NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, February 2011
Buying and Selling on eBay (Part 2 of 5)
Submitted by Gini Pedersen, Instructor,
FREE Internet and Computer Classes, San Diego Continuing Education;
Honorary Lifetime Member, Seniors Computer Group
gpederse (at) sdccd.edu (click to email author)

Guidelines for Safe and Successful Buying on eBay

Guideline #1: Be cautious about bidding on a high-priced item from a seller with a rating in the mid or low 90% range. Also check the number next to the seller's User ID since this indicates the number of feedbacks that the percentage amount relates to.

People who repeatedly sell merchandise on eBay can’t afford to have a negative feedback rating, and they’ll go out of their way to make sure the customer is satisfied. Check the seller's profile and use this information to evaluate this seller.  

Guideline #2: Escrow Service For purchases over $500 consider using an escrow service such as eBay's at http://www.escrow.com. Doing so will ensure that you get satisfaction before your funds are released to the seller. The fee charged for their service is worth the peace of mind that you’ll get by knowing your transaction will be secure. Of course, there are other escrow services available, but be cautious when selecting one. Never let the seller select one.  

Guideline #3: Understand the process Get out there and learn all you can. Read the eBay guidelines, check out the SafeHarbor policies, look at other auctions by the same seller and make sure everything appears to be on the level. Information is power, and the only way you can hope to come out ahead is to know everything there is to know.  

Guideline #4: Sales outside the country Never wire money out of the country. This is usually a bad idea; you have little chance of getting the money back.  

Guideline #5: Requests to update your shopping or payment account If you receive an email message asking you to update your shopping or payment account, don't click its links or buttons. Just delete the message. Sites like eBay, PayPal, etc. never send emails asking for updated information. Such bogus messages are referred to as Phishing.  

Guideline #6: Social Security Number Never give your SSN to anyone who doesn't have a valid reason for needing it.  

Guideline #7: Credit Card Info Never give your credit card information in an email message. Only provide it on secure websites. You should see https:// (not just http://) at the start of the address on screens where credit card information is entered.

When you enter a "maximum" (also called proxy) bid for an item, you are indicating the highest amount you might be willing to spend for this item. You will pay this maximum amount ONLY if another bidder(s) bid against you but don't exceed the maximum amount you entered.

Although no one actually sees what you enter as a maximum bid, you have revealed your interest in this item which occasionally draws more interest from others.

To allow the flexibility of a maximum bid -- and NOT reveal your interest in this item until a few seconds before the end of the auction, you can use an automated "sniping" service. I use BidRobot.com (http://www.bidrobot.com) which is very inexpensive and reliable. Or you can enter a manual bid during the last several seconds to do this yourself. Manual snipers often get beat out by automated sniping services.

It is important to use ONLY a sniping service that you feel you can trust since you will be providing them with your eBay user ID and password so they can bid on your behalf. I have used BidRobot for over 2 years. Others I've heard of (but not used) include AuctionTamer (http://www.auctiontamer.com) and Auction Sentry (http://www.auction-sentry.com).

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