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Eyeing eBay Bidder-Management Tools

Most eBay users don't know the extent of eBay's seller-specific services. And sometimes sellers are so involved with their auctions that they don't take the time to find out about new helper tools. Here are a few excellent tools to help you with your online business. Even if you've used some of these before, it might be time to revisit them because eBay has implemented quite a few changes during the past year.

Canceling bids

Did you know that you don't have to accept bids from just anyone? Although many people include notices in their auction descriptions attempting to qualify bidders ahead of time, this doesn't always prevent them from bidding on your auction. Alas, part of the business is watching your bidders. With bidder-management tools, you can save yourself a good deal of grief.

You could have any number of reasons for wanting to cancel someone's bid. Here are a few more legitimate reasons for canceling a bid:

  • The bidder contacts you to back out of the bid; choosing to be a nice guy, you let him or her out of the deal.
  • Your bidder has several negative feedbacks and hasn't gone through with other transactions that he or she has won.
  • You're unable to verify the bidder's identity through e-mail or the phone.
  • You need to cancel the auction.

When you plan to cancel someone's bid, you should first e-mail that person and clearly explain why you're doing so. Your bid cancellation appears in the auction's bidding history and becomes part of the auction's official record. For that reason, you ought to leave a concise, unemotional, one-line explanation on the cancellation form as to why you've canceled the bid.

To get to the bid cancellation form, start on your My eBay, All Selling, Items I'm Selling page. In the Related Links box (on the left), click the More link. You'll now be able to access the bid cancellation form. You can get to the cancellation form directly by typing the following in your browser:

http://pages.ebay.com/services/buyandsell/seller-cancel-bid.html

Ending your listing early

You may decide to end a listing early for any number of reasons. If any bids are on your auction before ending it, you are duty-bound to sell to the highest bidder. So before ending an auction early, it's polite to e-mail everyone in your bidder list, explaining why you're canceling bids and closing the auction. If an egregious error in the item's description is forcing you to take this action, let your bidders know whether you're planning to relist the item with the correct information.

After you've e-mailed all the bidders, you must then cancel their bids by using the bid cancellation form; for the link to this form, see the preceding section "Canceling bids."

When ending a listing that has bids, the seller has the option of canceling all bids or leaving the bids, thus making the high bidder the winner of the closed listing.

To end a listing, use the drop-down list next to the listing on the All Selling: Selling page. On the screen that appears, click the link to end your listing. You can also go directly to

http://cgi3.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?EndingMyAuction

Following are some legitimate reasons for closing your auction:

  • You no longer want to sell the item. Your account may be subject to a nonselling seller warning unless you have a good reason.
  • An error occurred in the minimum bid or reserve amount. Perhaps your spouse really loves that lamp and said you'd better get some good money for it, but you started the auction at $1.00 with no reserve.
  • The listing has a major error in it. Maybe you misspelled a critical keyword in the title.
  • The item was somehow lost or broken. Your dog ate it?

Don't cancel an auction unless you absolutely have to because it's just bad business. People rely on your auctions being up for the stated amount of time. They may be planning to bid at the last minute, or they may just want to watch the action for a while. Also, if you have bids on the item, you may be in violation of one of eBay's policies and be branded as a nonselling seller.

Blocking buyers

If you don't want certain buyers bidding on your auctions, you can remove their capability to do so. Setting up a list of bidders that you don't want to do business with is legal on eBay. If someone that you've blocked tries to bid on your auction, the bid won't go through. A message will be displayed notifying the bidder that he or she can't bid on the listing and should contact the seller for more information.

You can block as many as 1,000 users from bidding on your auctions. However, use this option only when absolutely necessary. Situations — and people — change, and it's best to try to clear up problems with particular bidders.

You can reinstate a bidder at any time by going to the Buyer Blocking box at

http://pages.ebay.com/services/buyandsell/biddermanagement.html

and deleting the bidder's user ID.

Preapproving bidders

Suppose that you're selling a big-ticket item and want to prequalify your bidders. If the bidder has taken advantage of the ID Verify feature, you can be sure that your bidder is a real person. You can scroll through a bidder's bidding history to see the amounts they've successfully bid in previous auctions and whether the feedback on those transactions is okay. Although eBay gives you the tools, you still have to do the research to determine whether you deem particular bidders trustworthy enough to bid on your special auction.

In your auction, state that bidders must prequalify by sending you an e-mail claiming their intent to bid. As you receive e-mails and approve bidders' intentions, you can build your preapproved bidder list.

Your preapproved bidder list is applicable only on an auction-by-auction basis. In other words, the bidders must be preapproved in the listings you indicate, not in all your auctions.

To use this feature, you must supply eBay with the auction number. You can add approved bidders right up to the close of the auction. Access the form and enter the preapproved bidders' names at

http://cgi3.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?PreApproveBidders

If someone who isn't preapproved tries to bid on your auction, eBay asks that bidder to contact you by e-mail before placing a bid. After you've investigated the bidder to your satisfaction and are comfortable with that person bidding on your auction, you can add the bidder's name to your preapproved bidder list for that auction.

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