How to Be a Better Bidder on eBay - dummies

By Marsha Collier

When you get a tip, double-check to see who it’s coming from. Visit eBay’s community boards and chats, and listen to what the others have to say. Before taking anything to heart and changing the way you do things, check the tip-givers’ experiences. Are they really experienced on eBay? Or are they selling seminars or passing on the latest misinformation?

Here are a few short tips that really work:

  • Shop, eh! That’s right. If you’re in the U.S.A., why not bid on auctions on the eBay Canada website? In fact, if you’re an international bidder and are willing to pay shipping from the United States, you’ll have no problem handling Canadian shipping charges.

  • Place your bids in odd figures. Many eBay bidders place their bids in the round numbers that match eBay’s proxy system. You can win by a few cents if you place your bids in odd numbers like $10.97 or $103.01.

  • Don’t get carried away in a bidding war. Unless the item is rare, odds are that a similar item will show up on eBay again someday soon. Don’t let your ego get in the way of smart bidding. Let your opposition pay too much!

  • Don’t freak out if you find yourself in a bidding war. Don’t keel over if, at the split-second you’re convinced that you’re the high bidder with your $45.02, someone beats you out at $45.50.

  • Watch for item relistings. If you see an item that you want but it has too high an opening bid, there’s a good chance that no one else will bid on the item, either. Put that auction into your Watch area. Then, after the auction ends, double-check the seller’s auctions to see whether the item has been relisted with a lower starting bid and a lower reserve.

  • Combine shipping when possible. When you purchase an item, check the seller’s other auctions and see whether you’re interested in making a second purchase. If you see something else that appeals to you, e-mail the seller to see whether he or she will combine the items in shipping. That way, you can make two purchases for a smaller single shipping bill.

  • Never bid early, but if you do, bid high. The only time this “bidding early” business works is if no one else is interested in the auction. The tactic will usually gear up another eBay user to outbid you because suddenly the item is valuable. If you must bid before the auction’s close, bid high. In fact, bid a couple of dollars more than you might want to pay.

  • Try for a Second Chance offer: If you get outbid and miss the chance to increase your bid on an auction item, you’d be smart to e-mail the seller and ask whether he or she has any more of the item. You may get lucky, and the seller can send you a Second Chance offer for your high bid.

    A seller may send a Second Chance offer to up to four underbidders in the auction under three circumstances: when the winner doesn’t pay, when the reserve price wasn’t met, or when the seller has more than one of the items that were sold. Any purchase you make in this manner will be covered under eBay Buyer Protection, and you will have the opportunity to leave feedback.