What are your favorite eBay Tips n' Tricks? Here are mine:

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  1. eBay can be a wonderful resource - maybe your time is limited, maybe your local store didn't have what you wanted, or didn't have it in your size or color, chances are, somebody on eBay does.

    But eBay can also be the source of much suffering and major financial setbacks.

    I have had absolutely wonderful luck with eBay. (Knock wood :smile: )

    But I don't think it's just luck. Here are my favorite Tips n' Tricks:

    First, don't bid on auctions. Auctions are all about human nature, and we are all human, we are all competitive, and no matter how much we say to ourselves that we are going to decide beforehand how much to pay, make our bid and walk away and forget about it, if you are bidding on something you really really want, you can make yourself vulnerable to a great deal of temptation to up your maximum bid by just a dime, just a dollar, and before you know it, you will have paid more for the item than if you had bought it at a store! Plus shipping.

    So I use eBay as an online retailer, and search Buy it Now items exclusively.

    I set a low per-item limit of $25. If, like most people, you're richer than me, you may set a higher one. But keep it low. eBay is where I look for Inspired - or completely unInspired but just cute/cool bags, clothes, fauxbling. In my view, eBay is fine for buying Keds, but not Prada - or any merchandise purported by the seller to be made by a popular, in-demand design house or manufacturer, or precious metals or gemstones.

    The likelihood that anyone might try to scam you on a pair of Genuine Keds Champion Oxfords for $19.99, or a Gold Electroplated Box Chain for $7 is slim to none. The likelihood that someone might try to scam you on a pair of Prada loafers for $89, or an 18K gold box chain for $300 is more like a certainty.

    Yes, there are thousands of honest and ethical eBay sellers who sell only the genuine article. And there are thousands who are not and do not. So I recommend that if you can afford the high-priced spread, buy it at a store where you can examine it yourself. Or order it from an online retailer whom you know to be an authorized seller of high-priced spread.

    Remember addition. Even though you have set your per-item price limit at $25, you can still overspend just fine. Only 4 items at $24.99 each plus shipping, add up to well over $100. Do that a few times and you are on your way to $1000, so do not feel that setting this kind of limit for yourself will deprive you of the financial ruin to which eBay is famous for leading people.

    Choose your seller carefully. Look at his/her feedback. It can give you a sense of the seller's practices. Read the negatives. If the seller has only a few, you will usually find that they were left by buyers with issues, who did not give the seller time to reply to emails, or refused to take yes for an answer, even when offered their money back, in extreme cases. But read them anyway.

    If you have a question about an item, and the seller does not reply, that's a big red flag. Especially if the item has been there a while, and the seller does not have a lot of items for sale, or his feedback does not indicate much recent activity, it could be that the seller has essentially abandoned his post, and you might send your money in, NOT get your item, and soon thereafter, discover that the seller is NARU'd (Not a Registered User - this usually indicates that the individual has violated some policy or other, and been removed from the rolls of eBay members in good standing)

    Read the fine print. This is one of the hardest rules for me to follow. When you see that very thing you have been looking for, and it is practically being given away, your instinct is to just click that Buy it Now button before somebody else does!

    But don't do it. Scroll on down and read what the seller has to say about payment methods accepted - almost everybody takes PayPal these days, but there are still some who don't, and there have been a couple of times where I, also being human, have been a bit hasty with the mouse button, and ended up having to pay an additional $5 or so to go register and pay via some entity that sends money orders to the Hebrides or Outer Mongolia.

    Read the fine print again. If it doesn't specifically say that the item is new, look for phrases like: "unless stated otherwise, all my merchandise is in good to excellent used condition." OK, fair's fair. The seller is telling you that the item is used, even if they didn't fill in that blank above the picture. Which brings me to the next tip:
    If you are buying items of clothing, unless it is something "vintage," only buy something that is being advertised as New. With or without tags or box does not matter, because we are not buying any expensive designer stuff, remember?

    The reason for this is that whether something really is "like new" or not is a very subjective judgment. The seller may not be trying to pull one over on you at all. They may really consider the Keds with the crease in the instep to be "like new" because they really were worn only once for an hour, and the inside of them is spotless and odorless. It just happens that the way the seller's feet are made, and the way she walks, caused the instep to crease.

    You, on the other hand, do not consider anything with a creased instep to be "like new," and so you now have an issue with that seller that could have been avoided.

    And the same "subjective" thing applies to "excellent" and "good" condition.

    Watch out for hefty shipping charges for low priced items.

    Unless the total costs of shipping and handling of the item are clearly stated, email the seller, and ask him to give you that total cost for shipping to your location. This will give you some documentation, should things go wrong.

    Read the fine print a third time. If you are new to eBay, you will very soon be appalled at the number of people who wish to sell you something for $5 and then charge you $75 for shipping and handling. And most of them are upfront about it. They say so, right down in there somewhere in all that fine print.

    Some sellers don't even mention the subject of shipping charges. In that case, I do not even email them to ask, because I consider that they have already answered me, by not mentioning it!

    This is another way that reading the feedback can help you. If people check "positive" on their feedback, but in the actual text refer to high shipping charges, or even say something to the effect of "high shipping but quality of product worth it," then that could be the seller's cousin helping them out, but it is also quite likely that the buyer is expressing her sincere opinion. An opinion which you may or may not share. So if you are very interested in the item, email the seller, and get that documentation on the subject of shipping that specific item to your specific location!

    Be reasonable about shipping. If you live in the continental US, and you are buying something from someone who lives in Tamil Nadu or Shanghai, you can, and should expect to pay more to have your item shipped than if you are buying it from someone else in the continental US, "more" meaning double, triple, or more.

    If like me, you are poor, maybe that you just can't afford that, and must click on to the next item. But don't confuse sellers with legitimate long-distance shipping charges with sleazeballs who are hoping you will click Buy WITHOUT reading their fine print, in which they do mention various fees totalling $112.

    Buying "vintage" on eBay is such a large topic that it really deserves its own whole series of pieces, and I will apologize in advance for not doing it justice here.

    It is one of the founding notions behind eBay when you think about it, people getting rid of all that stuff poor old Aunt Mina, rest her soul, had stacked up in the guest room closet. All those rhinestones from back in the day...

    Generally speaking, the best tip I can offer is that the more you know about exactly what vintage item you are buying, the better off you will be. This means that if you are not extremely knowledgeable on the subject of elbow-length gloves made in the 1950s, then it will probably be better if you buy yours in person, at a brick and mortar store, and preferably accompanied by a friend who IS knowledgeable about them.

    Aside from subjective elements like what constitutes "good vintage condition," in your view versus the seller's, there are questions of original quality of the item. For several reasons, there is actually less difference today in the actual quality of a garment purchased at Wal-Mart and one purchased at Saks than there was 30 years ago, much less 50. And there is the matter of provenance. How did the seller get the item? How much is known about the conditions under which it spent the last 50 years? Humidity? You can see why "vintage" is such a rich and complex area that whole books are written on it!

    And why the best eBay tip I can give on the subject is - leave it to the experts!

    So, to sum up, it is possible to have fun on eBay, to take advantage of that global marketplace, and find things there that you never would have found at the local mall, even if you had time to go to the local mall, which you don't.
    And it is possible to find bargains - especially if you are looking for bargains and not miracles. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It takes effort to list stuff for sale on eBay, and sellers want to, and should, make a profit.

    Didn't I promise to sum up? OK, for real this time!

    Don't bid on auctions. Only use Buy it Now
    Set a per-item limit, and make it a low one
    Remember even low prices can add up
    Read the Seller's Fine Print. Read it Again. And Again.
    Ask about Shipping and Handling
    Check Seller's Feedback Record
    Buy only "New" items
    Leave vintage shopping to the vintage experts

    What are YOUR favorite eBay Tips n' Tricks?
  2. I don't think I'm an expert but I love to browse vitnage items on ebay. As you say, you need to read the auction and study the photos to guage whether an item is true vintage or vitnage inspired.

    Feedback is helpful but it's not the be-all and end-all. e.g. I bought an hermes scarf from a seller that turned out to be fake. prior to bidding he had 100% positive. but this is probably because he keeps people happy by giving them refunds if they ask. I have since left him his first negative feedback.

    The other problem with feedback is that some people don't leave negatives becase they don't want one in return. so the scammers go undetected.

    With regards, to postage costs: sometimes they are high but if you want the item, include the shipping cost into the totla that you are prepared to pay.
    funnily enough, the only time I use BIN if for packaging supplies. Not on purpose, it has just turned out like that so far.
  3. Good tips. I don't always buy new though- some "new with tags" items have been fakes, in my experience. "Gently used", "excellent preowned condition" items sometimes have a better chance of being the real deal. Of course, it certainly matters about what kind of item we're talking about.
  4. I realized that I left out what might be the most important tip of all:

    The quickest, easiest, and most certain way to check the legitimacy and authenticity of any email from eBay or an eBay seller is to go to your My eBay page, and click "My Messages." Any mail you get will also be duplicated there. I believe this is by default, if it's not, and you need to configure some option to do that, do it, that way, if you get an email, and you also see it in My Messages, it's real. If there is not a copy of it in My Messages, it's not real, and you should forward it to spoof@eBay.com - you might be able to save someone who is not as smart as you from losing a lot of money!

    MissThing, Thanks for saying it much better than I did! And for bringing up some very important aspects of the whole feedback thing and human behavior that I didn't even mention.

    It's a tool, and it's a tool with a learning curve. Sometimes you have to read between those lines. For instance, maybe the seller has 100% positive feedback, but if none of it is recent, and she has items for sale in a store that have been there a while, that is a case where I would make up a question if I had to, just to sort of poke at her and make sure she is still in the game!

    And if she doesn't reply, I won't buy her item, because I now have two very good indications that she is just letting her store sit there till the rent runs out, and if she isn't replying to her potential buyers, she might not be shipping either, so I won't take the chance!

    And yes, whatever the shipping costs are, it's important to train your brain to automatically tack those onto the price when you are considering whether to buy it, comparing it to other similar or identical items, etc. And if you want it, and you can afford it, click on!

    Marly, I think that is a very insightful point - but as you say, it's going to be more of a factor with high-ticket items - there is just no reason for someone to say that a cotton and spandex tee originally from somewhere like Sears or Wal-Mart and being sold for $4.99 is new when it's not, but when the stakes are high, and the item is popular and in-demand, there will naturally be more sellers who give in to the temptation to exaggerate a bit, and a well-made bag, for example, that really is only "gently used" is going to be virtually impossible to distinguish from one you bought new. So I think that is a good strategy, if you absolutely must buy expensive stuff on eBay.
  5. The latest round of sad eBay stories have Inspired me to throw politeness to the wind and bump up my own post, in case it could be helpful to anyone who has not read it and really needs to.
  6. excellent shimmapuff - thanks for taking the time to share what you have learned. something else that was said by michele on the chanel forum when being asked to authenticate a bag was (in essence) there will always be another item. if you have any doubts - wait - do your homework on the item. ebay can be so addictive - and it is so easy to forget that while not literally handing over cash or credit card that item you just had to have will show up on your statement at the end of the month.