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A lot of comments on my ops and in my guestbook contain subjects along the lines of 'Good to see you writing again' and 'Long time no see!'
I will admit that my writing on Ciao has become less than usual, and I do have a big confession to make. No, I'm not secretly writing as 'mbmb11isreallyaplagiarist' on other op sites, and no, I haven't rigged up a webcam in my bedroom and am earning megabucks off of hardcore pay per views - (Hmm, now that's an idea...!!)
I have though, found another website (gasp, shock, horror!!) that has recently kept me up into the small hours and has held my undivided attention.
I confess - I am now addicted to online auctions, and in particular QXL.com.
QXL.com is an orange and white coloured auction site that allows people to either immediately sell or auction goods that are new, used, antique, collectable, broken or even useless.
In order to sell on the site you will first need to register. This will entail the usual registration medley we have all grown to know and love (!) such as name, address, email details and the like, but you will also be required to enter a credit or debit card number of your own.
QXL takes nearly all UK debit and credit cards, even Solo and Visa Electron.
This is to ensure that people who register onto the site can be traceable, puts off dishonest people from the site and means that fees incurred on the site can be paid easily and without fuss through your chosen card.
Once this is done, QXL will send you a confirmation email, which will basically confirm you as a member of the site and will also show your log on details which you will need to enter every time you use the site to buy or sell items.
THE BASICS OF SELLING ITEMS ON QXL
Selling items on QXL is a very straightforward and easy process. It is also FREE to list items to sell, although a nominal fee will be charged if you successfully complete a sale.
Along the top of the home page is a button that says 'Sell'.
Once this is clicked you are taken to a step by step screen which 'guides you through while you do' the process of selling an item online, such as item description, features which will help sell the item and make it more appealing to a buyer.
There is an added new feature here of being able to format your advert text with font size and colour tools as well as being able to include any html coding you may wish to use.
When deciding which category to place an item for sale in, it is advisable to have a good browse of the site and locate where similar items are being bid on or bought the most. You can then select this category from the drop down menu.
You can also opt to have an image of the item you are selling, which can be uploaded from your computer by simply clicking a 'browse' button.
Adding an image is free for each auction you set up, with subsequent images for the same item being chargeable at 30p for each extra image.
There are a few extra chargeable selling options offered at this point, which are all clearly shown along with their cost, such as highlighted items, items placed on the home page, items placed on the 'category it belongs to' page. These chargeable features start at a cost of £1.50 and go up to around £19.99. Some of these features are often offered at a discount and this will be indicated clearly at the time.
You can also set what is known as a 'reserve price' when selling an item. This price is the minimum amount you will accept for an item, but this will not be shown to bidders until it is reached/met.
If however, you want to sell an item quickly, or perhaps you have lots of the same item to sell, there is a facility to add a 'buy now' option to your auction. This does exactly what it says on the tin!!!
It allows a bidder to buy an item instantly, and because you may fear losing out on money by cutting out bidding, it is advisable to set a 'buy now' price slightly higher than a bidding price!
THE BASICS OF BUYING ITEMS ON QXL
Buying items on QXL is pretty straightforward, but can feel a bit daunting during your first couple of bids or buys.
The reason for this is the differing ways in which you can buy and bid, but in general is no more confusing than the options available to you when selling an item!
On the QXL home page a list of main categories is displayed, such as Home Electrical, Telecommunications and so on. Within each of these menus are sub menus listing all different types of products. These lists will then show you all the items being auctioned under this category.
If you cannot find what you are looking for, you can use the search and advanced search facility at the top of every page which will search the site for items for you.
Once you have found and clicked on an item you wish to bid on, you are offered the chance to set the amount you wish to bid. Although a reserve price may have been set, it will show you the minimum amount you can bid, whether the reserve price has been met by another bid yet, and who (if anyone) is currently the highest bidder.
Once you have submitted your bid, you will be asked to re-enter your QXL password and to note that your bid once entered is binding (meaning you cannot pull out of it unless you have a really really good reason!). You then simply click on the confirm button, and the screen will show you as the high bidder who is winning the auction! Hooray!!
HOW CAN I TRUST SENDING MY MONEY TO A STRANGER?
QXL operate a rating system for all members on the site, whether as a buyer, a seller or both. All ratings are determined by other site members, and every time an auction is closed the buyer and seller are then asked to rate the other person as to how efficiently they acted, how good their description of the goods were, how quickly they paid and that payment didn't bounce!
Each member's name can be clicked on to view their rating and to read what other site users have written about them. This is usually a good indiactor of how a person operates and how reliable they are.
There is also a facility to email a question to the buyer/seller, which is sent anonymously via QXL, should you need any queries answered before deciding to make a bid on an item.
MANAGING MY AUCTIONS AND BIDS
Every member can access records all of their sells and buys and charges by clicking on the 'my account' button at the top of the home page.
You are then shown clear separate menus for your buys your sells and your charges. BUYS: Each list will indicate which auctions you are winning or losing on, and will show any buy now items you have purchased. SELLS: This list will show all your auctions, when each auction started, ended and who if anyone, is bidding on or buying it. CHARGES: Basically a list of all fees to date and when they will be charged to your card.
In this area you have additional options such as changing your personal details, changing the credit/debit card you wish to use.
You can choose to ban certain site members from your auctions (perhaps if they haven't paid you or were rude during communications) and can also amend any auctions you are currently selling at the time.
These are the basics of QXL, and will certainly stand you in good stead to making your first sale and purchase on the site.
ADDITIONAL SITE FEATURES
Every time you have make any sort of communication or transaction on the site, QXL will send you an email confirming your action, whether it be buying, selling, bidding or contacting another member of the site. In my experience it is essential to keep ALL emails from QXL for future reference in any case of a query or dispute. (So create a new folder in your email programme for them as they do add up quite quickly!!)
MY FINAL THOUGHT (A LA JERRY SPRINGER STYLEE!!)
Now all this may sound a bit daunting, a tad confusing and even too much bother, but let me assure you this. Its highly addictive.
The thrill of someone actually wanting to buy your items get the juices flowing! The thrill of snapping up copies of Sims Add On Packs for a quid each just makes me rub my hands with glee.
And further to this, its way cheaper than Ebay!!
So join the online auction revolution, and take care of youselves, and each other!!!