The Ultimate Buyers Survival Guide

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"The secrets sellers didn't want you to know..."

Buying on eBay is great fun. Sure, you could do a simple search for an item, quickly read through its listing details, make a bid and hope to win.
But! Do you really trust the seller? Are you going to get exactly what you first thought it was? And, how much should you need to bid to win it?
eBay has provided you with the tools to find out the answers to all of these questions....and more!!
I'm going to explain how to utilise these tools to gather all the information you will require to get the best, safest deal possible.
It all falls under three sections;  The Seller, The Item, and The Price - or SIP for short.
Hopefully by the end of this guide you will feel more confident about who you are buying from, what you are buying, and how much you are paying.

"SIP it slowly..."

TIP: Holding Shift while clicking on any links in this guide will open the link in a new window, allowing you to simply close that window when you are finished, and continue with the guide.

  • The Seller - Familiarising yourself with the seller and their items
  • The Item - Researching the Item you plan on buying
  • The Price - How much should you expect to pay

Advanced Search Tips
It is very important you learn how to effectively search for items.
You don't want to be slogging through hundreds of matches when comparing similar items.
Narrow the list down with smarter searches for more precise results.
In addition to the general search tips try using the following advanced command examples;
Lets say you are looking for a red or blue polo shirt, but you didn't want a Ralph Lauren. A search for "shirt" would give you too many results as you are searching for all listings containing the word shirt in all styles, colours and brands. So you search for "polo shirt", but still too many results as you are not specifying the colour you would like. But how do you ask for results in either blue or red? Enter the two colours in parentheses separated by a comma. Your search now looks like this - "polo shirt (red,blue)". Finally, removing all Ralph Lauren results. You do this by placing a minus sign before the word to be excluded.
Your final search would look like this - "polo shirt (red,blue) -ralph".
For additional advanced search commands, click here.

The Seller

There is an amazing amount of information you can gather about your seller before you buy.
Under this section I will explain how to quickly access a sellers feedback, review any other items they currently have for sale, but even more importantly, review the items that have recently completed from that seller.
The completed items search can reveal alot. For example, do they regularly sell the same product, and if so, are the listing details consistent.
Lets meet the seller.

Click the sellers name under the Meet the seller section of the listing to access the Member Profile page.

I have split the Member Profile page into 4 parts. Part 1 displays the sellers feedback score and percentage. The score has been calculated by subtracting the number of users reporting a poor trading experience from the number of users reporting a good trading experience. The percentage is the ratio of their positive and negative feedback ratings.
What you are preferably looking for is a seller with a bit of experience (score) and a positive percentage in the high 90's. However, for the complete picture, be sure also to refer to the Feedback Comments part below.

Part 2 is the Recent Ratings table. I like to use this table mainly for its past month data. It gives you a quick glance look at how well (or not) the sellers most recent transactions have gone. If you see any negative or neutral's in this column make sure you check out the comment left in the Feedback Comments section.

As you are buying from this ebay member, you are not really interested in the feedback they have received as a buyer themselves. So, in part 3, mainly concentrate on the comments that have come from a Buyer. Look hard at any negative or neutral comments, but also read a couple of positive ones too. It also helps to put an item to the comment by clicking on the Item # link to the right of the comment.

In part 4 you can see when the member joined eBay. There is also a link to take you to a page that lists all other items the seller has for sale. Sometimes professional sellers run the same item multiple times a few days apart. Put those in your watch list to, just incase bidding on the most recent one exceeds your limit, then you can start looking at the next one.
From the Items for Sale page you can also quickly toggle it to display the sellers recently completed items by ticking the Completed listings box on the left, then clicking the Show Items button to refresh.

The Item

You should make sure the seller has included the following details about their item;
- A detailed description of what you get,
- Accurate & honest description of item condition,
- Clear photo of the 'actual' item you are bidding on. Clear enough to verify the description & condition.
If any of these details are not supplied, send the seller a message by clicking on the Ask seller a question link under the Meet the seller section of the listing.

"A Picture Tells a Thousand Words..."

Above are 3 photo examples. 1) Excellent photo, shows all items individually and clearly. Well layed out. 2) Actual photo of item, however, too small and out of focus. 3) Not an actual photo of the item, obviously taken from an internet site.

Using the Advanced Search Tips described previously in this guide, search for the same or similar items from other sellers (don't forget completed items too). This way, you can compare details and pictures (more details on how to preform an Advanced Search below).

The Price

This is the section where the Completed Items Search is most powerful. Using the Advanced Search Tips again, you can approximately predict how much you will need to bid to win the item.

Click the Advanced Search link in the top right hand corner of any eBay page to open a search page.
Construct a keyword string, tick the Completed box and click Search.
You will see a list of all recently completed items matching the item you are wanting to buy.
The information you are most interested in is how many bids each item got, whether or not they sold at all, and how much they sold for after bidding had finished.

TIP: Want to find out the recent bidding history of a particular eBay member? Do they keep outbidding you? Use the Items by Bidder search (tick the Include completed listings box) to find out what they are winning and how much they are bidding.

Also remember postage! Unless the item is in the same area as you and allows pickup, the final price of the item is not all you will be paying. There is postage on top of it. Make sure postage costs are included in the listing or quoted before bidding. If not, you leave yourself open to outrages postage prices if the item doesn't sell for what the seller expected.

And that brings the guide to a conclusion.
I hope my time and efforts help you in your future buying.

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