay regards every auction as a contract, and will punish you if you don't go through with your end of the deal. If you decide not to pay then expect to get a few nasty warning emails from eBay threatening you with banning if you do it again. Not to mention, of course, that you'll get a big negative 'DID NOT PAY' feedback comment from the seller.

So There Are Things You Can't Buy on eBay?

Yes, there are: more things than you'd expect. It makes sense that you can't buy firearms, for example, but you also can't buy fireworks - eBay are worried about the risks of sending them in the post. Laws in many countries mean that you can't buy alcohol or tobacco. You can't buy illegal or prescription drugs, stocks and shares, or lottery tickets. No underwear, either. You can't buy any little pet puppies or kittens, as animals are banned. If items infringe on copyright, like pirate CDs or software, then they're not allowed either.

eBay's policy is controversial, not least because it is somewhat random in its enforcement - and there have been accusations that they're more responsive to the copyright concerns of big businesses than to auctions for items that might actually be dangerous. If they do decide to go after you or the seller, though, they will cancel the auction and may also suspend your accounts.

Fraud.

eBay runs remarkably well considering how unregulated it is, but there are still fraudsters. If you are a victim of fraud - for example, you pay for an item that never turns up - then SafeHarbor will investigate for you. eBay's standard purchase protection will give you up to $200 back if your claim is successful. Be aware, though, that this can take a few months.

In addition, if you paid by PayPal, then they can usually reverse the transaction relatively easily and get you more (if not all) of your money back. This is another reason why many buyers prefer to use PayPal. Some sellers are a little scared of the effectiveness of the refund system, as they can send out items in good faith only to find that their buyer was fraudulent and the transaction has been reversed. If you're worried about fraud, as a buyer, you should always use PayPal.

What's that? You don't know how to use PayPal? Well, luckily for you, the next article is all about using PayPal to improve your eBay life.

SafeHarbor; eBay's Own Scotland Yard.

8:38 AM

SafeHarbor; eBay's Own Scotland Yard.

SafeHarbor are the eBay police department. If you break the rules, commit fraud or try to buy something you're not supposed to, they'll be after you.

When You Don't Pay.

This is the most common rule buyers break - it's all too easy to just change your mind and try to get out of the auction. eBay regards every auction as a contract, and will punish you if you don't go through with your end of the deal. If you decide not to pay then expect to get a few nasty warning emails from eBay threatening you with banning if you do it again. Not to mention, of course, that you'll get a big negative 'DID NOT PAY' feedback comment from the seller.

So There Are Things You Can't Buy on eBay?

Yes, there are: more things than you'd expect. It makes sense that you can't buy firearms, for example, but you also can't buy fireworks - eBay are worried about the risks of sending them in the post. Laws in many countries mean that you can't buy alcohol or tobacco. You can't buy illegal or prescription drugs, stocks and shares, or lottery tickets. No underwear, either. You can't buy any little pet puppies or kittens, as animals are banned. If items infringe on copyright, like pirate CDs or software, then they're not allowed either.

eBay's policy is controversial, not least because it is somewhat random in its enforcement - and there have been accusations that they're more responsive to the copyright concerns of big businesses than to auctions for items that might actually be dangerous. If they do decide to go after you or the seller, though, they will cancel the auction and may also suspend your accounts.

Fraud.

eBay runs remarkably well considering how unregulated it is, but there are still fraudsters. If you are a victim of fraud - for example, you pay for an item that never turns up - then SafeHarbor will investigate for you. eBay's standard purchase protection will give you up to $200 back if your claim is successful. Be aware, though, that this can take a few months.

In addition, if you paid by PayPal, then they can usually reverse the transaction relatively easily and get you more (if not all) of your money back. This is another reason why many buyers prefer to use PayPal. Some sellers are a little scared of the effectiveness of the refund system, as they can send out items in good faith only to find that their buyer was fraudulent and the transaction has been reversed. If you're worried about fraud, as a buyer, you should always use PayPal.

What's that? You don't know how to use PayPal? Well, luckily for you, the next article is all about using PayPal to improve your eBay life.

The eBay Buyer's FAQ.

8:34 AM

The eBay Buyer's FAQ.

So you have a question? Has something gone very wrong and you don't know what to do? Well, fair enough. Here are the questions that I hear all the time from buyers.

Does eBay have a Customer Service Department I Can Phone?

eBay are notoriously hard to contact, should you ever need to - it sometimes seems like they expect the site to run itself. You can email them, as long as you don't have your heart set on a coherent response: go to http://pages.ebay.com/help/contact_us/_base/index.html. You might have better luck in a 'live help' webchat here: http://pages.ebay.com/help/basics/n-livehelp.html.

Only eBay Power Sellers (sellers with a very high feedback rating) get to phone customer service. If you really want to try your luck, type 'ebay [your country] phone number' into a search engine and you'll probably find something. Unfortunately, the chances are you'll have gone to all that trouble for the privilege of leaving an answerphone message.

It might seem cruel, but imagine the number of people who would call eBay every day with the silliest questions if they gave out their phone number everywhere. Its Wild West nature is, in a way, part of its charm.

eBay Sent Me an Email Saying They're Going to Close My Account. What Should I Do?

This email asks for your password, right? It's a scam, an attempt to frighten you, make you give up your details and then steal your account. eBay will never ask for your password or any other account details by email. eBay say that you should only ever enter your password on pages that whose addresses start with http://signin.ebay.com/. They even offer a special 'Account Guard' as part of their toolbar, which lets you check that you're not giving your password to a dodgy fake site. You can read more here: http://pages.ebay.com/toolbar/accountguard_1.html.

It Seems Too Good to be True. How Does eBay Make Money?

For you, the buyer, eBay is free. Sellers, though, pay all sorts of fees: a listing fee for each item they list, a final value fee (a percentage of what the item sold for). They can they pay optional fees for extra services, including Buy it Now, extra pictures, reserve prices, highlighting the auction, putting it in bold, listing it first in search results or even putting it on the front page. You can see a full list of fees at http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/fees.html.

It's obviously worth it to the sellers, though, or they wouldn't carry on using eBay. The system is quite efficient, and basically forces both eBay and the sellers to keep their profit margins as low as possible - otherwise prices will simply go too high and the buyers will stop buying.

How Safe is eBay?

Well, as it happens, that's the subject of our next email/post! All of eBay's safety services for buyers and sellers are in one place, called 'SafeHarbor'. SafeHarbor handles fraud prevention and investigation, helps with dispute resolution and keeps rule-breakers in check. Read all about it next time, and be safe.