The Prudent Collector


Guides & Articles

eBay Buying Tips & Advice

eBay is a wonderful marketplace for buyers and sellers to come together and trade in collectibles of all types. With some expert knowledge you can greatly enhance your buying experience and get that rare collectable figurine or art glass item for a bargain price! We are happy to offer these eBay buying tips based on many years of experience of buying collectible items on eBay.

Look for items with misspelled words in the title such as Llardo figurines, Longerberger baskets, etc. Items with misspelled titles get found in searches much less often due to the incorrect spelling and you can sometimes get them for a bargain price because of that. Try all of the spelling variations you can think of in a search and see what bargains you can find!

Did you know that if you're a member of eBay that you can save your favorite searches and get daily email updates when an item is found that matches? Membership on eBay is completely free and without any obligation whatsoever so sign up here to try it out. Once you've signed up search for an item and then click the "save this search" link. You can save up to 100 different searches. This is a wonderful way to get an automated update when that rare collectible you've been looking for suddenly turns up!

Look for auctions ending at low traffic times such as Saturday evenings, late at night and early morning, in the middle of holidays and during major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, etc. The reason for this is that sometimes you can get an item for a lower price because fewer people are around to bid at the last minute.

Statistically most bidders on eBay bid in even amounts such as $50 or $75.50. If you add a few cents to your bid such as $50.03 or $75.54 it can sometimes give you a competitive edge!

When you find an item you're interested in it's sometimes a good idea not to bid too early. Bookmark the item or add it to your eBay watch list. Go back on the day that the item is ending and place your bid as close to the end of the auction as possible. The reason for this is that you will potentially avoid setting off a bidding frenzy and hopefully get the item for a lower price. Placing a bid in the last few seconds is called "sniping". There are even automated services that will do this for you.

Sign up with Paypal, eBay's official payment service. Paypal is one of the safest and most convenient ways to buy on eBay as it lets you pay with your credit card and offers both buyers and sellers numerous protections to ensure a transaction goes smoothly.

When you do sign up with Paypal it's a very good idea to have them confirm your shipping address. Having a confirmed address means that Paypal has verified that your shipping address matches the billing address on your credit card. Many sellers will not ship an item to an unconfirmed address as Paypal only provides seller protection against credit card fraud if the seller ships to a confirmed address.

Before deciding your maximum bid for an item it's a good idea to check recently ended auctions to see what the same item has sold for lately. This can help you avoid paying too much. You'll need a free membership on eBay to search for completed auctions so sign up here, it's completely free and without any obligation. It's also a good idea to check what retail sites are selling the item for to make sure you don't pay too much.

Make sure the seller has a fair and clearly stated return policy. A reputable seller will stand behind what they sell and make it right if they make a mistake in the item description.

Be careful when buying a figurine such as a Lladro or a Hummel if the seller does not include a clear photo of the mark on the underside of the base. These trademark stamps serve to authenticate the figurine as well as indicate the approximate age. Now bear in mind that some sellers are not aware of the importance of these backstamps and may simply have not photographed them for that reason. The best idea is to kindly ask that they send you a clear photograph of the trademark marking. A reputable seller will gladly honor such a request.

On eBay buyers and sellers leave comments or feedback for each other to indicate how a transaction went. Before bidding on an item check the seller's feedback and look for several things. It's a good idea to make sure their percentage of positive feedback is 98% or higher. Make sure to read some of their current feedback to see what recent customers have had to say about them. Also see how they responded to any negative comments - warranted or unwarranted. Was their response calm and professional or did they respond in an unprofessional and rude manner?

One very easy way to build up a good feedback record as a buyer is to always pay the seller quickly when you purchase an item. If the seller does not leave feedback when you pay they're probably waiting for you to leave feedback when you receive the item. Some sellers wait until the buyer leaves feedback thus indicating that they are satisfied and that no problems have arisen.

It's generally best to avoid sellers with private or hidden feedback. While there are occasionally legitimate reasons to make one's feedback private usually they have chosen to hide their feedback due to excessive negative comments from buyers.

Be wary of a seller, especially one with 0 or no feedback, that is selling a high value item with a short duration auction cycle such as a 1 day auction, unless it is a time sensitive item such as theater or sporting event tickets where such a time duration is warranted. Many times a short duration auction, especially a 1 day auction, means that the seller is trying to sell something fraudulent quickly, before it gets reported to eBay.

When reading a seller's feedback don't simply look at the negative and neutral feedback, read some of the positive feedback comments to look for potential problems. Sometimes buyers will leave positive feedback with a negative comment out of fear of receiving negative feedback in retaliation. Of course this has changed as of May 2008 with eBay's controversial new feedback policy which does not allow sellers to leave neutral or negative feedback for buyers.

When you're interested in an item be sure to make note of the shipping costs to ensure that they are reasonably priced. Factor them into your bidding decision and consider them to be part of the total purchase price. If in doubt as to their accuracy be sure to check with the respective shipping company's web site to verify the charges before bidding. Also be sure to properly estimate the size of the shipping box as shipping companies now consider the size of the box to be as important if not more important than the actual total weight. Due to space constraints on trucks and airplanes shipping charges are now calculated using dimensional weight which takes into account the size of the box as well as its weight. In a nutshell a large but lightweight item will be charged more because of its size, not its weight.

Be sure to always read an item description very carefully before bidding. This way you will know exactly what you are bidding on. If you have any questions make sure to ask the seller before bidding.

Be cautious when a seller takes too long to answer a question or does not bother to answer it at all. That being said many high-volume eBay sellers are very busy and sometimes cannot answer a question within an unreasonably short period of time or will not answer a question if it could have been answered by simply reading the item description. For example; perhaps a seller's shipping policy says they will not ship outside of their own country so they ignore questions requesting shipment to foreign countries.

We hope these tips prove helpful and we sincerely thank you for visiting our site. Good luck and happy bidding!

Be sure to check back regularly for more eBay buying tips!

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