I love getting a deal. I try to smell them out from miles away. I love frequent garage sales, flea markets, closeouts, and more -- but found that I could much better by simply buying through online auctions - if I shop carefully.
Getting a deal out of EBay auctions is an art. Buying from auctions can be a costly proposition or a very economical option depending on your tactics. Buy wisely by learning from my (sometimes costly) experiences.
1. Is the Seller Trustworthy?
Both EBay and Yahoo auctions have seller ratings. Read these and their associated reviews. If the seller has a great rating from buying and a poor one from selling, you probably don't want to buy from them. Look at both praises and complaints as they may or may not apply to what you are bidding on.
2. Read the Description Throughly
It is very easy to read what you want to see in an Ebay auction rather than what is actually written there. Read both what is in the Ebay description and what is NOT in the description. Often your mind will want to fill in details with what is your dream interpretation. You need to re-read the description until you find out whether what you are searching for and what the seller is selling match.
* Used or New?
Is the item you are buying used or new? If it doesn't say new, you are most likely buying something that is used.
* Real or Fake
Is the item you are interested in "real" gold, sterling silver or pearls? For example, a description saying: "gold necklace for sale" does NOT say 14 kt gold or 18kt gold. That most likely means a gold COLORED necklace which may or may not have actual gold metal. This also applies to pearls as many call plastic fake pearls simply "pearls".
If the seller is selling beads, those beads could be plastic, glass, stone, scrap metal, crystal, chips, wood, clay, gemstone or some other material.
* Item Details
Does the EBay description really say how much you are getting, how long the item is, and quality of the item? Selling by the pound can be a great deal - or a horrible deal.
* Beware of Hidden Costs
Look at shipping and handling costs. I've seen many penny auctions that have $13 or more shipping. Some auctions even have handling fees.
* How Fast Will it Ship?
I've been seeing a fair amount of auctions that note that the product will ship in 2 months or that shipping time is 2 months. If you are buying for a particular holiday, be sure that you will get the item in time.
3. Is it a Bargain For You?
Many times an EBay auction will say that the items are "worth $XXX". In many cases, that price is inflated. Often you can find similar items much cheaper tah "$XXX" at normal stores. (However, the auction price may still be cheaper than you can by elsewhere - it really helps to know how much you usually pay for items!) If you are only interested in some of the items in an auction, adjust your bid to reflect how much you are willing to pay for just those items unless you plan to sell the rest as that is how much you would pay for it elsewhere.