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This chapter is from the book

Before You Bid

Although anyone is free to browse on eBay, to place a bid you have to be a registered user. If you haven’t registered yet, now’s the time. (For information on registering, see Chapter 2, "Joining Up and Getting Started.")

Before you place your bid, be sure to read all the details of the item you’re interested in. In particular, look at the following:

  • Is the item you’re bidding on new or used? If it’s new, what kind of warranty does it come with? If it’s used, what’s your recourse if you’re dissatisfied with the item?

  • What condition is the item in? Is it an original, or a reproduction? Is there any way to verify that condition—through photos of the item, perhaps?

  • Check out the seller’s feedback rating —is it positive? (Never deal with a user with a negative total feedback number.) You might even want to click the Read Feedback Comments link in the Seller Information section to view his or her feedback profile; this is where you can read the individual comments about this person left by other users.

  • What methods of payment will the seller accept? Are you comfortable using one of these payment options?

  • How much shipping and handling is the seller charging? Are these fees in line with what you think actual shipping will cost? If you or the seller lives outside the U.S., will the seller ship internationally?

In other words, take your time and become knowledgeable about and comfortable with both the item and the seller before you place your bid. If you find anything—anything at all—that makes you uncomfortable, don’t bid.

All that said, let’s look at a final checklist for buyers; check off each item before you make your bid.

Checklist: Before You Bid

  • Make sure you’re an official registered eBay member.

  • Read the item description—thoroughly.

  • Note the payment methods that the seller will accept.

  • Note how the seller intends to ship the item, and the shipping/handling price being charged.

  • Check the seller’s feedback rating—and click the feedback rating to browse through comments from other eBay users.

  • Note the current bid level, and the next bid price.

  • Research the value of the item. (That means searching eBay for pricing on completed auctions of similar items, as well as doing your own online and offline research.)

  • Determine the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for the item.

  • Subtract the estimated shipping/handling price from the price you’re willing to pay; this becomes your maximum bid price.

  • Email the seller if you have any questions about anything.

  • Decide whether you really want to bid; every bid you make should be a serious, binding bid.

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