How Does an eBay Auction Work

How does an eBay auction work? Maybe you are interested in selling items on eBay but were too overwhelmed to begin. You'll be glad to know that it really isn't that hard. Here are a few guidelines to help you start buying and selling on eBay.

Buying on eBay
It is free to browse and bid at the auctions. All you have to do is register. Registering is fast and easy. They don't ask you for your credit card, all you have to do is put your name and address, and make up a password. 

Items at eBay are categorized by topic. If you already know what you are looking for, all you have to do is type the name in the search box. Everything available that falls under that name will be right in front of you. Once you find the item you would like to purchase, you will have the choice of either buying it at the price the seller is asking, or bidding what you would like to pay for the item. The seller will always have a minimum price that you can bid. Just as if you were at a regular auction, you can bid again as the price is increased by other bidders. All you have to do to bid is put in your selected price into the bid window and click the "Place Bid" button.

If you see the "Buy It Now" logo next to an item, that means you can buy it immediately at the offered price. Whether you're bidding on an auction or using the Buy It Now feature, you'll generally have the ability to pay with your credit card, a debit card or PayPal. Some sellers will only accept PayPal, so you may need to sign up for an account before you can buy.

Take the seller into consideration. When you bring up an item, at the top right of the screen, you will see a  "Meet the Seller" link. You can click the seller's name and look at their ratings. These ratings are set by winning bidders or buyers and measure the quality of service from the seller. Sellers can also rate bidders. Things that get rated include the speediness of the shipment, the quality of the item or how quickly a bidder paid. You definitely want to look into the ratings; it can save you the grief of dealing with troublesome sellers.

Selling on eBay
Maybe you are interested in putting some items up for sale. Registering as a seller does not cost anything, but as a seller you do have some fees.

There is a nonrefundable insertion fee per item. It can be between 30 cents and $3.30. It all depends on the opening bid on the item. There is also a fee that is charged for "additional listing options." This is a fee to help promote your items in the listings.

You will also need to pay a "final value fee" based on the final sale price of the items you sell. This generally rangies from 1.25% to 5% of the final sale price. Shipping fees are not included in the sale price, but you are free to charge them separately. Just be sure to include that information in your listing.

As a seller, it's a good idea to write the descriptions of items carefully, so that disgruntled buyers don't attack your Seller rating. Mention any damage or missing parts that might affect someone's willingness to buy, and don't expect to get top dollar for damaged goods. Using a digital camera to take clear pictures of your items and including them in your listings is a good way to let buyers know what they're getting.

Once the auction is complete, you'll be able to contact the winning bidder. If the winner is unable or unwilling to pay for the item, you can relist it or offer it to the next highest bidder.

If you want to get a certain price for an item, you can establish a reserve price when you create your listing. If this reserve price isn't met by the end of the auction, there's no winning bidder, and you can list the item again. It's best to set realistic reserve prices. If you're not using them for auction items, let potential bidders know by including the words "no reserve" in your listings. This often encourages people to bid.

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