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Selling and buying items has been revolutionised by the advent of the Internet. Indeed there are a number of ways to sell or buy a 2nd hand item – and one of the most popular ways is via an auction facility – more specifically for my latest review – EBAY. Other auction sites do exist but I am a big fan of Ebay.
For the UK the web address is www.ebay.co.uk, although the Ebay community does span worldwide nowadays – a big step from its American incarnation.
The basic premise of Ebay is quite simple really, but the site has lots of nooks and crannies to make your experience enjoyable and your stay a long one.
There are two main entities to Ebay – buying and selling, and so I’ll cover each one separately.
In simplest terms at Ebay, once you have an account (usual web site registration questions apply) then you are free to browse the thousands of items for sale on Ebay. As long as it’s legal then you are likely to find what you want – just enter a search at the front page and see what’s thrown back. If you find little joy, then advanced search options are available. Some examples of what can be found up for auction at Ebay include – CD’s, DVD’s, Cars, Rare Books, Toys, Games, PC’s – the list is endless. Some examples of items disallowed include pornography and copied software. A comprehensive list is displayed in Ebay – and flaunting the rules could get you banned from Ebay.
Once you’ve found an item you’d like to bid for – then you can see a number of facts about the item. You can see the start price, the current price, the number of bids the item has received, the seller, the seller’s feedback rating (very useful – will elaborate more soon), the item description and the postage information.
Always check a seller’s feedback rating before you bid on an item – basically each time you sell and buy on Ebay, both parties involved are encouraged to leave feedback upon the culmination of a successful transaction. My account on Ebay displays “ALFLAVOR (21)” By clicking the (21) you will see that I have 21 positive feedback ratings, and comments, gained from the items I’ve bought and sold since I opened my Ebay account.
Essentially, loads of positive feedback means you should have no qualms in bidding and buying from the seller – negative feedback means play it safe. Sometimes you’ll see a couple of negative comments amongst many positive comments – I guess this is down to the occasional loss of a cheque in the post, or spite on someone’s part.??
My trick is to click ‘watch this item’, or just bid once and wait. If you get outbid, don’t bid again. You need to keep an eye on when an auction closes and be around your PC at the time, but by being crafty you can drop a bid in at the very last minute and win the item! It won’t always work, as it is possible to set a proxy bid up, if you won’t be around for a while. A proxy bid works as follows: You bid a maximum of say, £30, for an item starting at £5. Other people bid £15, and £20 respectively. As you’ve set a proxy bid of £30 – Ebay will automatically outbid the other bids until your £30 is reached. Be careful, and don’t bid more than you intend to, or more than the item is worth. As I do a lot of buying and selling of music, I find www.eil.com very useful in ensuring I don’t pay over the odds. Buying an item is cost-free to the buyer – it’s the selling part, which costs you – and makes Ebay money.
Its easy to sell on Ebay – just run through the 5 step ‘selling’ routine, entering such information as the title, description (TIP – use a little HTML here – if you don’t know any at least use <p> to insert a paragraph break!), pricing information, type of auction, auction duration, and so on. Most is self explanatory, but I’ll elaborate a little more.
In your title – ensure you use capital letters, and use words relevant to the item, as this is how it’ll show up in a user’s search.
Description – Include as much information as possible, and be specific. Don’t be afraid to say your CD is a little scratched but still plays. If you lie, then you could get negative feedback. Honesty is the best policy, and if your scuffed CD still plays in full (test it first) then chances are you’ll still sell it! Also in this section add some information about your postage costs – I always put £1.20 for a CD – it covers my Ebay fees (more later) and my stamps. I help myself to jiffy bags from work!!!
Pictures – Always include at least one picture (1st one is free). Even if you don’t have access to a scanner or digicam, then use the Image Search facility on Google to find something! This is what I currently do, although I am currently looking on Ebay for a cheap digicam that will take an adequate web picture.
Type of Auction – you can now choose from a standard auction, which can run over 5, 7 or 10 days as you choose. A 2nd option exists called Buy It Now. Rather than going down the bidding route, this option is more like an Ad-Mag style of sale. Find an item with Buy It Now, click through and the item is yours. I prefer the auction route myself, although you can do both – say auction your CD at £3.00, but if an eager buyer wants it for £10, then can Buy It Now.
Fees – The costs in using Ebay as a selling platform are nominal, but you need to make sure you can cover your costs, which are emailed as a bill to you, once a month – they must then be settled via credit card, cheque or direct debit.
You pay two fees, one to list an item, and a final value fee, when your item has been won.
The listing fee is dependant upon the start price, or reserve price if you have set a reserve. The fee here will range from 15 pence for something under £4.99, to £1.25 if you set the bidding at £30.00
To set a reserve costs a few pence also, although I believe this to be refunded upon successful sale.
Listing Enhancements- you can add more pictures to your item, these cost 15p each. You can ensure your listing is highlighted in yellow for an extra £1.50, or have your item featured on the Ebay homepage for a whopping £19.95!!
Personally I always go for a basic auction, and occasionally a reserve price, to keep things cheap and simple!!
Final Value Fee’s are charged, depending on the price your item closes at – up to £15 it is 5.25%, and between £15.01 and £600 it is the lesser 2.75%. If you are lucky to get more than £600.01 for your item then pay 1.50%.
This is where Ebay stings you, but at the end of the day, I have made a profit selling some unwanted items on Ebay – the trick is to start your bidding reasonably low, this tends to get the bids in, therefore you end up with a better finishing price. Also make sure your postage costs cover at least your listing fee, and stamp fees.
I hope I’ve given you some depth to the wonderful environment that is Ebay – I have not covered all angles, but merely the two main aspects that are buying and selling!!
There is a useful community aspect to Ebay – something essential to the whole feel of a good site these days – a forum to chat amongst and to reap ideas and tips of other users.
Certainly recommended overall.
Alflavor, for Ciao UK, May 2002.
PS - Apologies for the word GUM in the title of two consecutive opinions!
I enjoyed reading your review! Remember you can't actually include the cost of listing an item in your postage price because eBay will take it to be 'fee avoidance'. Just a little tip I learned on their Community boards! Great op!
mjthebabe 15.09.2002 18:15
Good op, but did not mention that there is a fairly big risk factor of buying things as some sellers are not so good at sending products in the recommended time.