Special thanks Paul Gill, and to guest eBay author, Joanna Gurnitsky, for this list. This is part of the Become a Power eBayer reference series. This article is written with permission from the author.
For more great tips and information about eBay and the Internet, go to: http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/ebay101/ss/ebay_dos_donts.htm
EBay “Do” #1: Ask Questions
Never place a bid, or “Buy it now”, without a careful examination of the auction first.
Make sure you know exactly what it is that you’re bidding on at eBay. This may sound like common sense, but it’s amazing how many new eBayers lose themselves in the excitement, they forget to pay attention to the details.
Be aware of any conditions the eBay seller might have placed in the ad. These could include: method of payment, shipping and handling cost, amount of time before item will be mailed out, or any extra costs such as taxes or duties, etc.
Also, when it comes to an article of clothing, or shoes, make sure to note the size, color, fabric, finishing, any possible flaws, wear and tear, or damage. This is especially important if the item is “used”, “pre-loved”, or “vintage”.
If there is anything you are not quite sure of, get more information from the eBay seller before you bid. You can do it by clicking “Ask seller a question”, either on the right-hand side or near the bottom of the listing.
The vast majority of sellers encourage potential buyers to ask as many questions as necessary to help them make an educated buying decision.
Since you cannot examine the item in person, you have to rely on the information provided by the seller. After all, once you place a winning bid, you are obligated to complete the transaction.
EBay “Do” #2: Play by the Rules and Obey the Law
It is to your advantage to know which items are prohibited, questionable, infringing or potentially illegal. Whether you are buying or selling, you need to familiarize yourself with a number of regulations concerning the nature of the item up for bid. The item you could be bidding on might be perfectly legal in seller’s country but prohibited in yours.
Examples: crossbows, DHEA supplements, swords, animal products.
Other times, the item is legal to own anywhere but there might be some restrictions in ways of sending it across the border.
Examples: perfumes in pressurized containers, cigarette lighters.
Once in a while, you might come across an auction of an item prohibited by eBay authorities. Whether or not such item is legal, is irrelevant. The article should not be listed on eBay at all.
Examples: glow sticks, fireworks, human body parts.
For a comprehensive list of what can, or cannot, be listed on eBay click the eBay “Help” link and enter “prohibited items” in the search box.
To avoid having confiscation of the goods by customs, find out beforehand if they can be shipped without breaking the law. Remember, if the item is confiscated, you are not entitled to a refund.
EBay “Do” #3: Be Courteous and Polite at All Times
Have you been outbid by the same buyer 5 times in a row? Still waiting for the seller to reply to a question you sent 3 days ago? It happens. It can be irritating. It’s enough to make some people start sending angry messages, or post nasty comments on the eBay Forum. Don’t let this happen to you.
Remember, a little patience does go a long way. Maybe the seller’s email did not work. Re-send the question. As for the buyer who keeps winning “your” auctions, examine the bids. Are you always losing by a tiny amount just seconds before the auction end? Sounds like a “sniping” software in action. Yes, it’s completely legal, and it can be very effective. Give it a try, or set a higher maximum bid.
EBay “Do” #4: Tell the World When You Are Happy
The power of Feedback is enormous – it can make or break a seller, or a buyer. It is the single, most comprehensive, word of mouth “performance review” of every eBay member. If you feel your transaction went smoothly, be sure to say it with Feedback. Remember, eBay Feedback is forever!
It takes time and hard work to earn, and keep, a perfect Feedback. If you are not so happy with how things went, contact the seller first. Most sellers do care a whole lot about making sure their buyers are satisfied, and will do their best to rectify the problem.
EBay “Don’t” #1: Don’t Bid Without First Reading the Ad Carefully
Once in a while, we all come across something we just can’t pass up. Perhaps you just found that awesome mp3 player you’ve always wanted. The bid is only a dollar, and there is only one mp3 player available. What do you do?
The reflex reaction would be to bid immediately. Wrong! Correct action is to carefully read the listing, including all information on shipping and handling costs, method of payment, etc.
Some sellers deliberately list an expensive, sought-after item for cheap to catch the novice buyer off guard. Grossly overpriced shipping and handling charge is where they get you, if you’re not careful! This underhanded trick operates just within the boundaries of eBay policy… and this trick punishes the lazy user who forgets to read the full ad.
EBay “Don’t” #2: Don’t Engage in Bidding Wars
Bidding wars won’t work for you, unless you are the seller. Often, the seller sets the starting price extremely low to entice as many buyers as possible. The buyers start bidding high and often, which starts the “bidding war”, a frenzy of over-excited buyers.
This behavior is common amongst eBay newbie’s who are yet to learn when to keep bidding, and when to let it go. Quite often, seconds before the auction closes, a patient veteran buyer will outbid the novices by mere pennies.
If you are bidding on a rare, hard to find article, it’s understandable you might be willing to bid high. Sometimes, it’s the only way you can win it. Other times, with a little patience and research, you could find another auction for a similar item, at considerably lower price. The feeling of victory is much stronger if you win the auction without breaking the bank.
So the tough lesson here is to show restraint and patience… and to learn how to bid in the last minutes of the auction. The vast majority of eBay sellers want your buying experience to be a happy one, but sometimes, things go awry. Shipping delays are the most common issue, especially if your item is mailed to you from very far away. Cross-border inspections are also about everyone’s safety, and not just to inconvenience you.
The more borders to cross, the longer it may take before you receive your goodies. Many new eBayers fail to recognize this and rush in to leave a negative Feedback for the seller only to regret it the next day when their purchase arrives. Although the actual Feedback message can be mutually withdrawn, the statistics will show there was an unfavorable Feedback left before.
These statistics can make any future sales, or purchases, very difficult.
Again, Feedback is forever, and a little patience goes a long way. If you believe there is an undue delay in receiving your goods, contact the seller. If your package is indeed lost, many sellers will offer to replace the item, or issue a refund.
EBay “Don’t” #4: Don’t Bid Over Your Head
Shopping online can be a lot of fun, providing it doesn’t get you in financial hot water. eBay, in particular, comes with all the convenience of finding just about anything you can think of without having to physically travel the world for it.
Bidding, like gambling, can become addictive. Whether it’s one large bid, or several small ones, the total can quickly add up. Remember, you are also expected to pay for any and all shipping, handling, and insurance costs associated with winning an auction. Unless “money is no object”, don’t spend your next month’s mortgage payment on that cute Prada just because it’s here now. “Buyer’s remorse” doesn’t work on eBay!
So the biggest Don’t of all: be brutally truthful to yourself about how much money you can afford to spend on that eBay item!