Unisquare Online Auctions and Marketplace - Buy and Sell Online

Ebay

An Introduction to Bidding and Buying on eBay.

Have you noticed that whenever you open a newspaper, watch the TV or have a
conversation, people seem to be talking about eBay? If you've never used it and
you've no idea what it's all about, then the chances are that you're starting to
feel a little left out. But don't worry! This email contains everything you need
to know about the basics of bidding and buying on eBay.

So What is eBay?

eBay is an online auction website -- and not just any auction site, but the
biggest one in the world. If you know how an auction works, then you already
know how roughly eBay works. Someone adds something they want to sell to the
site, and then buyers come along and place bids on it. The highest bid wins the
item! It's that simple.

eBay being an online auction makes a big difference, though. Buying and selling
are not reserved for any elite. eBay accept almost any item, no matter how
small, and will then advertise it on their sites all over the world. It's a
powerful combination of an auction and a slightly chaotic marketplace.

What is Bidding?

Bidding is when you say how much you will pay for an item in an auction.
Bidding on eBay, however, doesn't work in exactly the same way as a normal
auction, at least in theory. On eBay, you tell the site what the maximum you
are willing to pay for each item is, and then eBay places the bids on your
behalf. That means you could say you were willing to pay up to $100 for
something and only have to pay $50, if that was the highest maximum bid anyone
else placed.

It's not as complicated as it sounds -- the best way to get used to it is to
give it a try. First, the best thing to do is to go to the eBay website
designed for your country. If you don't know the address for it, just go to
www.ebay.com and it will tell you there. Now, on the front page you should see
a big box marked 'search': just type in anything that you'd like to buy there.

Wasn't that easy? Now you should have a list of items for sale in front of you,
along with how much people are currently bidding for them and the time when
bidding ends for each item. If you click one of these, you can read the
description, and then -- if you're happy with the item and happy to pay more
than the current highest bidder is -- you can bid!

How Do I Bid?

Go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of an item's description page, and type
the maximum you are willing to pay (your maximum bid) into the box. Then simply
press the 'place bid' button -- you will need to sign in once you press the
button, or go through a quick registration process if you don't have an eBay
username).

If someone else's maximum bid on that item is higher than yours, then eBay will
tell you and give you the opportunity to bid again. Otherwise, you're now the
new highest bidder! All you need to do now is wait until the end of the auction
-- if someone else outbids you, then eBay will email you and you can bid again.

All sounds great, doesn't it? But by now you might be wondering whether a site
as chaotic as eBay can really be all that safe to buy from. That's why the next
email in this series will be about your rights when you buy from eBay.

10 Tips for Increasing Your eBay Response.

So you've got the buyer in front of your auction, and they've read the
description. They're must be interested, or they wouldn't be looking: but just
how can you push them over that line and make them leave a bid? Read on for
some tips.

Improve your picture: In all that description writing, you might have missed
the vital importance of your item's picture. A picture with bad lighting or an
intrusive background looks amateurish and won't make anyone want to buy from
you.

Add an About Me page: You'll be surprised how much you can reassure bidders
just by creating an About Me page and putting a little bit about yourself on
your business on there. You can also have a few special offers there for people
who bother to look at the page, and let people subscribe to your mailing list so
that you can email them updates.

Use SquareTrade: Signing up at SquareTrade and displaying their logo on your
auctions shows that you are committed to have them resolve any disputes that
arise. You always see this on PowerSellers auctions -- it makes you look more
professional.

Write terms and conditions: Have the 'small print' clearly visible on all your
auctions, giving details of things like shipping times and prices, your refund
policy, and any other business practices you might have. This helps build
confidence with buyers.

Show off your feedback: Copy and paste a selection of the feedback comments
you're most proud of to each item's description page, instead of making bidders
go and look for it. If you have 100% positive feedback, be sure to write that on
every auction too.

Add NR to your titles: If you have extra space in a title, put 'NR' (no
reserve) on the end. Bidders prefer auctions that don't have a reserve price,
and doing this lets them see that yours don't.

Benefits not features: Make sure your description focuses on the benefits that
your item can give to the customer, not just its features. This is a classic
sales technique. If you have trouble with this, remember: 'cheap' is a feature,
'save money' is a benefit.

List more items: If you want more people to respond to your items, then list
more items! You might find you have better like listing items at the same time,
instead of one-by-one. There's no need to use a Dutch auction -- you can just
keep two or three auctions going at once for an item you have more than one of
in stock.

Accept unusual payment methods: To reach those last few buyers, accept payment
methods that many sellers don't, like cheques.

Buy some upgrades: The best upgrade is the most expensive one, which makes your
item appear first in search results. In crowded categories, you might find that
this is worth the money.

Once you've got some buyers, you want to keep them coming back to you. The next
email will show you how to turn one-time buyers into long-term customers.

eBay Description Writing Tips.

Once you've drawn the buyers in with your title, the next thing to do is to
tell them all about your item with the description. But just what should you
write in your description?

At its heart, your item description is an ad. Without making it too obvious,
you should be writing sales copy. You're trying to get buyers excited about
your products, and that's usually hard -- but on eBay, if you have the right
thing to sell and give enough details, the buyers almost excite themselves.

Technical Details.

Include every technical detail you know, including the item's manufacturer, its
condition, how big it is, where and when it was made, its history, and anything
else special about it. Don't be too boring, though: the best descriptions are
written in friendly, conversational language, and show a real knowledge of the
item. Whatever you do, make sure you tell the truth!

Remember that most of the people who'll be buying your item will be just as
knowledgeable about it as you are, if not more -- this is their hobby, and
they're experts. Don't feel like you need to explain the basics of the item:
just go into as much technical detail as you can. As a rule, don't write
anything in the description if you don't know what it means, as the chances are
someone will, and if you've got it slightly wrong then you'll look like you
don't know what you're talking about.

Interesting Details.

You might find that you enjoy writing a few things about how you got the item,
why you're selling it, and who you think might like it. This isn't strictly
necessary, but it gives your auctions some character and a personal touch, and
can make people more likely to trust you. People might wonder what you're doing
selling 500 CDs all at once, and if you tell them the reason, then they'll feel
reassured that nothing dodgy is going on. If you're selling them because you're
having a baby and you need the space, just say so.

Write as Much as You Can.

Leave nothing out of your description, even if that seems to you like it makes
it cumbersomely long. There is no way you can be too thorough: someone,
somewhere will appreciate that you took the time to write the extra information.

Don't assume that anyone who wants extra information will email you to ask a
question: many buyers are shy and won't do it. Think of questions that buyers
might have and add the answers to your description, as people generally tend to
ask the same questions over and over again.

Each time a buyer does email you with a question, you should both answer their
question and update your description so that it will include the answer next
time. If people ask questions that are answered in the description, try putting
these parts of the auction on a line alone, or in bold, to make them easier to
notice.

In the next email, we'll focus on increasing the number of buyers who respond
to your auctions.

eBay Title Writing Tips.

Trying to be help your buyers find your auctions can be a truly daunting task.
Most people only search eBay by title, not by description, and that means that
you only have those 55 characters of the title to cover all the possible search
terms. That's not easy. In this email, I'll give you a few pointers.

Don't bother with eBay cliches: There are plenty of eBay auction titles that
say things like "Super rare camera wow look low price". These are stupid things
to put in your title, as no-one is going to search for them.

Think like a buyer: If you were looking for your item, then what exactly would
you type into that box? If you think it'd help, try searching yourself to find
someone else selling your item. What were the first things you thought of
typing?

Think like other sellers: Keep an eye on which sellers are doing best with
items like yours, and try to copy their title styles -- if it works for them,
it can work for you.

Be specific: You should be sure to write the item's brand and specific model
number in the title, as people will often search only for this information.
Make sure that you also say exactly what the item is.

A Few Examples.

Here are a few examples of good titles. They're real, and they're on eBay right
now, making their sellers money. So what makes them good?

"Dell Latitude Laptop P3 500mhz Notebook PC Computer"

If you know about computers, you'll know instantly what this auction is
selling. It has manufacturer (Dell) and product line (Latitude), followed by a
few technical specifications (P3 500mhz is the processor speed). Notice also
that the title includes the four words 'laptop', 'notebook', 'PC' and
'computer', as the seller wants people looking for any of those words to see
his auction.

"OASIS Don't Believe the Truth CD Album (New)"

This auction for a CD is well formatted: it gives the artist name in capital
letters, followed by the album name. It then manages to include the two key
words 'CD' and 'album', as well as the word 'new' -- that means that anyone
searching for 'new oasis cd', 'oasis new album' and so on will find this
auction.

"1840 Penny Black stamp, certificate, four margins"

Here's a slightly more obscure one, from the exciting world of stamp
collecting. A penny black is one of the oldest and most famous stamps. It uses
a few key words that collectors will consider important: 'four margins'
indicates that the stamp has been cut out with some margins around it and so
isn't damaged, and 'certificate' tells you that the item has a certificate of
authenticity -- it's a real penny black. Remember to use every bit of space to
squeeze in as much important information as you can in the title.

So now that you've written a winning title, you need to start on a great
description.
The next email will show you how.

How to Choose the Right eBay Product Category.

Some people think it's easy to choose the right eBay category, and often it is.
Sometimes, though, it might not be quite clear exactly what to go for.

Why is it Even Important?

Plenty of people use the category system to find items, when they're not
looking for something specific. If your item is listed in the wrong category --
or you've just given up and listed it in 'Everything Else' -- then these people
aren't going to find your auction.

Also, listing items in the wrong categories is against eBay's rules, and eBay
say they will remove any auctions that are wrongly categorised. They don't
often actually do this, but it's not worth the risk -- especially since
breaking any rules can cause them to penalise your account, including losing
PowerSeller status if you have it.

So What Can You Do?

eBay will suggest categories for you when you sell your item, if you type in a
few words to describe the item on the category selection page and click
'search'. You can make the best of this feature by typing in exactly what your
item is, with brand name and model number (if any), so that eBay can find the
best category for you.

If that doesn't work for you, then search yourself for items like yours, and
pay attention to which category most of them seem to be in (you can see this
near the top of each item's description page). Try different words and see
which ones come back with the most results. You can also browse through all the
available categories from eBay's front page.

Remember that the more specific the category is, the better -- use as many
subcategories as are appropriate. Don't just list your HP laptop in the
'Computers' category, for example -- list it in 'Computers > Laptops > HP'.
Don't worry: your item will still appear in the 'Computers' category, as well
as 'Computers > Laptops', because items listed in subcategories are always
listed in every category above.

Take some time to look through all the categories and get familiar with the way
eBay as a whole is laid out. After all, that's better than getting a few months
down the line and finding that you still think of eBay's category system like
it's some kind of scary jungle.

What if More Than One Category Fits?

Don't worry, eBay have you covered. For a small extra fee, you can list your
item in an extra category, to increase the number of potential buyers who will
see it. This isn't always worth it, though -- some items only really fit
properly in one category, and listing them in extra categories is just a waste.

Once you know where to list your item, the next step is to write your auction's
title. The title is the most important thing about your auction -- the
difference between a good title and a bad title can be the difference between
$10 and $100. That's why I'll take you through the dos and don'ts in the next
email.

Taming the eBay Search Engine.

If you know what you're doing, you can quickly find what you're looking for on
eBay -- and the more you know about how buyers find you, the easier you'll find
it to be found. Here are a few golden searching rules.

Be specific: If you're searching for the first edition of the original Harry
Potter book, you'll get further searching for 'harry potter rowling
philosopher's stone first edition' than you will searching for 'harry potter'.
You'll get fewer results, but the ones you do get will be far more relevant.

Spell wrongly: It's a sad fact that many of the sellers on eBay just can't
spell. Whatever you're looking for, try thinking of a few common misspellings
-- you might find a few items here that have slipped through the cracks.

Get a thesaurus: You should try to search for all the different words that
someone might use to describe an item, for example searching for both 'TV' and
'television', or for 'phone', 'mobile' and 'cellphone'. Where you can, though,
leave off the type of item altogether and search by things like brand and model.

Use the categories: Whenever you search, you'll notice a list of categories at
the side of your search results. If you just searched for the name of a CD, you
should click the 'CDs' category to look at results in that category only. Why
bother looking through a load of results that you don't care about?

Don't be afraid to browse: Once you've found the category that items you like
seem to be in, why not click 'Browse' and take a look through the whole
category? You might be surprised by what you find.

Few people realise just how powerful eBay's search engine is -- a few symbols
here and there and it'll work wonders for you.

Wildcard searches: You can put an asterisk (*) into a search phrase when you
want to say 'anything can go here'. For example, if you wanted to search for a
1950s car, you could search for 'car 195*'. 195* will show results from any
year in the 1950s.

In this order: If you put words in quotes ("") then the only results shown will
be ones that have all of the words between the quote marks. For example,
searching for "Lord of the Rings" won't give you any results that say, for
example "Lord Robert Rings".

Exclude words: Put a minus, and then put any words in brackets that you don't
want to appear in your search results. For example: "Pulp Fiction"
-(poster,photo) will find items related to Pulp Fiction but not posters or
photos.

Either/or: If you want to search for lots of words at once, just put them in
brackets: the TV example from earlier could become '(TV,television)', which
would find items with either word.

Don't get too tied up learning the ways of the search engine, though: a
surprising number of eBay users don't search at all, preferring to look through
eBay's category system and save their favourites in their browser. The next
email will show you how to make sure these people can find you too.

How to Use eBay to Grow Your Other Businesses.

Most of the people who make money from eBay don't actually make all of that
money on eBay. There are all sorts of ways you can use eBay to give your
existing businesses a helping hand.

The Supply Side.

If you have any leftover stock or used items from another business you run,
then why not sell them on eBay? You can make this a regular thing, using it to
get rid of things that won't sell for the premium you ask for in a shop, or
items that are no longer in demand in the town or city where your business is
based.

You can really make a lot of money this way, if you know what you're doing. You
will, of course, already be an expert in the items you're selling, as you use
them in your business, and you'll know that the items are of high enough
quality to be sellable. This is a whole new market for your old inventory!

Not only that, of course, but remember that your good eBay reputation will make
you a great buyer! If there's ever anything you want to get for your business,
the chances are you'll be able to get it on eBay for a discount.

The Sales Side.

Here, though, is where the true power of eBay lies. eBay give you an 'About Me'
page, where you can write anything you like and link anywhere you like. This
means that you can get traffic to your business' website by linking to your
website from your About Me page and linking to your About Me page from each
auction.

To create an About Me page, just click on 'Community' on the toolbar, scroll to
the bottom of the page, and click 'Create an About Me page'. You then get the
option to either enter your own HTML or let eBay guide you through the process.
All you need to do is write a little about your website, link to it, and you're
done -- you'll notice that more people start to come to your site straight away.

There are thousands of people who swear by this technique to drive traffic from
eBay to their website -- with a little persuasive sales copy on your site, they
say, you can sell directly to buyers, cutting out the eBay middleman. What's
more, all the traffic you'll get will be targeted -- because the people who
click through were interested in your auction to begin with.

This can be a really powerful technique, especially if you've already got an
e-commerce site. Even if you haven't, you might find it worth your time to set
up a website that does nothing but list your eBay inventory with a few dollars
off each item, with a PayPal 'Buy Now' button for each item. Then simply make
the link to your About Me page read 'Visit my website for even more bargains!',
and you're done.

Now that you've seen how to drive visitors to your website, maybe you'd like a
little help getting your auction in front of buyers. That's why our next email
will show you the secrets of taming the eBay search engine.

How to Think Like an eBay PowerSeller.

So what's a PowerSeller? PowerSellers are the people on eBay who've made it,
recognisable by the little 'PowerSeller' badge next to their name. You've
probably seen these people around -- and to succeed on eBay, you want to think
the way they do.

How to People Get the Right to Call Themselves PowerSellers?

eBay gets to decide who can be a PowerSeller and who can't, and they have
strict requirements. To get in at the minimum PowerSeller level, you must have
a feedback rating of at least 100 (minimum 98% positive) and sell at least
$1,000 worth of items every month for three months in a row. There are
different levels of PowerSeller membership as you sell items of greater value:
$1,000 total is bronze, $3,000 is silver, $10,000 is gold, $25,000 is platinum
and $125,000 is titanium.

If PowerSellers ever fail to meet the required amount of sales, or their
feedback falls below 98% positive, then they lose their PowerSeller status. In
short, the only people who get to be PowerSellers on eBay are the people who
have been successful for a good while, and are on track to stay that way.

The Shop and the Marketplace.

This is the most important part of understanding how PowerSellers think. They
don't see what they're doing as being some random bazaar, or a hobby --
instead, they see themselves as a business.

Put it like this. If you run a stall in a marketplace, the chances are that you
have a general area of business, but you mostly just sell whatever you can get
your hands on that week. If your dodgy buddy got his hands of a job lot of
something at a discount, then that's what you'll be selling. This might be fun
-- and when you have a good week, you'll have a really good week -- but it's no
way to run a real business in the long-term.

PowerSellers think far more like shops. They sell the same things again and
again, every week -- regular stock for regular customers. They do 'boring'
business things like keep inventories and budgets. They know what they're going
to be selling, how much they buy it for and how much they expect to sell for.
Just like a real shop, there can be hard times sometimes, but their income is
stable and their business can grow slowly.

The best advice I can give you on thinking like a PowerSeller is this: don't
take long-term risks for short-term gain. Look after your reputation, manage
your selling properly, provide good customer service and the rewards will come
to you in due course. And you'll get a little badge next to your name that
makes people trust you more!

One possibility that you might have realised so far is what eBay can do for any
other businesses you might have. Remember, millions of people visit eBay every
day -- why keep everything separate when you're starting to tap into that kind
of power? The next email will show you a few ways you can use eBay to grow your
other businesses.

eBay -- Part Time or Full? How to Decide.

Going full-time as an eBay seller is living the dream: making a real income,
working from home, being your own boss and all the rest of it. It's the promise
of a million scams, and it's finally come true -- at least for some.

What they don't tell you in the success stories, though, is that becoming a
full-time eBay seller is by no means for everyone. You really, really ought to
try it part-time before you even consider taking it up full-time, and even
then, caution is advisable. Before you burn your suit, here's a list of
questions you should ask yourself.

How Much Do I Earn From eBay Now?

Work out how many hours a week you spend doing eBay-related things (be honest
here), and divide it by the average amount of profit you make in a week. If you
were doing full-time hours, would you earn as much as you earn now?

Do I Have a Good Job?

Think about what you might lose if you give up your job to focus on eBay. If
you're in a well-paid job with good promotion prospects then it's well worth
reconsidering: you might get a few years down the line and wish you'd stayed in
your traditional job, as you'd probably be the CEO by now.

Would I Really Make Much More Money?

Unless you're selling a large quantity of small goods, most of what you do on
eBay will be waiting for auctions to end -- and you can wait at work just as
easily as you can at home. This is why whether you would make more money on
eBay really depends on what kinds of items you're selling -- for low value
items, going full-time could be a good move. For high-value ones, the chances
are you'll hit the limits of how much money you have to invest in inventory
long before you hit the limits on your time.

Is my Home a Good Place to Work?

Quite apart from anything else, you might find that the dream of home working
is more of a nightmare in reality. People can start to depend on you to get
things done that need to be done during the day. If you have a wife and
children then they can resent the fact that you're in the house but refuse to
have anything to do with them for large parts of the day. Giving in to any of
these things and stopping work for a while will cause your profits to fall.

Can I Survive if it All Goes Wrong?

In the end, would you be able to get by if you had a month or two where you
sold literally nothing? Or would you be desperately looking around for a job
and cursing the day you ever discovered eBay? That's the real test.

If you made it through all these questions, then I guess you're cut out for the
eBay life -- and even if you didn't, you'd be surprised just how far you can get
part-time. In our next email, we'll show you how to think like the eBay elite:
the PowerSellers.

10 Steps to Successful Selling on eBay.

So you want to be a successful seller with your own eBay business, do you?
Here's a simple, ten-step path to eBay enlightenment.

Step 1: Identify your market. Take a while to sit and watch for what sells and
what doesn't out of the items you're interested in. Any market research data
you can collect will be very useful to you later on. You'll probably see the
'sweet spots' quite quickly -- those one or two items that always seem to sell
for a good price.

Step 2: Watch the competition. Before you invest any money, see what the other
sellers in your category are up to, and what their strategies are. Pay special
attention to any flaws their auctions might have, because this is where you can
move in and beat them at their own game.

Step 3: Find a product: Get hold of a supplier for whatever it is you want to
sell, and see what the best rates you can get are -- don't be afraid to ring
round quite a few to get the best deal. If the eBay prices you've seen are
higher than the supplier's, then you're set.

Step 4: Start small: Don't throw thousands at your idea straight away -- get
started slowly, see what works and what doesn't, and learn as you go. Remember
that it's very cheap to try out even the craziest ideas on eBay, and who knows,
they might just work!

Step 5: Test and repeat. Keep trying different strategies until you find
something that works, and then don't be ashamed to keep doing it, again and
again. The chances are that you've just found a good niche.

Step 6: Work out a business plan: A business plan doesn't need to be anything
formal, just a few pages that outline the market opportunity you've spotted,
your strategy, strengths and weaknesses of the plan and a brief budget. This is
more for you than it is for anyone else.

Step 7: Invest and expand: This is the time to throw money at the problem. Buy
inventory, and start spending more time on your business. Set a goal number of
sales each week, increasing it each time.

Step 8: Make it official: Once you've
made a few thousand dollars worth of sales, you should really register yourself
as a business. Don't worry, it's not expensive or hard to do -- a lawyer is the
best person to help you through the process.

Step 9: Automate: You'll probably find that you're writing the same things
again and again in emails or item descriptions. This is the time to give up on
the manual method and turn to automated software that can create listings for
you, and respond to completed auctions and payments with whatever message you
provide.

Step 10: Never give up: Even when it looks like it's all going wrong, don't
stop trying until you succeed. If you keep working at it then you'll almost
always find that you make a real breakthrough just when things are starting to
look desperate.

Once you get into the swing of things, you might start thinking that you should
quit your job and take up eBay selling part time. But it's not always as easy as
that -- there are all sorts of factors that you need to consider. The next email
will weigh up the case for and against taking up eBay full-time.

10 Sure-fire Ways to Kill Your eBay Business.

It's surprisingly easy to kill your eBay business, if you're not careful --
sure, you can start over from scratch without it costing you anything, but do
you really want to? Still, if you want your business to end up dead in the
water, here are some simple ways to do it.

Lie about an item: Say it works fine when it sometimes doesn't work. Say it's
in perfect condition when it has a scratch. Your customers will hate you!

Post whenever you feel like it: Make sure to leave your customers hanging
around, wondering when their item is going to turn up. This makes sure they buy
from someone else next time.

Let items end anytime: Few people will be around to care about your auction if
it ends in the middle of the night. Why go to the trouble of working out
whether auctions will end at a good time?

Don't bother with email: Customers are just timewasters anyway. eBay businesses
are supposed to run themselves! Never give informed responses to questions about
your item.

Sell rubbish: Really, it's just eBay. You can just sell any old tat from the
market for a 200% profit. Let quality be someone else's concern -- I mean,
really, what do they expect for that price?

Refuse to give discounts: You know what your items cost, you know what your
profit margin is going to be, and you're not going to negotiate. Remember that
giving customers special deals might make them feel good and come back to you
again.

Make your listings ugly: As many colours, flashing lights and animations as
possible will really give those customers a headache. Write as much in
CAPITALS!!!! as you can. Preferably big, red capitals. Be sure to use the fonts
Impact and Comic Sans. For an extra special touch, see if you can figure out a
way to add some music.

Don't take photos: It's such trouble, after all. If buyers are picky enough to
actually want to see items before they bid on them, then screw 'em, that's what
I say.

Write short descriptions: Be as brief as possible, and use lots of mysterious
abbreviations. This obviously makes you look very cool. You can even just write
the title again in the description box. Think of the effort you'll save!

Use reserve auctions: Now, this is a fairly controversial final choice, but it
really is one of the best ways to scare away your customers. They'll see
'reserve not yet met', and click that 'back' button before you know it.
Luckily, they can always bid in a normal auction for the item somewhere else.

Now that you know the ten ways to kill your eBay business, how about we explore
what to do if you want to do the opposite, and make a success of it? The next
email will give you ten steps to successful selling on eBay.

Is the eBay Customer Always Right?

I can answer this question for you right now: the answer is 'yes'. In fact, the
answer is 'YES!' -- the biggest yes you've ever heard. Of the course the
customer is always right. If you want to be a successful eBay seller, you
should go miles out of your way to make sure every single one of your customers
is 100% satisfied, however much time or money it might cost you.

A dissatisfied customer will leave negative feedback, and negative feedback is
to be avoided at all costs. That one piece of negative feedback will always
cost you more than it would have to deal with the complaint, whatever the value
of the items you sell. You should consider any positive feedback percentage
under 100% to be an absolute disaster, and a personal failure on your part.

But What If:

But nothing! There is no situation where you, as a seller, should get into any
dispute with a buyer. Here are a few common situations and how to handle them.

They say the item never arrived: Politely ask the buyer to wait a few more days
to see if it turns up, and then email you again if it still hasn't arrived. If
it still hasn't arrived, you should assume it was lost in the post somehow and
offer to send a replacement if you have one, or give them a full refund
otherwise. No, I don't care what that costs you. Are you serious about selling
on eBay or not?

The item has been damaged in the post: You must offer to replace it or take it
back for a refund without hesitation.

They say the item doesn't match the description: Resist the urge to email back
with "yes it does, you just didn't read the description properly". Take the
item back for a refund, and edit your description if you need to, to make any
confusing points extra clear.

I'm sure you're spotting a pattern by now. Offering a refund will make almost
any problem go away, and it really will cost you less in the long run.
Remember, one piece of negative feedback will stay with you forever, while
having a 100% positive rating is like owning a bar of solid gold.

You should always handle customers' complaints before they complain to eBay --
in fact, you should email them pre-emptively to ask if they have any. Going
through the dispute process is time consuming, reflects badly on you and is
downright unnecessary.

Are you still not convinced? Think this would only work with cheap items? Well,
you see, the higher the price of the items you sell, the more your reputation is
worth to you. Let's say you were selling $10,000 worth of items each week, for
example, and making a $1,000 profit per week overall. You might think that
refunding one customer's $1,000 purchase would be a tragedy, losing you your
whole week's profit. It's far better to look at it this way: if you don't give
that refund, then not only will you lose the next week's profit, but you'll
probably lose a few weeks' profit after that too. Now which option looks better?

I absolutely can't emphasise enough the importance of really believing that the
customer is always right. But trying to make excuses for complaints isn't the
only thing you need to avoid. There are a lot of pitfalls that you need to
avoid if you don't want to kill your business before it's even started properly
-- and I'll show you in the next email what they are.

What's Your eBay Reputation Really Worth?

Your eBay reputation is everything you are on eBay -- without it, you're
nothing. Your reputation is worth as much as every sale you will ever make.

If you've ever bought anything on eBay (and the chances are you have), then
think about your own behaviour. Buying from a seller with a low feedback rating
makes you feel a little nervous and insecure, while buying from a PowerSeller
with their reputation in the thousands doesn't require any thought or fear --
it feels just like buying from a shop.

A Bad Reputation Will Lose You Sales.

In fact, a bad reputation will lose you almost all your sales. If someone
leaves you negative feedback, you will feel the pain straight away, as that
rating will go right at the top of your user page for everyone to see. Who's
going to want to do business with you when they've just read that you "took a
month to deliver the item", or that you had "bad communication and sent a
damaged item"? The answer is no-one.

Your next few items will need to be very cheap things, just to push that
negative down the page. You might have to spend days or even weeks selling
cheap stuff to get enough positive feedback to make anyone deal with you again.

It's even worse if you consistently let buyers leave negative feedback -- once
you get below 90% positive ratings, you might as well be invisible.

You Can't Just Open a New Account.

Besides eBay's rules about only having one account, there are far more
downsides than that to getting a new account. You literally have to start all
over again from scratch.

You won't be able to use all the different eBay features. Your existing
customers won't be able to find you any more. Your auctions will finish at a
lower price because of your low feedback rating. Opening a new account is like
moving to a new town to get away from a few people who are spreading rumours
about you: it's throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

A Good Reputation Will Get You Sales.

When a PowerSeller tells me something, I tend to believe them. They can be
selling a pretty unlikely item, but if they guarantee it is what they say it
is, then I trust them -- they're not going to risk their reputation, after all.
This is the power of a reputation: people know you want to keep it, and they
know you'll go to almost any lengths to do so.

This is true even to the point that I would sooner buy something for $20 from a
seller I know I can trust than for $15 from someone with average feedback. It's
worth the extra money to feel like the seller knows what they're doing, has all
their systems in place and will get me the item quickly and efficiently.

You really will find selling on eBay so much easier, and there's only way to
get a good reputation: make sure you please your customers every time. But some
customers can be, well, just a little difficult to please. In the next email, we
ask: is the eBay customer always right?

An eBay Seller's Checklist.

Being a seller is a lot of responsibility, and sometimes you might feel like
you're not doing everything you should be. This simple checklist will help you
keep on top of things.

Have you found out everything you possibly could about your items? Try typing
their names into a search engine -- you might find out something you didn't
know. If someone else is selling the same thing as you, then always try to
provide more information about it than they do.

Do you monitor the competition? Always keep an eye on how much other items the
same as or similar to yours are selling, and what prices they're being offered
at. There's usually little point in starting a fixed price auction for $100
when someone else is selling the item for $90.

Have you got pictures of the items? It's worth taking the time to photograph
your items, especially if you have a digital camera. If you get serious about
eBay but don't have a camera, then you will probably want to invest in one at
some point.

Are you emailing your sellers? It's worth sending a brief email when
transactions go through: something like a simple "Thank you for buying my item,
please let me know when you have sent the payment". Follow this up with "Thanks
for your payment, I have posted your [item name] today". You will be surprised
how many problems you will avoid just by communicating this way.

Also, are you checking your emails? Remember that potential buyers can send you
email about anything at any time, and not answering these emails will just make
them go somewhere else instead of buying from you.

Do your item description pages have everything that buyers need to know? If
you're planning to offer international delivery, then it's good to make a list
of the charges to different counties and display it on each auction. If you
have any special terms and conditions (for example, if you will give a refund
on any item as long as it hasn't been opened), then you should make sure these
are displayed too.

Have you been wrapping your items correctly? Your wrapping should be
professional for the best impression: use appropriately sized envelopes or
parcels, wrap the item in bubble wrap to stop it from getting damaged, and
print labels instead of hand-writing addresses. Oh, and always use first class
post -- don't be cheap.

Do you follow up? It is worth sending out an email a few days after you post an
item, saying "Is everything alright with your purchase? I hope you received it
and it was as you expected." This might sound like giving the customer an
opportunity to complain, but you should be trying to help your customers, not
take their money and run.

Being a really good eBay seller, more than anything else, is about providing
genuinely good and honest customer service. That's the only foolproof way to
protect your reputation. Of course, you might be wondering by now whether it's
really worth all the hassle to get a good reputation on eBay. Won't people buy
from you anyway, and couldn't you just open a new account if it really comes
down to that? Our next email will set you straight.

5 Simple Steps to Posting Your First eBay Auction.

It's surprisingly simple to get started posting your very first auction on
eBay. Here's what you need to do.

Step 1: Open an eBay seller's account.

If you've bought things on eBay, then you already have an account -- just log
in with it and click 'Sell' in the toolbar at the top of the page, then click
'Create a seller's account'. If you've never used eBay before, then you'll need
to open an account first using the 'register' link underneath the toolbar, and
then click 'Sell' and 'Create a seller's account'. The eBay site will then
guide you through the process. For security, this may involve giving card
details and bank information.

Step 2: Decide what to sell.

For your first little experiment with eBay, it doesn't really matter what you
sell. Take a look around the room you're in -- I'm sure there's something in
there that you're not all that attached to and could put in the post. Small
books and CDs are ideal first items.

Step 3: Submit your item.

Click 'Sell', and you're on your way to listing your item.

The first thing you need to do is choose a category -- it's best to just type
in what the item is and let eBay choose for you. Next, write a title and
description. Include key words you think people will search for in the title
box, and all the information you have about the item in the description box.

Now set a starting price. $0.01 is the best starting price, as it draws people
in to bid who otherwise wouldn't, and items will almost never finish at such a
low price. The next thing to set is the duration of the auction: 3, 5, 7 or 10
days. This is up to you: longer sales will usually get more bids, but will also
seem to drag on forever. If you've taken a picture, add it now -- items with
pictures always sell for more. Finally, tick the payment methods you will
accept (just PayPal is best for now), and where you will post to (limit
yourself to your own country to begin with). Submit and you're done!

Step 4: Wait for it to sell.

This is just a matter of sitting back and letting eBay do its thing -- buyers
will find your item and leave bids on it. Some bidders might email you with
questions about the item, and you should do your best to answer these questions
as quickly as you can.

Remember that if your item doesn't sell then you can list it again for free.

Step 5: Collect payment and post it.

eBay will sent your buyer emails guiding them through the process of sending
you payment for the item. Make sure you have the money before you send anything.

Once you've got the payment, all you need to do is pack the item for posting
(make sure to use some bubble wrap), take the buyer's address from the
confirmation email eBay sent you, and write it on the parcel. Put some stamps
on, post it, and you're done!

I hope you enjoyed selling your first item. Now that you're starting to get
into it, the next email will give you a checklist of things you need to do to
be a successful seller.

Learning the eBay "Lingo".

Do you have trouble sometimes understanding when people talk about eBay? Don't
worry, some of the jargon is really obscure, and you can't be expected to
understand it until someone's told you what it means. Here's a little list of
some of the most useful lingo to know, but you don't need to memorise it --
even the most common jargon is only used relatively rarely.

Words.

Bid: telling eBay's system the maximum price you are prepared to pay for an
item. Dutch: an auction where more than one of an item is available. Feedback:
positive or negative comments left about other users on eBay. Mint: in perfect
condition. Non-paying bidder: a bidder who wins an auction but does not then go
on to buy the item. PayPal: an electronic payment method accepted by most
sellers. Rare: used and abused on eBay, now entirely meaningless. Reserve: the
minimum price the seller will accept for the item. Shill bid: a fake bid placed
by a seller trying to drive up their auction's price. Snail Mail: the post,
which is obviously very slow compared to email. Sniping: bidding at the last
second to win the item before anyone else can outbid you.

Abbreviations.

AUD: Australian Dollar. Currency. BIN: Buy it Now. A fixed price auction. BNWT:
Brand New With Tags. An item that has never been used and still has its original
tags. BW: Black and White. Used for films, photos etc. CONUS: Continental United
States. Generally used by sellers who don't want to post things to Alaska or
Hawaii. EUR: Euro. Currency. FC: First Class. Type of postage. GBP: Great
British Pounds. Currency. HTF: Hard To Find. Not quite as abused as 'rare', but
getting there. NIB: New in Box. Never opened, still in its original box. NR: No
Reserve. An item where the seller has not set a reserve price. OB: Original
Box. An item that has its original box (but might have been opened). PM:
Priority Mail. PP: Parcel Post. SH: Shipping and Handling. The fees the buyer
will pay you for postage. USD: United States Dollars. Currency. VGC: Very Good
Condition. Not mint, but close.

The chances are that you'll find more specific jargon related to whatever
you're selling, but it'd be an impossible task to cover it all here. If you
can't figure one out from your knowledge of the subject, then type the term
into a search engine, followed by the word 'ebay'. The chances are that
someone, somewhere will have seen fit to explain it.

While it's good to be able to understand others' jargon, avoid using it unless
you really need to (for example, if you run out of space in an item's title).
Many people on eBay are not experienced buyers and you will lose them if you
write a load of gobbledegook all over your auction.

By now, you're well prepared for eBay life, and you're probably ready to get
started with that first auction. In the next email, we'll show you how to dive
in and get started.

Staying Out of Trouble with eBay's Listing Policies.

While you can sell most things on eBay, quite a few things are banned. If you
try to sell any of these things then eBay will remove your auction and all bids
will be void.

Here is eBay's full list of prohibited or questionable items:

Academic Software Airline and Transit Related Items Alcohol (also see Wine)
Animals and Wildlife Products Anti-circumvention Policy Artifacts Authenticity
Disclaimers Autographed Items Batteries Beta Software Bootleg Recordings Brand
Name Misuse Catalog Sales Catalytic Converters and Test Pipes Celebrity
Material Charity or Fundraising Listings Comparison Policy Compilation and
Informational Media Contracts and Tickets Counterfeit Currency and Stamps
Counterfeit Items Credit Cards Downloadable Media Drugs & Drug Paraphernalia
Electronics Equipment Embargoed Goods and Prohibited Countries Encouraging
Infringement Policy Event Tickets Faces, Names and Signatures Firearms,
Ammunition, Replicas, and Militaria Fireworks Food Freon and Other Refrigerants
Gift Cards Government IDs and Licenses Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable
Items Human Parts and Remains Importation of Goods into the United States
International Trading -- Buyers International Trading -- Sellers Lockpicking
Devices Lottery Tickets Mailing Lists and Personal Information Manufacturers'
Coupons Mature Audiences Medical Devices Misleading Titles Mod Chips, Game
Enhancers, and Boot Discs Movie Prints Multi-level Marketing, Pyramid and
Matrix Programs OEM Software Offensive Material Pesticides Plants and Seeds
Police-Related Items Political Memorabilia Postage Meters Pre-Sale Listings
Prescription Drugs and Devices Promotional Items Real Estate Recalled Items
Recordable Media Replica and Counterfeit Items Satellite and Cable TV
Descramblers Slot Machines Stocks and Other Securities Stolen Property
Surveillance Equipment Tobacco Travel Unauthorized Copies Used Clothing
Warranties Weapons & Knives Wine (also see Alcohol)

Most of this is very obvious -- of course you can't sell illegal things like
drugs, pyramid schemes or stolen goods. Almost everything that is on the list
is there because there is law against selling it. Some of the reasons, though,
are a little strange.

The 'autographed items' entry, for example, doesn't mean that you can't sell
anything that's been autographed -- it just means that you can only sell it if
it comes with a certificate of authenticity. The 'artifacts' entry prohibits
you from selling Native American graves; 'celebrity material' means you can't
sell unauthorised pictures of celebrities; 'embargoed goods' means that you
can't sell anything that comes from Cuba: on and on it goes, and most of it you
never need to know.

If your chosen kind of item seems to be on the list, though, and you're
concerned that you might not be able to sell it, then check the full list at
http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/items-ov.html to see whether the item is
banned entirely or there are just a few restrictions.

eBay says it will remove any items that it believes violate copyright law, but
in reality they don't have that many people to monitor the site. You will
generally only find that your auction gets removed if someone decides to report
you -- and even then, they might not get around to it.

Really, buying and selling on eBay can sometimes feel more complicated than it
really is, thanks to all the rules surrounding it -- not to mention the jargon.
Our next email is a 'jargon buster', to help you learn the language of eBay.

A Beginner's Guide to the Different eBay Auction Types.

Over the years, eBay has introduced all sorts of different auction types, in an
effort to give people more options when they buy and sell their things on eBay.

For every seller who doesn't like the idea that their item might sell for a far
lower price than they intend, there's another who wants to shift hundreds of the
same item quickly. eBay tries to cater to all tastes. This email gives you an
overview of the different kinds of auctions and their advantages for you.

Normal Auctions.

These are the bread-and-butter of eBay, the auctions everyone knows: buyers
bid, others outbid them, they bid again, and the winner gets the item. Simple.

Reserve Auctions.

Reserve auctions are for sellers who don't want their items to sell for less
than a certain price -- a concept you'll know about if you're familiar with
real auctions. They work just like normal auctions on eBay, except that the
buyer will be told if their bid does not meet the reserve price you set, and
they'll need to bid again if they want the item. If no-one is willing to meet
your price, then the auction is cancelled, and you keep the item.

Fixed Price ('Buy it Now') Auctions.

Buy it Now auctions can work in one of two ways. You can add a Buy it Now
button to a normal auction, meaning that buyers can choose either to bid
normally or to simply pay the asking price and avoid the whole bidding process.
Some sellers, though, now cut out the auction process altogether and simply list
all their items at fixed price. This lets you avoid all the complications of the
auction format and simply list your items for how much you want them to sell for.

Recently, eBay added a twist to fixed price auctions: the 'best offer'. This
means that buyers can contact you to negotiate a price, which could be a good
way to get sell some extra stock at a small discount. The only downside to
reserve and fixed price auctions is that you pay a small extra fee to use these
formats. In general, it is more worth using reserve auctions for higher-priced
items and fixed price auctions for lower-priced ones -- but remember that you
can combine the two formats.

Multiple Item ('Dutch') Auctions.

These are auctions where you can sell more than one of a certain item. Dutch
auctions can be done by bidding. Buyers bid a price and say how many items they
want, and then everyone pays the lowest price that was bid by one of the winning
bidders. If you have trouble getting your head around that, then don't worry --
everyone else does too! These auctions are very rare.

What is more common is when a seller has a lot of one item, and lists it using
a combination of two auction types: a multiple-item fixed price auction. This
just means that you can just say how many of the item you they have, and offer
them at a fixed price per unit. Buyers can enter how many they want and then
just click Buy it Now to get them.

Now that you know about the different types of auctions, you should make sure
that the items you plan to sell don't violate eBay's listing policies. The next
email will let you know what's allowed and what is a big no-no.

What You Need to Know BEFORE You Get Started on eBay.

So you've decided that you want to get started as a seller on eBay. There are a
few things that you really need to know before you go and throw yourself in at
the deep end.

What to Sell.

First off, you need to know what it is you're going to sell: what's your
speciality? You'll do far better on eBay if you become a great source for
certain kind of products, as people who are interested in those products will
come back to you again and again. You won't get any loyalty or real reputation
if you just sell rubbish at random.

When you think about what to sell, there are a few things to consider. The most
important of these is to always sell what you know. If you try to sell something
that you just don't know anything about then you'll never write a good
description and sell it for a good price.

You might think you're not especially interested in anything, but if you think
about what kind of things you usually buy and which websites you go to most
often, I'm sure you'll discover some kind of interest. If all else fails
mention it to your friends and family: they'll almost certainly say "Oh, well
why don't you sell: ", and you'll slap your forehead.

Out of the things you know enough about, you should then consider which things
you could actually get for a good enough price to resell, and how suitable they
would be for posting. If you can think of something of that you're knowledgeable
about and it's small and light enough for postage to be relatively cheap, then
that's great!

Don't worry if you think the thing you're selling is too obscure -- it isn't.
There's a market for almost everything on eBay, even things that wouldn't sell
once in a year if you stocked them in a shop. You'll probably do even better if
you fill a niche than if you sell something common.

Tax and Legal Matters.

If you earn enough money, you should be aware that you're going to have to
start paying tax -- this won't be done for you. If you decide to sell on eBay
on a full-time basis, you should probably register as a business.

Prepare Yourself.

There are going to be ups and downs when you sell on eBay. Don't pack it in if
something goes a little wrong in your first few sales: the sellers who are
successful on eBay are the ones who enjoy it, and stick at it whatever happens.

Anyone can sell on eBay, if they believe in themselves -- and if you do decide
it's not for you, then the start-up costs are so low that you won't really have
lost anything.

If you're ready to start selling, then the next thing you need to know is the
different auction types, so you can decide which ones you will use to sell your
items. Our next email will give you a guide.

EBay Income Possibilities.

If you've ever read an article about eBay, you will have seen the kinds of
incomes people make -- it isn't unusual to hear of people making thousands of
dollars per month on eBay.

Next time you're on eBay, take a look at how many PowerSellers there are:
you'll find quite a few. Now consider that every single one of one of them must
be making at least $1,000 per month, as that's eBay's requirement for becoming a
PowerSeller. Silver PowerSellers make at least $3,000 each month, while Gold
PowerSellers make more than $10,000, and the Platinum level is $25,000. The top
ranking is Titanium PowerSeller, and to qualify you must make at least $150,000
in sales every month!

The fact that these people exist gives you come idea of the income
possibilities here. Most of them never set out to even set up a business on
eBay -- they simply started selling a few things, and then kept going. There
are plenty of people whose full-time job is selling things on eBay, and some of
them have been doing it for years now. Can you imagine that? Once they've bought
the stock, everything else is pretty much pure profit for these people -- they
don't need to pay for any business premises, staff, or anything else. There are
multi-million pound businesses making less in actual profit than eBay
PowerSellers do.

Even if you don't want to quit your job and really go for it, you can still use
eBay to make a significant second income. You can pack up orders during the week
and take them down to the post office for delivery each Saturday. There are few
other things you could be doing with your spare time that have anywhere near
that kind of earning potential.

What's more, eBay doesn't care who you are, where you live, or what you look
like: some PowerSellers are very old, or very young. Some live out in the
middle of nowhere where selling on eBay is one of the few alternatives to
farming or being very poor. eBay tears down the barriers to earning that the
real world constantly puts up. There's no job interview and no commuting
involved -- if you can post things, you can do it.

Put it this way: if you know where to get something reasonably cheaply that you
could sell, then you can sell it on eBay -- and since you can always get
discounts for bulk at wholesale, that's not exactly difficult. Buy a job lot of
something in-demand cheaply, sell it on eBay, and you're making money already,
with no set-up costs.

If you want to dip your toe in the water before you commit to actually buying
anything, then you can just sell things that you've got lying around in the
house. Search through that cupboard of stuff you never use, and you'll probably
find you've got a few hundred dollars' worth of stuff lying around in there!
This is the power of eBay: there is always someone who wants what you're
selling, whatever it might be, and since they've come looking for you, you
don't even need to do anything to get them to buy it.

So you want to get started on eBay? Well, that's great! There are only a few
little things you need to learn to get started. Our next email will give you
the lowdown.

Tips and Tricks for Using eBay Search.

If you know what you're doing, you can quickly find what you're looking for on
eBay. Here are a few golden rules.

Be specific: If you're searching for the first edition of the original Harry
Potter book, you'll get further searching for 'harry potter rowling
philosopher's stone first edition' than you will searching for 'harry potter'.
You'll get fewer results, but the ones you do get will be far more relevant.

Spell wrongly: It's a sad fact that many of the sellers on eBay just can't
spell. Whatever you're looking for, try thinking of a few common misspellings
-- the chances are that fewer people will find these items, and so they will be
cheaper.

Get a thesaurus: You should try to search for all the different words that
someone might use to describe your item, for example searching for both 'TV'
and 'television', or for 'phone', 'mobile' and 'cellphone'. Where you can,
though, leave off the type of item altogether and search by things like brand
and model.

Use the categories: Whenever you search, you'll notice a list of categories at
the side of your search results. If you just searched for the name of a CD
because you want to buy that CD, you should click the 'CDs' category to just
look at results in that category. Why bother looking through a load of results
that you don't care about?

Don't be afraid to browse: Once you've found the category that items you like
seem to be in, why not click 'Browse' and take a look through the whole
category? You might be surprised by what you find.

Few people realise just how powerful eBay's search engine is -- a few symbols
here and there and it'll work wonders for you.

Wildcard searches: You can put an asterisk (*) into a search phrase when you
want to say 'anything can go here'. For example, if you wanted to search for a
1950s car, you could search for 'car 195*'. 195* will show results from any
year in the 1950s.

In this order: If you put words in quotes ("") then the only results shown will
be ones that have all of the words between the quote marks. For example,
searching for "Lord of the Rings" won't give you any results that say, for
example "Lord Robert Rings".

Exclude words: Put a minus, and then put any words in brackets that you don't
want to appear in your search results. For example: "Pulp Fiction"
-(poster,photo) will find items related to Pulp Fiction but not posters or
photos.

Either/or: If you want to search for lots of words at once, just put them in
brackets: the TV example from earlier could become '(TV,television)', which
would find items with either word.

So once you've found your bargain item, bid for it and won it, what if it all
goes wrong? Don't worry -- eBay has a thorough dispute resolution procedure,
and we'll cover it in some depth in the next article, so you'll be prepared if
the worst happens.

Taking Advantage of "Slow" eBay Auctions.

Some auctions get hundreds of bids, but some go much more slowly, getting only
a few bids or even none at all for days. Auctions are generally much slower
during the summer months than they are in the winter -- and sales on eBay are
slowing each year, as more sellers than buyers sign up, hoping to get rich
quick. There are a number of ways that you can take advantage of slower
auctions to get the best price.

Wait to Bid.

If you bid, then everyone can see you're interested -- and that might make them
interested too. Leaving the item alone for as long as you can bear will make it
look less popular, and keep the price down so you can come in at the last
minute and get a bargain.

Make an Offer.

If the seller is selling an item using 'Buy it Now' and it still hasn't sold
when the auction is about to end, use eBay's 'Best Offer' service to make them
an offer on it. The chances are they've listed the item two or three times
before, and they'll be so annoyed at the prospect of re-listing it yet again
that they'll accept your offer just to get rid of the thing.

Conspire with Other Buyers.

You might not have thought of this, but if there are two auctions for the same
item and only you and one other buyer are bidding, why not get together and
work out a 'you take this one and I'll take that one' deal? This avoids you
raising the price on both auctions just to get one each. If you make a few
friends, you can even work together on auctions long-term, taking it in turns
to bid.

Be Snobbish.

Send the seller emails asking questions about the condition of the item, and
making it very clear that you are a discerning buyer and will only accept
things of the highest quality. This will make them feel better about selling
you their item for less.

Don't Feel Guilty.

There really are too many sellers on eBay now, to the point where you can get
common items at very low prices. Long-term, this will probably force those
sellers out of business, but that's the way a market works -- it's supply and
demand.

Buy in Bulk.

When auctions are slow, many sellers will have had the same stock for a long
time. If you offer to take ten things off their hands all at once then you can
almost name your price -- the chances are that they'll fall over themselves to
give you a good deal. If you come back again and buy another ten items then
they'll love you even more.

The longer you spend on eBay, the more experienced you'll become -- and the
greater the chances are that you'll stumble across an auction for something
very odd, and quite unexpected. In the next email, you'll hear all about the
strangest eBay items ever sold.





Tips for Buying Collectibles on eBay. Buying collectibles is one of the most enjoyable things to do on eBay, simply because you can find so many things that you just can't get anywhere else. Here are a few tips to help you on your way. Find your Category. You'll probably find that all the items you're after are listed in a single category. Add this category to your browser's Favorites, and keep coming back. Look for Mistakes. If you collect something, the chances are you know a lot about it. This can be your opportunity to make a mint from a seller's mistake. They might not realise that they have a rare version of an item, or they might have left off the key information that makes it valuable. If you're willing to email the seller and ask them a few questions about the item to confirm that it is what you think it is, then you should be able to buy items like these. You can then resell them at a big profit, if that's what you want to do. Don't Always Believe Descriptions. If you find something you haven't heard of, and the description calls it 'rare', don't assume that it actually is. Far too many sellers just put 'rare' into all of their descriptions -- the chances are that the item is common and has just been described wrongly. Don't bid unless you know what you're buying. Stalk Other Users. When you collect something, you'll probably notice that there are four or five sellers who seem to come up with consistently good items -- and the same buyers buying them. Add their user pages to your Favorites, and check back often to see what they've got -- or what they're bidding on -- that you might be interested in. Don't Get Too Attached to an Auction. There are millions of items being listed every day on eBay -- whatever you want, it'll come around again, and if you don't get it there are plenty more things to buy. This is similar to the golden rule of negotiating: always be prepared to walk away. If you can't walk away, then expect to pay over the odds. There are few things so rare that another seller won't have one to sell. Go and bid in a lower-priced auction, instead of getting into a bidding war in one that is already expensive. Beware of the Postage. If you collect lots of small things with a relatively low value, you might end up paying as much for postage as you do for each item. You should take these costs into consideration when you make your bid. Another good strategy is to always buy a few things at once from the same buyer, as they will almost always offer you a discount on the postage. When you're bidding, you might notice that some auctions go more slowly than others, going days at a time without any new bids. The next email tells you how to take advantage of these 'slow' auctions. Watch Out for eBay Automobile and Computer Scams. There aren't that many scammers on eBay -- but the ones there are tend to be greedy. This means that they will always try to pull their scams on high-value items like cars and computers, so that they can make a lot of money quickly. Since buyers generally buy these items very rarely, they may not know about the various scams out there. Automobile Scams. With cars, you will generally find that scammers try to get you to send them money in advance, for whatever reason. For some reason, some people aren't all that reluctant to pay 50% or 25% of the money before delivery using a relatively insecure payment method, especially on a car. They reason that the seller will obviously deliver it, as they'll want the other half of the money. But there never was a car! Pictures of cars aren't hard to find, and the experienced scammers will have a whole library of pictures of different cars. The seller just got your $5,000 for nothing, and you can leave them all the negative feedback you like. They'll just go and open another eBay account and find their next sucker. While it's not an outright scam, what you might find is that the car does turn up, but simply doesn't live up to the description -- it has been oversold, in the tradition of used car dealers through the ages. If this happens to you then you should open an eBay dispute and say your item was not as described -- you might get a partial refund. Computer Scams. If you bid in a computer auction but don't win, the seller might email you to ask whether you would like to buy a computer the same as the one they just sold through their own website. This is a bad idea! You have no guarantee that the item will ever arrive, and you haven't just given them your money -- you've given them your credit card details too. There are sellers with nothing but positive feedback who use this scam often -- and since you won't be able to leave them any feedback on the transaction, their reputation will stay that way. If you complain to eBay that you bought an item outside the site and got scammed, they will tell you to get lost and not do it again. How to Beat the Scams. There are lots of ways to beat the scams. First, whenever you buy anything expensive, be sure to check your seller's reputation thoroughly. Make sure they have sold items of a similar high value before, and haven't just sold a string of $10 items to get their feedback rating artificially high. If you want to be even more cautious, insist that the money is placed in an escrow service (eBay recommend escrow.com -- don't use any other service unless you're sure of it). To be honest, it's generally quite a bad idea to use eBay to buy things like cars and computers to begin with -- you can get them anywhere, and the discounts aren't that big any more. It's better to use eBay for those rare, special things that you can't find anywhere else. The next email will give you some tips for buying collectibles. When Things Go Wrong: How to Resolve eBay Disputes. eBay has quite an intricate and long-winded dispute resolution procedure. In this email, I'll try to break each step down for you, so you can see what's involved and how long it takes. As an example, let's go through what you would do if you paid for an item but didn't receive it from the seller. Before you open a dispute: Give the seller a chance to send the item before you get ahead of yourself and open a dispute. If you're concerned about how long the item is taking to arrive, the first thing you should do is send a polite email to the seller saying that you haven't received it and asking whether they have posted it. You should also check your own email address in eBay's options, to make sure that the seller can reply to you. As a last resort before opening a dispute, you should try to call the seller on the number eBay has for them. You might have to pay long-distance charges for the call, but that's better than dragging the auction through mediation for months. Step 1 -- You open an Item Not Received dispute: You can do this here: http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?InrCreateDispute. All you need to do is enter the item number and say that you did not receive the item. Step 2 -- eBay contacts the seller: eBay sends the seller an email that tells them that you've said you didn't receive the item. Then can then choose to tell you one of three things: that your payment hasn't cleared yet, that the item is in the post, or that they'll give you your money back. The seller can also tell eBay that they would like to send you a message. Step 3 -- You talk to the seller: You try to work out what's happened directly with the seller, sending messages back and forward. Hopefully they'll agree to give you a refund for the sake of their feedback, or your item will turn up in the post during this time. Step 4 -- Closing the dispute: After 30 days (or 10 days if the seller didn't respond), you have two options to close the dispute: either you were satisfied or you weren't. If you weren't satisfied, then you can claim under eBay's purchase protection program for up to $200. Independent Dispute Mediation. If you don't want to go through eBay's own process, and especially if the auction was for a high-value item, then you can use a third-party mediator. eBay recommend SquareTrade, at www.squaretrade.com, who provide mediation to many websites where there are buyers and sellers. They will contact the seller on your behalf and then mediate as you negotiate what to do from there. Sellers who are committed to going through SquareTrade's mediation for any disputes can sign up to display the 'SquareTrade seal' on their auctions. This gives their buyers $250 fraud protection, and shows that their identity has been independently verified so they are who they say they are. When your sellers aren't in such good standing, though, you need to be careful to avoid being a victim of fraud. There are a few scams that you especially need to look out for -- we'll cover them in the next email. Introducing the New eBay "Buyer's Credit" Program. In an effort to compete with more 'traditional' shops, eBay has started to offer finance agreements though PayPal for expensive items. This means that, if the seller decides to offer it, you can now spread the cost of an item into affordable monthly payments. This is good for buyers, good for sellers, and good for eBay. Buyers can get the kind of credit agreements they're used to in shops. Sellers can make their items more attractive to buyers who might not have all the money then and there, but eBay still pays the sellers upfront -- they don't have to wait to be paid each month or anything like that. Buyers make their monthly payments to PayPal's credit provider instead. The APR of the Buyer's Credit program is currently 12.9%. You can pay back $999 or more over 12 months, or $1,999 or more over 24 months. There are also interest-free options for purchases of $199 or more over 3, 6 or 12 months. The reason why some of these credit offers sound better than others is that it is up to the seller to decide how good the credit offer should be and pay extra to PayPal to offer it. To give their buyer the best promotion, for example, of no interest for twelve months, the seller must pay 3.75% of the item's cost to PayPal. Basically, this means that sellers pay less when the buyers pay interest, and sellers pay the cost of the interest on the interest-free offers. PayPal makes its interest either way, buyers are happy to get credit, and sellers are happy to sell more. Can I Get This Credit? On items over $199, Buyer's Credit is now being automatically offered to buyers in the USA only. Just click the link when you buy something for more than $199 and you will be taken through the application process, which includes a 30-second check on your credit history. Then you just go through the buying process as normal, and you get your item before you've paid a penny. Why are eBay Offering This? eBay say they want to "level the playing field", to allow eBay businesses to compete with the big chain stores, and they also want to promote PayPal as a payment method. Relatively few buyers can afford the more expensive items on eBay all at once, and so the introduction of Buyer's Credit seems likely to significantly increase prices and sales at the higher end of the market. It is worth noting that you can use Buyer's Credit anywhere PayPal is accepted, not just on eBay. PayPal say it's "like a credit card -- minus the card!" You don't get a card number -- you can pay with credit with just your email address and password. The only thing left to do now, then, is find the best deal for that really special item -- the expensive thing you've been wanting for ages but could never afford. But how can you be sure you're getting the best price? Try our tips and tricks for eBay searching, in the next email. How to Get eBay Coupons. You have to be very lucky to be one of the chosen few who receive an eBay coupon by email. These coupons are just like cash that you can use towards anything you buy on eBay -- the only conditions being that you pay using PayPal, and that you are using eBay in the USA, Canada or the UK. There are two ways to get eBay coupons. Wait for that Email. Of course, if you just wait, you'll be waiting for a long time. You have to do something to make yourself look like the kind of person eBay would want to tempt back with a coupon. If you open an account, buy a few medium-value things and then suddenly stop, the chances are you'll find yourself with some kind of special offer -- but still, not always. Go Searching. The better way, of course, is to go and find the coupons that are out there on the web. This is quite hit-and-miss, as eBay don't always have an offer on, but when there's a valid code you can guarantee that it'll be everywhere within a few hours. Just type 'ebay coupon codes' into your favourite search engine, but be prepared to pick through some rubbish. You might find you have better luck if you use a more obscure search engine, where people haven't taken the trouble to game the results. If going through search engines is too much for you, then just keep an eye out at any community forums you frequent, where someone might just post one. You probably have the best chances if you make a few friends on eBay's own forums at http://hub.ebay.com/community. It can be fun and educational to chat to the regulars there too, so you really have nothing to lose. How do You Redeem Coupons? A coupon is basically a code, with some being quite long. All you need to do is pay with PayPal as usual for the item you want to use the coupon towards. After you choose PayPal as your payment method, you will notice a heading that says 'Coupons, Gift Certificates and eBay Anything Points'. Type the coupon code in here: they can be long, so you should use copy-and-paste to make sure you get it right. Just click 'Redeem', and it's good to go. Don't worry about causing problems for sellers by doing this, by the way -- they have no way of even telling that you used a coupon, as eBay just pay them for the item as usual. Coupons are good for sellers as they attract more buyers to eBay, meaning that they get more bids on their auctions. After all, why would they object to getting more money without you actually having to pay it? Since you're interested in making your eBay shopping more affordable, you might be interested to know that you can now buy eBay items on credit. Our next email will tell you all the details of eBay's new 'Buyer's Credit' program. Using PayPal on eBay. PayPal and eBay were made for each other -- and now that eBay own PayPal, using them together is getting even easier. What is PayPal? People with PayPal accounts can send money to each other securely online. You can deposit money in a PayPal account from a bank account or a credit card, and withdraw money to your bank account. It is the most common way of paying on eBay, as well as being in widespread use on the rest of the Internet. Opening a PayPal Account. It's very easy to get a PayPal account. Just go to www.paypal.com and click the 'Sign Up' link. As a buyer, you should get a Personal account -- you can always upgrade later if you decide to start selling. Then all you need to do is enter your address, phone number and email address, and create a password, and two secret questions. You'll be emailed a confirmation, and then you're done! If you want to deposit money into the account now, then you need to register a credit or debit card or your bank details, and if you want to withdraw money then you need to register your bank details. There's no need to do anything like that just yet, though. Paying with PayPal. Paying with PayPal is very simple. When you win an auction and click 'Pay Now', you'll be given a list of payment methods the seller accepts. You should always check what the seller accepts before you bid, as there are still some sellers who won't take PayPal. If the seller does accept PayPal, it will already be chosen for you on the payment page. Now you just need to press 'Next', type in your PayPal username and password and confirm the amount you want to pay. The first time you pay with PayPal you will need to enter the details of your card or bank account, but after that it will remember for you. Becoming Verified. You might have noticed that there is a limit to how much money you can send or withdraw using PayPal before you need to be verified. Verification has two steps. First, PayPal deposit some very small amounts of money in your bank account and you need to tell them how much they deposited. Second, they need to phone you to confirm your address and phone number. Once you've done that, all the limits on your account will be lifted. Log in at paypal.com and click on 'Get Verified' for more information. While you've been paying for your items, what you might not have realised is that eBay occasionally offers money off coupons. But where do you get them? The next email tells you all about it. SafeHarbor; eBay's Own Scotland Yard. SafeHarbor are the eBay police department. If you break the rules, commit fraud or try to buy something you're not supposed to, they'll be after you. When You Don't Pay. This is the most common rule buyers break -- it's all too easy to just change your mind and try to get out of the auction. eBay regards every auction as a contract, and will punish you if you don't go through with your end of the deal. If you decide not to pay then expect to get a few nasty warning emails from eBay threatening you with banning if you do it again. Not to mention, of course, that you'll get a big negative 'DID NOT PAY' feedback comment from the seller. So There Are Things You Can't Buy on eBay? Yes, there are: more things than you'd expect. It makes sense that you can't buy firearms, for example, but you also can't buy fireworks -- eBay are worried about the risks of sending them in the post. Laws in many countries mean that you can't buy alcohol or tobacco. You can't buy illegal or prescription drugs, stocks and shares, or lottery tickets. No underwear, either. You can't buy any little pet puppies or kittens, as animals are banned. If items infringe on copyright, like pirate CDs or software, then they're not allowed either. eBay's policy is controversial, not least because it is somewhat random in its enforcement -- and there have been accusations that they're more responsive to the copyright concerns of big businesses than to auctions for items that might actually be dangerous. If they do decide to go after you or the seller, though, they will cancel the auction and may also suspend your accounts. Fraud. eBay runs remarkably well considering how unregulated it is, but there are still fraudsters. If you are a victim of fraud -- for example, you pay for an item that never turns up -- then SafeHarbor will investigate for you. eBay's standard purchase protection will give you up to $200 back if your claim is successful. Be aware, though, that this can take a few months. In addition, if you paid by PayPal, then they can usually reverse the transaction relatively easily and get you more (if not all) of your money back. This is another reason why many buyers prefer to use PayPal. Some sellers are a little scared of the effectiveness of the refund system, as they can send out items in good faith only to find that their buyer was fraudulent and the transaction has been reversed. If you're worried about fraud, as a buyer, you should always use PayPal. What's that? You don't know how to use PayPal? Well, luckily for you, the next article is all about using PayPal to improve your eBay life. The eBay Buyer's FAQ. So you have a question? Has something gone very wrong and you don't know what to do? Well, fair enough. Here are the questions that I hear all the time from buyers. Does eBay have a Customer Service Department I Can Phone? eBay are notoriously hard to contact, should you ever need to -- it sometimes seems like they expect the site to run itself. You can email them, as long as you don't have your heart set on a coherent response: go to http://pages.ebay.com/help/contact_us/_base/index.html. You might have better luck in a 'live help' webchat here: http://pages.ebay.com/help/basics/n-livehelp.html. Only eBay Power Sellers (sellers with a very high feedback rating) get to phone customer service. If you really want to try your luck, type 'ebay [your country] phone number' into a search engine and you'll probably find something. Unfortunately, the chances are you'll have gone to all that trouble for the privilege of leaving an answerphone message. It might seem cruel, but imagine the number of people who would call eBay every day with the silliest questions if they gave out their phone number everywhere. Its Wild West nature is, in a way, part of its charm. eBay Sent Me an Email Saying They're Going to Close My Account. What Should I Do? This email asks for your password, right? It's a scam, an attempt to frighten you, make you give up your details and then steal your account. eBay will never ask for your password or any other account details by email. eBay say that you should only ever enter your password on pages that whose addresses start with http://signin.ebay.com/. They even offer a special 'Account Guard' as part of their toolbar, which lets you check that you're not giving your password to a dodgy fake site. You can read more here: http://pages.ebay.com/toolbar/accountguard_1.html. It Seems Too Good to be True. How Does eBay Make Money? For you, the buyer, eBay is free. Sellers, though, pay all sorts of fees: a listing fee for each item they list, a final value fee (a percentage of what the item sold for). They can they pay optional fees for extra services, including Buy it Now, extra pictures, reserve prices, highlighting the auction, putting it in bold, listing it first in search results or even putting it on the front page. You can see a full list of fees at http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/fees.html. It's obviously worth it to the sellers, though, or they wouldn't carry on using eBay. The system is quite efficient, and basically forces both eBay and the sellers to keep their profit margins as low as possible -- otherwise prices will simply go too high and the buyers will stop buying. How Safe is eBay? Well, as it happens, that's the subject of our next email! All of eBay's safety services for buyers and sellers are in one place, called 'SafeHarbor'. SafeHarbor handles fraud prevention and investigation, helps with dispute resolution and keeps rule-breakers in check. Read all about it next time, and be safe. You Won that eBay Auction! Now What Do You Do? It's a heady feeling when you win your first eBay auction: a mixture of happiness and perhaps just a little fear. After all, there seems to be so much to do before you can actually get your item. What do you do next? The simple answer is: you send payment to the seller, as quickly as possible. The quicker you pay, the more your seller will like you, and the sooner your item will arrive. But how you go about it? That all depends on how you plan to pay. PayPal. PayPal is one of the most popular options for paying on eBay, to the point where eBay decided to buy the company. It allows instant electronic payment across the Internet. Money goes instantly from your credit or debit card to the seller's PayPal account, where they can either use it for Internet purchases or transfer it out to their bank. eBay offer incentives for using PayPal, and almost all sellers now accept it. Its instant nature makes sellers very happy, and means that they can have your item packed and sent and leave you some positive feedback within a few hours of the auction ending. When paying by PayPal, you will be covered by PayPal's own insurances and guarantees, as well as any that your card might have. Cheques and Money Orders. This is payment the old-fashioned way, and will lead to a long wait to your item. You need to post the cheque or money order, then the seller has to take it to the bank and get it cleared, and only then do they send the item. The only reason to use this method is if either you or the seller distrusts electronic payment methods. If you're willing to go to the trouble with these sellers, though, you might get an item very cheaply, as most buyers just can't be bothered. When you pay by cheque or money order, make sure to print the eBay order confirmation page (it will be emailed to you) and put it in the envelope with your payment. Underline or circle key information like your mailing address and the item number. Finally, remember to be patient: keep in contact with the seller, as it really can take a month or two before everything falls into place and your item turns up. Money Transfers and Bank Deposits. Some sellers may ask you to pay them using a wire service like Western Union, or simply give you a bank account number and ask you to pay money into it. Unless you really trust the seller, this is generally a bad idea -- these methods are hard to trace and you're unlikely to get any money back if anything goes wrong. Paying in cash, it hardly needs to be said, is an even worse idea. It's all a lot to take in, isn't it? I'm sure by now you've got a few questions, which is why the next email will be a little eBay buyer's FAQ. Let's hope we can solve any problems you might have. When and How to Withdraw Your eBay Bid (and Why You Might Not Want To). eBay are a little strict about letting you withdraw your bid. They call it a 'bid retraction', and have a stringent set of conditions that you must meet before you are allowed to do it. Here are eBay's three acceptable reasons for withdrawing a bid. You made a typographical error: This means that you accidentally typed the wrong amount into the bid box, bidding a far higher price than you meant to. This can be scary: imagine bidding $100 and accidentally adding an extra '0'! You are entirely allowed to withdraw your bid in this situation, and bid again if you want to. The item's description changed: If you bid on something and then the seller updates the description, you have the right to withdraw your bid. It wouldn't be fair, after all, to force you to take something that you now realise you don't want. The seller is uncontactable: If emails to the seller bounce and they don't answer their phone, then the auction obviously can't continue, and you can cancel it. So How Do I Retract My Bid? eBay hide away the bid retraction form a bit, because they don't like people using it. You can find it by going here: http://cgi1.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?RetractBidShow. Now all you need is the item number from your auction: this can be found on the item description page's top right corner. If you can't see it on the page, look in your browser's title bar, and in any emails eBay have sent you about your bid on the item. Choose one of the three allowed reasons, click 'retract bid', and you're done. Are There Any Consequences? Well yes, there are. The more unethical among you might have considered that you could just cancel bids anytime you feel like it by saying that you accidentally entered the wrong amount. eBay are one step ahead of you. Each time you retract a bid, it is counted on your feedback page for all to see -- and anyone with a lot of retracted bids looks more than a little dodgy. eBay also say that abusing the bid retraction feature could get you banned. So is there a way to retract your bid without facing a penalty? There is if your seller is nice, and most are. Sellers can cancel bids on their auctions at any time, and if you email them with a half-decent excuse then most will be more than happy to do this for you. After all, it's not in their interest for their item to go to someone who won't like it, as you might leave negative feedback. Of course, retracting your bid should still be a rare thing: you won't win auctions that way! If you've followed us this far, the chances are you've won an auction by now, or you're close -- but you might be a little puzzled about what to do next. Our next email will give you a few pointers. eBay Auction Buyer's Tips and Tricks. eBay isn't just an auction and a marketplace: often it can feel quite a lot like a game. Like any game, you can get ahead if you think strategically, using your head to outwit the other buyers and get the best price. Here are a few things you can try. Shop in the Summer. This is simple, but effective. Summer is the quiet season on eBay -- almost everything sells for less. While everyone else is out enjoying the sun, invest a little time to find some real bargains. Beat Them by a Few Cents. Outbid people by a few cents instead of a few dollars -- if they don't check back before the auction ends, then you will be the winner. To avoid people using this tactic on you, though, always bid strange, hard-to-guess amounts instead of round numbers. Play Dirty. If you know when the auction ends, you can get in there at the very last second and outbid your rivals. The chances are that they won't have the time to sit in front of the auction waiting for it to end -- as a rule, he who stays wins. If someone else does retaliate at the end of the auction, though, try not to get carried away in those last few seconds and end up paying too much! Take Risks. This is a strategy for the braver eBay buyer. All of the advice you will see for eBay beginners tells you to buy items that have good pictures, clear descriptions, trustworthy sellers and all the rest. If you're brave, why not take a risk and do the exact opposite? Many buyers won't want that item from the seller with a feedback rating of 5, no picture and a one-line description. If you take a calculated risk and bid anyway, you might be able to make a tiny bid and win by default. There are people on eBay who make their living from winning auctions like these, taking good pictures of the item, writing a good description and then reselling it at a huge profit. Be careful, though: do this for long enough, and you will inevitably lose your money at some point. It's especially unwise to try it with very high-value items. Avoid Bidding Wars. There are few things on eBay that are so rare that you'll only see them once and never again. There are usually quite a few sellers who have an item. What's more, they will generally have more than one to sell, even if they haven't listed them all at once. Always check your seller's history to see whether they sell your item all the time -- and if they do, then wait for the next one instead of bidding to the skies. Now, there may come a time in your eBay life when you realise that you've screwed up your bid, and you wish there was an 'undo' button. Here's the good news for you: there is! The next email will be all about withdrawing your eBay bids. When to "Buy Now" and When to Bid. You will often find yourself facing the choice of whether to pay a fixed price or keep on bidding. This choice might be presented to you in a single auction, or you might be choosing between different auctions of the different types. So should you use that 'Buy it Now' button or keep on trying to outbid everyone else? It's all a question of weighing up the advantages and disadvantages. Buy it Now. - The Advantages. When you use Buy it Now, you know the asking price and you can take some time to decide whether to pay it or not -- you can even negotiate. You don't need to keeping your eye on the auction, or get caught up in the last-minute bidding frenzy that is now inevitable on any popular item. Not only that, but the seller will be happy to get a fixed price for their item, and they're likely to nicer to you than usual. Some sellers can be a little resentful when they feel that you got a little too much of a bargain on their item. - The Disadvantages. You will almost certainly pay more for the item, especially with more expensive items. Also, it takes some of the fun out of eBay. Aren't you there for an auction, after all? If you want to pay a fixed price then there are thousands of online stores you could be visiting. It's like pressing 'collect' instead of 'gamble' on a fruit machine: it's the boring option. But then, maybe that's what you want. These rules are relatively constant: there are few times when using Buy it Now would allow you to get something cheaper, or when bidding would be an easier way to do it. In the end, as with so many things in life, it's a simple question of price vs. convenience, and it's up to you. There are those times, though, when the strategic use of the Buy it Now button can be a useful tool to help you outwit your competition. If the current bid is almost as high as the Buy it Now price, then why bid higher and keep the contest going? Clicking that button is a no-brainer. The same goes for times when a seller has, for some reason, set the Buy it Now price only slightly higher than their starting price for bids. Why bother to go through all the hassle of bidding? You might also find that there are times when you should leave the Buy it Now button as a last resort: it can be a useful way of ending last-minute contests with a decisive 'this is mine' gesture. In fact, there are all sorts of tricks you can use on eBay, if you want to get ahead of the game. Remember that most buyers on eBay are casual, and don't know what they're doing: a little knowledge can go a long way in getting you an advantage. Our next email will have a few tips and tricks for you. Understanding the Different eBay Auction Types. Over the years, eBay has introduced all sorts of different auction types, in an effort to give people more options when they buy and sell their things on eBay. There are many people who don't like the idea that their item might sell for a far lower price than they intend. Equally, there are people who have hundreds of the same item and don't want to sell them individually. This email gives you an overview of the different kinds of auctions and how to spot them. Normal Auctions. These are the bread-and-butter of eBay, the auctions everyone knows: you bid, others outbid you, you outbid them, and the winner gets the item. Simple. Reserve Auctions. Reserve auctions are for sellers who don't want their items to sell for less than a certain price -- a concept you'll know about if you're familiar with real auctions. They work just like normal auctions on eBay, except that you will be told if your bid has not met the reserve price set by the seller. If no-one is willing to meet this price, then the auction is cancelled, and the seller keeps the item. You can spot these auctions by looking out for 'Reserve not met' or 'Reserve met' written next to the current bid on an item's description page. Fixed Price ('Buy it Now') Auctions. Buy it Now auctions can work in one of two ways. A seller might add a Buy it Now button to a normal auction, meaning that you can choose either to bid normally or to simply pay the asking price and avoid the whole bidding process. Some sellers, though, now cut out the auction process altogether and simply list all their items at fixed price. Recently, eBay added a twist to fixed price auctions: the 'best offer'. This means that you can negotiate a price to someone who offers their items using Buy it Now, which could be a great way to get a bargain on things that don't seem to be selling. Fixed price auctions are easy to spot, as they have a little 'Buy it Now' logo either next to or instead of the current number of bids on the search listings page. Multiple Item ('Dutch') Auctions. These are auctions where a seller is selling more than one of a certain item. Dutch auctions can be done by bidding. Buyers bid a price and say how many items they want, and then everyone pays the lowest price that was bid by one of the winning bidders. If you have trouble getting your head around that, then don't worry -- everyone else does too! These auctions are very rare. What is more common is when a seller has a lot of one item, and lists it using a combination of two auction types: a multiple-item fixed price auction. This just means that they say how many they have, and offer them at a fixed price. You can enter how many you want and then just click Buy it Now to get them. After all this, you might find yourself facing a dilemma: when you have the option, should you bid, or should you just use Buy it Now and save yourself the hassle? That's what the next email will be about. How to Check an eBay Seller's Reputation (and Why You Should Do It). When you buy something from an eBay seller, you are giving them your money and hoping that you will get something in return. However many guarantees of safety eBay might make to you, nothing is certain: if you just give your money to scammers all the time without doing any checks then the chances are you won't get all of that money back. That's why you should always check the seller's reputation, or 'feedback rating'. This is a quick and easy-to-read summary of their history as an eBay seller, which gives you some idea of whether or not you should trust them with your money. Buying anything is a calculated risk: you want to minimise that risk. How to Check Feedback Ratings. On each item's description page, there is a box in the top-right hand corner about the seller, with the title 'Seller information'. This contains the seller's name, their feedback score, and their positive feedback percentage, as well as any stars they have earned. Different coloured stars are given to eBay sellers depending on their rating, in this sequence: yellow, blue, turquoise, purple, red, green, shooting yellow, shooting turquoise, shooting purple, shooting red. Anyone with a 'shooting' star is an experienced eBay member who you should be able to trust. If you click on the seller's name, you can get to a more detailed view of their reputation -- their 'member profile' page. This page shows the total number of people who gave them a positive or negative rating, as well as a breakdown by time. You can also see a complete history of all the comments that have ever been left about them, with the most recent first. What to Look For. You might assume that anyone with a very high number can be trusted, but that isn't always true. It is more important to look at their positive feedback percentage -- and you should really consider anything below 99% to be a red flag and investigate further. Take a look through the first visible page with the most recent transactions: are there any negative comments? What do they say? Take others' experiences into account, as they could happen to you if you deal with this person. Be careful not to punish sellers unfairly, however, if they did bad things in their past on eBay but have improved since. You should look at the breakdown by time and ignore any negative feedback that was left a long time ago. Equally, though, you should sit up and pay attention if a seller seems to have been left an out-of-character amount of bad feedback in the last month or so. Now that you know who to trust, it is worth learning a little more about how the different kinds of auctions work, so that you don't accidentally slip up and make yourself and your feedback page look bad. Our next email will be about the different kinds of auctions you can expect to encounter during your time on eBay. How Important is Your Buyer's Reputation? Your reputation as a buyer (or 'feedback rating') is the most important thing people see when they deal with you on eBay. It is on the basis of this little number that they will decide whether they can trust you or not. Each time you buy or sell something on eBay, people can leave feedback for you, and you can leave feedback for them. This feedback can be positive, negative, or neutral, along with a comment. Your feedback rating, then, is worked out using a very simple sum: the number of positive feedback comments people have left for you, minus the number of negative ones. This means that someone with a feedback rating of 28, for example, might have 30 positive ratings and 2 negative ones. If you are a considerate buyer, then you should find that positive feedback will just appear next to your username, without you needing to do anything. If you want to help it along, though, there are a few things you can do. Always leave feedback for others: People will feel an obligation to leave feedback for you if you leave it for them (eBay will send you an email after each transaction to offer you the opportunity). Take the time to write a positive comment about sellers who do what they should and the chances are they'll do the same for you. Pay promptly: Sellers love nothing more than to be paid promptly -- paying as soon as the auction ends saves the seller all sorts of worry, especially if you pay by credit card or another electronic method. You will often find that your positive feedback appears within a few minutes of you paying if you pay as soon as the auction ends. Don't be a difficult customer: Understand that your seller might take a day or so to respond to you, and perhaps a few days to send your item -- harassing them is nasty and unnecessary, and won't get you good feedback. Build relationships: If a seller sells a lot of a certain kind of thing you like, buy from them a few more times. They will be very happy to find a regular customer, and will go out of their way to leave positive feedback like 'a joy to deal with as ever'. Also, they might offer you a few special deals! Sellers won't generally be reluctant to sell to buyers without much of a reputation, simply because it is the buyer who takes most of the risk in a transaction. It is worth remembering, however, that transactions where you are the seller and where you are the buyer are counted towards the same feedback total -- so if you ever want to start selling, being a good buyer is especially worthwhile. On eBay, people pay far more attention to sellers' ratings than they do to buyers' -- most sellers can't be bothered to check their buyers' feedback, while bad feedback on a seller can (and should) be a dealbreaker. When you are buying, then, you need to worry more about the seller's reputation than you do about your own, and that's why the next email will be all about sellers' feedback ratings. How Important is Your Buyer's Reputation? Your reputation as a buyer (or 'feedback rating') is the most important thing people see when they deal with you on eBay. It is on the basis of this little number that they will decide whether they can trust you or not. Each time you buy or sell something on eBay, people can leave feedback for you, and you can leave feedback for them. This feedback can be positive, negative, or neutral, along with a comment. Your feedback rating, then, is worked out using a very simple sum: the number of positive feedback comments people have left for you, minus the number of negative ones. This means that someone with a feedback rating of 28, for example, might have 30 positive ratings and 2 negative ones. If you are a considerate buyer, then you should find that positive feedback will just appear next to your username, without you needing to do anything. If you want to help it along, though, there are a few things you can do. Always leave feedback for others: People will feel an obligation to leave feedback for you if you leave it for them (eBay will send you an email after each transaction to offer you the opportunity). Take the time to write a positive comment about sellers who do what they should and the chances are they'll do the same for you. Pay promptly: Sellers love nothing more than to be paid promptly -- paying as soon as the auction ends saves the seller all sorts of worry, especially if you pay by credit card or another electronic method. You will often find that your positive feedback appears within a few minutes of you paying if you pay as soon as the auction ends. Don't be a difficult customer: Understand that your seller might take a day or so to respond to you, and perhaps a few days to send your item -- harassing them is nasty and unnecessary, and won't get you good feedback. Build relationships: If a seller sells a lot of a certain kind of thing you like, buy from them a few more times. They will be very happy to find a regular customer, and will go out of their way to leave positive feedback like 'a joy to deal with as ever'. Also, they might offer you a few special deals! Sellers won't generally be reluctant to sell to buyers without much of a reputation, simply because it is the buyer who takes most of the risk in a transaction. It is worth remembering, however, that transactions where you are the seller and where you are the buyer are counted towards the same feedback total -- so if you ever want to start selling, being a good buyer is especially worthwhile. On eBay, people pay far more attention to sellers' ratings than they do to buyers' -- most sellers can't be bothered to check their buyers' feedback, while bad feedback on a seller can (and should) be a dealbreaker. When you are buying, then, you need to worry more about the seller's reputation than you do about your own, and that's why the next email will be all about sellers' feedback ratings. Your Rights as an eBay Buyer. When you buy things on eBay, you pay the seller before they send you anything. This means that you, as a buyer, are vulnerable to all sorts of problems. You might not get the items you have paid for, or they might be damaged or faulty. Luckily, you have two very important rights when you buy on eBay. The Right to Receive Your Item. Maybe the seller never sent the item, or maybe it got lost in the post. Whatever happened, you paid for the item. If it doesn't arrive in the post as described, you have the right to a replacement or a refund, whether it's the seller's fault or not. The fact that you bought something on eBay doesn't mean that you don't have the exact same rights that you would have if you bought it in a shop (these rights are pretty much the same all over the world). Plus, under eBay's rules, the seller isn't allowed to change their mind about selling you the item: once the auction ends, it becomes a contract -- you must buy and they must sell, or face eBay's penalties. The Right for Your Item to Be as Described in the Auction. Sometimes sellers don't wrap items properly, and so they get broken. Occasionally they write descriptions that are misleading or just plain wrong to begin with, leaving out vital details that would have caused you to change your mind about buying. If this happens to you, you again have the right to a replacement or a refund. So How Do I Use My Rights? First, you should take it up with the seller -- most will be responsive, as do not want to have their reputation damaged when an upset buyer leaves negative feedback for all their future buyers to see. If that doesn't work, report them to eBay. While eBay don't have many people handling complaints, they do have a relatively effective set of automatic process to handle common problems buyers and sellers have with one another. Finally, if that doesn't work, then you should seek advice from consumer groups in your country, and as a last resort from the police. You should never have to get this far, though: problems on eBay that can't be resolved easily are extremely rare. Don't Be Too Quick. Remember not to get too annoyed and be unfair to the seller: nice sellers have agreed to give me refunds for undelivered items, only for me to find out a few weeks later that they were being held for me at the post office! Always try your best to communicate and think of everything that might have gone wrong: eBay works best when buyers and sellers sort out their problems together, instead of reporting each other to the authorities straight away. More often that not receiving what they paid for, buyers have an altogether different problem: they knew what they were paying for, but didn't realise that what they were paying for was overpriced, low quality or a scam. The next email will give you a list of tips on how to avoid being ripped off on eBay. 5 Simple Steps to Posting Your First eBay Auction. It's surprisingly simple to get started posting your very first auction on eBay. Here's what you need to do. Step 1: Open an eBay seller's account. If you've bought things on eBay, then you already have an account -- just log in with it and click 'Sell' in the toolbar at the top of the page, then click 'Create a seller's account'. If you've never used eBay before, then you'll need to open an account first using the 'register' link underneath the toolbar, and then click 'Sell' and 'Create a seller's account'. The eBay site will then guide you through the process. For security, this may involve giving card details and bank information. Step 2: Decide what to sell. For your first little experiment with eBay, it doesn't really matter what you sell. Take a look around the room you're in -- I'm sure there's something in there that you're not all that attached to and could put in the post. Small books and CDs are ideal first items. Step 3: Submit your item. Click 'Sell', and you're on your way to listing your item. The first thing you need to do is choose a category -- it's best to just type in what the item is and let eBay choose for you. Next, write a title and description. Include key words you think people will search for in the title box, and all the information you have about the item in the description box. Now set a starting price. $0.01 is the best starting price, as it draws people in to bid who otherwise wouldn't, and items will almost never finish at such a low price. The next thing to set is the duration of the auction: 3, 5, 7 or 10 days. This is up to you: longer sales will usually get more bids, but will also seem to drag on forever. If you've taken a picture, add it now -- items with pictures always sell for more. Finally, tick the payment methods you will accept (just PayPal is best for now), and where you will post to (limit yourself to your own country to begin with). Submit and you're done! Step 4: Wait for it to sell. This is just a matter of sitting back and letting eBay do its thing -- buyers will find your item and leave bids on it. Some bidders might email you with questions about the item, and you should do your best to answer these questions as quickly as you can. Remember that if your item doesn't sell then you can list it again for free. Step 5: Collect payment and post it. eBay will sent your buyer emails guiding them through the process of sending you payment for the item. Make sure you have the money before you send anything. Once you've got the payment, all you need to do is pack the item for posting (make sure to use some bubble wrap), take the buyer's address from the confirmation email eBay sent you, and write it on the parcel. Put some stamps on, post it, and you're done! I hope you enjoyed selling your first item. Now that you're starting to get into it, the next email will give you a checklist of things you need to do to be a successful seller. How Important is Your Buyer's Reputation? Your reputation as a buyer (or 'feedback rating') is the most important thing people see when they deal with you on eBay. It is on the basis of this little number that they will decide whether they can trust you or not. Each time you buy or sell something on eBay, people can leave feedback for you, and you can leave feedback for them. This feedback can be positive, negative, or neutral, along with a comment. Your feedback rating, then, is worked out using a very simple sum: the number of positive feedback comments people have left for you, minus the number of negative ones. This means that someone with a feedback rating of 28, for example, might have 30 positive ratings and 2 negative ones. If you are a considerate buyer, then you should find that positive feedback will just appear next to your username, without you needing to do anything. If you want to help it along, though, there are a few things you can do. Always leave feedback for others: People will feel an obligation to leave feedback for you if you leave it for them (eBay will send you an email after each transaction to offer you the opportunity). Take the time to write a positive comment about sellers who do what they should and the chances are they'll do the same for you. Pay promptly: Sellers love nothing more than to be paid promptly -- paying as soon as the auction ends saves the seller all sorts of worry, especially if you pay by credit card or another electronic method. You will often find that your positive feedback appears within a few minutes of you paying if you pay as soon as the auction ends. Don't be a difficult customer: Understand that your seller might take a day or so to respond to you, and perhaps a few days to send your item -- harassing them is nasty and unnecessary, and won't get you good feedback. Build relationships: If a seller sells a lot of a certain kind of thing you like, buy from them a few more times. They will be very happy to find a regular customer, and will go out of their way to leave positive feedback like 'a joy to deal with as ever'. Also, they might offer you a few special deals! Sellers won't generally be reluctant to sell to buyers without much of a reputation, simply because it is the buyer who takes most of the risk in a transaction. It is worth remembering, however, that transactions where you are the seller and where you are the buyer are counted towards the same feedback total -- so if you ever want to start selling, being a good buyer is especially worthwhile. On eBay, people pay far more attention to sellers' ratings than they do to buyers' -- most sellers can't be bothered to check their buyers' feedback, while bad feedback on a seller can (and should) be a dealbreaker. When you are buying, then, you need to worry more about the seller's reputation than you do about your own, and that's why the next email will be all about sellers' feedback ratings. 10 Tips for Increasing Your eBay Response. So you've got the buyer in front of your auction, and they've read the description. They're must be interested, or they wouldn't be looking: but just how can you push them over that line and make them leave a bid? Read on for some tips. Improve your picture: In all that description writing, you might have missed the vital importance of your item's picture. A picture with bad lighting or an intrusive background looks amateurish and won't make anyone want to buy from you. Add an About Me page: You'll be surprised how much you can reassure bidders just by creating an About Me page and putting a little bit about yourself on your business on there. You can also have a few special offers there for people who bother to look at the page, and let people subscribe to your mailing list so that you can email them updates. Use SquareTrade: Signing up at SquareTrade and displaying their logo on your auctions shows that you are committed to have them resolve any disputes that arise. You always see this on PowerSellers auctions -- it makes you look more professional. Write terms and conditions: Have the 'small print' clearly visible on all your auctions, giving details of things like shipping times and prices, your refund policy, and any other business practices you might have. This helps build confidence with buyers. Show off your feedback: Copy and paste a selection of the feedback comments you're most proud of to each item's description page, instead of making bidders go and look for it. If you have 100% positive feedback, be sure to write that on every auction too. Add NR to your titles: If you have extra space in a title, put 'NR' (no reserve) on the end. Bidders prefer auctions that don't have a reserve price, and doing this lets them see that yours don't. Benefits not features: Make sure your description focuses on the benefits that your item can give to the customer, not just its features. This is a classic sales technique. If you have trouble with this, remember: 'cheap' is a feature, 'save money' is a benefit. List more items: If you want more people to respond to your items, then list more items! You might find you have better like listing items at the same time, instead of one-by-one. There's no need to use a Dutch auction -- you can just keep two or three auctions going at once for an item you have more than one of in stock. Accept unusual payment methods: To reach those last few buyers, accept payment methods that many sellers don't, like cheques. Buy some upgrades: The best upgrade is the most expensive one, which makes your item appear first in search results. In crowded categories, you might find that this is worth the money. Once you've got some buyers, you want to keep them coming back to you. The next email will show you how to turn one-time buyers into long-term customers. 10 Sure-fire Ways to Kill Your eBay Business. It's surprisingly easy to kill your eBay business, if you're not careful -- sure, you can start over from scratch without it costing you anything, but do you really want to? Still, if you want your business to end up dead in the water, here are some simple ways to do it. Lie about an item: Say it works fine when it sometimes doesn't work. Say it's in perfect condition when it has a scratch. Your customers will hate you! Post whenever you feel like it: Make sure to leave your customers hanging around, wondering when their item is going to turn up. This makes sure they buy from someone else next time. Let items end anytime: Few people will be around to care about your auction if it ends in the middle of the night. Why go to the trouble of working out whether auctions will end at a good time? Don't bother with email: Customers are just timewasters anyway. eBay businesses are supposed to run themselves! Never give informed responses to questions about your item. Sell rubbish: Really, it's just eBay. You can just sell any old tat from the market for a 200% profit. Let quality be someone else's concern -- I mean, really, what do they expect for that price? Refuse to give discounts: You know what your items cost, you know what your profit margin is going to be, and you're not going to negotiate. Remember that giving customers special deals might make them feel good and come back to you again. Make your listings ugly: As many colours, flashing lights and animations as possible will really give those customers a headache. Write as much in CAPITALS!!!! as you can. Preferably big, red capitals. Be sure to use the fonts Impact and Comic Sans. For an extra special touch, see if you can figure out a way to add some music. Don't take photos: It's such trouble, after all. If buyers are picky enough to actually want to see items before they bid on them, then screw 'em, that's what I say. Write short descriptions: Be as brief as possible, and use lots of mysterious abbreviations. This obviously makes you look very cool. You can even just write the title again in the description box. Think of the effort you'll save! Use reserve auctions: Now, this is a fairly controversial final choice, but it really is one of the best ways to scare away your customers. They'll see 'reserve not yet met', and click that 'back' button before you know it. Luckily, they can always bid in a normal auction for the item somewhere else. Now that you know the ten ways to kill your eBay business, how about we explore what to do if you want to do the opposite, and make a success of it? The next email will give you ten steps to successful selling on eBay. 10 Steps to Successful Selling on eBay. So you want to be a successful seller with your own eBay business, do you? Here's a simple, ten-step path to eBay enlightenment. Step 1: Identify your market. Take a while to sit and watch for what sells and what doesn't out of the items you're interested in. Any market research data you can collect will be very useful to you later on. You'll probably see the 'sweet spots' quite quickly -- those one or two items that always seem to sell for a good price. Step 2: Watch the competition. Before you invest any money, see what the other sellers in your category are up to, and what their strategies are. Pay special attention to any flaws their auctions might have, because this is where you can move in and beat them at their own game. Step 3: Find a product: Get hold of a supplier for whatever it is you want to sell, and see what the best rates you can get are -- don't be afraid to ring round quite a few to get the best deal. If the eBay prices you've seen are higher than the supplier's, then you're set. Step 4: Start small: Don't throw thousands at your idea straight away -- get started slowly, see what works and what doesn't, and learn as you go. Remember that it's very cheap to try out even the craziest ideas on eBay, and who knows, they might just work! Step 5: Test and repeat. Keep trying different strategies until you find something that works, and then don't be ashamed to keep doing it, again and again. The chances are that you've just found a good niche. Step 6: Work out a business plan: A business plan doesn't need to be anything formal, just a few pages that outline the market opportunity you've spotted, your strategy, strengths and weaknesses of the plan and a brief budget. This is more for you than it is for anyone else. Step 7: Invest and expand: This is the time to throw money at the problem. Buy inventory, and start spending more time on your business. Set a goal number of sales each week, increasing it each time. Step 8: Make it official: Once you've made a few thousand dollars worth of sales, you should really register yourself as a business. Don't worry, it's not expensive or hard to do -- a lawyer is the best person to help you through the process. Step 9: Automate: You'll probably find that you're writing the same things again and again in emails or item descriptions. This is the time to give up on the manual method and turn to automated software that can create listings for you, and respond to completed auctions and payments with whatever message you provide. Step 10: Never give up: Even when it looks like it's all going wrong, don't stop trying until you succeed. If you keep working at it then you'll almost always find that you make a real breakthrough just when things are starting to look desperate. Once you get into the swing of things, you might start thinking that you should quit your job and take up eBay selling part time. But it's not always as easy as that -- there are all sorts of factors that you need to consider. The next email will weigh up the case for and against taking up eBay full-time. The History of eBay eBay was created in September 1995, by a man called Pierre Omidyar, who was living in San Jose. He wanted his site -- then called 'AuctionWeb' -- to be an online marketplace, and wrote the first code for it in one weekend. It was one of the first websites of its kind in the world. The name 'eBay' comes from the domain Omidyar used for his site. His company's name was Echo Bay, and the 'eBay AuctionWeb' was originally just one part of Echo Bay's website at ebay.com. The first thing ever sold on the site was Omidyar's broken laser pointer, which he got $14 for. The site quickly became massively popular, as sellers came to list all sorts of odd things and buyers actually bought them. Relying on trust seemed to work remarkably well, and meant that the site could almost be left alone to run itself. The site had been designed from the start to collect a small fee on each sale, and it was this money that Omidyar used to pay for AuctionWeb's expansion. The fees quickly added up to more than his current salary, and so he decided to quit his job and work on the site full-time. It was at this point, in 1996, that he added the feedback facilities, to let buyers and sellers rate each other and make buying and selling safer. In 1997, Omidyar changed AuctionWeb's -- and his company's -- name to 'eBay', which is what people had been calling the site for a long time. He began to spend a lot of money on advertising, and had the eBay logo designed. It was in this year that the one-millionth item was sold (it was a toy version of Big Bird from Sesame Street). Then, in 1998 -- the peak of the dotcom boom -- eBay became big business, and the investment in Internet businesses at the time allowed it to bring in senior managers and business strategists, who took in public on the stock market. It started to encourage people to sell more than just collectibles, and quickly became a massive site where you could sell anything, large or small. Unlike other sites, though, eBay survived the end of the boom, and is still going strong today. 1999 saw eBay go worldwide, launching sites in the UK, Australia and Germany. eBay bought half.com, an Amazon-like online retailer, in the year 2000 -- the same year it introduced Buy it Now -- and bought PayPal, an online payment service, in 2002. Pierre Omidyar has now earned an estimated $3 billion from eBay, and still serves as Chairman of the Board. Oddly enough, he keeps a personal weblog at http://pierre.typepad.com. There are now literally millions of items bought and sold every day on eBay, all over the world. For every $100 spent online worldwide, it is estimated that $14 is spent on eBay -- that's a lot of laser pointers. Now that you know the history of eBay, perhaps you'd like to know how it could work for you? Our next email will give you an idea of the possibilities.






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