eBay Bidding Secrets: How I Spent 38,601.67 on eBay Without Fear

Ever wonder how people make big purchases on eBay–do they have some wild eBay bidding secrets you don’t know about? I have bought three businesses on eBay and through those experiences, locked in on 3 eBay bidding secrets. Each was over $5,000; one was well over $35,000. In each case, I made the purchases without fear because I developed a set of techniques to reduce the possibilities of disaster when purchasing a large item you’ve learned about only days ago from someone you’ve never met. The big picture:
* Every Purchase Is a Relationship
* Don’t Fall In Love With The Item Before You Buy
* Drill Down Into the Bargain

eBay bidding secret #1: Every Purchase Is a Relationship

Article has tips for safely buying expensive items

Sorry, I can only afford $37,115.79!

If you buy an old Klaatu LP on eBay (good on you, by the way; they’re a criminally underrated band) and pay $12 for a a record described as mint condition but it’s actually scratched on one side, that’s unpleasant. If you buy a $20,000 Datsun 240Z described as mint condition that was actually submerged during Katrina, it’s catastrophic.

Relationships almost never start out badly and get better. If they start out badly, they will probably get worse. Everything you buy on eBay represents a relationship, albeit a very short one. Understanding these means that the honeymoon phase better be a good one. If the seller doesn’t include a ton of pictures, ask for them. If they are not forthcoming, don’t buy, period. If the seller includes only stock pictures and not pictures of the actual item, forget it. If they’re lousy cell phone pictures, ask for better ones before the auction ends so that you can make an informed decision.

If the seller offers you a discount to cancel the auction and make the purchase outside of eBay, do not buy. Not only are they violating the terms of service with eBay they are leaving you no recourse if the item turns out to be not as described.

The most important tip I can give you for purchasing an expensive item is to ask questions. Any expensive item by its very nature won’t be adequately described in the auction listing. That’s good. Use it as an opportunity to understand more about the seller. Request detailed information on any possible weak spots. Switch positions mentally and imagine how you, as an honest seller, would answer about things that are less than ideal.

If the seller seems at all less than forthcoming, assume the worst and avoid the auction. In other words: don’t fall in love with the listing. Oh, and about that?

eBay bidding secret #2: Don’t Fall In Love. Repeat: Don’t Fall In Love

I am constantly surprised at how people, myself very much included, tend to fall in love with Iexpensive purchases. It flies, nay, defecates, in the face of logic. Think about the last big purchase you made. Be honest with yourself. Wasn’t it a little exciting? Maybe even a lot exciting?

That’s idiotic, if I may say so. And I’ve been there. The more you have on the line, the more coldly logical , perhaps even skeptical, you should be. I’m madly in love with my kids. Do you think that would make me a good person to write their report cards? Of course not. I think they’re totally outrageously fantastic kids. I’d give them A’s in everything!

eBay is full of things that are genuinely one of a kind, and millions of items are listed every day. That also means that if you find that absolutely perfect thingie you’ve wanted for so many years, a thingie pretty darn close to it may well appear next month, or tomorrow. I know it’s hard to wrap your arms around that concept when you’re falling in love with your eBay soulmate auction listing, but another one will come around.

eBay bidding secret #3: How Tell If a Bargain Is Truly A Bargain

I once bought a trumpet at a pawn shop for $60. It was worth $250, even at a Seattle pawn shop, and take my word for it, Seattle pawn shops never sell musical instruments cheap. It was a silver plated instrument that had started to blacken, and one of the valves was totally stuck. The plating had simply tarnished, a problem easily solved with a $2 silver polishing cloth. The valve was stuck because it had been inserted backwards, a common mistake so easy to solve that even I can solve it in seconds, and I’m terrible with hardware.

I asked to look at the trumpet and gazed at it uncomprehendingly long enough that the salesperson gave up and left me alone with it. As soon as he turned his back I unscrewed the bottom valve cover, spun the valve around, and screwed the valve cover back on. It worked perfectly. I then replaced it so it was stuck again, and tried to offer them $50 due to the stuck valve. No go, but I had to try. I bought it anyway, and quickly traded it for a used sax worth $350.

On eBay I sometimes look for a wonderful book called “Zany Afternoons”. The first edition in paperback goes for $150 or more on Alibris. On eBay, it often goes for way less, so it’s a killer opportunity to “flip” the book on Alibris. How does this happen? Because Alibris sellers know too much about books! On eBay, many people unload books so quickly they have no time to research each title.

All of this is a way of saying that you can find genuine bargains, but the key is intimate market knowledge. Never, ever believe a seller who claims you’re buying something way under market price. Check Completed Listings for similar items, because if it’s expensive you know the seller has too. On the other hand, if the seller is unloading an old car from an estate sale, happens to recall a Datsun that had turned our to be a lemon, he may not know enough about, or pay attention to, a particular variation where the four-seater happens to be worth $5,000 more than the two-seater.

On those rare occasions when you can take advantage of seller’s lack of information, feel free to get aggressive and snatch the item up. Just watch the metadata–the information about the information. If it seems absolutely impossible that the seller would be unable to see what you see, follow the first principle and make sure you ask detailed, probing questions, then run like hell if the seller seems to be agitated. Might be a scam. After all, a genuinely naïve seller wouldn’t be angry about a simple request for information, right?

Remember: it’s all about the relationship, and in a good relationship everyone knows communication comes first. That applies equally well to buying an expensive item, even one you’re about to fall in love with. Take these eBay bidding secrets to heart the next time you see a breathtaking 1962 Fender Stratocaster listed as “Dad’s Old Guitar-Found Under His Bed After He Passed” and apply them carefully and methodically before you take the plunge.


How to Make Money on eBay: 5 Killer Tips for Selling Items on eBay

Imagine having an exchange like this with your friend:
Friend: “I have an idea. I’m going to buy a Subway franchise. It’s a good way to make money.”
You: “Have you ever even had a sandwich? You grew up in a traditional Asian family and as far as I know you never even had a sandwich.”
Friend: “Why are you trying to discourage me?”
You’re not trying to discourage your friend, of course. But you know it would be asking for trouble if you had never even eaten a sandwich before buying into a sandwich business. How could you possibly understand the issues and manage people properly?

How to make money on eBay killer tip #1. Buy Before You Sell!

Yet many people dive into selling on eBay before they’ve bought a thing. There’s a rhythm on eBay, and a lot of moving parts. An average transaction has these steps and sometimes more:

  • You buy something
  • There’s some communication from the seller
  • The seller waits for you to pay and maybe has to remind you
  • You pay via PayPal (most often), or perhaps a check that takes time to arrive in the seller’s mailbox
  • If necessary, the seller waits for funds to clear (this can happen on eBay too, not just a check)
  • The seller packs and ships the item
  • You wait longer than you’d like, probably because you chose the cheapest shipping method
  • The item comes, you inspect it, and maybe you have another question or two
  • You post feedback for the seller, possibly after the seller waits politely for a few days because you neglected eBay’s reminders to do so
  • The seller leaves feedback for you

It’s a more complex flow than you would image, and can get more so if things like Escrow or insurance requirements are part of the transaction. Many sellers complain if something isn’t shipped right away. They may be irrational, but you should feel what the buyers feel at least a few times before attempting to extract money out of them.

How to make money on eBay killer tip #2. Don’t Skip This Step! Sell What You Know

I know a guy who makes good money selling patio fireplaces on eBay. Excellent money. Support-yourself kind of money. What’s cool is that he doesn’t have to buy patio fireplaces, store them, ship them, and do service on them. He “dropships” them, meaning he’s just a freelance commissioned salesdude. As soon as he makes the sale on eBay, he hands it over to the patio fireplace company to do the heavy lifting. He’s not an employee, he doesn’t need a forklift-it’s working for yourself with all the hard parts left out.

Good on him, but although I know a great deal about his involvement in the market and have studied his listings like a rabbi studies the Torah, I wouldn’t dream of going into the patio fireplace business. I don’t know what’s good. I don’t know what customers expect. Without empathy for the market, I would end up serving them poorly, and doing so would get me kicked off of eBay.

I have some specialty knowledge, and so do you. Mine’s in guitar and keyboards, which happen to be pretty high margin items. Maybe you know farming equipment, or 1980s Datsuns, antique quilts, or Victorian-era magazine ads. Use that knowledge to your advantage, and remember that you can start providing people a valuable service and make money with nothing but you’re knowledge.

Here’s how. eBay has an affiliate program, which lets you make money on sales you refer to them. Start a simple website (it’s easier than it seems; I learned it through the free ebook at onthewebinanhour.com/freeminicourse; the free version gives so much info you don’t really have to buy the full one) talking about the area you know, and if it has an eBay market just post some simple links eBay gives you. You post individual items, the results of keyword searches, whole categories, whatever.

Then just talk about your hobby, and give buyers valuable help. When I bought my first guitar some time ago, I didn’t know whether I should buy the Fender Stratocaster made in America or the one made in Japan. I didn’t know an impartial guitarist, who would have pointed out that the Japanese ones are every bit as good, yet less expensive than the American-made ones. Nowadays, I could post that information on a website, and with eBay affiliate links, I can make money helping people.

How to make money on eBay killer tip #3. Build a Relationship With The Market And Get Search Engine Love In Return

No smart seller just posts stuff on eBay and expects it to sell. Smart sellers ensure they follow these simple but essential steps, which build trust with the user-and help drive traffic to the seller’s site.

A. Fill out Your About Me Page

Your About Me page helps build trust from users. If you’re selling high-end goods, and that’s by far the most efficient way to make money on eBay, they will, not might, look at your About Me. And despite what the page title says, it should be all about them. Your About Me page should give them every possible reason to buy from you. That could include links to buyers guides you’ve created, tips on how to save money in your market, and anything else you can think of that will serve your customers well. It also needs your picture, another must for creating a connection with your buyers.

Those things are compelling, but just as compelling is the invisible benefit of raising your visibility in the search engines. eBay is a popular site. Google likes popular sites. Posting your content on a popular site makes your products easier to find. This is free branding of the most precious kind.

B. Create Your Own eBay Blog

What we said about links before? Make at least a few blog entries. Search engines like content on  popular sites. What they like even better is fresh content on popular sites. Blogs are catnip to search engines, so understand the power of posting to your eBay blog.

C. Build A List, Build A List, Build A List

Each sale you make is an opportunity to add a satisfied customer to your email list. It is ridiculously more expensive to acquire new customers than to get repeat business. As soon as you’ve a customer happy, transfer him to your buyers mailing list. Keep them in the loop about upcoming specials, coupons, and niche-related info that doesn’t even improve your bottom line directly. If your specialty is old weather vanes and Christie’s is about to run an auction of Colonial weathervanes, let your customers know. They may know have $350,000 to spend on a good specimen, but they’ll love the catalog images. If you hear about a new show just for weathervane collectors, tell your users. (Even better, contact the show organizers and arrange for a discount price for people who sign up mentioning your eBay seller ID.)

If you don’t understand why it’s so important to build an email list, you’re throwing away gold. Just stop reading this article and go play Solitaire or something. You’re hopeless.

How to make money on eBay killer tip #4. Know Shipping Costs and Packaging Time Upfront

Shipping can kill your business. The most obvious mistake when doing market research is to look at the cost of an item for sale (remember, check the Completed Listings box; anything else is meaningless and pure fantasy on your part), figure out how much it costs you, and mentally make yourself rich when you think about how much you could undercut the competition.

Before you do that, Warren Buffett, understand that eBay now includes shipping cost as part of its search by price. In the old days you could list a book for a Buy It Now price of one cent and charge $9.95 shipping. Because shipping was disregarded in price sorting, you’d look like the cheapest item even though you were a lowlife scammer. eBay is smarter than that now.

Here’s where it gets even more hairy. They have begun to include your shipping cost as part of the final value fee. That means the more you charge for shipping, the more you have to pay eBay for the privilege of selling an item! How messed up is that? A lot, and it’s had a serious impact on thousands of sellers. But that’s the way it is, and you cannot overlook it when determining shipping costs.

A second issue that may bite is the time required to pack something for shipping. I know guitars well, but they’re big and heavy and expensive to pack. The packaging materials are costly, but my time even more so. I never sell used guitars. Just not worth my time, when I factor what I make per hour into the sale. Now dropshipped instruments… well, I’m going to keep my niches secret!

How to make money on eBay killer tip #5. To Get Good Deals on eBay, Buy On… eBay?

The old adage was never more true than on eBay: Buy Low, Sell High. If you’re hip to eBay selling you call it eBay arbitrage: using your superior knowledge of a market to buy poorly described or miscategorized goods on eBay using a sniping service, then repackage and improve the description. Take Red Line Hot Wheels. Hot Wheels are inexpensive toy cars sold by the millions. They’ve been around since the late 1960s. The first run of them had a decorative metallic red piece of trim around the tire, and ran smoother than the billions of successors.

It is not at all unsual to find Red Lines listed in auction listing containing a lot of old toys, or even in an estate sale. (Around here, thrift stores are already hip to Red Lines, so don’t bother.) A Red Line in good condition can go for $400, and an identical non-Red Line for only a few bucks. Auction arbitrage works best in narrow markets you know well.

Expert buyers know that a) The best deals are in auctions with no minimum and no reserve price,  not Buy It Now, and that b) The only way to avoid bidding wars and attracting shill bidders is to snipe your auction (place the bid just a few seconds before the auction ends). There are online services that do this for you. The one I’ve used longest is http://www.esnipe.com but all the top ones are good.

Making Money on eBay: The Good News And The Bad News

The bad news is that eBay is far more competitive than it once was. The good news is that by following these 5 tips alone you’ll have far surpassed the vast majority of eBay sellers, who treat the Marketplace like a swap meet instead of a real business. Avoid those mistakes, and you maximize your chances for making money on ebay; ignore them at your peril.


eBay Proxy Bid Mysteries Revealed: “e Sniping” Hacks For Smart Bidders

Ever wonder what really goes on with eBay bidding, and how an auction sniper learns to “e snipe” auctions consistently? Let’s take you through the process and learn how to hack your bids to get the best deals.

* eBay proxy bids and how they work
* eBay bidding vs. traditional auction bidding
* How “shill bidders” pollute the bidding process and what you can do about it
* How “e sniping” your bid late

Placing a bid on eBay is not at all like placing bid in a traditional, you’re-there-in-the-flesh auctions. If you go to the county fair and start bidding for a prize goat, for example (and who among us hasn’t), the process is simple. The auctioneer almost certainly issues a starting bid representing the lowest possible price for the goat, then opens up the floor to other bidders.

He asks for the starting bid, and the game begins. The other bidders shout out the amounts they’re willing to pay. And bids don’t just go up a penny at a time; otherwise, the auction would last forever. Instead, the auctioneer moves things forward in increments of, say, $5. Of course, there’s nothing stopping a crazed buyer from blurting out an obscenely high bid to guarantee the win. The auctioneer loves this, the bidder gets his goat (as it were), and the only unhappy parties are the other bidders and the goat-buyer’s wife. Which, by the way, would be an awesome title for a sensitive novel, almost certainly to get a favorable nod from the New York Times.

eBay doesn’t work like this. If it did, eBay would be little more than a highly specialized chat room, a form of online chaos that probably wouldn’t work well to anyone’s advantage. This makes sense when you realize that eBay auctions last for days, and what on earth would you do if the auction seller was in Australia and you couldn’t bid from Fargo because you were asleep?

eBay proxy bid: The Answer to Possible Auction Chaos

The answer to the problem of Fargoans (Fargoites? Fargosians? Fargonians?) being able to bid on an auction that closes at 3 in the morning is that eBay takes your maximum possible bid but does not actually place that amount unless it must. eBay acts like your best friend in the bidding process, keeping the bid as low as possible while still keeping your bid higher than the rest. This is called proxy bidding.

It’s a pretty cool idea. eBay makes full use of computer technology to keep you from making a fool of yourself in front of all the other bidders. If you’ve bid $250 on eBay goat auction (kidding; eBay doesn’t allow auctions of living things) and the current bid is $110, eBay will keep your bidding price to $115, which is the current bid plus the minimum bid increment at the $100 level.

Shilling the Goat: How to Corrupt the eBay Bidding Process

Back to the county fair, where you’re in the heat of the moment and that dairy goat is still way under value, at only $210. A curiously calm stranger who smells like cheap cigars settles down next to you, glancing your way maybe a little too often, sizing you up, and chimes in with bids when the action has slowed down. Suddenly it’s just you and the stranger, whom I imagine as looking like my ex-boss, Bob, seeing as how he’s the villain in this story. I’m not using his last name, but that’s his real first name. Try to track me down, Bob. Do it. I’ve been working out.

Anyway, the price gets up to $330, which really isn’t a bargain, and Bob suddenly decides to go to the bathroom. Weird. You go up to $340 and the goat is yours. You didn’t get to inspect the goat, which would have been okay at $210, but at $340 you’re maybe a little nervous. You just don’t feel great about the $340 but you have to pay.

How To Defeat Shill Bidders

Bob was, of course, a friend of the goat seller. He never intended to buy a goat at all. His sole job was to get you to pay more than you needed to for the auction item. Totally against the rules at any auction. Very difficult to prove.

But what if you hacked the goat auction? Let’s up the ante and crowdsource our answer. What if no one bid until right before the auctioneer gave up in disgust, wondering what happened to all those naive goat buyers he used to take advantage of at the fair, the ones whose blood ran so hot during the auction they overbid by 15% or so, easily paying the auction fee right on the spot? That scumbag Bob would have nothing to do, and would instead find himself at the side of the road, saying “Will clean your goat stalls for food”, which is more than Bob deserves out of life, to be honest.

eBay, like the vast majority of membership sites, requires little proof of identity when you sign up. Shill bidding is distinctly possible. One way to avoid it is to wait until the end of the auction to place your bid; ZDNet talked about it in this article way back in 2000.


How to Save Money And Put Bob the Shill Out On The Street

ZDNet talks about the best-practice strategy of sniping your auction, which is the online term for placing a bid within one minute of the auction’s end. You can do it by hand, or you can “e snipe” it using a service.

The principles ZDNet discussed still hold. CNet has covered the same phenomenon (see http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-10165_7-5664889-2.htm).  To beat the shills and avoid an overbidding frenzy, you should place your bid at the very end of the auction. To place your late bids by hand, follow this list to the letter. The steps are simple, if tedious:

* Make sure your computer’s clock is set to eBay time, at least the same minute value
* Settle in about 10 minutes before the end of the auction
* Disable screen savers and system updates
* Log into eBay! It’s easy to forget this until it’s too late!
* Refresh the auction page a couple times to make sure everything’s working. This is not the time for your browser to fail you
* Double-check your time against eBay’s. They actually call it “eBay time” in the online auction world, which is a little hinky, IMHO
* Starting 2 minutes before the auction, refresh the page, take a deep breath, settle on the maximum you’re willing to pay, and type it in without clicking Place Bid
* Sometime within 10 seconds and 1 minute before the end of the auction, click Place Bid
* Refresh the page like a madman until the auction’s over, not because you need to but because it’s so nerve-wracking.

Good luck! It’s a gut-churning moment, wondering if you’ve one the auction!

I personally like sleep and don’t like the stress of sport sniping. The trick to placing your bid at 3am or while you’re supposed to be working or in church is to use an online auction sniping service. I simply never, ever place a bid early in the auction anymore. No more having my pants scared off as an auction seethes with activity, bubbling up and boiling way past my original proxy bid amount days before it’s actually over. Using service to e snipe the auction makes more sense to me.


eBay Tools: 6 Ways To Dominate the eBay Market With Secret Bids

What would be the best way to dominate the eBay market as a buyer, if you had all of the eBay tools possible at your disposal? It would be to keep your bid secret, while you knew what everyone else’s bid was. It would combine the best of sealed bid auctions, which are good for the seller, and eBay’s current public bid model, which is good for the buyer.

Secret bids are the best strategy

Think about it for a moment. If the buyer didn’t know how much an item was currently priced, she’d quite possibly overbid. Sellers would love it, eBay would squawk, and someone else would swoop into the market with a public bidding model like eBay’s. It would also make terrible economic sense because buyers have too much information nowadays for a sealed bid format to sustain itself.

(Auction theory 101: The sealed bid strategy doesn’t work in the eBay market, but it can work in niches where there is less information available. My favorite example of this is a few decades ago, when friendly rivals Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson both placed sealed bids on the Beatles’ publishing rights. Michael Jackson bid way, way more than McCartney. They stopped being friendly rivals after that. They stopped being friends altogether.)

How can you keep a bid secret and control the eBay market?

The sharpest arrow in your eBay tools quiver is the ability to keep your bid secret while others are forced to place their bids in public. The only way to do this, of course, is the way of the auction sniper: “e snipe” your bid, which means to place it in the closing seconds of the auction. (Auction jargon in the eBay market terms placing eBay bids within the last minute of the auction “sniping”.)

Auction sniping has a massive advantage besides secrecy. It lets you change your mind, a luxury eBay doesn’t really give you (they correctly point out in their documentation that a bid is a binding contract, a point they do not take lightly). Deferring your bid until the auction’s end means you really aren’t committing until that moment.

What are the risks of keeping a bid secret?

eBay market boffins regard auction sniping as the only true way to get a technical edge on the bidding process. It poses some (surmountable) risks. Let’s take a look at them.

  • You could forget to place your bid when the time comes. Whoa, that one can hurt.
  • Your internet connection could fail around the time you need to connect to eBay
  • Some kind of software update could be hogging the internet connection
  • A program might have a dialog open, blocking all activity on your machine
  • It might be in the middle of the night when you’re supposed to be sleeping
  • It could be happening in the business day when you’re at work and not, shockingly enough, supposed to be buying tchochkes to support to support your expensive vintage chemistry set hobby

How do you overcome the risks of keeping a bid secret?

There are several services online that will do your “e snipe” for you. You join, create a user account, hand over your eBay credentials (ouch! but it’s necessary), then just paste in the item number and maximum price you’re willing to pay. They have rows and rows of speedy dedicated servers, placed in vast underground bunkers just a few hops away from eBay, possibly manned by critters that look like the goblins that run Gringott’s in the Harry Potter movies, grimly studying their pocket watches as they time the bid precisely to execute exactly 6 seconds before the auction ends, bringing you to triumph and glory in the vintage chemistry set collector world, gloating but polititely feigning indifference on the vintage chemistry set message boards.

Okay, I’m not really sure if that’s how it works, but that’s how I like to imagine the esnipe crews doing their thing.

An Auction Sniping Service Can Overcome Those Risks

So what makes the “e snipe” world smarter and better than you? Nothing, but all they do is place bids. They aren’t surfing the net, watching porn, or trying to figure out system updates whilst in the middle of a last-minute auction snipe. They have people and hardware devoted simply to sniping bids, and aren’t subject to the whims of local ISPs sharing connections across a whole neighbhorhood, which is what your ISP does.

I suppose the main risk is that somehow the auction sniper services lose their internet connection, but that kind of thing is vanishingly rare in my experience. That, and I like my sleep–which the auction snipers don’t seem to worry about.

Bay Bidding: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About eBay Sellers

If you want to know how to win on eBay, you’ve got to learn these mind-blowing rules to keep from getting your bids canceled, your bidder ID blacklisted, or your eBay membership revoked. That and you’ll have to sell your Indian skulls elsewhere (read on).

Photo of possibly Native American Skull

Allowed on eBay? Only for medical use, and if not Native American


1. Sellers Can’t Leave Negative Feedback

Look, everyone’s heard about someone who’s been ripped off on eBay. Stories like that make good filler on the television news or newspaper on a slow day. (Does anyone actually watch the TV news or buy newspapers anymore?) Let’s stipulate that in marketplace with literally tens of millions of sellers, some of them are bad guys. A lot are just, let us say, a bit too generous in their item descriptions. Bad stuff happens on eBay from time to time. If you’re a buyer, you have a lot of power of legitimate sellers. You can leave negative feedback, and even a single negative feedback can ruin a seller’s week. But did you know that since 2009 sellers have not been able to leave negative feedback against buyers? So maybe chill out before you file that next negative feedback and give the seller a chance to respond.

2. Sellers Can Screen Out Buyers They Don’t Like

Remember those “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” signs that became popular in the hippie days? It was some stores’ way of excluding certain buyers from their establishments. eBay gives sellers the power of pure, naked discrimination-in a limited number of ways.

  • Sellers can require the buyer has a PayPal account. Sound like nepotism, considering eBay owns PayPal? Hang on and see it from the point of view of the seller…
  • Sellers can require that the buyer’s PayPal account be free of unpaid items. So it’s a way to keep deadbeats with empty accounts from suddenly ordering 8 plasma TVs at once and demanding they be shipped immediately when there’s only a plugged nickel and some old gum wrappers at the bottom of their PayPal account.
  • Sellers can block whole countries from buying. Sorry, non-scammers in Nigeria, one of the lonliest clubs in the world.
  • Sellers can block anyone with a feedback score of less than… whatever. Seller gets to choose.
  • Sellers can prevent buyers who have bought up to 100 items (or less; you can decide) from their seller account in less than 30 days.
  • Sellers can block your bidder ID just because they don’t like your face. Well, they can block any bidder ID. I think I made up the part about your face.
  • Sellers can impose additional terms before the sale. Some things can’t possibly be covered in eBay’s rules. As long as they don’t contradict local, state, and federal statutes, sellers can disclose other requirements you must meet before you can purchase the item.

3. You Can Lose An Auction Where You Bid Higher Than The Winner

This is one of the most uncommon and unpleasant scenarios on eBay: You “e snipe” the auction the way any smart bidder would (“e snipe” means to place the bid the last few seconds of the auction, thus avoiding bidding wars and giving you time to change your mind about the bid; I cover the best sniping servces in my free ebook). The auction closes and you notice something weird. You placed a bid of $101.50, but the winning bid was $100. Rip-off sniping site! They didn’t place your bid, the lousy scum! Whoa, Nelly! Hold your horses. Let’s ignore the fact that the reputable ones don’t get paid unless you win and check eBay’s rules on bid increments. At the $100 level, each bid must go up by at least $5 higher than the last one. The next bid must be at least $105 or eBay will reject it. Since snipers go in at the last second, they don’t get the feedback from eBay explaining their noobie problem. Moral of the story: Understand how bid increments work or you’ll play the loser until you do.

4. You Can Sell Skulls, But Not Native American Skulls

eBay doesn’t let you sell body parts, which is a bummer because I didn’t want to let that appendix go to waste (I sold it on Craigslist (kidding)). See reference at http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/remains.html in case you think I’m bumming your body part-selling high. You can list scalp hair, which apparently isn’t a body part. You can also sell skulls and skeletons intended for medical use. However… no Native American skulls. So if Geronimo’s skull actually was stolen by Prescott Bush, Yalie and progenitor of two U.S. Presidents, don’t expect it to come up for sale on eBay even if the Bushes need the money and even if you promise to use it for medical purposes only.

5. Sellers Can’t Charge Extra To Cover PayPal Fees

One of the most flagrantly violated rules on eBay is this one: “Sellers are not allowed to charge eBay buyers an additional fee for using ordinary forms of payment, including credit cards, electronic transfers, PayPal, ProPay, and Paymate.” (See http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/listing-surcharges.html) Anytime you see a seller saying something like “PayPal charges so much that to stay in business we need to add $2 to every sale using PayPal” they are breaking the rules big time. And not just because eBay and PayPal are in bed together. This practice is also banned in some states, such as California, and apply to use of any sort of credit card payment. Wal-Mart can’t charge less for customers who pay cash, even though the credit card processor take a tidy chunk out of their bottom line. (The loophole? You can offer a cash discount. But you cannot add a surcharge for credit card purchases.)

6. You Can’t Sell McDonald’s Monopoly Game Pieces

eBay specifically forbids selling McDonald’s Monopoly game pieces. Or guns, largely for the same reasons. Both are subject to detailed, exacting regulations that differ from state to state. eBay sensibily washes its hands of them entirely. In addition, the McDonald’s Monopoly game pieces can run afoul of some state gambling statutes. I think maybe you’ll have to check Craiglist for Park Place. (Funning you. Craigslist has the same rules.)

7. Plan to Cancel A Bid? NOT! Except on Motors and Real Estate

eBay does not want auction prices driven up artificially by shills. They also don’t want to discourage bid probing. Sellers can set a reserve price, which is a minimum price where the value is not disclosed to the public; the item doesn’t sell until the reserve has been met. Bid probing is the someone science fictiony term for when someone attempts to bid an item up in order to find out the reserve, then pull out of the auction. For these reasons eBay states in their rules that a bid is a binding contract, and narrowly describes the conditions under which a bid can be canceled.

Now throw that all away for items sold on eBay Motors and Real Estate. Due once again to local legislatures, eBay throws its hands up in despair and just kind of mumbles that bids in these categories are, as Captain Barbossa says in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, aren’t rules, they’re guidelines. With Real Estate (http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/non-binding-bid.html) there are too many conflicting rules regarding home inspection and other state requirements. With Autos, it covers cases such as a car not passing emissions regulations in the purchaser’s state.

These 7 principles can guide you to more wins for less money, and can steer you away from unscrupulous sellers charging outrageous additional fees. (Except maybe for the part about Native American skulls, unless you’re an obsessed skull collector and have wondered until now how to get the best possible prices on collector (I mean, medical) skulls.) Read and reread: you as an eBay bidder need every advantage you can learn on how to win on eBay.


How To Win on eBay: 8 eBay Tool Tips That Save Money For The Savvy “e snipe” Buyer

The people who know consistently how to win on eBay know the online auction judo to bid at the very last minute, called sniping on Planet eBay, or “e snipe” if you have an online service do it for you. Why snipe using an “e snipe” service instead of using a stopwatch, your refresh button, and fervent prayer? 

  • You can cancel bids when you “e snipe”; after all, while eBay prohibits canceling bids the “e snipe” services don’t mind at all.
  • By holding on to your bid until the very last moment, you keep a much lower profile. Bad for other collectors, good for you when you’ve discovered a listing where the seller didn’t describe the item properly. If you bid early, you’re just inviting other smart collectors to the party
  • Unless you want to practice a lot (and lose a lot of auctions in the process), the online services are far more accurate than you are, and can easily place the bid within, say, 6 seconds of the auction close. Do you trust your computer not to bring up a screen saver, log you out, or run a security update 10 seconds before auction close?

7 eBay Tool Tips For Choosing an Auction Sniper: How to Win on eBay By Choosing The Right “E snipe” Service

There are a lot of good sniping services out there, so many that a search like “ebay bidding” or “e sniper” returns way too many results. Here are the criteria I have used successfully since starting on eBay in 1997.

1. You Deserve A Generous Free Trial

The sniping services place a lot of bids every day, and while support, operations, and legal costs quickly add up for any online business, the “e sniper” you choose should have a reasonably lengthy period. One or two free bids aren’t enough to give you a good feel for the service. If they can’t offer at least 10 days of service and at least 20 free bids, they aren’t welcoming you as a customer.

2. Only charge if you win

The auction sniper should only charge if you win. The psychology is simple. If you’re charged per snipe, you’ll tend to be far more timid in your purchases. That makes bid groups out of the question, and bid groups are a powerful eBay tool that cannot be had without use of a sniping service. Don’t know what bid groups are? Read on. We’re getting there! These subscription sites where you’re charged $30, $50, or $70 a year just to place your “e snipe” bids? Really?

3. Free Trial Should Not Require Credit Card

Look, eBay doesn’t make you enter your credit card to look around. Sniping services should only charge you once you’ve become a happy customer. They most certainly should not require a credit card for the free trial period. It’s not like they’re losing real money if they fail to place your bid. Look for auction snipers with a no-strings-attached free trial. If you’re asked to fork over anything other than you eBay ID and password, you’re not looking at a company that seriously wants to serve you.

4. Bid Groups Are Essential To Savvy Buyers

One of the good things about eBay is that they tend to have lots of everything. One of the bad things about eBay is that they tend to have lots of everything. Take the case where you search for a particular model of phone or camera and find hundreds of potential bargains? What you’d really like to do is place bids on all of them and cancel as soon as the first one wins. That’s a big no-no on eBay because you can only retract bids under rare circumstances.

A good “e snipe” auction sniper service can in fact perform that very service for you. It’s called bid groups. Remember that the auction sniper doesn’t actually place the bid until seconds before the auction closes. Bids can be canceled when using an “e sniper” because they were never placed on eBay!

Put these two scenarios together and you have bid groups. It works like this.

  • You note several different auctions for the same type of item by copying their URLs into a text editor
  • You create a bid group folder at the sniping service to hold the bids for this particular item
  • You enter each bid’s information and maximum price you’re willing to pay into the bid group folder
  • The “e sniping” service then places a bid on whatever auction in the bid group is about to end. If it wins, the remaining auctions are canceled. If it doesn’t, then the next item in the group about to end is bid on, and so on until you win or until the bid group is exhausted

5. The Sniping Service Should Be At least 10 years old

The New York Times wrote about auction sniping way back in 2002 (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/05/technology/news-watch-auctions-how-to-outbid-the-fanatics-software-that-never-sleeps.html), and auction sniping was already a popular practice by then. eBay has been around since 1996. The established sniping services are still around because they don’t screw around with security, they have good service, and they’re speedy and reliable. Do you honestly want to entrust your eBay information to a new company run by script kiddies and high school hackers? Choosing a sniper is like choosing a bank. You want old, expert, and boring. Choose one that’s been around since the Times spotted the sniping trend.

6. Real support from locals here in the states

When I’m evaluating software or a service, I always give it an anonymous test. I submit a support request by clicking the Contact button and asking any question I can think of. If it’s a bad question, I can see if they take the time to understand it and explain all the issues thoroughly. It also tells me if they’re condescending or brusque. If I ask a challenging question, it helps me to see if they know their stuff. And I much prefer native English speakers. It saves time so I don’t have to rephrase my problem over and over again.

7. Preserves Your Auction History

The auction sniper you choose should fill a gap left by eBay: the vanishing history problem. Wouldn’t it be nice if eBay kept your auction description and date around longer than 3 months? I’m with you on that one. But they don’t. A good auction sniper should keep your auction description and date around for at least three years.

8. Lets You Choose When You Win

The accepted use of the word “sniping” in the online auction world is a bid placed within 1 minute of the auction close. Nowdays snipers are daring, and are known to place bids 10 seconds before auction close or even earlier. If you’re risk averse, you probably think 10 seconds is cutting it way too close. If you’re an experienced eBay tools user you probably think that winning eBay auctions would mean 6 second. In “e snipe” parlance, this is called the buffer time. For maximum flexbility and risk management you should be able to choose your buffer time with an auciton sniper service. That’s how to win on eBay.

eBay Feedback Scam? 10 Ways to Spot eBay Seller Frauds In a Flash

Good feedback is essential to being a successful seller on eBay. Lots of good feedback is lots better. Studies show it puts the potential buyer’s mind at ease and sharply reduces buyer resistance to see a feedback score of over 1,000 or so. Scammers know this principle and have ways of getting high feedback, but you can protect yourself from eBay feedback scams with this simple tips. In short:

  • Watch for People Leaving Feedback Too Quickly
  • Understand Buyer Psychology
  • Understand Seller Psychology

Watch For People Leaving Feedback Too Quickly

One of the perennial problems sellers have is getting users to leave feedback. Scammers understand this and employ many of the methods outlined here. If you’re buying a high-ticket item from a seller and are concerned about the feedback score being suspiciously high and less than a year or so in age, follow these guidelines. Obviously one or two of these might apply even to a reputable seller, so always keep context in mind.

Understand Buyer Psychology-And Don’t Fall Into The Traps

Most buyers don’t pay attention to the fact that there are two kinds of feedback: as a seller, and as a buyer. Both are equally, easily accessible to anyone evaluating a feedback score. For whatever reason, few buyers know about this and respond to feedback as monolithic. In other words, a seller who only bought 100 postcards for $1 each and got positive feedback for these transactions has, in the mind of unsophisticated buyers, the exact same stature as if they had carefully and accurately described 100 vintage quilts, then packed them beautifully and delivered them promptly, for an average price of $400 to delighted buyers all over the world

Sellers with under 50 count and 100% positive feedback simply don’t have much credibility with buyers or with eBay. In fact, eBay pushes their search results back before those of more reputable sellers. The scammer’s response? Buy a ton of goods on the cheap and get feedback ASAP. But it gets even nastier, as you’ll see in a moment. Because why buy from real sellers when you can invent your own?

  • Check the age of the seller account. If it’s years old and the feedback shows a long history of positive interactions with buyers who also have strong feedback records, the seller is probably legit.
  • If the account is only a few months old and has more than a few hundred feedback, then use the following steps.
  • Check the auctions and see what they bought. If it was some kind of downloadable product, it might be nothing more than a way for the seller to obtain feedback cheaply.
  • Visit the profiles of the recent buyers, especially in the case where the seller achieved a high feedback score in a very short time. Buyers who consistently left feedback very soon after the auction may be part of the scam.
  • Some sellers create fake buyer accounts but don’t try very hard. Check the creation dates of the buyer accounts and see if they’re grouped together.
  • See if the buyer accounts only have a few feedback each as well as being created recently. This is an indicator that the seller generated a large number of fake buyer accounts in order to get fraudulent high feedback scores.
  • Check the names of the buyer accounts and see if they follow a pattern. I remember seeing sellers with high feedback and all the buyers had names like t_wilson_1983, p_anderson_1962, and so on (not those actual names, but they followed that template).
  • Watch the language the hinky buyers use in their feedback. If 8 different buyers all use the feedback (“A++ Seller-I want her to have my baby!!!”) or whatever, you know without a doubt that the seller is untrustworthy.
  • See if the buyers left feedback for totally unrelated sellers for real, not digital, goods. Many such buyers should have a feedback history going back more than a few weeks or months.
  • Sellers who have a high feedback and quality score but who have only recently begun to sell high-ticket items need very careful scrutiny.

Understand Seller Psychology-And Spot The Fakes In Minutes

Sellers with high feedback tend to accrete large amounts of content on their eBay storefront or buyers guides, review lists, and eBay forum posts associated with their eBay ID. After years of experience on eBay they have definite opinions and often want genuinely to match up their customers with precisely the right goods. So they’ll have advice or warnings pertaining to the niches the specialize in that confirm their expertise. Scam sellers lack that kind of substance. Their storefront may have no content at all, and they have no apparent personality.

Most scammers on eBay leave fingerprints like the ones you’ve read here. They are detectible with only a few minutes’ homework. Don’t take shortcuts when you’re pondering an expensive purchase on eBay and you have far better-than-average odds of getting ripped of by an eBay feedback scam.


eBay Tools to Power Your Bargain Hunting: 5 Recession-Busting Tips to Use Stupidity, Robots, and Zip Codes for Online Auction Judo

Everybody wants an edge these days, and these eBay power tools give you that buying edge in ways that were unimaginable in the days before search engines, automated queries, and most of all, nakedly taking advantage of eBay sellers without the inside scoop. Check out these 5 tips and live the dream, baby!

eBay Tool Power Tip 1: Spell Wrong

Here’s a popular guitar: The Stratocaster. They sell really well on eBay. They appear under two brands: Fender and Squier. If you’re smart, you’ll search for variations of “stratacaster” and “squire”. For reasons unbeknownst to me, even guitarists tend to spell Squier the wrong way. (That one annoys me, for some reason, even though I don’t normally take spelling personally.)

On eBay, incidentally, you can use the OR operator in your searches. To search for either “stratacaster” or “stratocaster”, you’d do this:


eBay Tool Power Tip 2: Local Options Blow Away Delivery Prices

Few people pay attention to any of the advanced eBay search options, typically less than 20%. Their internal surveys always show shockingly low numbers. eBay does its best to make this stuff obvious, but few pay attention. That’s good for you, the savvy buyer. Shipping costs can kill you, so always keep an eye out on the item’s location.

Even better, once you’ve surveyed the market to understand what items generally go for, look for Location when you see a set of search results. At the moment it’s on the left side of the screen when using a desktop or laptop computer, but your mileage may vary. Anyway, under Location you’ll find you can narrow results to your country but even better, drill down in the search results so you can restrict the results to a search radius of your liking.

eBay Tool Power Tip 3: Get Robotic Search Assistance

Now that you know how to search, it’s up to you to remember to hunt down those bargains. Another criminally underused eBay tool is saved searches, which puts the onus on eBay. They perform the searches on their servers on your schedule, thank you very much, and email you only when they get the desired results. Saved searches are super easy to use, but you need to log in. Just perform a search as usual, and check near the top of the results list. You’ll see a Save Search item. Voila! Click that bad boy and you’ll get every possible search option a sane person could hope for. It’s how I got my awesome Donald Fagen book, and yes, it was worth $80.

eBay Tool Power Tip  4: Snoop The Wrong Categories & Snipe Your Way To Victory

As a music student, I frequently buy old sheet music. And by “old” I mean dating back as far as… the mid 1980s. (Think I’m kidding? Donald Fagan of Steely Dan did an incredible album called “The Nightfly”. It sold millions, and was by leaps and bounds the most successful solo effort of the Steely Dan guys. So how much is it to buy the sheet music to that album? A couple bucks? No. Ten bucks? No. Try $80, which is what I paid a couple years ago.)

I sometimes fall into the trap of just browsing the sheet music category. Big mistake. Not everyone who posts things on eBay know what’s in what category. They often put books of sheet music under Books, and for some reason tend to get the prices completely wrong. If it’s old sheet music from the late 1800s or early 1900s, they tend toward comic overpricing. If it’s newer sheet music from the 1960s and onward, they tend to let it go for a song (sorry). So make your eBay searches global. No need to limit them to one section.

eBay Tool Power Tip  5: Save Your Bid Until the Last Minute

Now that you’ve found that depression glass candy dish you had your eye on, the next obvious step is to bid on it… Not. Always defer your bid until the final minute of the auction, a practice called “e sniping” in the eBay world. If you “e snipe” your bid, you run a better chance of keeping a lid on other collectors horning in on your find. Also, if you use the ancient auction sniper trick you’ll be able to cancel your bid should you find something better. USA Today says “it pays to snipe” and all power buyers use an online service for it. Check out my Online Auction Judo newsletter for tips that go way beyond auction sniping if you want to kill it in the eBay market.

eBay Tools: 3 Ways To Win on Ebay by Canceling Auctions

How to win on eBay when the deck is stacked against you? By using every eBay tool in your arsenal, and taking no prisoners. In an ordinary auction (the correct term for real world auctions, by the way, is “outcall auction”, not that you asked), the drama is over in a few minutes. On eBay an auction can last three days. Or seven. Or even ten agonizing days. And your competition isn’t just a couple dozen people in the room. It’s a billion people with internet access all over the globe. And they all seem to want that near-mint condition XBox you’re looking to buy for your nephew.

Bid is a binding contract

Anyone who’s ever been to a live auction (ah, outcall auction) has experienced the gut-churning few moments when you’re desperately trying to decide whether to go over budget and risk the wrath of your spouse, while simultaneously balancing that against the very real possibility that you’ll never be able to get one of those 1969 Red Line Hot Wheels Deoras again, and possibly hate the world forever because of it.

Maybe you’ve never been to an outcall (I mean, real world) auction. Maybe all you’ve done is watched a TV show about auctions, and wondered what sort of nightmares would ensue if you scratched your nose absentmindedly while the bidding was going on for an orignal Matisse, and you found yourself on the line for $4 million painting. At least on eBay, you can cancel a bid, right?

Uh… wrong. On eBay, a bid is considered a binding contract (unless it falls under one of the few categories, such as real estate, which are regulated otherwise). Retract more than a couple of bids, and eBay will show you the door.

Why cancel a bid?

Hang on, you ask reasonably. Who cares about canceling bids? I wanted the thing, right? So why is this ever a problem? Well, thanks for asking. There are a number of reasons people might want to withdraw from bidding.

  • They might find a better deal in another auction
  • They might suddenly find themselves without the funds to pay for the item
  • Market conditions may change
  • Their spouse may see the bid (a variation on the “finding themselves without the funds” point, I admit, not that this has happened to me (all right, it has happened to me)
  • They might find a better deal in another auction

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a “one of a kind” item on eBay, argued endlessly with myself about budgetary matters, then placed a bid-only to find another one of a kind item in better condition for less money later that week. My favorite item is a guitar they made only a few hundred of, but there’s almost always one for sale on eBay. I found this out the hard way, after buying a damaged one for $875 (true story; I have the PayPal record and wifely scars to prove it).

They might suddenly find themselves without the funds to pay for the item

These aren’t the best of times financially for most people. When auctions can last 10 days, it’s amazing how many life events can intervene after you’ve decided to plunk down $200 for a used Kitchenaid mixer (shipping included, such a deal!). eBay, though, doesn’t worry about your life events.

Market conditions may change

I know a guy who makes a ton of money buying silver on eBay. A ton. He uses an auction sniper service (his favorite eBay tool) to buy low, and his copywriting skills to sell high. Recently silver prices dropped a lot in one day. Guess who was in there buying long, as it were? A lot of people who were panic buying silver weren’t as flexible. Believe me, they wish they could cancel their bids on eBay.

Their spouse may see the bid

Let’s just say this one can hurt. Use Google to search eBay for the phrase (include the quotes to reduce false positives) “my wife found out”. Ahem.

Cancel a bid on eBay: Is there a legitimate way?

So how do you cancel a bid on eBay? There are “sniping” services online that place the bid for you right  before the end of the auction. Like seconds before. Because it means you never placed the bid, you can “cancel” the bids simply by logging on to the sniping service. The oldest and best eBay tooI for auction sniping know of is eSnipe, but do your own research. I do know that as an auction sniper I’ve saved a ton of money, and have canceled lots, and lots of bids, and though I have other tricks up my sleeve that one pretty much never fails me.

eBay Auction Sniping: Did You Kill the Internet Auction?

eBay Auction Sniping: Did You Kill the eBay Auction?

Wired claims you and I killed the Internet Auction; as an experienced auction sniper I beg to differ. eBay is still a massive social force. I’m still making a lot of money thanks to auction sniping. And Condé Nast, Wired’s publisher? Still losing money, thank you very much. We online auction power buyers know the inside scoop, which is that the auction market is bustling with life-and ripoffs.

Does Auction Sniping Still Serve A Purpose?

The trick to knowing how to buy on eBay is to avoid Buy It Now like the plague, and instead search for auctions with no reserve. Then… you don’t bid. Not early and often, the way eBay wants you to, at any rate. You wait until the closing moments of the auction. It prevents bidding wars and keeps your bid secret.

How Can You Cancel an eBay Auction Without Being an Auction Sniper?

The eBay sniping business is dead serious, and there are a ton of automated tools to help you. Online services usually work the best (no screen savers or dodgy Net connections to bollix up the last-second bid). They have a huge advantage over eBay: you can cancel bids. This is critical, because eBay regards your bid as a “binding contract”, in the words of their terms of service. Yikes! Use of an online sniping service lets you cancel bids at will if you find a better bargain.

How Do Collectors Dominate In Their Fields?

Collectors hate other collectors winning, so they snipe as a matter of routine. The best way to attract attention to an auction is to see a list of bids. Collectors smell other collectors like a shark smells an injured tuna. They never touch a bid until a few seconds before the end.
Here’s what the bottom line says about Wired’s parent company.

I Make More Than Wired, Thank You Very Much

My business has been profitable every quarter since the millennium started. Wired? Not so much.