5 ways to get a deal on Ebay

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I will admit it. I am a mild Ebay junkie. I just always find great deals on Ebay! It is almost always the cheapest place I can buy whatever item I am looking for – even for new stuff! But as good as it is, there is something about Ebay that I had to learn the hard way…

Don’t get sucked into the Ebay trap!

A lot of Ebayers get lured into the auction process and the excitement of trying to win causes them to bid more than they wanted to originally. They tell themselves,”oh, but if I can just bid one more dollar, I can probably win it. It’s only a dollar…” This cycle continues as they fight it out in a bidding war against QTprincess32 and fight to the death trying to “win” a book for $10 that they could have bought at Amazon for $8. I, of course, have never succumbed to the Ebay temptation ;) .

Well, I am finally learning a few ways to buy on Ebay and still get a great deal. These are the five steps I usually take when I make a purchase on Ebay.

1. Check past ebay selling prices

The reason you do this is to see how low it has sold for in the past. Depending on how soon you need the item, you should be able to get close to this price if you can wait long enough.

1. Do a search for the item you are looking to buy, but hit the Advanced Search button

researching selling prices on ebay

2. Then on the next page, make sure you check the box that says, “show completed listings only.”

How to buy on ebay - research

3. Now it will show you the completed listings for the item you are looking to purchase. You can use this info to gauge how much you will probably have to pay for your item. I typically take this info and compare it to Ebates and the Amazon price without shipping.

2. Decide on your max price

It is important to decide how much you are willing to spend, because otherwise you risk falling into the trap I mentioned above! Figure out how long you are willing to wait and decide on your max price accordingly. If you are trying to get the lowest price possible it will probably take longer to win an auction at that price.

3. Think of alternative search phrases

I recommend going to the Ebay homepage and using the categories to find your item. But you should also search for the item with a few different search phrases. A “dress shirt” could have just been listed under “button up shirt” finding these unique phrases that others might not be searching for is very helpful in getting a bargain on Ebay.

4. Use sniper software

Ebay sniping is basically just using software or a service to put a bid in for you in at the last possible second. There is research to suggest that by sniping you can get an item for a lower price. The other thing I love about it is that i don’t have to be around to watch the end of the auction. I just pop in my max price and they put the bid in for me 1 second before it expires.

There are a bunch of sniping tools available and a bunch of them want to charge for their services as well. I have been using Gixen.com, which is free, and I have had good luck with it so far.

5. Use Paypal

Paypal is the preferred method for most Ebayers because it is the quickest and easiest way to exchange money. It is also great when buying stuff on Ebay because they offer some protections to the buyer that wouldn’t be available if using a check or money order. You can also use your credit card with Paypal and your credit card number will not be exposed to the seller.

Do you have any Ebay buying tips you have discovered?

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13 Comments
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  1. What good information! One of the things a buyer can also look for is to look beyond the auction to the stores section, which is listed below the “YardSale” items that come up at the top of your search parameters.

    If you google E-bay > or if you get news related google rss feeds on e-bay, you will read where a buyer recently decided to purchase an original Movie Poster for Indiana Jones. Finding one in the auction section, which is the yardsale, the buyer immediately noticed that the shipping & handling fees were 15.00. The bid was at 8.99. So, he put in his bid. Then, with only 10 minutes left on the auction, he got caught up in the auction frenzy and ended up paying 81.00 plus 15.00 shipping and handling. Going back into the search and putting in the same information, he then noticed the stores below and found that he could have purchased the same poster from an authorized e-bay store for 10.00 with only 4.75 on the SHipping & Handling. THank goodness e-bay is fixing to change things on September 16th where many sellers can choose the 30 day option for a lesser fee. Most Yardsale people will still pop on and will put up stuff for what they feel it should sale for, and will get it, simply because people do not research and check out the stores.

    While in a store – try to remember that this is online. Stores have to have a guarantee or a refund policy in place. In addition, e-bay will be, after 9/16 monitoring the shipping fee’s of certain specific sellers.

    In our store, if a person has a complaint, we treat it in the same manner as Sears or WalMart. We pay for the return of the item and offer a full cash back. We have never had to use it, but it is still there and in place. If you are purchasing a high end item, and you went to Sears or WalMart – would you talk to a sales clerk to get more information regarding that item? Well, then you need to do that too online. Always ask questions before making that purchase from any Seller, whether a store. Too, if you are making multiple purchases from any Seller, take the time to ask if they combine shipping fees or reduce handling fees.

    Again, nice article.

  2. another tip:
    When you send a seller a question about a particular item, do not use the contact form for that particular item.
    Use a roundabout way to send a message – or, an easier to explain way – use the contact form for another of the items that they are selling.
    This way, there will be a little extra work involved for the seller if they want other potential bidders to know the information that they sent you when answering the question.
    The seller may not put the effort into adding the information to the auction description, and other potential bidders may not put the effort into sending the seller a question for clarification, instead, continuing their search.

  3. Interesting tips, I’m sure many can learn from this. Congrats on also joining 9rules! :)

  4. “If you’re looking for something you can go to certain search engines that will search common misspellings of a word. These misspellings with not come up in a regular search.”

    typojoe.com is a site that offers an ebay misspelling search tool.

  5. I like the tips, but what I seem to find is similar to your book for $10 battle vs the $8 Amazon purchase. Sometimes it is the thrill of the fight that people like. I haven’t had much luck saving too much going through ebay with stuff. However, on the selling side, it’s been the best place I’ve got to put things to market…

  6. @hank
    yea, I do agree – there is now so many buyers on Ebay that it can often be good for sellers. But, buying can still save you a lot of money on the less popular items… for example iPods probably wouldn’t be much a savings, but a blue banana republic dress shirt? I have saved a lot off of the retail price on items like these…

  7. Here’s another way to save time and get the item you want for a good price. I use http://www.bidslammer.com to place group bids.

    When I am looking for a particular item, I can place bids on a number of items and place them in a group. Bidslammer bids on those items for me until I win, then removes the rest of the items in the group. It’s a really good way to purchase an item for the price you want to pay.

  8. I am a frequent Ebay shopper, myself. However, I have noticed that NEW items can often end up costing you more there than other places. Where Ebay really stands out is it’s frequent stock of items no longer in production. (Sometimes they’re new, sometimes they’re used. But when there’s nowhere else to get them…well, you take what you can get, right?) :)

  9. I’ve had the opposite experience. I type in “Winnnie the Pooh” (note 3 “n”s) and come up with a dozen misspelled titles. That means fewer shoppers will find that item.

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