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It’s a brand new year, and there’s a world of shopping at your fingertips.
This is the year for you to buy smart on eBay and other online auction sites. You’ve learned your lessons (I know that I have!) about getting into bidding frenzies or going overboard on collectibles. Now it’s time to make some resolutions about buying on eBay. Remember: it’s all about finding great bargains, making good choices, and sharing the wealth!
Here are 10 tips for buying smart in 2007:
1. Use your watch list. This is one of eBay’s best features: use your watch list to help “curb your enthusiasm” and make smart buying choices. When you decide that it’s time to search for a particular item – for example, that sterling silver money clip for your business-savvy younger brother – use your watch list first, before you place your bid. Once you’ve been shopping for a specific item for a while, you can get a sense of what’s available and what you like. Take your time; most items on eBay will show up again.
2. Take advantage of free search tools! Please see my earlier columns on Typobid.com and Honesty.com. These are two free tools that can save you a lot of time and money. Your time is valuable – you will need it to keep your resolutions about taking Pilates or making your lunch every morning and bringing it with you to work. Make the most of your time with helpful shopping tools.
3. Check those shipping costs before you bid. If there are no shipping costs listed, send the buyer a message with your ZIP code to ask for the total shipping costs. If you don’t hear back, move along.
4. Shop during low-traffic hours. If you are up early, look for items on which bidding ends early in the morning. There will be fewer bids and you can find some great deals! The same holds true for times when most people are busy with other things (like watching the Super Bowl).
5. Ask questions. If you have any questions about an item, send a message to the seller. Reputable sellers will respond within 48 hours. Know what you are buying before you bid.
6. Use the “Buy it Now” feature to save on shipping costs. If you’ve won an item, take a minute to check the seller’s store for other items that are either closing soon or offered as “Buy it Now” items. Sellers want to sell to you! You can save a lot on shipping costs. Chances are if you like one item that a seller offers there will be more that appeal to you.
7. Search wide. For example, my brother is an electrician. Sure, I could search for items for him under “tools” but why not widen my search? A vintage book on electrician training from 50 years ago makes a very cool, and thoughtful, gift.
8. Search often. Use the eBay toolbar and the “favorites” function to keep your searches active.
9. Share the wealth of your knowledge. This is the year to sit down with friends and family who are eBay “newbies” and show them a few tricks of the trade. They will be thankful.
10. Share the wealth of your purchases. We’ve all done it: bought a few extra things on eBay that it turns out we didn’t exactly need. This is a good time to look through your closet or garage and find those extras (perhaps part of a lot, or impulse buys) and share them with friends or donate them. It’s never a loss when you pass on your good fortune.
All the best to you, my fellow eBay buyers.