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This chapter is from the book

Auctions and Used Stuff

What would a chapter on shopping be without a mention of one of the most popular Internet pastimes, online auctions? eBay, the granddaddy of them all, started in 1995 and has become one of the most recognizable and most used Internet services. Just about everything you can think of is available on eBay. It also has a few things you have probably never even thought of. Recent offerings include an old box of crayons, a lucky cowboy Ringo doll, a duct tape necktie, a drive-through restaurant, a ranch in New Mexico, and a hornet’s nest.

Here’s how it works. Assuming that everything has an inherent value, you can buy and sell just about any item, new or old, on eBay. There is no charge to visit eBay, look at the merchandise, or make a purchase. If you want to sell an item, there is a charge for listing that item on the website. You post a picture of the item and set a starting price. After it is listed, people bid on the item. You can also establish the price at which you will sell the item or you can just wait and see how high the bids go. After the bid has been accepted, the purchaser sends the money to the seller and the seller sends the item to the purchaser. The seller also pays eBay a fee for the sale. Not only is this a great way to get rid of the old stuff you are not using, it is an excellent way to find unusual items and to find some bargains. Thousands of people use eBay to buy and sell items to augment their income, and for some, it has become a full-time job. Others, like me, just visit to have some fun and to sell or bid on an occasional item.

With the popularity of eBay, many other auction websites have popped up. Even Amazon.com has an auction section in its website. Just type online auctions into any search engine and you will find enough auction sites to keep you busy for months.

If you are a real bargain hunter, try Freecycle at http://www.freecycle.org, where everything is free. This network of groups across the country allows you to "recycle" your unwanted items and lets you obtain free "treasures" from other people’s junk. A truly unique shopping experience!

The Internet is also a fantastic resource for travel planning. You can buy airplane and train tickets from the comfort of your home. You can also book rental cars and hotels. See Chapter 4, "Easy Travel Planning," for more fantastic travel resources.

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