How can I get the best deals on eBay?
Dave, I've just started getting into eBay and finding out about the terrific deals available on the site, but I'm not sure what strategies I should be using to get the best price on things I want to buy. Can you advise?
If you're into hunting for deals, there are few sites more compelling than eBay. I'll forget about it for a few months then end up sucked into the auction frenzy myself, bidding on a variety of things that <gasp> I don't even really need!
While lots of people have lots of different strategies for bidding on eBay auctions, including the popular sniping where you wait until the last possible second to submit your bid, often scooping up a great deal before any other bidders can react or respond (and if you're interested in that, I recommend my friend Chuck Eglinton's terrific Bid Robot service). Personally, I don't use sniping as a strategy because I'm typically not quite that passionate about winning.
However, it's remarkably easy to get caught up in auction frenzy and pay far more than you should for a given item. There are two ways you can avoid this; researching completed auctions to ascertain average closing prices and looking for Buy It Now deals.
To illustrate, let me share what happened with my most recent eBay purchase, a Sony PSP UMD format version of the entertaining movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. I started by doing a search for "psp umd pirates" which showed me what auctions were available. Most importantly, on the left side of the search results, it gave me the ability to narrow down my results:
Near the bottom of this list is the option we seek: Completed listings. I checked this, then clicked on "Show Items". Now the search results are all completed auctions and it's easy to see how much this item sold for across a number of different auctions (eBay stores 60 days of auction history). If you do this search yourself -- click here to do the search -- you'll see that the closing prices for this particular movie range from around $11 up to $27. For the same item!
It is important to pay attention to shipping costs - often the cheaper items have much higher shipping charges - but in general, you'll often see quite a spread. I pay particular attention to the Buy It Now auction prices, because that shows what buyers believe is such a good price that they jump right in and circumvent the entire bidding and auction process.
I then bid on a copy of this movie that had a current bid value of $9.00, with a max bid of $13.00. Not six hours later, I received a notice that I had been outbid on this item and that I needed to up my max bid or I wouldn't win the movie.
Here's where experience was helpful; instead of just reacting by bidding higher, I took a deep breath and did another search for "psp umd pirates", this time looking for Buy It Now auctions. Guess what? I found a "like new, perfect condition" copy of the movie also with a starting bid of $9.00, but with a Buy It Now price of only $11.00, and only $3.99 shipping.
Even better, the seller had over 9000 feedback points with a 99.3% positive rate. A good seller, a good product, and a good price.
You can guess what I did. Instead of bidding up the old auction higher, I just let it slip through my fingers and instead used the Buy It Now option on the newer auction to buy the movie for $11.00.
See how that's a good strategy? Even if the first auction ended at $13, it still would have been more expensive than the newer auction, and while it was "new in packaging" versus "like new", for a UMD movie, like a DVD movie, there's not too much worry about wear and tear so the $2.00 savings on the movie (plus another $3 on shipping) made the Buy It Now a terrific deal.
In summary, I strongly encourage all eBay buyers to keep a cool head, don't get caught up in bidding frenzy, and spend some time looking through the "Completed auctions" listings to ascertain where your max bid should be in the first place.
I hope you find this helpful!
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