Monthly Archives: September 2011

Tips for Buying Collectibles on eBay.

Buying collectibles is one of the most enjoyable things to do on eBay, simply because you can find so many things that you just can’t get anywhere else. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

Find your Category.

You’ll probably find that all the items you’re after are listed in a single category. Add this category to your browser’s Favorites, and keep coming back.

Look for Mistakes.

If you collect something, the chances are you know a lot about it. This can be your opportunity to make a mint from a seller’s mistake. They might not realise that they have a rare version of an item, or they might have left off the key information that makes it valuable. If you’re willing to email the seller and ask them a few questions about the item to confirm that it is what you think it is, then you should be able to buy items like these. You can then resell them at a big profit, if that’s what you want to do.

Don’t Always Believe Descriptions.

If you find something you haven’t heard of, and the description calls it ‘rare’, don’t assume that it actually is. Far too many sellers just put ‘rare’ into all of their descriptions – the chances are that the item is common and has just been described wrongly. Don’t bid unless you know what you’re buying.

Stalk Other Users.

When you collect something, you’ll probably notice that there are four or five sellers who seem to come up with consistently good items – and the same buyers buying them. Add their user pages to your Favorites, and check back often to see what they’ve got – or what they’re bidding on – that you might be interested in.

Don’t Get Too Attached to an Auction.

There are millions of items being listed every day on eBay – whatever you want, it’ll come around again, and if you don’t get it there are plenty more things to buy. This is similar to the golden rule of negotiating: always be prepared to walk away. If you can’t walk away, then expect to pay over the odds. There are few things so rare that another seller won’t have one to sell. Go and bid in a lower-priced auction, instead of getting into a bidding war in one that is already expensive.

Beware of the Postage.

If you collect lots of small things with a relatively low value, you might end up paying as much for postage as you do for each item. You should take these costs into consideration when you make your bid. Another good strategy is to always buy a few things at once from the same buyer, as they will almost always offer you a discount on the postage.

When you’re bidding, you might notice that some auctions go more slowly than others, going days at a time without any new bids. The next email tells you how to take advantage of these ‘slow’ auctions.

Watch Out for eBay Automobile and Computer Scams.

There aren’t that many scammers on eBay – but the ones there are tend to be greedy. This means that they will always try to pull their scams on high-value items like cars and computers, so that they can make a lot of money quickly. Since buyers generally buy these items very rarely, they may not know about the various scams out there.

Automobile Scams.

With cars, you will generally find that scammers try to get you to send them money in advance, for whatever reason. For some reason, some people aren’t all that reluctant to pay 50% or 25% of the money before delivery using a relatively insecure payment method, especially on a car. They reason that the seller will obviously deliver it, as they’ll want the other half of the money.

But there never was a car! Pictures of cars aren’t hard to find, and the experienced scammers will have a whole library of pictures of different cars. The seller just got your $5,000 for nothing, and you can leave them all the negative feedback you like. They’ll just go and open another eBay account and find their next sucker.

While it’s not an outright scam, what you might find is that the car does turn up, but simply doesn’t live up to the description – it has been oversold, in the tradition of used car dealers through the ages. If this happens to you then you should open an eBay dispute and say your item was not as described – you might get a partial refund.

Computer Scams.

If you bid in a computer auction but don’t win, the seller might email you to ask whether you would like to buy a computer the same as the one they just sold through their own website.

This is a bad idea! You have no guarantee that the item will ever arrive, and you haven’t just given them your money – you’ve given them your credit card details too.

There are sellers with nothing but positive feedback who use this scam often – and since you won’t be able to leave them any feedback on the transaction, their reputation will stay that way. If you complain to eBay that you bought an item outside the site and got scammed, they will tell you to get lost and not do it again.

How to Beat the Scams.

There are lots of ways to beat the scams. First, whenever you buy anything expensive, be sure to check your seller’s reputation thoroughly. Make sure they have sold items of a similar high value before, and haven’t just sold a string of $10 items to get their feedback rating artificially high. If you want to be even more cautious, insist that the money is placed in an escrow service (eBay recommend escrow.com – don’t use any other service unless you’re sure of it).

To be honest, it’s generally quite a bad idea to use eBay to buy things like cars and computers to begin with – you can get them anywhere, and the discounts aren’t that big any more. It’s better to use eBay for those rare, special things that you can’t find anywhere else. The next email will give you some tips for buying collectibles.

Tips and Tricks for Using eBay Search.

If you know what you’re doing, you can quickly find what you’re looking for on eBay. Here are a few golden rules.

Be specific: If you’re searching for the first edition of the original Harry Potter book, you’ll get further searching for ‘harry potter rowling philosopher’s stone first edition’ than you will searching for ‘harry potter’. You’ll get fewer results, but the ones you do get will be far more relevant.

Spell wrongly: It’s a sad fact that many of the sellers on eBay just can’t spell. Whatever you’re looking for, try thinking of a few common misspellings – the chances are that fewer people will find these items, and so they will be cheaper.

Get a thesaurus: You should try to search for all the different words that someone might use to describe your item, for example searching for both ‘TV’ and ‘television’, or for ‘phone’, ‘mobile’ and ‘cellphone’. Where you can, though, leave off the type of item altogether and search by things like brand and model.

Use the categories: Whenever you search, you’ll notice a list of categories at the side of your search results. If you just searched for the name of a CD because you want to buy that CD, you should click the ‘CDs’ category to just look at results in that category. Why bother looking through a load of results that you don’t care about?

Don’t be afraid to browse: Once you’ve found the category that items you like seem to be in, why not click ‘Browse’ and take a look through the whole category? You might be surprised by what you find.

Few people realise just how powerful eBay’s search engine is – a few symbols here and there and it’ll work wonders for you.

Wildcard searches: You can put an asterisk (*) into a search phrase when you want to say ‘anything can go here’. For example, if you wanted to search for a 1950s car, you could search for ‘car 195*’. 195* will show results from any year in the 1950s.

In this order: If you put words in quotes (“”) then the only results shown will be ones that have all of the words between the quote marks. For example, searching for “Lord of the Rings” won’t give you any results that say, for example “Lord Robert Rings”.

Exclude words: Put a minus, and then put any words in brackets that you don’t want to appear in your search results. For example: “Pulp Fiction” -(poster,photo) will find items related to Pulp Fiction but not posters or photos.

Either/or: If you want to search for lots of words at once, just put them in brackets: the TV example from earlier could become ‘(TV,television)’, which would find items with either word.

So once you’ve found your bargain item, bid for it and won it, what if it all goes wrong? Don’t worry – eBay has a thorough dispute resolution procedure, and we’ll cover it in some depth in the next article, so you’ll be prepared if the worst happens.

Introducing the New eBay “Buyer’s Credit” Program.

In an effort to compete with more ‘traditional’ shops, eBay has started to offer finance agreements though PayPal for expensive items. This means that, if the seller decides to offer it, you can now spread the cost of an item into affordable monthly payments.

This is good for buyers, good for sellers, and good for eBay. Buyers can get the kind of credit agreements they’re used to in shops. Sellers can make their items more attractive to buyers who might not have all the money then and there, but eBay still pays the sellers upfront – they don’t have to wait to be paid each month or anything like that. Buyers make their monthly payments to PayPal’s credit provider instead.

The APR of the Buyer’s Credit program is currently 12.9%. You can pay back $999 or more over 12 months, or $1,999 or more over 24 months. There are also interest-free options for purchases of $199 or more over 3, 6 or 12 months.

The reason why some of these credit offers sound better than others is that it is up to the seller to decide how good the credit offer should be and pay extra to PayPal to offer it. To give their buyer the best promotion, for example, of no interest for twelve months, the seller must pay 3.75% of the item’s cost to PayPal.

Basically, this means that sellers pay less when the buyers pay interest, and sellers pay the cost of the interest on the interest-free offers. PayPal makes its interest either way, buyers are happy to get credit, and sellers are happy to sell more.

Can I Get This Credit?

On items over $199, Buyer’s Credit is now being automatically offered to buyers in the USA only. Just click the link when you buy something for more than $199 and you will be taken through the application process, which includes a 30-second check on your credit history. Then you just go through the buying process as normal, and you get your item before you’ve paid a penny.

Why are eBay Offering This?

eBay say they want to “level the playing field”, to allow eBay businesses to compete with the big chain stores, and they also want to promote PayPal as a payment method. Relatively few buyers can afford the more expensive items on eBay all at once, and so the introduction of Buyer’s Credit seems likely to significantly increase prices and sales at the higher end of the market.

It is worth noting that you can use Buyer’s Credit anywhere PayPal is accepted, not just on eBay. PayPal say it’s “like a credit card – minus the card!” You don’t get a card number – you can pay with credit with just your email address and password.

The only thing left to do now, then, is find the best deal for that really special item – the expensive thing you’ve been wanting for ages but could never afford. But how can you be sure you’re getting the best price? Try our tips and tricks for eBay searching, in the next email.