How to become a smarter buyer on eBay

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Tip 1: Be the LAST bidder, not the FIRST bidder. Essentially, snipe like a boss.

Sniping is frowned upon by some eBay members, but it's a surefire method of getting the item you want. I've seen guides say that sniping is 'silly' and a 'loser's game' but it's actually not: however, you have to be smart about it. Don't snipe in the last 10 seconds like all the newbie snipers. Why? A lot of buyers will place a maximum bid that is higher than their current bid and invisible to you, so if you bid during the last 10 or 20 seconds and you've been outbid, you usually won't have enough time to bid again. However, you should also definitely NOT try to bid earliest as possible. There is absolutely no point to it. At all. Unless you're going away for a few days and won't be home to bid during the last few minutes, there is absolutely no reason to make the current price rise and rise and rise days before the auction ends. Remember, the winning bid is the LAST highest bid.

Keep the item in your watch list, and once you've definitely decided you really want to pay for this item, snipe with a few MINUTES left to go. I recommend a 1-2 minute window. If you bid with 2 minutes left to go, you can re-bid if your first bid isn't high enough. After you've managed to become the highest bidder, do NOT just sit there and smile happily to yourself. Place YOUR maximum bid so that any other less experienced snipers hoping to steal the auction in the last 10 seconds will be outbid by your maximum bid. Keep refreshing the page to make sure you're in the lead. I've been using this technique for months and it works every time, I have never lost an auction this way.

Tip 2: Make sure you're going to buy the item for the cheapest price you can get it.

Now this seems like a no-brainer, but you have no idea how many times I've been watching an item I'm hoping to bid on later, only to see that the current bid is for example, $12, and I've seen the EXACT SAME item for $8. And usually by that point there's still, say, 12 hours left before the auction's over so naturally these silly bidders are going to bid even higher to try and get the item that's worth $8 for $15.

Basically, DO YOUR RESEARCH. You've found a beautiful dress/pair of shoes/baby dinosaur (just joking) on eBay, and you want it very much. Usually you'll be able to find the exact same item being sold by another seller, for a cheaper price by two, three, five, ten dollars. If you're going to bid on an item, try and see if you can find the same item in a 'buy it now' listing, to give you an idea of when to stop bidding. In general, you should always try and search for a wanted item again, using slightly different key words or widening your search parameters, which brings me to tip 3.

Tip 3: Search for items from sellers who post 'worldwide'

Pretty obvious, this simply widens your search. Check the postage and handling costs, they may be more expensive but often by setting the location to 'worldwide' you could save money by finding the same item for cheaper.

Tip 4: Check the item description. Make sure you really do want to buy the item.

Seems obvious, but apparently a lot of people don't do this - in fact, in my hastiness I did once make this mistake. If you often buy items from international sellers (based in Hong Kong, China, etc) like I do, often you'll find that while they are very nice and friendly, their English isn't very good. I once saw a very nice dress that came in three different colours, blue, yellow and red. I really wanted the blue one, so I found an auction listing for the dress with the title 'Striped Vest Chiffon Blue Colour Dress' (or something like that). The picture showed both the blue and the yellow variants. Under the item description, the seller stated that the dress was yellow. Unfortunately, I saw that just after I placed my bid. I immediately messaged the seller explaining my mistake but I was luckily outbid, so all was well. The moral of the story is: make sure you know what you're buying. Also, it wouldn't be a bad idea to make sure you know who you're buying from. I don't usually bother with this but it does make sense to buy from a seller with plenty of positive feedback and high ratings.
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