It’s a familiar feeling, standing there in front of the auctioneer as he goes through the familiar patter, waiting for the perfect time to slip in your bid and win your prize with seconds remaining. But in the electronic world of eBay there’s much more to winning an auction than just being fast on the keyboard. These tips can help you increase your odds of getting what you bid on without breaking your budget!
First, check your Internet connection. A major problem a lot of bidders have is that they’re connected to the Internet with a slow modem or worse, a dial up modem. Speed kills, and this axiom is so true when it comes to online auction sites. That extra minute you sit there in front of your monitor waiting for your data to update can be the difference between winning and losing the auction.
Unfortunately not everyone can have a T1 line or a cable modem – there are many areas in the world that suffer from a lack of high technology connections available to the public. We’ll offer a solution to that later on in this article, but for right now consider upgrading your Internet connection if you can. A DSL or cable modem is usually the most popular option open to computer users.
Along with this goes the functionality of your home computer. If your system is huffing and puffing to upload the graphics necessary to view the auction, you may want to consider taking advantage of the many sales to upgrade your system to a newer faster model. It may seem extravagant for winning online auctions, but if you’re serious about buying and selling online you’ll have to consider it as an investment. A majority of auctions offer a photograph of the item being offered, and if you can’t see it you may be bidding blind.
Opening up an account at eBay is easy and takes only a few minutes. You can hide your email address and save yourself from spammers while accessing the many options offered to eBay customers, such as message boards and email notifications.
Now that you’re running at optimum efficiency, let’s take a look at the auction listings. Depending on if you’re looking for a particular item you can simply do a search and store the results in your “Summary” section. Another option is to ask for email alerts for particular products and wait for the notification to arrive in your mailbox. Once a day you’ll receive an email that will detail what new auctions have been entered with your specific requests and allow you to directly go to those auction pages and see if you’re interested in the item.
If you know exactly what you’re looking for you may want to look not only for the usual, but the unusual spelling of the words. For example if I’m looking for a first edition of Kipling’s Jungle Book I can look under “Kipling” or “Jungle Book” – but what about “Rkipling” or “Junglebook”? People will often list their auctions under a variety of different names and titles, some accurate and some not so accurate. If you extrapolate along all the variables you may find some golden treasure waiting to be snatched up before anyone else sees it. Many times the item may be listed under not only a different spelling but also have the actual name placed in the body of the auction listing itself and not the title. Using the above example you may find listings reading “Kipling book” that say nothing about “Jungle Book” – at least until I activate the advanced search that checks the words inside the listing itself where the seller may have listed the title or titles.
Now that you’ve found your item, let’s check out your options. Ebay allows you to offer a variety of auctions, from Dutch to Buy It Now to regular bidding. Each of these offer you a different choice.
Dutch auctions are done when a seller has a number of the same items available, such as lots of automobile parts. Instead of listing each one individually the auction allows you to see that there are multiple copies up for sale and lets you bid for one of them or more, if you wish. This is very useful for the collector who needs more than one copy of a single item. The price listed will be for a single item, allowing you to choose the option for more copies if you wish. Usually the price will not fluctuate as there are so many items for sale, but be sure to check the listing.
Buy It Now is a fast purchase option offered by the seller to make a quick and fast sale. Usually the BIN price is larger than the initial starting bid. This allows you to choose between paying the higher price and guaranteeing you the win or starting the bidding at the lower price and running the risk of losing out on the auction or possibly winning it at a lower price than the BIN in the long run. Once a bid is placed the BIN will disappear from the listing, however. Using the BIN is good for the casual buyer who doesn’t want to monitor the auction over a long time and wishes to just purchase the item, much like any online store.
Regular bidding is what most eBay auctions are all about, the competition between sellers and buyers to get the best product at the lowest price. You will have to sign into your account before placing a bid and there will be minimum bids on your item, keeping the auction competitive and the prices moving upwards as the clock ticks down. If you place a bid you will receive a notification email as well as another if you are outbid and another if you win the auction. This last one will detail payment options and allow you to communicate with the seller to arrange delivery.
Let’s discuss a few tips to try and guarantee you that win. First, always put in a bid with an odd amount of cents. For example, if the item is at $18.00 consider putting in a bid of $22.22. What this does is place you ahead of another bidder who may be putting in their offer of $22.00 exactly. He/she will have to bid more in order to beat your offer and may not be willing to go higher, while not knowing that there’s less than a dollar between your competing bids.
Be sure to read the listing clearly before you even put in a bid. Often sellers will boost up their shipping and handling costs in order to make more money off the final winning price of the auction, forcing you to pay more than you initially planned. Compare different shipping costs and do a bit of research before putting in your bid. Check the methods of sending payment as well – many sellers will take Paypal, money orders or credit cards, but not all. Be sure to check before you bid, because an offer is considered to be a binding agreement between you and the seller. Ebay can and has banned people from using their services due to nonpayment or negative feedback.
One of the worst things that you can do is walk away from your monitor during the last few minutes of an auction. There are bidders who will wait until the very last seconds of an auction and then dash off a high bid, hoping their quick Internet connection will allow them to swipe the item out from under the competition. If you wish to consider this way of bidding, be sure that your connection is fast and your system up to the challenge of racing the clock to place your bid.
When you win the auction be sure to make prompt payment and leave positive feedback if appropriate. A seller’s reputation on auction sites rises and falls with the feedback from the buyers, so if you are content with the purchase and happy with the deal be sure to leave a comment and help other buyers in making a decision to deal with that seller. As well, sellers leave feedback for the buyers so that merchants can view if a potential buyer has a good reputation for paying their debts or not.
Ebay has grown over the years from a small website dealing with only candy dispensers into a huge industry with thousands of items being sold hourly around the world. You can be one of those successful bidders, picking up that elusive collectable for your home for much less than you would think.