Buying on eBay can be very rewarding, either in terms of being able to pick up items cheaply or for hunting for hard to find items. Although generally the experience is good, there are instances where things can go badly wrong. These tips, based on experience over the last seven years, should help to avoid some of the potential pitfalls.
1. Make use of the various tools provided on eBay to ascertain the target price of items you are interested in. A simple way to do this is to 'search' for completed items.
2. Always check that there are no hidden costs associated with your potential bargain. These may include unspecified postage costs, or PayPal fees chargeable to the buyers. If in doubt e-mail the buyer and if you don't get a response then don't bid. Remember that when buying from overseas postage costs can be significant compared to the price of the item and also for more expensive items you may be liable to customs fees.
3. Check out the seller's feedback. You should be aiming to buy from sellers with feedback of at least 98 per cent - if it is less and you are interested in an item read the feedback comments to satisfy yourself that the buyer provides a good service. In particular, read the neutral and negative feedback posts to try to work out what may have gone wrong with previous transactions.
4. Don't get carried away and end up bidding more than need or want to. Some items appear very frequently on eBay and it may be worth setting yourself a limit and waiting for the next one to come along.
5. If you find you are often being outbid at the last moment, consider using sniping software which you can use to automatically submit a bid in the last few seconds of the auctions.
6. Where possible, use PayPal to pay for items on eBay. The sellers get their payment quickly, and there is a degree of protection for buyers if things go wrong. eBay (via My eBay) provides a number of tools for monitoring progress on your transaction.