I bought dozens of laptops, phones, cameras, camera lenses, cast iron cookware, music equipment and even prepaid cell phone plans from the sites auction. During that time I was only ripped off once, but even then I ended up getting my money back. I didn’t get the item I was looking for, but I didn’t lose anything either.
With that said, it’s probably worth repeating: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it is.
How to make an offer
Once you’ve found an item you want and know how much you want to pay, it’s time to … wait. I strongly suggest that you only bid at the last second. And I mean it almost literally. I only bid when there are about 10-20 seconds left. I wait for the auction to end, then search my phone for it, because I think the eBay app has a better interface for actual auctions (it’s terrible for browsing), and during actual auctions seconds, I enter the maximum amount I’m willing to pay.
The reason you don’t want to bid earlier is that it gives your competitor a chance to respond. If you go ahead and outbid someone a few days or even hours before an auction ends, they’ll come back and outbid you. Often times, I guess they will come back and outbid you even if you pushed them above their original maximum bids. You don’t want to give other people time for the emotional experience of eBay auctions. Only the auctioneers want to push bidders into auction fever. We want them to never see us coming.
Once it’s reduced to the last 20 seconds, you enter your maximum bid. At this point, a sort of automated auction war begins. This one is not emotional, it is pure machine-based logic.
The site takes your maximum bid and maintains it, but all it puts into the actual auction is a bid of 50 cents more than the current highest bid. But that other bidder may have entered a higher total bid than listed, so eBay is raising their price. Then your eBay robot responds, and so on, back and forth until someone hits their maximum bid. If it’s the other bidder, you win. And since you bid at the last second, the other bidder didn’t have time to reconsider and maybe increase their maximum bid.
The downside to this strategy is that if the other bidder has a higher maximum bid than you, they will win. This is OK, because you have already submitted your maximum bid. Going higher would mean you pay more than you think. So this last minute method also saves you from yourself. And honestly, I always bid this way and rarely end up losing.
I rarely buy things using the Buy Now button (meaning there is a fixed price, no auction). Typically, the people who sell this way are resellers (they have a large stock of the item and sell it all the time), and while they can offer a good deal, it is usually not a good deal. good deal. The big exception here for me are the phones. Almost all the phones I bought were Buy It Now.
The advice I have for avoiding being scammed is to not pay with anything other than PayPal. I don’t necessarily mean you need to use a PayPal account, but make sure the transaction is processed through PayPal. If anyone wants a money order or a check, it’s a scam. I also avoid local pickup items in most cases. (Vehicles and appliances are the only things I would consider for local pickup.)
Perhaps the best advice I can give is the hardest to follow: try to remove your emotions from the equation. When shopping second-hand, think of your heart and brain as the two voices whispering in your ears. Your heart might be set on a new laptop (for you), but your brain is better at spotting scams, won’t be sucked into auction fever, and that’s what you should listen to when you catch yourself thinking, it’s almost too good to be true.