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Ebay Shopping Guide

The beauty of ebay is that it is a person to person auction meaning that things you never dreamed even existed can and are up for sale every day as anyone anywhere can put anything up for sale. There are exotic collectibles, items only a few people in the world would even want for free let alone pay for, and a variety of truly knowledgeable sellers that can provide you with leads on other items you may want. Since ebay is organized based on the descriptions and auction titles that individuals pick often things will be in less than the most relevant category or found under less than the best keywords.

Getting Started on Ebay

To get started on ebay you have to fill out a simple registration form at After filling out this form which will enable you to bid you will be given access to additional features to make the ebay experience a bit easier. You will be able to keep track of auctions that interests you by clicking on the watch this item link on the right of all auctions near the price. Auctions you select to watch are all listed together and can be accessed by clicking on the my ebay link at the top middle of all ebay pages. You can keep track of a maximum of 30 ebay auctions. That may seem like a lot but you may quickly fill that up and find you will have to delete old things no longer of interest to you to make room for new things to add to this list. If you wish to watch more than 30 ebay items you might want to consider adding a folder to your internet explorer or netscape bookmarks and just putting them all there with appropriate descriptions. Personally when really considering a lot of auctions I just open up a word processing program and paste all the auctions I am watching with a brief description for reference. Keep those auctions you are most interested in your watched auction section though so you can quickly access them and the amount they are up to. Bidding on anything on ebay is a contractual thing and you should bid only if you are willing to follow through. After bidding you will be given an email confirmation of your bid sent from ebay. By each sellers name you will see a number which represents a feedback system, higher positive numbers denote more succesfully completed transactions. As you succesfully complete ebay transactions you too should start to get a positive feedback number.

Browsing on Ebay

1. You can browse an entire category or collection of categories.

If you use this method you must first find a related category to browse. You can either drill down from the categories listed on the front page of ebay to find such categories or search with relevant phrases for a specific thing that interests you and then browse all listings in the category that the item is in. It is wise to bookmark a category of interest or add an item from a category of interest to your collection of auctions you are watching so you can return to it quickly. Since items are constantly being added its wise to check back every one to three days to see if anything new has been added.

2. You can use relevant search phrases and browse everything that is returned.


Some things are never in relevant categories or are part of such large diverse categories that you will have to search to find them. Things like Star Trek phasers (replica and authentic) which are listed sometimes in toy categories, or general sci-fi, or one of the tv or movie prop categories are an example of a thing found best by just searching for it with specific phrases like Star Trek Phaser, and Star Trek prop. Searching with phaser alone returns a bunch of unrelated items. This demonstrates that specific phrases work best for finding items and also be aware of typos and spelling variations that sellers might use in auction listings. You can use the search box above to search for things up for sale on ebay right now if you wish.

3. You can browse items up for sale from people you have known to have items that interest you in the past.

This is an easy way to keep up on sellers you know have had items that interested you in the past. After adding one of their auctions to your watch list you can return every few days and see if they have added anything else in a relatively easy fashion. You would be surprised just who puts things up for sale on ebay including celebrities, movie studios, and "professional auction houses" like Butterfields, Sothebys, and Profiles in History.

Things to be Aware of Before Bidding

On ebay there is no screening process to determine who can or cannot list things for sale. Consequently you need to know something about the items you are bidding on especially if they are collectibles. Some things are easier to replicate than others such as autographs, movie posters, popular costumes and props. In short if it has ever been replicated in any real quantity it will be up for sale on ebay someday perhaps not exactly described as it is. For example I often see Back to the Future prop Almanacs up for sale on ebay, so many in fact that it is obvious that someone has replicated them. The same is also true of Fugitive TV Series posters. Star Trek phasers are often up for sale on ebay too. I would suggest assuming all Classic Star Trek phasers and Star Wars props to be replicas unless you have great information to the contrary. There often are modern screen used Star Trek phasers up for sale on ebay, but replicas are good and you need to know a lot about what you are getting. This holds true of famous artwork and other things where the reputation of the seller may be crucial in determining if an item is even worth seriously looking at.

Bidding on Ebay

While some may just bid in the beginning the maximum amount they are willing to pay for a given ebay item, this is not necessarily the best strategy. It is often best to wait and see and just watch auctions that interest you. This way you can keep a running collection of a few things that interest you and bid on only the ones that appear to be within your price range by auctions end. Also it is human nature in an auction environment to raise ones bid to try to match someone elses. So if you bid at the last moment this will not be possible. Always keep in mind shipping as it can be a factor in items, if a seller does not list shipping it is wise to email them about this before bidding.

Paying for Ebay Auction Items

It is customary to email the seller or respond to their email to you, to verify the means by which you plan to pay for an auction you have won.Some ebay sellers prefer money orders or checks. This means you will have to manually write out a check or pay for a money order, mail it, wait for them to receive it, and wait for it to cash if its a check. This means delays, effort, and and old fashioned feeling that you are dealing with a Sears Roebuck of the 1900's than the online world of the present. Fortunately most ebay sellers accept paypal which is a means for paying individuals for online auctions which speeds the entire payment and shipping process and can be conducted at any time of day. If you do not have a paypal account it would be wise to consider setting one up as you do not have to maintain a balance and can use your credit card to pay for things as you wish. Often on small value items hardcore ebay users may opt to not bid on the ones that can not be paid for via paypal because of the inconvenience. Paypal was in such widespread use on ebay, that the Paypal company was recently acquired by Ebay itself. Another means to pay for ebay auction items is Bidpay, which is a means to use your credit card to pay others via money orders. In short you are charged a fee for the Bidpay company to issue a money order to another individual which is mailed and they are emailed about before it is sent.

Waiting for your Ebay Packages to Arrive

This is one of the most unique parts of the ebay experience. Rathers its the UPS men in brown, FedEx or the Post Office that is delivering your package its fun and you will think yourself important to be receiving ebay auction items. They may be bubble wrapped, they may be in boxes you can't get open without a lot of cutting, and there is often the lovely styrofoam peanuts. Those little peanut things really add to the experience especially on really large packages. They dump out on the floor while you sift for your goodie. Its like Christmas when you are waiting for an ebay package. Sometimes shipping will cost you more than the item inside but the dignitary like feeling of having something shipped that you have to open can be one of the ultimate feelings of pride on the planet. When you finally get your package and if it is to your satisfaction you should consider leaving positive feedback for the seller so that others can know that this seller can be trusted. To leave feedback you can access your my ebay section and then select the items I've Won and then click on the leave feedback link next to the auction you just received an item for. There you can say something positive about your experience or negative depending.

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