I've spent lot of time on eBay, and have bought thousands of items throughout the years. Recently I revisited some tips for buying that I'd put together a while ago. I thought our Chatter Blog readers might be interested in them:
Research! You can find virtually any information you need online. Start by researching product information, reading reviews and checking the value of what you're buying. The more you know, the more successful you'll be.
Never assume. Missing information in the item description? Don't fill in the blanks yourself; directly contact the seller before you commit to buying anything. Click on the "Ask seller a question" link from any listing to email questions and get more detailed information.
Follow through. When you buy it, pay for it quickly to complete the transaction.
Use PayPal.PayPal is the safer, easier way to pay online. Beginning this holiday season, PayPal will provide you with unlimited coverage on your purchases.
Are you smiling? If you're happy with the transaction – it was timely, a good deal, reasonable shipping costs, etc. – leave positive Feedback for the seller. And if the transaction was flawless – the seller communicated in a timely manner, the item was as described, the seller shipped the item quickly and for actual shipping costs or for free - give them "high 5's" on all their Detailed Seller Ratings and make that seller's day.
Hidden Gems. Find a great deal by using search terms with spelling mistakes (sometimes sellers forget to spell check their listings) or search for an item with the terms "outlet," "liquidation" or "refurbished" to find a bargain.
Communicate. If something needs to be addressed during the transaction, contact the seller directly. The best way is to reach the seller is via email or, if a number is available, give them a call.
Analyze Feedback. After you've narrowed down your search, check seller feedback and ratings for each item. Remember, give preference to the seller with the highest feedback score – it means they have the best reputation as a seller.
Don't be afraid. eBay is set up to hold people accountable. If a problem cannot be resolved by contacting the seller directly, rely on eBay. To get more information, click on the Security and Resolution Center link located at the top of any eBay.com page and report your problem.
Be adventurous. If you're comfortable and frequently use eBay to buy from one or two categories, consider exploring other categories to find new, unearthed items. For example, an antiques dealer can find great vintage items in the Clothing, Shoes and Accessories category beyond just shopping in Collectibles.
Consider pre-owned. To save some cash, consider searching and purchasing used items. Review your search results to select the item that best suits your needs – chances are you'll come across the perfect find at a great price.
Trade up. If you’re looking for a little extra cash to purchase the next must-have item on your list, all you have to do is sell an item on eBay. Voila! You've now recycled, cleaned house and earned money to purchase another great product.
Luxuriate! On eBay, you can find a range of high-end items, from consumer electronics to clothing and accessories. Be as specific as possible when searching for an item – include both the brand name and model number. You can also add in helpful search terms like "authentic," "collectors," "rare" or an era to help narrow your search.
I hope all is well for you and your families. Today at eBay, we're holding our monthly Community Town Hall event. If you aren't familiar with an eBay Town Hall don't fret. They are basically very much what you're probably thinking they are like. We invite everyone who trades on eBay to participate. You can do this by clicking on the Town Hall graphic on the eBay Town Hall page.
After that, you'll navigate to our partner who assists producing these events, www.wsRadio.com. They host the weekly eBay Radio program hosted by our very own Griff. He also moderates the questions, comments, and suggestions on various eBay and PayPal topics raised by Community members. Griff is regularly joined by a group of eBay leaders called the Town Hall panel. Each of the panel members are responsible for different areas with eBay. They provide answers to questions about their respective topics, explain the rationale for a variety of the decisions the company makes, and listen to comments and suggestions about ways to improve the eBay and PayPal experience. You can email your questions and suggestions to TownHall@eBay.com or call the toll free number, 877-474-3302.
You're invited to join us today at 3:30 PM Pacific Time to listen and submit any question, comment, or suggestion.
Just go to the Town Hall page (http://pages.ebay.com/townhall/) to participate. We've scheduled 90 minutes for this opportunity to interact with some of the leaders at eBay. If your schedule doesn't permit you to join, you will be able to listen to an audio archive recording or read a written transcript available generally a few days following the event. Bookmarking the Town Hall Archives page will allow you to access the archive information easily for future reference.
During and after the event, come back here to the Chatter blog to view photos. If you have comments or suggestions about today's Town Hall or about Town Hall events in general, please start a thread on the Chatter Blog Comments board and share your thoughts and opinions.
We hope this information is helpful and you learned more about our Community Town Hall events.
If you're an active eBay member, which I’m guessing you are if you're reading The Chatter, you're probably keenly aware of many of the changes planned for 2008. You may have read some posts here on The Chatter like Griff's thoughts on the Feedback changes or Laura's recent article with questions and answers about testing for a new item page. We plan to try to help everyone adapt to the changes as best as possible by providing tips, strategies, and other information that you may find useful for your eBay activity.
After a few weeks of contemplating all the upcoming changes and analyzing how they will impact their businesses, we know that sellers are beginning to adapt. Here's an email we received recently from an eBay Store owner -- PowerSeller, cleosuncat -- who describes how she is dealing with some of the changes with Feedback and DSRs.
We hope her letter gives our sellers more ideas about how you might adapt your business, too. Here's what she wrote:
I wanted to send along my results in adapting to the changes on eBay. Once the announcements were made, I began looking at what I could do better/different to thrive in the new environment. It's been two weeks, and I wanted to share my changes & results so far:
1. Feedback: I used to leave it second or after 30 days if I heard nothing. I am now leaving it when I ship the item. The quality of the feedback I receive is better, much more positive almost effusive.
2. DSRs: I have reworded my packing invoice. Aside from my standard thank you for shopping with me & let me know when the package arrives, I have added if you need to leave me less than 5 stars, please let me know how I can improve my customer service for you & future buyers. I have empowered the buyers to help me, making them a "partner" in my business, my stars have gone up and not one has told me what I can do better
3. Shipping Charges: Always have been my weakest star, the one that will keep from the 15% discount. My shipping is flat rate, based on USPS zone 8, but my buyers did not know that. They also did not know before they bought that I routinely rebate shipping if they live closer or I can use FedEx. I have added that information to my TOS, letting them know the shipping listed is worse case scenario, and if possible, it will be less. I am now within .10 of the 4.8 on shipping charges
I have basically not changed how I do business, I am just doing a better job of letting the buyers KNOW how I do business.
I am in no way perfect and will face bumps along the way, but the clouds on the horizon don't seem as ominous. The carrots are making this bunny very happy
Thanks for reading, cleosuncat"
Sellers -- If you'd like to share tips and strategies with other members of the Community, I encourage you to click on the comments link below to post to the Chatter Comments discussion board.
There have been a few questions about some of the changes around Safer Payments that were announced on January 29th at the eCommerce Forum. PayPal Director of eBay business in North America Monroe Labouisse -- who also participated in our last Town Hall -- helped to explain more about the goals for the Safer Payments initiatives on the PayPal Blog. Regarding item holds, Monroe says,
" Safer Payments, as Jim described, requires some sellers to offer safer payment options that we know buyers trust – such as PayPal or major credit cards. Second, sellers should understand that only a very small percentage of transactions – and I can’t emphasize enough the words very small – may result in funds being held by PayPal."
There's a lot of other good information in his article -- I encourage you to read it.
Faithful Chatter readers may know that our friend and guest blogger for the eBay Developer's Program, Delyn Simons, is out enjoying her new baby. Filling in for her while she's out is the very talented Gail Bower. She's using her first appearance on The Chatter to tell us about the new eBay Flyer. Enjoy!
What’s old is new again! With eBay Flyer, you can now quickly create the familiar “FOR SALE” paper flyers, complete with tear-strips along the bottom, so interested buyers can easily find you on eBay. eBay Flyer is fantastic for selling those large, awkward or locale-specific items like couches, TVs, cars, furniture, scuba gear and anything else you don’t want to or can’t haul to the post office.
Creating a flyer is super easy, free, and your listing information is even already in the flyer! Post flyers (legally, of course) all around town … college campuses, churches, stores, health clubs, the Laundromat – you get the idea. The potential buyer can take a tear-strip off the flyer and when they return home, they simply enter the URL on the tear-strip which will take them directly to your auction. It’s another great way to get the word out about items you have for sale on eBay.
Try it today and you may wind up selling more and selling faster. That’s money in your pocket!
Today, I'd like to draw your attention to a new variation of the Member Spotlight program at eBay. As you may know, the Member Spotlight program highlights a specific eBay member who has a unique or interesting eBay related story. However, there are also so many other interesting stories from members who make their own special communities within the larger eBay Community. To highlight these communities, enter a new variation of Member Spotlight. Instead of focusing on just one member, we'll shine the spotlight on groups of members, who make eBay special.
Today's Member Spotlight focuses on all the members who participate on the Bidding discussion forum also known as the "Bidding Board."
The Bidding Board features a dedicated, fun, and passionate group of eBay members, who proudly refer to themselves as "Biddies." The Biddies come from all walks of life with unique experiences, but one thing they usually share in common is buying items on eBay. Whether their purchases add to their favorite collections or were impulsively made while browsing ("I couldn't resist bidding on a new pair of my favorite shoes!"), the Biddies are among eBay's most active and loyal buyers. I don't know anyone here at eBay who would disagree with the Biddies' expertise on all things buying.
Biddies throw themselves with a passion into all aspects of bidding and buying on eBay. Some are quick to assist the "newbie" member still learning eBay's automatic bidding system (which many eBay veterans still call Proxy Bidding); another camp of Biddies is those who swear by the snipe. In fact, this thread, The Sniping Revival: Ye all come, is where many of the "Biddies" boast about their sniping prowess.
On this thread, resident Biddie and highly-respected member, tiptie, eagerly congratulates and awards his "Tiptie Sniper" ribbons, which are coveted by other members. However, tiptie is also a champion of the old-fashioned proxy bid. In true Community form to celebrate every buyer's experiences, tiptie created a thread to honor buyers whose winning bid was the earlier placed proxy bid, beating out all sniping attempts. You can read about those experiences here, Early Proxy Winners Versus The Snipers...The Testimonials and the Awards.
The Bidding board is also home to more serious and controversial discussions. One long-standing topic focuses on eBay's decision to make member IDs anonymous on the Bid History page (called Safeguarding Member IDs). You can read about the Biddies who have weighed in with their opinions and provided eBay with feedback on this thread, Bid History Changes including a***b user IDs. Other discussion topics include experiences with sellers, excessive shipping charges, Second Chance Offers, and Feedback.
Of course, the Biddies have their interests outside of eBay as well. Not everything discussed on the Bidding Board is about eBay. Usually, when they start discussing something not related to bidding on eBay, they'll type "OT" in the title, which means "Off Topic."
I hope that this spotlight on the Bidding forum has been educational for you. Now you know whom Bill Cobb is referring to when he talks about the Biddies during his regular Town Hall events. For me, reading the stories of items found and purchased on eBay in members' own words are what make my time reading the Bidding board enjoyable. So, if you haven't ever visited the Bidding board or stopped by in a while, be sure to check in soon and say hello to some of the Biddies.
Remember that Seinfeld episode where George concocts a fake charity, in order to wriggle out of buying holiday gifts for his co-workers? Instead of buying them gifts he claims that a donation has been made in their name to "The Human Fund" (with the slogan "Money for People"). The holiday season and the first few weeks of the new year might bring out the best in most people, but for fraudsters, it's a time to bring out their worst scams.
One such scam eBay members should watch out for is an offer to buy or sell listed items outside of the eBay website (instead of buying "on-eBay," which means bidding on or buying the item on eBay, and then paying through the eBay Checkout process). Going outside of eBay to buy or sell an item listed on eBay is worse than falling for an old, legendary scam like "Psst! Wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge?" It's like going down a dark alley to settle the transaction with your buyer or seller. You might find your money or item taken, with nothing to show in return. It's an unsafe and unprotected way of doing business.
On the other hand, completing the transaction on eBay (and with PayPal) is safe, because eBay has many buyer and seller protection programs, such as the Purchase Protection programs and Seller Protection programs to protect you if something goes wrong.
Fraudsters will attempt to lure you off the eBay site with Fake Second Chance Offers Recently one of our members (let's call him Robert) recently bid on an item that he really wanted, but didn't win. Shortly after the listing ended, he received an email in his personal email inbox that looked something like this:
"I am the seller of the item you recently placed a bid on: Hoover SteamVac F7425-900 Shampooer Steamer. The winner got rejected due to security reasons. Your last bid price is taken into consideration. If you are interested to buy it please email me at email@example.com and include your name, address and eBay ID. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your response, either yes or no."
It seemed too good to be true, but Robert contacted the "seller" anyway. Robert thanked him, stated that he did still want the steamer and agreed to pay using the "seller's" preferred payment method, Western Union. He sent him $185 through Western Union.
You can guess where this story is going. Robert didn't get the steamer, and ended up losing his money.
Another common method a fraudster might use to lure people "off-eBay" is by including an email address in their listing, telling buyers to contact them directly for a "better deal."
If you're faced with a situation like Robert's here are some tips to avoid the errors of judgment that he made:
Do not use Western Union for eBay items. You will NOT be protected. Western Union is not an accepted payment method on eBay because it is unsafe when paying someone you don't know.
Check out a really creative page our friends in eBay Australia have come up with for tips on how to spot fraudsters using Western Union to lure you into an unsafe transaction.
Ask Seller a Question – Sellers, beware of buyers asking you to contact them about a transaction at a personal email address instead of using the Ask Seller a Question feature.
Report off-eBay offers to us – Lastly, if you receive an offer to to buy or sell a listed item outside of eBay, let us know about it! Here's how to contact us to:
Confirm all Second Chance Offers in My Messages – In fact, make sure you check My Messages for ALL communications from your buyer or seller. If it's a genuine email, you should see a copy of it in My Messages.
Lastly I encourage you to take the Buying Safely tutorial and spend some time in our newly revamped Security Center. There are some great tips in there for both new and experienced buyers alike.
My father collects glass candy containers -- popular during the 1940s, when he was a kid. I think they're pretty neat, too, so I've given him several throughout the years. It used to be easy to find containers he didn't have...always the perfect holiday gift. Today, the finding on eBay is still easy, but remembering what he has in his collection already is tough. For a while, I'd take a picture of his collection every time I'd go home for a visit. As you can imagine, that system has its flaws.
What to do? What to do?
eBay to the rescue! Now I can give my dad eBay Gift Cards! He'll still be able to get great deals on vintage candy containers on eBay, and I won't have a "data management" problem.
And get this...eBay Gift Cards are easy to find at my local grocery store! In fact, they're in several grocery chains like Safeway, Albertsons, Publix, Piggly Wiggly (I know there's no Piggly Wiggly here on the West Coast, but can you blame me for wanting to type "Piggly Wiggly"?), and many other places, too. I walk into Safeway, and walk out with candy for me (yes, chocolate!) and an eBay Gift Card good for a candy container for my dad.
If you're at a point in your holiday shopping where you run out of gift ideas, I suggest eBay Gift Cards. Or you remember, just two days before Christmas, that you wanted to get a gift for someone and it's too late to mail it to them in time, just pop into one of these locations and get them an eBay Gift Card. They're available in $25 and $50 amounts.
They're very easy to find, unless you're Jeff, who gets easily distracted by all the goodies in a grocery store. Watch this video to see what I mean.
My wonderful colleague Delyn usually covers the eBay Developers beat on the Chatter, but she's taking some time off after becoming a mommy (for the second time!). So I've stepped in to give you a glimpse into what our intrepid band of developers are up to.
But what does a social networking site like Facebook have to do with your items for sale on eBay or with that hard-to-find item you've been looking for? Here's Trisha Okubo from our Developers Program to tell you more:
Do you get frustrated trying to uncover the hidden treasures on eBay? It's OK -- it happens to the best of us. In eBay's crowded, bustling marketplace, it's often easy to miss the gems.
But now, if you're on Facebook, there's an easier way to find the cool stuff on eBay. Join the eBay community on Facebook, where you can see and share the best stuff on eBay with your other Facebook friends. Who might share it with their Facebook friends. Who, in turn, might share it with their Facebook friends. And so on. The business school gurus call it "viral marketing."
As you use the eBay Marketplace application, you'll find handpicked goods from your Facebook friends and the Community at large. You'll find stuff you and your friends care about -- anything and everything from the robin's egg blue 19th century teapot your BFF (Best Friends Forever in social networking lingo) has her eye on to your nephew's video game picks (Guitar Hero III, anyone?).
eBay Marketplace lets you share what you're doing on eBay with your friends on Facebook. Did you just list a gorgeous jewelry case for sale on eBay? Or are you itching to brag to your friends about the pair of Marc Jacobsround toe boots you just won? If you choose, eBay Marketplace can share the news with your friends on Facebook automatically.
But you can do more than just share your stuff with your friends. If you run across the perfect vintage midcentury modern lamps for your sister's redecorated living room, you can share them with her with the click of a button. Or -- you could scoop them up and get a jump on your Christmas shopping, if you haven't finished it already. :)
I'm back today to bring you the next installment of our popular series, the eBay Member Spotlight. Through the eBay Member Spotlight series, we share our members' unique and inspiring stories with the rest of the eBay Community. So if you want a shot at your "15 minutes of fame," be sure to send us your story! (Details below at the end of this blog post.)
eBay Member Spotlight: Thanks for taking time to answer our questions, let's get started. When and how did you learn about eBay?
Motoxrush: Thanks for letting me share my story. Some years ago, my husband and I had a brick-n-mortar Power-Sports retail store in Oklahoma, and we were doing everything we could just to keep our doors open every month. Then, in 2004, my dad came to visit me and asked if I had ever thought about trying to sell on eBay.
eBay Member Spotlight: That's great -- you have your father to thank for showing you the path to eBay. Can you tell us how you got started?
Motoxrush: We started out buying a few things on eBay and then decided to list some items for sale. Everything we listed sold! We were hooked and soon after we opened our eBay store, Rush Moto X. Eventually we closed our brick-n-mortar store to sell on eBay full time since it was much more cost efficient.
eBay Member Spotlight: Wow! That's some great success while getting started. Is there something that you did that especially helped you succeed on eBay?
Motoxrush: I researched everything I could about selling on eBay. One day I discovered eBay Groups and asked Groups members some questions. I found so many of the members were so helpful, that I absorbed everything in terms of knowledge I could and learned so much more than my research could ever give me! I couldn't believe how friendly the people were in the Groups and how willing everyone was to help and give me advice.
eBay Member Spotlight: Aren't eBay Groups amazing? What did you do next?
Motoxrush: Since I had such a wonderful experience with the eBay Groups, I started my own group. I wanted to give back to the eBay Community through teaching others what so many experienced members were willing to share with me. I'm very proud of my eBay Group and I named it "Getting Started on eBay & Improving"
eBay Member Spotlight: Please share with us one of your favorite experiences participating in eBay Groups.
Motoxrush: I've met some really great friends within eBay Groups. One member and I exchanged instant message screen names and began talking to each other every day. Eventually we exchanged phone numbers and after two years we talk on the phone at least once a week. She has become one of my best friends even though we have never met in person. She lives in Alabama and I live in Oklahoma. But, due to interactions in eBay Groups I have made a best friend, who I enjoy talking to and share everyday life experiences with.
eBay Member Spotlight: You mentioned friends with an "S" meaning not just one friend, so there must be more to this story. Care to expand?
Motoxrush: Absolutely! Another awesome friend I met online in eBay Groups lives in Florida. While vacationing in Florida, my father decided to settle down and build a home he can move to when he retires. Like many eBay buyers and sellers, Dad is always on the lookout for great collectors items or just finding a bargain at thrift shops. But he didn't know where any good thrift shops were located in that part of Florida since he was new to the area. I then remembered my eBay Groups friend from Florida and I emailed her to see if she lived close to where my father was moving and, of course, if she knew where to find the bargains around town.
We talked on the phone for nearly three hours and it turned out that she lives less than 20 minutes from where my father was building his new home! Of course she asked me to give him her phone number so they could connect. Before I knew it, Dad was at her house. She welcomed him in like he was a dear old friend and hooked him up with some great places to go shopping. She even suggested how to go about finding good builders in the area for his home, and invited him back anytime he was in Florida. I thought it was so awesome that someone I had never met in person was so kind and welcoming to my dad! You see, Dad is very special to me and this meant a lot to me!
eBay Member Spotlight: That's a fantastic story! We hope you'll be able to meet your two special eBay friends someday. Motoxrush: Well, actually, since eBay Live is in Chicago in 2008 and that's only a three hour drive from my Dad's house in Wisconsin, we're planning on heading to eBay Live! during our annual summer visits to dad's house. The best thing is, because of my success with my eBay business, my husband and I have offered to pay for my friend from Alabama to come to Chicago to attend Bay Live! along with our friend from Florida (who is already planning to be there). We are all so pumped up to finally meet in person and a lot of my success and friendships on eBay are a result of my participation in eBay Groups. I just can't say enough about how much I enjoy being part of them.
eBay Member Spotlight: So, before we wrap up do you have any last words about your experience being part of the eBay Community?
Motoxrush: Sure, in hopes of sharing the greatest thing I have ever done with my business life, I became an eBay Education Specialist so that I could teach people the wonderful opportunities that are possible. Before wrapping up every class, I tell my students about so many caring and wonderful people that are part of the eBay Community. I show them how to find their way to eBay Groups and explain that not only can you sell on eBay and earn a good income, you can also meet some really good friends along the way too!
Selling on eBay has changed my life in such a way that I can now spend more time with my husband and son. It also, gives me the flexibility of being able to take time off to see my dad every year & it has given me the best gift of all…the gift of friendship!
If you have a story you'd like us to consider for a future Member Spotlight, send it to us right away! You can also record your own video and host it on Youtube. Simply email the URL created on Youtube to us. For those who may be a bit shy and not quite ready to be spotlighted on camera, you can do it the old fashioned way by writing your unique eBay story. Submit your video or written stories directly to email@example.com (our team) or directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, don't forget to subscribe to our RSS Feed, so you can get updates each time a new post goes up. All right, that's all for now....now send in your videos!