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Searching for Bargains

Okay, now you’ve learned lots of different ways to fine-tune your search results. But how do you use these tools to hunt down the best bargains on the eBay site? Read on to learn some bargain-hunting tricks, all using the basic search function.

Trick #60: Search for Misspellings




Member since 1999, Feedback: Red star

This is one of the best tricks in the entire book, a surefire way to find bargains that others have overlooked. It’s a simple method, really, that takes advantage of other users’ mistakes.

You see, some eBay sellers aren’t great spellers—or are just prone to typing errors. Either they don’t know how to spell a particular word, or they hit the wrong key by mistake. In either case, the result is an auction title with a misspelled word—a Dell personal commuter, an Apple ipud, or clothing by Tommy Hilfigger.

The problem for these sellers—and the opportunity for you—is that when buyers search for an item (using the correct spelling), listings with misspellings don’t appear in the search results. If potential bidders can’t find the listings, they can’t bid on them, leaving these misspelled listings with few if any bidders. If you can locate a misspelled listing, you can often snap up a real deal without competition from other bidders.

The key, of course, is figuring out how an item might be misspelled. Let’s say you’re looking for a bargain on a toaster. Instead of searching for toaster, you might search for toster, toastter, toastor, and toester. Give it a try—you’ll be surprised what you find!

And here’s a trick within a trick. You can include multiple misspellings in your search by using the "or" technique from Trick #55. In this example, you could enter the following query: (toaster,toaster,toastor,toester).

Even better, try the Fat Fingers website (http://www.fatfingers.com). Fat Fingers lets you enter a proper keyword, and then generates the common misspellings and uses them to conduct a more comprehensive eBay search. It’s a neat little timesaver!

Trick #61: Vary Your Vocabulary—and Your Spelling



Member since 1998, Feedback: Purple star

Misspelling aside, don’t assume that everyone spells a given word the same way—or uses the same terminology. (A soda is a pop is a "coke," depending on what part of the country you’re from.) Also, don’t forget about synonyms. What you call pink, someone else might call mauve or salmon. What’s big to you might be large to someone else. Think of all the ways the item you’re looking for can be described, and include as many of the words as possible in an "or" query. To use our soda pop example, you’d enter the following query: (soda,pop,coke).

Trick #62: "Birddog" Other Bidders




Member since 1998, Feedback: Green star

The term "birddogging" refers to the act of following the auctions of another eBay bidder. Find a user that always gets great merchandise, then birddog his or her other auction activity. Chances are you’ll find something you like, and then you can get in on the bidding, too. As eBay member lludwig says:

People who bid on one great item often have very good taste, and bid on others.

To birddog another member, you first have to find him, which is as easy as looking at the high bidder in a particular auction. Once you have a member identified, it’s time to do the actual birddogging, using eBay’s search function. Go to the Search page and click the Items by Bidder link. When the Items by Bidder page appears (shown in Figure 3.8), enter the bidder’s user ID and click the Search button. (For the most possible results, you should also select the Even if Not the High Bidder option.) The results page lists all the other auctions your subject is bidding on, which amounts to your own personal shopping list. Bid away!

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8 Use the Search by Bidder function to birddog other users.

Trick #63: Search for Last-Minute Bargains


Member since 1998, Feedback: Purple star

When you search the eBay listings, be sure to display the results with auctions ending today listed first. Scan the list for soon-to-end items with no bids or few bids, and pick off some bargains that have slipped others’ attention.

Trick #64: Save Your Searches





Member since 1999, Feedback: Red star

On the topic of repeating your searches, here’s a trick that lets you save your favorite searches and repeat them with a click of the mouse.

eBay actually makes it quite easy to save even the most complex search queries, if you know what to click. All search results pages include an Add to Favorites link at the top right of the page. Click this link, and you’ll see an Add to My Favorite Searches page. Check the Create a New Search option, give the search a name, and click the Save Search button. This search is now saved and listed on the All Favorites page of My eBay.

To repeat this search, go to My eBay and click through to the All Favorites page, as shown in Figure 3.9. Your favorite searches are listed there; just click a search to execute the search.

Figure 3.9

Figure 3.9 Repeat any saved search from the All Favorites page of My eBay.

Trick #65: Get Notification of New Items That Match Your Search





Member since 1999, Feedback: Red star

Here’s an even better way to find out about new items that you’re interested in. eBay can automatically notify you when new items that match your saved search come up for auction.

There are two ways to turn on email search notification. First, when you save your search, as described in Trick #64, you can click the Email me daily option. Second, you can navigate to the All Favorites page in My eBay and click the Edit Preferences link next to the search you want to be notified of. When the Edit Favorite Search Preferences page appears, as shown in Figure 3.10, select the Email Me Daily... option, then pull down the list and select a duration. (Your options are for the notification service to last anywhere from 7 days to 12 months.)

Figure 3.10

Figure 3.10 Configuring eBay to send you search notification emails.

When you’ve activated this notification service, eBay will send you an email (one a day) when new items that match your search criteria come up for auction. The email contains links for each new item in your search (see Figure 3.11); click a link to open your web browser and display the matching item .

Figure 3.11

Figure 3.11 eBay sends you a daily email listing new items that match your search criteria.

Trick #66: Expand Your Search to eBay Stores





Member since 1999, Feedback: Red star

If you can’t find an item for auction on eBay proper, you can opt to search items listed for sale in eBay Stores. You can sometimes find items for sale in eBay Stores that you can’t find in eBay’s normal auctions. All you have to do is go to the Search page and click the Items in Stores link, then conduct your search from there.

You can also expand a normal search to include eBay Stores items. Just scroll to the bottom of any search results page until you see the box labeled Get More Results in Other eBay Areas (shown in Figure 3.12). Click the See Additional Buy It Now Items link and you’ll see a list of matching items from eBay Stores sellers .

Figure 3.12

Figure 3.12 Expand your search to eBay Store sellers.

Trick #67: Search for Items with Want It Now





Member since 2002, Feedback: Purple star

If you can’t find what you’re looking for anywhere on eBay, now there’s a way to put your requests in front of compatible sellers. eBay’s Want It Now feature lets you create a "wish list" of items you want to buy, even if they’re not currently listed on eBay. Sellers will see your request and notify you if they have similar items for sale. You can then make a purchase, if you want.

To use Want It Now, click the Want It Now link on the eBay home page. This takes you to the main Want It Now page, as shown in Figure 3.13. Click the Post to Want It Now button, and you see the Want It Now: Create a Post page, shown in Figure 3.14. Enter a description of the item you’re looking for, then click the Post to Want It Now button. Then sit back and wait for interested sellers to contact you!

Figure 3.13

Figure 3.13 eBay’s Want It Now page.

Figure 3.14

Figure 3.14 Entering your Want It Now request.

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