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I'm sure you all know what eBay is, but for those of you who don't it is an online auction site where you can both buy other peoples goods and sell your own. You can find most things on eBay including cars, clothes, computer games, furniture and electrical. You can buy both used and new goods on eBay and you can buy from individuals or shops. There is an ebay.com where you can find items from a number of countries, but this review will be focussing on ebay.co.uk specifically as this is the one I use more often.
*Layout of the website* The homepage is very bright and colourful. There are today's deals which show some of the best deals from the business sellers that day. These tend to be clothes or electricals and for example today they have a Sanyo digital camera (14MP) for £49.99 and an Ipod Touch 3rd Generation 64GB for £199.99.
On the homepage there is also a search bar where you can either do a very quick search by simply typing in what you want or you can also select which category you want to search in. This is useful if what you are looking for could come under two categories for example if you are looking for a baby bath, simply searching bath in all the categories will return a great number of items you don't want but searching bath in the baby category you are likely to find what you are looking for much more quickly. It is worth noting that you can search for items on eBay without registering which is fantastic as it means if you don't find what you are looking for, you don't need to become a member.
If you are just browsing, you can also use the category selection which is located to the left hand side of the website. If you go further down the page there are also personalised suggestions for you if you use the website a lot. These are based upon your recent purchases and searches.
At the top of the page there is also a section which is mainly for members. Here you can navigate to your own member page which shows what you are selling, what you have bought, what you are bidding on and what you are watching. You can also access the help pages from here and contact eBay.
*Buying an item* Up until recently, I did a lot more buying on eBay than selling. Buying is relatively simple on eBay, once you have found what you want you simply add it to the basket, you can then continue shopping for other things or check out. It is worth noting that until you check out that item is not yours. Postage charges are done per seller rather than on the whole so if you are looking for numerous things, unless you are planning on using the same seller it is worth checking out after each item to ensure you don't lose it.
There are three main ways of buying on eBay - bidding, buying or making an offer. When bidding for an item you simply enter the maximum price you are willing to pay and then confirm your bid. You then wait for the auction to end to see if you have won. You can also enter higher maximum bids if you get outbid or want to have a greater chance of winning. If you are bidding on a t-shirt where the starting bid is 99p and it has no bids yet if you enter £10.00 then eBay will automatically bid on your behalf, firstly 99p and then more if someone else bids. Therefore, even if you enter a bid of £10.00 you can still pick up the item for the lowest price possible. I find this really useful as it means I can just enter the maximum I am willing to pay and eBay will do the rest.
Buy it now is just like buying things from any other online shop, you simply pay the stated price for the item. You can also make an offer on some products which I find really useful as it usually means you get the item at a slightly reduced rate. The seller will respond to your offer by accepting, declining or giving a counter offer which you can then accept or decline.
It is worth noting that you cannot pay by card on eBay. You can use your card but you must first sign up to PayPal which I'm sure you will have heard of. PayPal is a secure way of sending money online. You simply register your card details with PayPal and they sort out the transaction for you meaning lots of different people don't end up with your card details. To use PayPal to pay for eBay goods, when checking out it will ask you to sign into your PayPal and then ask you to confirm your transaction. It is very quick and very simple and saves a lot of time compared to inputting your card details each time. Some sellers do accept other methods of payment such as cheque or payment via card over the phone but most only accept PayPal these days as it is a much easier way of paying and receiving money.
*Selling an item* I have recently began using eBay a lot more to sell things. As many of you know I am hoping to move out in the summer and therefore I really must shift a great deal of my things that I no longer use, in addition to this the extra money will also be very useful.
To sell on eBay is relatively easy. To list your item you simply click sell from the homepage and then create a listing for your item. Here you input information about your item such as is it used or new, is it in good condition, what colour is it, how big is it? Etc and most people also add a picture. As a regular buyer I know a picture really helps someone's buying decision so therefore I personally always upload a picture of the item as it allows people to see exactly what they are buying. You then decide how much you want to sell the item for and how you want to list it (auction, buy it now, buy it now/best offer), decide how long you want it to be listed for (1 day, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days or 10 days) and also put in postage details. You then review your listing and submit it.
While your item is listed, you may receive questions from potential bidders. These are easy to respond to and this is all done through the eBay website. You can make adjustments to your listing but only if it is not in its final day of listing and does not have any bids.
Once your item is sold and paid for, you must send the item to the winning bidder. I have sold about 40 items on eBay over the past few weeks and so far have only experienced a couple of people who have taken over a couple of days to pay. Most people pay immediately using PayPal which is really useful.
Ensure you package your items well and if you are not going to send them recorded ask the post office for proof of postage, this is free and at least provides evidence that you sent the item if it does go missing. You and the buyer can then claim compensation.
EBay do charge you for listing some items (dependent upon starting bid), and they also charge you a final value fee. For more information on these fees please visit the website as they change regularly and vary depending on which category your item is listed in.
*Feedback* Feedback is very important on the eBay website. Feedback is basically what other members think of their dealings with you. You can leave feedback as both a buyer and a seller. As a buyer you can leave positive, negative or neutral feedback but as a seller you can only leave positive or choose not to leave feedback at all.
To leave feedback you leave a short and concise comment about the transaction. If you are a buyer you then also rate the seller on a few things such as if the item was as described, the seller's communication, the postage rates and how quickly the seller dispatched the item.
By leaving feedback it allows other people in the eBay community to make an informed decision about whether to deal with a particular person so I always ensure I leave mine within a few days of the transaction finishing.
*Customer Support* I have used customer support a few times now and have always found them to be very helpful. You can contact them using online web chat (my preferred method), telephone or email. If you have a problem with a buyer they do encourage you to contact them first. On a couple of occasions my items have not turned up and because I paid with paypal it has been refunded immediately with no questions asked.
*Opinion* I really like eBay both for buying and selling. By selling your items on their it allows you to easily DE clutter your home and also get a bit of extra cash and by buying items I find that you can find a great deal of choice, often for lower prices than you would elsewhere. It is easy to become a member and if you haven't checked eBay out before, I would recommend you to have a go.
Most people on eBay are honest and polite. However, you do get the occasional one who lets the community down. I have found 99.9% of my transactions to be fine so it really is a minority. I would suggest only dealing with people who have positive feedback.
One thing I really like about the website is that because all of the goods are from different sellers, delivery prices are individual depending on what you buy. I hate it when I order one top from somewhere online and they put on £3.95 delivery. This is not the case with eBay and most members simply charge you for what it costs them to send the item and to package it. For example if you buy a top you can expect to pay around £2 postage.
Just to give you an item of some things I have bought over the past few months: Gino D'Acampo Essentia Saucepan Set Brand New (Zavvi Outlet) £34.99 (Buy it now) (Tesco Direct Price £70.00) Set of 3 kitchen storage tins Brand New £5.99 (Buy it now) Complete Cross Stitch Kit 8"x8" Brand New £11.99 (Best offer) So as you can see there really is a bargain to be had!
I really like eBay and will continue to use it, it's not always the cheapest place for things but often if you have the patience for an auction to end you really can pick up a quality item at a bargain price. For example, about 5 years ago a neighbour bought his car on eBay for £20 and it's still going strong today!