I use them all the time, whether I am buying or selling.
Every now and then it seems that someone is not quite understanding the process and or "protocol".
As buyer and seller in making use of this feature on ebay, I have considerable experience of it and hope to offer a few points that may be of assistance.
Firstly, as a seller, when listing a buy it now item on ebay, you get the option to tick the box "Best Offer Option".
You also can specify at what price level to automatically decline or accept a buyer's offer.
For example, I can list an item for £20 Buy it now with the option of a Best Offer.
I can also specify "automatically decline offers lower than" for example £15 or "automatically accept offers higher than" for example £18.
Personally, I don not use the automatic accept or decline function for very specific reasons (more on that below)
That is it in terms of listing an item for sale.
So now the item is listed for sale on ebay at a fixed buy it now price with the option of a buyer submitting their best offer.
Lets say, I have for sale a radiator for a car for £50 but it now price.
BUYER A comes along and submits a best offer of £40. As a seller, I now have £48 hours to respond by doing one of 3 things:
1)I can accept the offer of £40 by clicking the "accept offer" button at my end, at which point the sale becomes legally binding. Important to remember that I, as a seller can choose to do this at any time within 48 hours from the time that the buyer submitted their offer.
2)I can also choose to decline the offer, again at any time within 48 hours from the time that the buyer made their offer
3)Or, also within the 48-hour time period, I can make a counter offer of let's say £45 to the buyer.
If I chose to make a counter offer to the buyer, he or she then has a new 48-hour period to choose how to react.
They can either choose to accept the £45 counter offer, decline it and go away or make me(the seller) a counter offer of lets say £42.
And so this can go on back and forth, sometimes over several days, before the deal is concluded.
If you are a busy buyer on ebay, it can get very confusing.
Also, whilst all the above is going on, BUYER B can come along and offer £47.
Minutes later, BUYER C comes along and offers £70 (£20 above asking price) with a note saying "including a fan for the radiator".
This sounds to good to me as a seller - I'll accept this offer, but first I need to check that I have this fan in stock and that it is in good condition.
Whilst doing so, BUYER D comes along and presses the buy it now button for £50.
At this point, I, as a seller, am in a legally binding contract with this buyer and all the other offers and counter offers get automatically cancelled by ebay.
It really is a much better idea to phone the seller and have a chat and come to a mutually agreeable figure before submitting the first offer.
Then it is a simple case of the buyer only submitting one offer, accepted straight away and the deal is done and everyone knows where they stand with each other and the buyer receives their item quickly.
Which brings me to why I do not use the automatic decline/accept feature. Quite often, I can accept very different offers on the very exact same item.
For example, most of my items for sale have FREE EXPRESS CARRIAGE included in the price. On certain items, the carriage alone may amount to over £50.
So, if a buyer wants to collect an item in person, then they can get the postage cost part of the buy it now price discounted.
Or if they don't need some of what is listed, there may also be a discount.
For example, lets say I have an engine for a van listed for the buy it now price of £500 incl free next day delivery to mainland England. The engine is complete with all attachment parts.
Carriage cost to me would be £60.
Buyer A submits a best offer of £480, but still needs it to be delivered. (Seller ends up with £480 - £60 carriage cost = £420)
Buyer B offers to collect it in person and offers £450. (Seller ends up with £450 - £0 additional cost = £450)
At this point, Buyer B's offer is by far the most attractive.
Next Buyer C comes along and offers £400 collected in person and says that he doesn't need any of the attachment parts as he is doing a direct like for like exchange.
So at this point, Buyer C's offer is the best for me as seller as the attachments in this case may be worth £80.
And so, out of the three I am certainly going to accept Buyer C's offer and decline the rest. (Seller ends up with £400 - £0 additional cost + £80 additional item value kept = £480)
Yet if it was all automated, the "system" would likely have declined the last, most profitable offer and accepted the first least profitable offer.
The downside with manually responding to offers is the timescale. If I am very busy, dealing with something urgent, the offer gets dealt with when I get to the computer next.
Often, on items that have already been reduced or where the carriage is a large percentage of the sale price and/or packaging is going to be time consuming/expensive, the "make offer" button is there purely and only for buyers who are willing to collect in person or buyers who wish to purchase multiple items and submit offers on several individual items at the same which I can then send in one parcel.
Once again, picking up the phone or sending a text (seller can call back), is not a bad idea for a quick negotiation and conclusion.
I am sorry that the above has become such a long explanation, but hope that it clears up the uncertainties and confusion around Best Offers.