Tips & advice for making a best offer on eBay

Like if this guide is helpful

I have been working with eBay for over 13 years and in my experience, many private buyers still aren't clear about how the “make an offer” process works.
Here are some tips and bits of advice.

1. Only make an offer once you are sure you want to buy the item at that price. If you've got questions about it ask the seller before you make the offer. In theory once the offer is accepted it is legally binding. Check for example if the item is a “collection only” one. Many items – particularly large and/or very valuable ones – can be.

2. With this in mind, don’t bid on an alternative item in an auction to see if you can get a better price.

3. Be aware that a seller can take up to 48 hrs to accept, decline or counter an offer. If you want to find out if they’re likely to accept the offer quickly, send a message, and see if they reply quickly. If they don’t, it’s best to assume it may take 48 hrs.

4. If a seller sends you a counter offer you can make up to 2 more counter offers (in most categories) to see if you can reach an agreement. It’s worth bearing in mind that a seller could also have several live offers for one item at the same time. You (and they) can also put comments within the offer, such as “I will collect the item and pay cash”. (Don’t bother saying your offer “includes postage”. If the seller has a separate postage cost for the item, you should take this into account separately to the offer. Otherwise it just complicates things)!

5. You can still retract an offer if you've made a mistake, as long as the offer hasn't already been accepted. If you've made a mistake and the offer’s been accepted, the best you can do is to appeal to the seller to see if they will agree to cancel it. They don’t have to though and it’s worth bearing in mind that an item could have had 20, 50 or 100 watchers before the offer was accepted in good faith. This can be highly annoying to a seller as if the item has to be relisted due to an NPB (non-paying bidder) all these watchers are lost, the item will have a new eBay number and the process will have to start all over again. (On items such as this, I even sometimes double check with a buyer to make sure they’re definitely serious to avoid this situation).

6. If a seller accepts your offer, they also have the right to cancel their acceptance of your offer. They may also just straight “decline” an offer. I tend to do this when I think people aren't really serious and make derisory offers, such as £5 for a £100 “buy it now” item.

7. After an offer has been accepted you have 2 days to pay for it before the seller can open an “unpaid item case”. (If you’re having problems – such as waiting to get paid – contact the seller and let them know. From my point of view, as long as a buyer has told me this and made this effort, I’m much more likely to want to help them out). Once this case has been opened you then have another 4 days to pay before the buyer can close the case, re-list the item and get their “final value fee” / eBay selling charge back. If you still don’t pay and the case is closed, you will probably get an “unpaid item strike” on your account. If you continue to get a lot of these eBay may choose to restrict or even close your account. Some sellers (myself included) can completely block an unreliable bidder who has done this – so they can’t mess you around again. Also, buyers who have a habit of doing this, such as for example two non-paid for items in one month for example, may be automatically blocked by a seller within the settings.

Fundamentally – and this is hopefully going to be put into force by eBay very soon as they've already tested it in some categories – it would be best from a business sellers point of view, for all items that have had offers accepted on them, to remain on sale until they are actually paid for. We’ll see!

March 2015

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides