The aim of my guides is to educate new buyers purchasing on ebay. With use of a little common sense, you can save yourself a lot of frustration, and money!
This guide relates to being sure that your bargain is actually a bargain!
Firstly, consider the item you are buying. Do some research...how much would it cost to buy the item from the high street? Can you buy the item online? How much do they charge?
When comparing prices, the first thing you need to consider is the complete cost that you will have to pay. Generally, in the high street, you go in, hand over the price, and take it home. Internet delivery sites usually charge lower prices, but they also generally have postage and handling costs. On ebay you will almost certainly have to pay postage costs. See if these are listed, if not, do not bid until you have asked! Especially if the item is not located in the United Kingdom. Genuine sellers will have no problems giving you a cost before you bid. Finally, consider the sellers terms on the auction page. Do they want you to pay extra for using paypal? (This is no longer allowed, by the way!) DO you have to add VAT (17.5%) to the final price? Add up the total delievered cost of your item from all sources, then you are armed with the necessary information to make the most cost effective purchase.
Don't get carried away with your bidding in the final minutes of a sale. I have seen it happen again and again...you can get a great deal...a 17" TFT monitor for £60, finishing in 10 minutes...you bid, maximum bid of £75 should seal it....still a good deal...but 3 minutes to go, and someone outbids you, you want the item...so add another £10...then outbid again, so add another £10....in your mind it's still that £60 bargain..but now you are stuck paying £95 for something you could have searched and used but-it-now for £75! The key is set your maximum bid, and DO NOT EXCEED IT! There are plenty more where that one came from! Of course, there may be a rare item you have been looking for for years, and someone happens to be selling one...then just use your judgement...how much you want the item, and what you are prepared to pay for it. That is what an auction should be about....
Before placing a bid, check out other sellers on ebay, and see who else is selling the item you are thinking of bidding for. You may just find that someone is offering the same item, or a suitable alternative for a very reasonable buy it now price. FOr example, if you wanted to buy a Digital Camera, and you found one starting at £99..you might be tempted to bid. But check out the Buy It Now's...you could easily find the same camera on buy it now...don't set your maximum bid higher than a buy it now..if you are prepared to pay £120 for your camera, then maybe you should buy it now, for that peace of mind, and to avoid getting caught in the bidding too much trap.
Be sure to check out postage costs. A lot of sellers charge fair postage and handling costs, and it is normal practice to offset the cost of packaging materials in addition to the actual postage costs, so please bear that in mind when considering P&P. However, we have all seen the auctions where you are buying a 100gram memory card, and the seller wants £10 P&P for a package that costs under a pound to package and send. Also, be sure that you get a quote on P&P when it is not listed in the auction. ESPECIALLY for international purchases. That $30 pair of levis might not be such a bargain when you are hit with a $30 shipping fee! Use your judgement, and consider whether you think the fees are fair.
Finally, think about the cost of your item. £150 for a brand new Sony 32" LCD TV might seem like a fantastic bargain, but the chances of you receiving this item are, well, non existant in my opinion! Remember, if it seems to good to be true, then it probably is! I'll cover this more in depth in a later guide.