SOLD to the young lady sitting behind the black MacBook.
No need to thumb through the Christie's catalog or wave hand signals
at the gentleman behind the podium. All you need is your computer, an Internet connection and some common sense to venture into the world of online
auctions. Whether you're after silver candlesticks circa 1870 or a
domain name, you'll probably find it on one of the many auction sites.
Going, Going, Gone
The behemoth of the exploding auction niche, eBay touts 5.6
registered users and more than 3 million items for sale. The company
has been rained on by the media with stories of babies and body parts
for sale, but eBay states clearly that sales of drugs, stocks,
Government IDs and yes, human parts are indeed prohibited. Buying
items on eBay is free, but if you want to sell, you'll pay a listing
fee that is determined by the opening value, reserve price or
category of your item. If you listed a Snoopy Sno-cone Machine for
$5.00, you would be charged $ 0.25. If you'd like to sell a plot of
land in North Platte, Neb., you'll pay a $50.00 listing fee.
Where would an e-commerce extravaganza be without Amazon? In
addition to purchasing books, videos, toys and music, you can auction
here. Again, no fees for buyers. However, sellers pay a $0.10 per
item listing fee and a closing fee, which is a percentage of the
winning bid price.
Play It Safe
Ready to buy or sell a hot item? Follow these auction safety tips.
How to Buy
Pay by credit card when you can. If you never receive the
merchandise, you can contest the charges with your credit card issuer.
Check on the seller's reputation. If you can't, consider it a red flag.
Avoid impulse buys. Auctions don't always deliver the best price. Do
your research first to determine fair market value.
is a good source for this. See also
Determine who will pay for shipping and return policies.
If you bid at a person-to-person auction and win, you will probably
be asked to send a personal check to a stranger. Look for sellers
with a clean history. Ebay offers a "Feedback Forum" where buyers and
sellers can post comments about a seller, which form the seller's
"feedback rating." The higher the number, the better chance you're
dealing with an honest individual. But the system isn't foolproof -
sleazy sellers sometimes give themselves false praise.
Make sure you bid carefully, you most likely will not be able to withdraw.
If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Pass it by.
How to Sell
Create an honest, but attractive description of your item. Use
pictures if possible.
Price your item to sell, but not lower than you are willing to sell for.
If you are willing to spend a little extra, consider boldfacing your
listing or paying for additional exposure on the auction site.
Respond to all inquiries about your item as soon as possible.
Once the auction ends, get in contact with the bidder as soon as possible.
Once payment or other terms of the agreement are met, fulfill your
portion of the agreement by delivering the auctioned item.
If you are weary of buying items from a complete stranger, online
auctions might not be for you. However, some escrow sites will act as an intermediary between auction
buyers and sellers for a small transaction fee. If you win, you pay
iescrow first, the seller ships you the goods, you approve the sale,
and iescrow pays the seller.
Speak the Speak
Term used to describe an auction of two or more identical items that
allows all buyers to purchase the items at the lowest successful bid.
Reserve Price Auction
An auction where the seller sets a "reserve price" or the lowest
price he or she is willing to sell an item for. This amount is
generally higher than the minimum bid. In order to win the auction,
a bidder must meet or exceed the reserve price and have the highest
bid. If no bids meet the reserve price, the transaction will not
When the seller of an item bids up their own item or asks another
person to do so. This is a practice looked down upon in the auction
The practice of placing a bid in the closing minutes or seconds on an
auction. Pretty sneaky practice, but there are ways to avoid getting
burned by snipers. See eBay's
description of Proxy Bidding and try this tutorial and test bid.
The following sites keep an eye out for fraudulent vendors. If
you've been burned, report your incident. If you don't want to get
burned, visit these sites before partaking in the process.