The Buyers Guide to Winning eBay Auctions

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Do you always miss out on items you are bidding on at eBay auctions? Do you wonder how you can beat other more experienced eBayers to the punch? This guide will help give you the best chance at winning eBay auctions.

First about myself. I have been using eBay for 3 or 4 years now. I have bought and sold in excess of 200 odd items at auction through eBay. I have had a couple of unmemorable experiences with other eBay users, but they have never been more than misunderstandings that could have been avoided before the end of the auction with simple communication. I have seen and watched lots of auctions and have observed a trend particularly with new eBay users missing out on auctions which are particularly “hot items” (where they are very sought after and there is a lot of interest and bids in the item). So, noting this I have written a short document on how to win the item for the first time and every time.

There are 3 rules which I adhere to before committing to buying anything at auction. I put these rules as pinnacle to any thing else as a buyer. As a result of adhering to them I have gained trust and respect as an eBay user. I recommend that all buyers follow this standard.

1. You must know your limit. Know what price you will pay for something and stick to it. Decide this before bidding. There is no good getting caught up in the moment and then paying far more for something than you had planned or can afford.

2. Ensure you have read and understand all of the seller’s conditions before committing yourself to buying the item. If there is something you don’t understand or don’t agree with or would like to negotiate with a seller, make sure you resolve this before bidding, don’t leave it until after the auction to ask! This will generally only frustrate your seller especially if it has already been clearly stated in their auction Terms. By following this, you will greatly reduce the chance and in most cases eliminate any misunderstandings after the auction closes.

3. Never commit to buying an item at auction without being able to pay for it. There is nothing more disheartening or for that matter irritating to a seller than having to re-list or offer for Second Chance their item because of a non paying bidder. If you don’t like your time wasted, don’t do it to others. Remember, it costs sellers to list and sell items at auction on eBay, sometimes these costs are unable to be recouped when a sale falls through.

Okay, now that you have got the easy stuff out of the way, let’s get onto winning that auction.

So you have found something you are keen on and you want it! If you are anything like me, I reckon I know a bargain when I see one, but before jumping in the deep end, first thing I do is I click “Watch this Item” and then there are some keys things I do before making my interest known.

1. Check the sellers Feedback Rating. Have a quick scan over there comments left by other eBay users from past transactions. See that they are reputable with Positive Feedback. Read some of their feedback comments. As a rule I generally won’t deal with someone who has a Positive Feedback rating lower than 90-95%.

Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for a seller having a low Positive Feedback rating. For example they may only have 10 Feedback and 1 being for a Negative Feedback this obviously puts them on 90%. But review the comment with the Feedback. If it concerns you enough you have the choice of contacting the seller and asking them about it. Never feel you can’t ask you need to trust your seller and they should appreciate this need.

If you are still not entirely satisfied you can even send a question through to the eBay user who left the Negative Feedback. Try not to irritate everyone by being ridiculously over cautious and asking to many questions, but weight your caution with the value of the item. The last option is obviously to decide against buying with this seller if you feel you can’t put trust in them once the auction closes and it is time to pay.

2.  Check how much time is left to go on the auction. Establish where you are going to be when the auction finishes. Ideally you want to be at a computer when the auction is going to finish to give yourself the best chance at winning. If you are unable to be at the computer at the end of the auction, there are services that you on your behalf bid for you in your absence. (Not able to specify any in particular). For the purposes of this manual, we will assume you will be able to access a computer at the finish time of the auction.

3. Have a look at the level of interest in the item. By checking the counter at the bottom of the auction listing (in some cases they are not shown) and looking at the number of bids on the item (if any) you can establish the level of interest in an item. By determining this, you can then get an idea on whether this item is going to probably sit at its current price or thereabouts or whether it is going to keep going up with more bids.

4. Find out if there are more of the same items available. Scan eBay using the search menus to establish if there are more of the same items available. If for example the item you are looking at is new, you may well find the seller or other sellers are selling multiple items of the same thing. In this case, check to see if there is a “Buy it Now” price or whether there are others available at a cheaper rate. Be careful when looking at other items which are cheaper, as in most cases they have longer to go before finishing, in which case the price may well match or exceed the first item you initially found of course depending on interest level.

Another method is to check “View Sellers Other Items” or check recent feedback. By viewing recent feedback you are able to see what item they sold and how much it sold for by clicking on the item number adjacent to the feedback comment. This may give you an indication if it is the same item, how much the item you are looking at will sell for.

Ultimately, applying the 1st rule of this document will be your stopper, “know your price limit and stick to that when purchasing”.

5. Ask Seller a Question. As per rule number 2, once you’ve decided you are going to bid on an item, make sure you ask any questions prior to placing the bid. When asking the seller a question, be clear and precise with your question. Make sure your question makes sense. Sounds silly, but if your question has the potential to be taken more than one way or is missing words or is misspelt, there is the chance that the seller can misinterpret your question and either not fully answer it or not give you complete answer. This can then become the premise for a misunderstanding down track.

When considering postage for an item, don’t be lazy and just send a blind question to the seller asking, “How much for postage to 1234? You can generally calculate this yourself as a roughly. All you need to do is work out the dimensions and rough weight of an item and then key it into the Australia Post Postage calculator, this is a useful tool provided to customers of Australia Post. This does assume the item is within the maximum freight limit that Australia Post will accept. If it is an item that is unusually large and exceeds the Australia Post limit, it is then more reasonable that you ask about possible freight options with the seller, provided they are prepared to freight the item.

Sellers, especially high volume sellers get many inquiries on freight. You can imagine the inconvenience it is to be continually calculating freight for people when they may in fact not even win the item or when the item is finally won the buyer is local and ends up personally collecting it. It is just something to be considerate of when making inquiries.

Now that you have done some basic research on the item and your potential seller, you should have enough confidence to place a bid. I have outlined the steps I take when biding below. Read through the steps first and then decide whether this method suits you. It is advisable that you have broadband access as you will need to be able to refresh your screen fairly quickly. If you don’t have broadband, know how long it takes your computer to refresh (press F5) to recalculate the time left on the auction.

1. First thing to do is log onto your eBay (My eBay) account a short while before the auction is finishing, usually a good 10 - 15 minutes before hand.
2. Open the listing you are watching in My eBay under “Watching”.
3. Open another screen, so you now have 2 screens open showing the item you are watching.
4. On one of the screens click the “Place Bid” button.
5. A new screen will appear asking you how much you wish to bid.

Note: At this point you need to know how much you are prepared to pay for the item. Regardless of what the current price is, enter the maximum that you will pay. For example, the current price may be at $41.50, your maximum price might be $70. Even if you think it isn’t going to go for more than $50 or so, enter something like $71.50 by doing this, 1. You are ensuring that if there are other bidders waiting until the end of the auction as you are, your bid price will go to the maximum ($71.50) whilst they continue to try and outbid you. 2. By entering the extra $1.50 your chances are better at winning when people are likely to enter round numbers, such as $70.

6. Press the “Continue” button once you have entered your maximum bid amount.
7. The next screen to appear is the “Review and Confirm Bid” page.
8. DO NOT PRESS the “Confirm Bid” button yet.
9. Revert back to the other eBay screen with item you are watching open.
10. Refresh the screen. Noting the time counter telling you how long before the auction ends.
11. Now, noting as explained earlier how long it is taking for your screen to fully refresh with the “Time Left” displaying by pressing F5, wait until the last 20 or 30 seconds of the auction. (My broadband refreshes the screen in approximately 4 seconds, so allow for adjustment with your internet speed)
12. At the 20 second mark, if the price has not exceeded your maximum bid amount go back to the “Review and Confirm Bid” page and click “Confirm Bid”.
13. Revert back to the other eBay screen and refresh it.
14. At this point, it will now tell you either you are the “Current high bidder” or that “You have been outbid”. The time clock will tell you that there is only a few seconds to go if any, this is where it becomes frustrating (something you may have experienced before) for other more unprepared bidders as they now have maybe 10 seconds at best to re submit a higher bid and by the time they do all of this it is too late, unless Auction Sniper is used and the bid price is higher than your bid.
 
As you have left it to the last seconds of the auction to bid in most cases you will have won the item again unless someone else has come in over the top with a higher bid. But knowing that you have put your maximum price forward you have given yourself the best chance at winning.

15. Upon winning the item, you can now proceed with the seller as you would normally. With any luck you may have just got yourself a bargain for less than you prepared to pay!
16. The rest as they say is history!

Good luck with your future buying and selling. I hope this document has helped and perhaps given some insight into some of the things you can do to give yourself the best opportunity in winning.

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