The auction site eBay is well known, yet many people are still scared to use it, fearing that buying items will be difficult or unsafe. Here is a guide for the novice.

eBay is now an excellent place to find bargains and save money. As well as the auctions for which it is best-known, there are many fixed price goods, known as ‘Buy It Now’ items. Buyers can find everything from clothing to household goods to cars to collectibles…and much else. But the site looks like a maze for the newbie and many are put off. Here are some guidelines.

How to Buy Goods Successfully on eBay: A Guide to Buying on eBay for Complete Beginners
How to Buy Goods Successfully on eBay: A Guide to Buying on eBay for Complete Beginners

Becoming Acquainted and Registering on eBay

The prospective buyer needs to start by navigating the site and getting to know how it works. It is best to look at different categories and items, and get a feel for how it all fits together.

When he or she is more comfortable with the site, the new eBay user can register. He will need to provide a credit card number for verification, and some personal details. The new user will also need to choose a user name, which will be his identity on eBay. For additional privacy, it is good to select one which is different from the email address.

Searching and Bidding

Once registered the new user is free to browse. He can do a specific search by typing what he is looking for into the search box. It is good to be as specific as possible to avoid having to trawl through thousands of search results.

When the new user has found an item he wants, he is ready to bid. Follow the instructions to place a bid for the item, remembering that it is possible to ‘proxy bid’, that is, place a high bid, but knowing that the full amount will only be paid if someone else is bidding for the item. The details of how this works are clearly explained on the site.

Payment and Receipt of Items

All sellers will say what types of payment they accept. Many will take personal cheques, although eBay’s preferred method is PayPal. It is worth registering for PayPal at the same time as registering on eBay; it is simple and quite safe.

When the item arrives, check it carefully, and contact the seller in the event of any problems.

Some Hints and Tips

  • It is a good idea to ‘watch’ an item in which you are interested, and not bid until the last minute. This can avoid pushing up the bids too high.
  • Before bidding, check the seller’s ‘feedback’. This is a record of how happy buyers have been with previous transactions. If a seller has less than 98% positive feedback, it may be better to beware!
  • For those who don’t like the auction process, there are many fixed price or ‘Buy It Now’ items.
  • Check postage costs carefully. Some sellers inflate these to make more profit, so make sure you will still be getting a bargain.
  • Check if the seller has a returns policy; most do not.
  • If you are happy with the item, don’t forget to leave positive feedback. If you are not happy, it is best to contact the seller and try to resolve things before posting negative feedback.

Once one is accustomed to it, buying on eBay is very simple and usually successful. The feedback system ensures that dishonest sellers do not last long, and the process is very safe. So why not get started?