Cheat Sheet

eBay For Dummies

From eBay For Dummies, 8th Edition by Marsha Collier

Before you jump into buying and selling on eBay, you should learn a few terms, check out some helpful tips to be a successful eBay seller and buyer, understand the importance of feedback, and use to stay current.

Know Your eBay Buying Terms

To become an eBay power user, it's best to understand some common terms and definitions that you'll see frequently on the website. Bolster your buying (and selling) expertise by understanding these important eBay terms:

  • Reserve price: The minimum price a seller is willing to accept for an item up for auction, kept secret during bidding. Setting a reserve price is optional, and only the seller knows it. If the bidding doesn’t exceed the reserve, the seller has the option not to sell the item. eBay charges the seller a small fee for this option.

  • Starting bid:The lowest acceptable bid for an item, set by the seller. This amount must be determined by the seller and is not kept secret. Starting bid amounts are less than auction reserve prices.

  • Make Offer: A seller can place a Best Offer button on a Fixed Price listing. This means if you’d like to get the item a tad cheaper, the seller may be okay with that. Understand that the seller will review your offer, and may turn down the offer if they feel it is too low or doesn’t cover the seller’s costs.

  • Buy It Now: You may have the option of purchasing an auction item when this option appears on the item page. If you feel this price is a bit more than you want to pay, place a bid at the starting bid level (or the most you’d like to pay). That way the Buy It Now option disappears and you may just win the item at the lower price.

  • Proxy bid: You can decide the most you’re willing to pay for an item and allow eBay’s proxy (automatic) bidding to place bids for you while you go on with your life. The proxy bidder ups the ante incrementally to beat out your competition until you’re outbid or win the auction.

  • Second Chance Offer: A seller whose reserve price has not been met, or who has more than one of an item after a successful auction, can offer the item(s) still in stock to runner-up bidders. You are not required to purchase the item. But if you bid on it once, why not?

Selling Stuff on eBay: Strategies and Tips

Whether you want to turn clutter into cash or heirlooms into windfalls, selling your items on eBay is simple. Here are useful tips to be a successful seller on eBay:

  • Find out as much as you can about the item’s value, history, and condition.

  • Answer all questions that may be posed by prospective bidders within your description. Answer any eBay Messages from prospective buyers within several hours. Don't let too much time pass, lest you appear uninterested in their queries.

  • Check out your eBay competition. If a ton of other auctions are taking place at the same time for the same kind of item and the bidding is competitive, wait until the competition is fierce for a few select items.

  • Verify that your item isn’t prohibited or considered questionable by eBay. If you’re in doubt, read eBay’s guidelines and check your local laws.

  • Add more than one picture to spruce up your listing, and make sure that your title highlights the item’s keywords — but don’t gloss over its flaws. Being direct, informative, and concise shows potential buyers that you’re honest and easy to work with.

Buying Stuff on eBay: Strategies and Tips

If you’re thinking about buying something on eBay, use these tips to place smart bids and get fixed-price deals on your must-have item:

  • Research the item before you bid and search sold listings to see what price similar items have sold for in the past. If the item is new and can be bought in a store, do some online research to find out what the stores are selling the item for. Beware of overbidding!

  • Make a mental note of the cost of shipping before bidding on an item should the seller charge for it. Add the shipping cost to your bid to get a clear idea of the total amount you'll be paying.

  • Check the seller’s feedback (and whether they are a Top Rated Plus seller). No matter how high the feedback number, be sure the latest few feedback comments aren’t negative.

  • Bid in odd increments. Most people bid in round numbers (such as $0.25 increments). If you bid in $0.27 increments, you can win by just $0.02!

  • Have fun and be prepared to pay for whatever you bid on. Remember: Placing a bid on eBay is a binding contract.

eBay Feedback Do's and Don'ts

eBay's members regulate themselves through the use of feedback. Although feedback can tell you a lot about how smoothly a transaction may go, it does have some limitations. Here is a list of things you should and shouldn't do with feedback:

  • Before you consider purchasing an item on eBay, do check the seller’s feedback rating by clicking the number that appears next to the seller’s user ID.

  • Even if you see a large amount of positive feedback, do check to be sure that the seller doesn’t also have a growing number of negative feedback responses — especially recently. In the eyes of other eBay members, you’re only as good as your last few transactions.

  • Do take a breather before you leave negative feedback for another eBay member. eBay won’t remove feedback if you change your mind or overreact to a situation.

  • The seller is not required to leave you feedback when you pay for the item. Feedback is based on the entire transaction, so feedback may not be posted until the item arrives and you’re both happy.

  • If someone gives you positive feedback, do reciprocate by giving him or her positive feedback, too.

  • If you receive negative feedback and feel your side of the transaction is worth telling, do be sure to give your reply in a neutral tone. You may also add a line responding to feedback you’ve received, to explain the situation to those who read the comment.

Cool eBay Tools

You can find a lot of cool eBay tools on, the website of Marsha Collier, the author of eBay For Dummies. You can find Marsha's top eBay tips and tools to stay up-to-date on eBay changes as well as

  • Personal branding tactics

  • Making money selling on eBay

  • Customizing your eBay store or Web site

  • Newsletter archives

  • Postal Service price changes

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