cover.eps For Dummies®

Visit to view this book's cheat sheet.

Table of Contents

About This Book
Foolish Assumptions
How This Book Is Organised
Part I: Forget the Shops: Getting a Feel for eBay
Part II: Are You Buying What They’re Selling?
Part III: Are You Selling What They’re Buying?
Part IV: Bells and Whistles: Special Features
Part V: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in This Book
What Now?
Feedback, Please
Part I: Forget the Shops: Getting a Feel for eBay
Chapter 1: Why eBay Is a Great Place to Buy and Sell
What Is eBay and How Does It Work?
All about Auctions
eBay auctions
Private (shhh-it’s-a-secret) auctions
Multiple Item (Dutch) auctions
Buying It Now at eBay
So You Want to Sell Stuff
So You Want to Buy Stuff
Research for Fun and Profit
eBay’s Role in the Action
Features and Fun Stuff
Getting into the community spirit
eBay’s Safety Centre
Extra Gadgets You May Want
Chapter 2: Getting on the Gravy Train: Joining eBay
Registering at eBay
Registering Is Quick, Free and Easy
Filling in the required information
Do you solemnly swear to . . . ?
It must be true if you have it in writing
A Quick Word about Passwords
A Not-So-Quick Word about Choosing a User ID
Your Licence to Deal (Almost)
Chapter 3: Home Page Sweet Home Page
What Is the Home Page?
Sign In, Please
This Bar Never Closes
Exploring Your Home Page Search Options
Looking through the home page search box
Going where the Search button takes you
Home Links, the Next Generation
Manoeuvring through Categories
Going Global
Daily Deals
Don’t Forget the Bottom!
Chapter 4: My Own Private eBay
Getting to Your My eBay Pages
Choosing Your My eBay Site Preferences
Setting Up Your Account
eBay account status
Other payment options
Surveying Your Sales on Your My eBay Sell Pages
Active Selling
eBay’s Selling Manager and Selling Manager Pro
Keeping Track of Your Transactions
Getting and Giving Feedback, and Ratings
Understanding the importance of feedback and ratings
How to get positive feedback
How to get negative feedback
Improving your Detailed Seller Ratings
The Feedback page
Reading your feedback
You have the last word – responding to feedback
Leaving feedback with finesse
Part II: Are You Buying What They’re Selling?
Chapter 5: Seek and Ye Shall Find: Research
eBay’s Advanced Search page
Completed Listings search
Calling international rescue!
Other Advanced Search tools
Seller search
Buyer search
Narrowing down your eBay search
Finding eBay Members: The Gang’s All Here
General Tips for Online Buyers
Benefiting from insider tips
Researching like a pro
Making the grade
Finding More Research Information
Searching sites online
Finding other sources of information
Chapter 6: Shopping on eBay: The Basics
The Item Description Page
Beating the Devil in the Details
Read the item description carefully
Get the inside word on the seller
Factoring In the Extras
Payment methods
Postage and insurance costs
Placing Your Bid
Bidding Bit by Bit: Proxy Bidding
Specialised eBay Categories
eBay Motors
Making purchases on the spot!
eBay Shops
The Agony (?) of Buyer’s Remorse
Retracting your bid
Avoiding deadbeat (non-paying buyer) status
Chapter 7: Power-Bidding Strategies
Get to Know the High Bidder
Find Out an Item’s Bidding History
Strategies to Help You Outsmart the Competition
Time Is Money: Strategy by the Clock
Using the lounging-around strategy
Using the beat-the-clock strategy
Chapter 8: After You’ve Bought the Goods
eBay Calling: You’ve Won!
Getting Contact Information
What’s Your Number?
At the Checkout
Paying by PayPal
Paying by cheque or postal order
Paying by cash
Paying up promptly and safely
Communicating with the Seller
Staying in Touch: Dealing with an Elusive Seller
When the Item Arrives (Uh-Oh What’s This?)
Don’t Forget to Leave Feedback
Part III: Are You Selling What They’re Buying?
Chapter 9: Selling in Your Dressing Gown for Fun and Profit
Why Should You Sell Stuff on eBay?
Cash for Clutter: Finding Stuff to Sell
Know When to Sell
Know Thy Stuff
Sussing out your goods
Spy versus spy: Comparison selling
Know What You Can (and Can’t) Sell
Prohibited items
Infringing items
Questionable items: Know the law
Forbidden listings
Reporting a Problem Listing
VeRO to the Rescue
eBay Fees? What eBay Fees?
Insertion Fees
Final Value Fees
Optional fees
eBay Motors Fees
Keeping tabs on your cash flow
Keeping the Tax Collector Happy
The truth about eBay and income tax
This and VAT
Chapter 10: Time to Sell: Completing the Cyber Paperwork
Getting Ready to List Your Item
Finding the Sell Your Item Form
Are you registered?
Selecting a category
Examining the Create Your Listing page
Filling in the Required Blanks
Tweaking your category
Creating the perfect item title
A picture is worth a thousand words
Content is king: Writing your description
To auction or not to auction
I want to be alone: The private auction
Listing the payment methods you’ll accept
Setting postage locations
Checking your item location
Adding additional information
eBay Options: Ballyhoo on the Cheap
Checking Your Work and Starting Your eBay sale
Mid-Course Corrections: Fixing Current Listings
Making changes before bidding begins
Making changes after bidding begins
Chapter 11: Hitting the eBay Shops
Unlimited Shopping from the Shops Page
eBay Shops search
Browsing shop categories
Selling from Your Own Virtual Shop Window
Paying the landlord
Having your own website?
Chapter 12: Closing the Deal and Getting It Delivered
Bookkeeping and Staying Organised
Talking to Buyers: The ABC of Good Communication
Saying thank you
Staying in touch
Delivering the Goods
Shopping for a shipper
Oui, ja, yes! Shipping abroad
Getting the right (packing) stuff
Buying Postage Online
Chapter 13: Troubleshooting Your Listing
Dealing with a Buyer Who Doesn’t Respond
Avoiding Problems
Some Other Selling Problems
The buyer backs out of the transaction
Payment problems
The item is the wrong one or gets damaged en route
Seller’s remorse
Sale Going Badly? Cut Your Losses
Try cancelling bids first
Blocking buyers
If all else fails, end your listing early
Reporting an Unpaid Item
Déjà vu – re-listing your item
Chapter 14: Using Pictures and Strategies to Increase Your Profits
Using Images in Your eBay Listings
Choosing a digital camera
Choosing a scanner
Making Your Picture a Thing of Beauty
Get it on camera
Use traditional photos? Yes, you scan
Software that adds the artist’s touch
Making Your Images Web Friendly
The Image Is Perfect – Now What?
Using an ISP to store your images
Using image-hosting websites to store images
Using eBay’s Picture Services
Using video in your item descriptions
Putting On the Hits
Cracking Classifieds
Finding your buyers
Placing the ad
Chapter 15: Making Serious Money Selling on eBay
Supply and Demand: Studying the Market
Identifying your niche
Tracking the marketplace
Attracting More Buyers
Stocking up your niche
Thinking seasonally
Understanding your customers
Sharing your expertise
Appealing to Buyers’ Emotions
Maximising the power of your USP
Writing copy that sells
Selling through Customer Service
Advertising Your Presence
Chapter 16: Building an eBay Empire
Checking You’ve Got What It Takes
Registering Your eBay Business
Registering with HMRC
Becoming a Business Seller with eBay
Knowing the Law
Sourcing Stock: What Will You Sell?
Becoming a Top-Rated Seller: The Cream of the Crop
Running Your Business Efficiently
Setting up your eBay office
Sorting out deliveries
Keeping on top of your records
Using Essential Tools and Services for eBay Businesses
Listing services
Management services
Communication tools
Being Ambitious: eCommerce Beyond eBay
Other marketplaces: Introducing Etsy and Gumtree
Part IV: Bells and Whistles: Special Features
Chapter 17: Staying Safe on eBay
Shopping Safely on eBay: Knowing the Common Pitfalls
Paying Safely Is the Key
Shopping with Confidence: eBay Buyer Protection
Exploring the Safety Centre
Recognising and Handling Abuses on eBay
Knowing which abuses you should report to eBay
Reporting abuses to the Investigations team
Walking the plank: Suspensions
Keeping a Beady Eye Out for Fraud
Knowing what’s authentic – and what’s not
Reporting suspected fraud
What (and How) Does eBay Know about Me?
What you tell eBay
What you tell PayPal
What your eBay sign-in cookie retains
What eBay’s web servers collect
Taking a look at eBay’s privacy policy
Toeing the line: The Data Protection Act
What does eBay do with information about me, anyway?
What do other eBay members know about me?
Spam – not just a tasty treat
Chapter 18: The eBay Community: Getting Along with Other eBay Members
News and Chat, This and That
Oyez, Oyez! eBay’s Announcement Board
Help! I Need Somebody
eBay Global Boards
eBay Groups
It’s Your My World
It’s All About Me!
Chapter 19: Fun Stuff and Features
Doing Your Bit for Charity
Making eBay work for your cause
Selling for charity
Buying your way to salvation
Supporting specific charities
Calling All Charities
Making money through eBay
A ready-to-go retail partner
eBay on Your Mobile: The Smartphone Revolution
Getting a Little Extra Help
eBay’s little helpers
Ebay’s Favourite Searches email service
Keeping your finger on the eBay Pulse
Part V: The Part of Tens
Chapter 20: Ten (or So) Golden Rules for eBay Buyers and Sellers
Buyer: Investigate Your Treasure before You Buy
Buyer: Check the Seller’s Feedback
Buyer: Understand Post-Purchase Charges and Payment Methods
Buyer: Check the Item Price Tag and Bid Wisely
Buyer: Be a Good Buyer
Buyer: Cover Your Assets
Seller: Know Your Stuff
Seller: Spit ’n’ Polish
Seller: Picture-Perfect Facts
Seller: Communication, Communication, Communication
Seller: Be a Buyer’s Dream
Seller: Listen to Feedback
Buyers and Sellers: Keep a Cool Head
Chapter 21: Ten (or So) Programs and Services to Ease Your Way on eBay
Buying Tools
Selling Tools
247 TopSeller
Garage Sale for Macs
eBay’s Software and Services
eBay’s Turbo Lister
Selling Manager and Selling Manager Pro
Chapter 22: Ten Ways to Source Stock You Can Sell on eBay
Start with a Clear-Out
Cruise Charity Shops
Scoure Car Boot Sales
Bid at Auctions
Buy from Wholesalers and Importers
Go Straight to the Manufacturers
Grab End-of-Line and Liquidation Stock
Sell for Other People
Make Your Own Stock
Publisher's Acknowledgements
Cheat Sheet For Dummies®, 3rd Edition

by Marsha Collier, Jane Hoskyn and Steve Hill



Welcome to the third edition of For Dummies! Shopping and selling on eBay is more than just a smart way to make extra pocket money – it can also be loads of fun, as more than 15 million UK members can tell you. Whether you’re just starting out on eBay, or you’ve done a bit of trading and fancy moving things up a notch, you’ve come to the right place to find out all you need to know.

Of course, eBay isn’t only a UK site. eBay now has more than 250 million users worldwide – that’s quite a community. It’s a community of buyers who can purchase things they’d never find on the high street, and save serious money while they’re at it; and of sellers who clear their attics or forage out wholesale bargains to sell online and gain a few quid. This makes eBay the new international marketplace, and the best part is that eBay is available to anyone who wants to take the time to find out how it works.

And eBay isn’t just about fun and making a few extra pounds. How about taking the plunge and starting to build an e-commerce enterprise, using eBay as your starting point? Thousands of people in Britain already make a living, or a significant second income, by selling on eBay. Do you want to join them? This book can get you started.

eBay isn’t hard to master, but just as with any tool, if you know the ins and outs, you’re ahead of the game. You can get the bargains, and when you sell, you can make the most money. This book is designed to help you understand everything you need to know about buying and selling on eBay, the most successful person-to-person trading community website. You get all the tools you need to get moving at eBay, whether you’re new to the Internet or a webaholic. You see how to turn your everyday household clutter into cold, hard cash – and how to look for items that you can sell on eBay. If you’re a collector (or you’d like to be), we show you how to work out how much you should spend, how to make clever bids and how to win the auctions. How much money you earn (or spend) depends entirely on how often and how well you conduct your eBay transactions. You decide how frequently you want to run auctions and place bids; we’re here to help with the rest by sharing tips we’ve discovered along the way.

A website as complex as eBay has many nooks and crannies that may confuse the first-time user. Think of this book as a detailed road map that can help you navigate the site, getting as much or as little as you want from it. Just come back to the book whenever you need a question answered.

After you know the nuts and bolts of eBay, you can start buying and selling stuff. We’ve got a whole load of canny buying and selling strategies that help you get the most out of your auctions. With this book and a little elbow grease, you can join the ranks of the millions of people who use their home computers to make friends, become part of the eBay community and turn a profit.

About This Book

Remember those surprise tests that teachers sprang on you at school? Well, sometimes you may feel like eBay is setting you little tests while you’re online. Think of For Dummies as your book of answers. You don’t have to memorise anything – just keep this book handy to help you get through the confusing parts of eBay.

With that in mind, this book is divided into sections to help you find your answers fast. We show you how to:

check.png Get online and register to buy and sell on eBay.

check.png Find the bits of eBay where you can search for items for sale, set up listings for sale, monitor your transactions and babble on the discussion boards.

check.png Bid on and win eBay auctions, and master Buy It Now to make instant purchases.

check.png Choose an item to sell, pick the right time for your auction, market it so that loads of bidders see it and make a profit.

check.png Communicate well and close transactions without problems, whether you’re a buyer or a seller.

check.png Become part of a great community of people who like to collect, buy and sell items of just about every type.

And finally . . . don’t adjust your eyes. To protect the privacy of eBay users, some screen images (commonly called screen shots) in this book blur User IDs to protect the innocent.

Foolish Assumptions

You may have picked up this book because you heard that people are raking in cash by selling stuff on eBay, and you want a piece of the action. Or you heard about the bargains and bizarre items you can find in the world’s largest marketplace. If so, this is the right book for you.

Here are some other foolish assumptions we’ve made about you:

check.png You have, or would like to have, access to a computer and an Internet connection so that you can do business on eBay.

check.png You have an interest in collecting stuff, selling stuff and buying stuff, and you want to find out more about doing those things online.

check.png You want tips and strategies that can save you money when you bid and make you money when you sell.

check.png You’re concerned about maintaining your privacy and staying away from people who try to ruin everyone’s good time with negligent (and sometimes illegal) activity.

If you think that the expression surfing the Web has something to do with spiders and wetsuits, this book can get you started, but you may want to browse through The Internet For Dummies, 10th Edition, by John R Levine, Margaret Levine Young and Carol Baroudi, for a crash course in Internet confidence. The book comes from Wiley, just like the one you’re reading now. From time to time (and by astounding coincidence), we mention other titles in the For Dummies series that you may find helpful.

How This Book Is Organised

This book has five parts. The parts stand on their own, which means that you can read Chapter 5 after you read Chapter 10 or skip Chapter 3 altogether. Everything is up to you. But if you’re new to eBay, at least dip into Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 to get an overview on what eBay is all about and find out how to become a registered user.

If you’re already buying and selling on eBay, feel free to jump ahead to get good tips on advanced strategies to win the bargains or make your items fly off the cyber-shelves.

Part I: Forget the Shops: Getting a Feel for eBay

In this part, we tell you what eBay is and how to use it. We take you through the registration process, help you organise your eBay sales and communication using the My eBay page, and get you comfortable finding your way around the site from the home page.

Part II: Are You Buying What They’re Selling?

If you’re pretty sure that you want to start making bids on items, this part fills you in on searching, grading an item’s value, researching, bidding, winning auctions and buying instantly.

That old cliché ‘Let the buyer beware’ became a cliché because even today (maybe especially today) it’s sound advice. Use our top tips to help you decide when to bid and when to pass.

Part III: Are You Selling What They’re Buying?

This part gets you up to speed on how to sell your items on eBay. Think of it as an eBay course in marketing. Here you find important information on how to conduct your auctions, what to do after you sell an item, how to post the item and how to keep track of all the money you make. The tax collectors are only too aware of eBay (they probably use it themselves!). Know the rules so that your friendly local tax officer doesn’t invite you over for a sandwich and a little audit.

We also show you how to jazz up your auctions by adding pictures and how to use basic HTML to link your auctions to your own website if you have one. You can make your digital images look like high art with our tips, hints and strategies. We also explore the opportunity that exists for setting up an eBay business and potentially making serious money.

Part IV: Bells and Whistles: Special Features

Here you discover how to handle privacy issues relating to eBay and how you can resolve buying and selling issues with the help of the Safety Centre, eBay’s problem-solving HQ. Also included are ways of having fun with the eBay community and using charity auctions to bid on unique items for a good cause. Plus we take a look at eBay Apps for your smartphone so you can buy and sell on the move with your iPhone or HTC Android.

Part V: The Part of Tens

In keeping with a long For Dummies tradition, this part is a compendium of short chapters that give you handy references and useful facts. We share more smart tips for buying and selling items, as well as descriptions of our favourite software programs that can help lighten your auction load.

Icons Used in This Book

tip.eps These are facts that you’re really going to want to know. Time is money on eBay. When you see this shortcut or time-saving tip, read the information and think about all the cash you just saved.

remember.eps Think of this icon as a memo for your brain. If you forget one of these pearls of wisdom that we reveal to you, go back and read it again. If you still can’t remember it, dog-ear the page, use a highlighter pen or draw a big black circle around it – we don’t mind, honest.

warning_bomb.eps Don’t feel our pain. We’ve done things wrong on eBay before and want to save you from our mistakes. These warnings are big and bold so that you take notice and avoid a bad experience. Don’t skip these warnings unless you’re a masochist.

auctionanecdote__0578-5.eps When you see this icon, you’re in for a war story (or a success story) from an eBay veteran. Their tales of brilliant buys, staggering sales and miscellaneous mishaps are a great real-life guide to eBay’s fun and perils. You can skip over these anecdotes if you want to, but you may be missing out on some solid gold insight into what not to do on eBay.

What Now?

Like everything else in the world, eBay is evolving constantly. Some of the eBay screens in this book may look slightly different to the ones you see on your home computer monitor. That’s just eBay tweaking and changing. Our job is to arm you with everything you need to know to join the eBay community and begin buying or selling or both. If you hit choppy waters, just look up the problem in the table of contents or index in this book. We either help you solve it or let you know where to go on the eBay website for some expert advice.

Although eBay makes its complex site as easy to navigate as possible, you may still need to refer back to this book for help. Don’t get frustrated if you have to keep reviewing topics before you feel completely comfortable trading on eBay.

Feedback, Please

Communication makes the world go round, and we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at and We can’t answer every email, but we do read them all. Marsha answers the best questions in her free monthly newsletter.

Part I

Forget the Shops: Getting a Feel for eBay


In this part . . .

New technology can be intimidating for anyone. You want to have a look at eBay, maybe buy something, but eBay feels huge and overwhelming and you’re not sure where to start. What you want is someone to point out the most useful tools you need to get around, help you find out how eBay works and start showing you how to do your own buying and selling. That’s what we do in Part I.

In this part, we give you the information you want to know about how eBay works and what it offers its members. Find out how to become a registered user, explore the eBay home page, and customise your very own private My eBay page. You can also find out about the all-important feedback profile that follows every eBay user around like a shadow.

Chapter 1

Why eBay Is a Great Place to Buy and Sell

In This Chapter

arrow Finding out about eBay

arrow Getting the lowdown on types of auctions and buying formats

arrow Using features and fun stuff

arrow Getting the inside track on digital cameras and scanners

eBay has emerged as the marketplace for the twenty-first century. The founders had a very clever idea back in 1995 (read about some eBay history in the ‘eBay’s humble beginnings’ sidebar, later in this chapter), and over a decade later the world is obsessed with shopping and selling online. eBay is a safe and fun place to shop for everything from collectables to clothing, all from the comfort of your home.

eBay is now also a marketplace for new merchandise. It’s no longer just the destination for obscure collectables and old china patterns. These days you can buy new and useful items, such as alarm systems, fancy electric toothbrushes, designer clothing, cars, homes, villas in Portugal – more or less anything you can think of.

Have a look around your house. Nice toaster. Unusual clock. Natty microwave. Not to mention all the other fab stuff you own. All these household appliances and collectables are lovely to own, but when was the last time your toaster turned a profit? When you connect to eBay, your PC or Mac magically turns into a money machine. Just visit eBay and marvel at all the items that are only a few mouse clicks away from being bought and sold.

In this chapter, we tell you what eBay is and how it works. eBay is the perfect alternative to spending hours wandering through antique shops or car boot sales looking for the perfect thingamyjig. It can also be your personal shopper for presents and day-to-day items. Not only can you buy and sell stuff in the privacy of your home, but you can also meet people who share your interests. The people who use the eBay site are a friendly crowd, and you can very quickly be buying, selling, swapping stories and trading advice with the best of them.

What Is eBay and How Does It Work?

The Internet is spawning all kinds of new businesses (known as e-commerce to City types), and eBay is one of its few superstars. The reason is simple: it’s the place where buyers and sellers can meet, do business, share stories and tips, and have a laugh.

eBay doesn’t sell a thing. Instead, the site does what all good hosts do: it creates a comfy environment that brings people with common interests together. You can think of eBay as you think of the person who set you up on your last blind date – except the results are often a lot better. Your matchmaking friend doesn’t perform a marriage ceremony but does get you in the same room with your potential soul-mate. eBay puts buyers and sellers in a virtual shop and lets them conduct their business safely within the rules that it has established.

All you need to do to join eBay is fill in a few online forms and click. Congratulations – you’re a member, with no big fees or secret handshakes. After you register, you can buy and sell anything that falls within the eBay rules and regulations. (Chapter 2 eases you through the registration process.)

The eBay home page, shown in Figure 1-1, is your first step to finding all the smart things you can see and do at eBay. You can conduct searches, find out what’s happening and get an instant link to the My eBay page, which helps you keep track of every auction item you have up for sale or are bidding on. You can read more about the eBay home page in Chapter 3 and find out more about My eBay in Chapter 4.

Figure 1-1: The eBay home page, your starting point for bargains and for making some serious cash.


All about Auctions

How much someone is willing to spend to buy an item determines its value. That’s what makes auctions exciting. eBay offers several kinds of auctions, but for the most part, they all work the same way. An auction is a unique sales event where you don’t know the exact value of the item for sale. As a result, an element of surprise is involved – not only for the bidder (who may end up with a tasty bargain) but also for the seller (who may end up making a killing). Here’s how an auction works from the perspective of a seller and a bidder:

check.png Seller: A seller pays a fee, fills in an online form, and sets up the auction, listing the minimum bid he’s willing to accept for the item. Think of an auctioneer at Sotheby’s saying, ‘The bidding for this diamond necklace starts at £5,000.’ You may want to bid £4,000, but the auctioneer won’t accept that bid. Sellers can also set a reserve price, sort of a financial safety net that protects them from losing money on the deal. We explain how these things work later in this section.

check.png Bidder: Bidders in auctions battle it out over a period of time (the minimum is a day, but most eBay auctions last a week or 10 days) until one comes out victorious. Usually, the highest bidder wins. The tricky thing about taking part in an auction (and the most exciting part) is that no one knows the final price an item goes for until the last second of the auction.

eBay auctions

Unlike ‘traditional’ live auctions that end with the familiar phrase ‘Going, going, gone!’ the clock controls eBay auctions. The seller pays a fee and lists the item on the site for a pre-determined length of time; the highest bidder when the clock runs out takes home the prize.

Private (shhh-it’s-a-secret) auctions

Some sellers choose to hold private auctions because they know that some bidders may be embarrassed to be seen bidding on a pair of kinky boots in front of the rest of the eBay community. Others may go the private route because they’re selling very valuable items and don’t want to disclose their bidder’s financial status.

Private auctions are run like the typical timed auctions except that each bidder’s identity is kept secret. At the end of the auction, eBay provides contact info to the seller and to the high bidder, and that’s it.

You can send email questions to the seller in a private auction, although you can’t check out your competition because the auction item page shows the current bid price but not the high bidder’s User ID.

Multiple Item (Dutch) auctions

Multiple Item or Dutch auctions have nothing to do with clogs, Edam cheese, or halving the bill on a date. A Multiple Item auction allows a seller to put multiple, identical items up for sale. Instead of holding 100 separate auctions for 100 pairs of clogs, for example, a seller can sell them all in one listing. As a buyer, you can elect to bid for 1, 3 or all 100 pairs. But unless you’re running an alternative Euro-boutique (or know a giant centipede who needs all those clogs), you probably want to bid on just one pair. For more on Multiple Item auctions, see Chapter 7.

A seller can’t conduct a Multiple Item auction as a private auction.

Buying It Now at eBay

You don’t have to bid in an auction on eBay to buy something. If you’ve found something you want to buy – something you must have and you don’t want to wait for an auction to end – you’ve a good chance of finding one on eBay to buy immediately. Of course, using Buy It Now (BIN in eBay speak) doesn’t have the thrill of an auction, but buying an item for a fraction of the retail price without leaving your chair or waiting for an auction to end has its own warm and fuzzy kind of excitement. If you seek this kind of instant gratification on eBay, look for the Buy It Now icon in the lists of items for sale. You can also visit the eBay shops, where you find loads of Buy It Now items lined up for the taking. For more on how Buy It Now sales work, check out Chapter 6.

Visiting eBay Shops is as easy as clicking the eBay Shops link from the home page. Thousands of eBay sellers have set up shops, with much of the merchandise available to Buy It Now. Here you can buy anything from socks to jewellery to sports memorabilia – or even a kitchen sink!

Sellers who open an eBay shop have to meet a certain level of experience on eBay, and when you buy from eBay Shops, you’re protected by the same fraud protection policy that covers you in eBay auctions. Figure 1-2 shows the eBay Shops home page.

Figure 1-2: From the eBay Shops home page, you can find almost anything.


So You Want to Sell Stuff

If you’re a seller, creating a listing page at eBay is as simple as filling in an online form. You type in the name of your item and a short description, add a crisp digital picture, set your price and voilà – your auction begins. (Okay, things are a tad more involved than that, but not much.) eBay charges a small fee (depending on the start price and the category) for the privilege of listing your item. When you list your item, millions of people (eBay has more than 250 million registered users) from all over the world can have a gander at it and place bids. With a bit of luck, a bidding war may break out and drive the bids up high enough for you to turn a nice profit. After the sale, you deal directly with the buyer, who sends you the payment through a payment service such as PayPal or through the post. Then you send the buyer the item. Abracadabra – you just turned your item (unwanted clutter, perhaps) into cash.

To get info on deciding what to sell, leaf through Chapter 9; to find out how to set up an auction, jump to Chapter 10; and to get the inside word on advanced selling, visit Chapter 14. When you want to get really serious about your selling, see Chapter 15.

So You Want to Buy Stuff

If you’re a collector or you just like to shop for bargains, you can browse 24 hours a day through the items up for grabs in eBay’s thousands of categories, which range from Antiques to Wholesale lots. Find the item you want, do some research on what you’re buying and who’s selling it, place your bid or click Buy It Now, and keep an eye on it until the listing closes.

Have a look at Chapter 5 for info on searching for items to bid on. When you see an item you like, you can set up a bidding strategy and let the games begin. Chapter 7 gives you bidding strategies that can make you the winner. When you do win the auction, you can get expert advice about completing the transaction from Chapter 8.

eBay limits your activity as a buyer to start with, but when eBay gets to know you, you can bid as many times as you want on an item, and you can buy as much as you like. Just keep in mind that each bid and purchase is a binding contract, and you have to pay if your bids are successful.

Research for Fun and Profit

eBay’s powerful search engine allows you to browse through countless categories of items up for sale. As a buyer, you can do lots of comparison shopping for that special something you just can’t live without, or simply browse around until something catches your eye. If you’re a seller, the search engine allows you to keep your eye on the competition and get an idea of how popular your item is. That way, you can set a competitive price. To find out more about using search options and categories, see Chapters 3 and 5.

The search engine also lets you find out what other people are bidding on. From there, you can read up on buyers’ and sellers’ feedback ratings (eBay’s ingenious reputation system, which we discuss in Chapter 4) to get a sense of what other customers thought of their service – before you deal with them.

eBay’s Role in the Action

Throughout the process, eBay’s computers keep tabs on what’s going on. When the auction or sale is over or you Buy It Now, eBay takes a small percentage of the final selling price (they call it a Final Value Fee or FVF) and sends an email to the seller and buyer. At this point, eBay’s job is more or less over, and it steps aside.

Most of the time, everything works fine, everybody’s happy and eBay never has to step back in. But if you happen to run into a spot of bother, eBay can help you settle the problem, whether you’re the buyer or the seller.

eBay regulates members with a detailed system of checks and balances known as feedback, which we describe in Chapter 4. The idea is that the eBay community polices itself. eBay is more than happy to jump in when dodgy dealings come to light, but the people who do most to keep eBay safe are the buyers and sellers themselves, those who have a common stake in doing business fairly and squarely. Every time you sell something or win an auction, eBay members have a chance to leave a comment about you. You should do the same for them. If they’re happy, the feedback is positive; otherwise, the feedback is negative. Either way, your feedback sticks to you like glue.

Building a great reputation with positive feedback ensures a long and profitable eBay career. Negative feedback, like multiple convictions, is a real turnoff for most people and can make it hard for you to do future business on eBay. For buyers and sellers, poor feedback (or bor DSRs) rings alarm bells at eBay HQ. If your rating starts looking a bit shabby, eBay limits your trading and may even suspend your account all together.

Features and Fun Stuff

So eBay is all about making money? Not exactly. The people at eBay aren’t joking when they call it a community – a place where people with similar interests can compare notes, argue, buy and sell, and meet each other. Yes, people have got married after meeting on eBay. (Wonder whether they set up a wedding list on eBay?)

Getting into the community spirit

eBay has dozens of specific discussion boards and groups whose topics range from advertising to wildlife (no, you can’t sell wildlife on eBay, but you can talk about it until your typing fingers hurt). So if you have no idea what that old Esso petrol station sign you found in your granddad’s garden shed is worth, just post a message on the New to Selling board. Somewhere out there is an expert with an answer for you. Your biggest problem is deciding whether to keep the sign or put it up for grabs. Those are good problems to have!

One of the most useful places to hang around when you first start trading on eBay is the New to Buying help board. The people on this board don’t slam you for asking basic questions, and they’re always happy to help or at least lend an ear. For more about posting messages and joining eBay groups, visit Chapter 18.

eBay’s Safety Centre

The Safety Centre is eBay’s one-stop resource for information and services about keeping eBay safe – and for advice on what to do if things go wrong. Sometimes, despite your best efforts to be a good eBay user, buyers or sellers don’t keep their word. In a small proportion of cases, unscrupulous chancers sometimes do invade the site and try to scam people. You may buy an item that isn’t as it was described, or the winner of your auction doesn’t send the payment. Sometimes even honest members get into disputes. The Safety Centre is an excellent resource for when you require questions answered or you need a professional to come in and settle an out-of-hand situation. Chapter 17 tells you all about the Safety Centre.

Extra Gadgets You May Want

tip.eps As you get into the swing of buying and selling on eBay, you grow more comfortable with all the technical hoops you have to jump through to make the eBay magic happen. When you’re at that point, you may be ready to invest in a few extra gizmos, such as digital cameras and scanners that can make all the difference to your listings – and your profit margins. We offer all the details on using digital technology in your auctions in Chapter 14.

And these days, you don’t have to be at your computer to use eBay. You can bid, buy and sell on the move, wherever you’re using your smartphone like an iPhone or an HTC Android, by downloading one of the eBay Apps that are freely available from eBay itself. You can find out all about eBay Apps that are available in Chapter 19.