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#1 OFFLINE   Scot

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 12:04 AM

What's your experience with eBay (or similar services, Craig's List, whatever) with buying or selling computer products? I decided recently to replace every notebook in my arsenal and to greatly augment my notebook "armada." In part this is because wireless networking is changing the way Cyndy and I work with PCs. But in part it's just because I vastly prefer notebooks to desktops. But back to the point. Given how expensive notebooks are, and how little most software today takes advantage of 3GHz+ processors, it's just no longer important to have the latest and greatest. Besides, you can get those on eBay too. I decided to go eBay for my multiple notebook purchases, and the experience has been enlightening.Yes, I've dabbled with eBay here and there before. But mostly with things that were low-ticket items, like books, recordings, that sort of thing.What I've found is that eBay is a little addictive, and also you can get one helluva bargain (doh!) if you know about the products in question. I've learned a lot.What are your experiences? What eBay tips do you have? What war stories do you have? Or just how big was that amazing deal you snared on eBay? Post your stories here. Maybe we'll all learn some things.-- Scot
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#2 OFFLINE   greengeek

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 01:23 AM

:rolleyes:I've had quite a few bargains with used computers and parts from eBay but you really have to know what you're doing.  I wouldn't buy high cost items from them because there's a lot of fraud going on now at eBay Australia, especially with laptops and people selling brand name recovery CDs as full retail versions of XP.

#3 OFFLINE   Cluttermagnet

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 03:35 AM

I have used Ebay for about 4 years or so. I found it somewhat addictive myself, at times. That seems to run its course eventually. I have had a lot of fun and found numerous good buys. I have both bought and sold. Most of my trades were not in the computer area, however. I sold various electronic components and radio gear, and tended to most favor buying old music CD's and LP's, the occasional book or two, and a few hand tools of various types.I think that gradualism is definitely the key here. Newbies to Ebay often get ripped off and otherwise abused because they overextend themselves too early in their auction careers. As to mishaps, mine were quite rare and quite small- I got ripped off for CD's on 2 different occasions where the alleged seller dropped out of sight and never shipped. A minor loss, perhaps 10-15 dollars total including shipping. OTOH I was saddened to read an editorial in one of my industry magazines where a fairly experienced Ebayer forgot about the basics, got overly emotionally invested in not letting a terrific deal on a laptop slip away, and didn't bother to locate independent sources to confirm the seller was 'for real' and could be expected to perform reputably. Long story short, our editor friend was taken in by probably a pretty clever con, and a fairly big chunk of his money disappeared down a rathole somewhere in Europe.There are other ways to really get hurt on Ebay- indirectly. It is amazing how many people still get suckered by spoofed emails and send crooks a lot of personal info so the crooks can hijack their Ebay accounts, lock them out, proceed to run numerous big ripoffs in the victim's name, and totally anihilate their credit rating through identity theft. Common sense can prevent all that, and Ebay routinely exhorts their users to never respond to email requests supposedly from Ebay that require a user to give up additional private information. The crooks  are after Ebay passwords and also credit card numbers.In a few limited areas of the computer field, I have some experience- buying lower-end, offshore (Chinese, Taiwanese) product, usually in the form of 'bare bones' specials to which I added various drives and such that I already had. Typical would be a ViaTech MB with a pretty fast P4 CPU, a quite adequate CPU fan/heatsink, case and PS, IDE and floppy cables, and perhaps some RAM thrown in. I was finding a lot of fast setups in the 300-400 dollar price range. Total price could nearly double from that if you also had to buy new a few drives, etc. In that case, probably better to buy one of their complete packages. There are some deals there, too.I often mixed and matched, catching the latest lowball prices at my local Best Buy stores for HD, CD burners, RAM, etc. Yes, Best Buy always actually did honor my rebate requests. I got surprisingly good telephone support from company techs working for the seller, on two different occasions. One time they shipped me a DOA MB. He had me run a few simple tests and had it diagnosed in just a few minutes. I got a return authorization number and mailed it back- I had the working replacement board in hand and running in less than 2 weeks (west coast importer, east coast buyer, using UPS brown). I also got excellent support when I was having difficulty bringing up a different MB for the first time. The tech was good, knew his stuff, and had me straightened out quickly. Amazing in this era of mostly bitter complaints about lousy tech support. BTW I always approached them in a polite and friendly frame of mind and did not invest anything in trying to play the irate customer on the phone with them. Often you do get back what you put out.The company I dealt with is called Internet I-Shop. I found I had to invest a lot of time online searching through all their listings. BTW I stayed away from the traditional auctions and stuck with the 'dutch auctions'. Those are the ones where the listing states they have, say, 20 of the same item, and the opening price, usually quite reasonable, almost invariably ends up being the closing price for every bidder, as they will usually receive only a few bids per auction. This auction type eliminates a lot of hair-pulling caused by those crazed auction competitors who are not well-informed about market values and tend to overbid right at the end of a conventional auction, thus wasting everybody else's time but at least making the company happy. Actually, it's a good thing auctions are fairly cheap to post, because a lot of them get underbid and the item never sells. I looked at their website, BTW, and was surprised that the package prices were somewhat inflated when purchasing that way. The Ebay dutch auctions seemed to be _the_ way to go with that particular outfit, so long as you have the patience and time to invest. On balance, I'm still satisfied enough with my results that I would consider dealing with them again.By contrast, two other areas I followed for a while were pulled/ used, or surplus/ new inventory RAM sticks, and also modest systems a few years old. Both were generally a waste of time. The RAM, for example- I can drive 5 miles and buy it when on sale at Best Buy for less than most folks were paying at the same time on Ebay. And we're talking before shipping is added in! It was just a crazy situation. I think a bunch of non-hardware types who were clueless about prevailing market prices were always in abundance. Also, folks who live out in the boondocks do not have the luxury of several large discount retailers within an easy drive. Good for sellers, bad for buyers, in this particular category.The older PC's? Let's just say that there must be a lot of suckers for them, too, as the highball opening bids on some of this decrepit merchandise were occasionally outrageous. (Could possibly be seller market ignorance, I guess) I'm sure this would not apply to more recent product. I think this was just another particular niche market. It is sad to think of how much money some neophytes are willing to pay for an old Pentium or P2 on Ebay. For just a few more dollars, you can get a minimal but adequate, recent system with all new hardware. Go figure.My one overall comment would be that folks must develop a good sense of where prices are currently. So long as you know your market, your chances of finding true bargains are pretty good. After all, a lot of folks like to upgrade frequently. This frees up a lot of 'last years' systems and the savings buying used can be amazing at times. Or buying NOS (new old stock- previous years models). BTW it is important to mention that a successful buyer or seller develops a kind of sixth sense to evaluate those he or she is considering dealing with. Perhaps it can be taught, perhaps, not. It comes mainly from experience anyway. If you get good at it, it is amazing just how much you can correctly infer about another person's character based on various details of their feedback, the feedback they have given others, and a host of other little 'reading between the lines' skills. I figure I got fairly good at it myself. FWIW my Ebay feedback miraculously remains at 100 percent to date.One other area is probably worth mentioning regarding Ebay. I followed the scanners area for a month or two, but also reached the conclusion that only a smaller percentage of ending auctions represented a particularly good deal for the buyers. After spending time trying to find a deal on Ebay, I finally found one at my local Best Buy. A new (last year's model) Visioneer 5800 for 20 dollars after rebate. (Yes, they sent the rebate). Replaced my older unit that ran through my printer port with a nice, smoothly-working USB scanner that performs well. The bundled software is surprisingly good. I'm not fussy. This is a low end model and has only 600/1200 dpi resolution, but has proved quite adequate for my home use. Sorry for the long post, but Ebay is a whole 'trip unto itself'. I've had fun there.
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#4 OFFLINE   littlebone

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 12:32 PM

I recently purchased a new keyboard for my laptop on eBay.  I am pleased with the purchase and the price was OK (even including the shipping).Ah, shipping. The sellers seem to pick numbers out of the air, as insurance to protect themselves if they don't get a high enough bid on the product. My $25.00 keyboard required a $12.00 shipping fee for UPS ground. Perhaps it took 10 people to carefully place it in the box.  :PBut I had taken the stated shipping into consideration and felt the KB was worth $37.00, since the computer manufacturer wanted $100 for a new keyboard.Cluttermagnet wrote:

Quote

I think that gradualism is definitely the key here. Newbies to Ebay often get ripped off and otherwise abused because they overextend themselves too early in their auction careers. As to mishaps, mine were quite rare and quite small- I got ripped off for CD's on 2 different occasions where the alleged seller dropped out of sight and never shipped. A minor loss, perhaps 10-15 dollars total including shipping. OTOH I was saddened to read an editorial in one of my industry magazines where a fairly experienced Ebayer forgot about the basics, got overly emotionally invested in not letting a terrific deal on a laptop slip away, and didn't bother to locate independent sources to confirm the seller was 'for real' and could be expected to perform reputably. Long story short, our editor friend was taken in by probably a pretty clever con, and a fairly big chunk of his money disappeared down a rathole somewhere in Europe.
I have bought five or six things on eBay, bid on a few more. So I am a relative newbie. I haven't had any of those problems, but I sweat every auction that I win, wondering if the merchandise will really arrive. Perhaps this is nature's way of telling me not to use eBay.

#5 OFFLINE   zox

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 01:00 PM

I generally am afraid of Ebay and so far I succesfuly managed to stay away.But women will always be women and I just couldn't keep my wife away from it. :blink:Last week she purchased some wallet (Bradburry) which is very expensive and she did it with my help.I was invlolved even though I disaproove the purchase.:angry:To my pleasant surprise, merchandise came on time, neatly packed and protected from damage, as advertised.Nobody stole my money or anything so guess what??Now I am considering to buy something, maybe 3Ware Escalade RAID controller or something else  :w00t:         :D

#6 OFFLINE   volunteer

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 02:14 PM

I've bought a used laptop and desk computer with great results.  I have been ripped off on a used computer that never arrived.  Read all the policies and procedures for disputes or non delivery of the auction item.  There are some time limitations, too and if you wait too long there is no recourse.  If you use PayPal there is a 14 day limit.Be sure to ask any questions of the seller before you bid.  Make sure you ask them to contact you when item is shipped.  A quick email after a couple of days to see if it bounces, it happened to me once and the item never arrived.  <_< Read the seller's feedback from buyers.  I even check the feedback date against the end of auction date to see if the item could have been received by the buyer.  I found more than you would believe that were very suspicious.Buy from people that are power sellers or at least enough positive feedbacks for some idea of their track record, power sellers like to move items and won't jeopardize their business.I've bought hundreds of items CDs, books, software, computer parts, and old hard to find parts and accessories.Final thing, know what you are willing to pay.  If you lose the auction there are more listings; be patient.  I locate several items that fit my needs and list them on my watched items.  If I don't win my first choice I have others that I have already waiting for me to place a bid.Ken

#7 OFFLINE   Scot

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 09:11 PM

Lots of great tips here, and I agree with all of them. In particular, I have to say that ClutterMagnet's statement about pricing is the key to using eBay smartly. I agree that a lot of auctions do not end up being good deals for the "winning" bidder. A lot of what's going on on eBay is stacked against the buyer, in fact. You have to learn not to get emotional about a given product. Or, as I sometimes do with something rare or hard to find, just say the **** with it and pay the high price and be happy with it. I did that recently. and I'm not unhappy about it at all. I never would have gotten the item otherwise. But ... back to the point. I agree, Clutter, you have to study the market, study the market, and astutely gauge prices.This is dangerous and even flaunts the rules a bit, but another tip that I've found useful is to make an offer in email. Usu. best to do this either just before or just after the auction has ended, when it's clear that the buyer didn't get what he wanted. Say, no one met the reserve. Or it can also be done at the beginning of a long auction with no reserve and a low min. bid. Make an offer that's 5% below what you think it's worth. I've bought two notebooks that way, and one of them was the best bargain I've made on eBay.The risk, of course, is that you may be taking yourself out of the protection of eBay. In some auctions, the seller may lower a reserve, lower a Buy It Now price in coordination with you, so you can take it. But most of the time, they just end the auction early. And it might as well be that you're buying it completely off eBay. The seller doesn't have to pay eBay fees in that setting (although he should be). Like I say, it's very dangerous if you don't research the seller. Even then, it can be dangerous. The first time I did it was with a seller who I'd bought from a few times already and had a good feel for.Other tips I live by:1. It's ok to bid if no one has bid. But the absolutely best way to bid is within the last 30 seconds of any auction you care about. Some people feel compelled to be "winning" the auction all the way thru. It's just a game of oneupsmanship. The more everyone feeds into that, the higher the price goes. Hold off on bidding. The only thing that matters is the last bid.2. This is may be obvioius, but it's easier to say than do. Set a final price and stick to it. If you're not getting a good deal, what's the point? I've been trying to buy a specific notebook PC for six weeks now. I've bid on literally dozens of auctions for this model (this is easy when the item isn't rare, and this one isn't). Other people have gotten my price point on auctions I wasn't around to complete. So I know it's possible. I just have to wait for the stars to line up. It'll happen. Be patient.3. Pay attention to feedback, and read the Complaints and Neutrals going back at least six months, and longer if the person is an infrequent seller. Don't buy from someone who replies with a counter-attack to negative feedback. Anything less than 98% positive feedback (especially from people with fewer feedbacks) has a strike against them in my book. If the person has multiple thousand transactions, 97% is ok.4. Research your seller! Someone else mentioned that earlier in this thread. Do they have an eBay store? What else are they selling? If you have questions about them, you can email people who left feedback on them on previous purchases. If you get mail from them, you may be able to figure out a website they belong to. Check that out. Dig in.5. Send email to *every* prospective seller and ask real questions. Don't buy from any seller whose email bounces. Don't buy from any seller who never responds. Don't buy from any seller who is evasive. I ask for proofs of ownership. With computers, I ask for the serial number. Some PC makers provide warranty look-ups on the Web based on serial number. This is a good way to verify that the person is actually holding the computer they say they are too.6. Do not buy from someone who has fewer than 15 sales transations. Or anyone who registered within the last month. Be especially leery of 0 feedback sellers, many of whom are rip-off artists. Not to say all of them are. Some people register with eBay honestly just to sell their computer (or whatever). I've talked to sellers like that. 7. Do not buy from anyone who requires money orders or personal checks only. Your preferred payment method should be credit card followed by PayPal. Both of those give you at least some protection if you have a deadbeat seller. You can also cancel a personal check, but the charge to do that is only worthwhile on items that cost more than $100, and even then you'll be taking a bath on it. Some money orders apparently offer some sort of cancel policy. Be sure to check into those if you decide to pay this way anyway. I only purchase by credit card or PayPal, myself.8. This will sound counter-intuitive, but don't leave negative feedback. Negative feedback is a spitting contest. It ends up on you know matter what. If you have a problem with a seller or buyer, contact eBay for the person's phone number -- and call them. Work it out. I've only had to do that once, but because the other person involved was basically a good seller having a bad month, the upshot was that I left lukewarm positive feedback and he left gushingly positive praise. No one was hurt. I got everything I was supposed to get. Both parties learned that they can solve a problem rather than going away mad.Comments, disagreements, suggestions, modifcations? I'd really like to create a useful tip list.-- Scot
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#8 OFFLINE   SonicDragon

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 09:21 PM

I have always been sort of afraid of ebay and have never really used it.  I'm glad to hear that many of you are having success.Scot: Those tips look wonderful :)

#9 OFFLINE   Scot

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 09:26 PM

Actually, I think being afraid is a good thing. :)  It's definitely something you should approach with some trepidation. But it can be fun too, once you become proficient. The fact that you can get a really good deal -- if you know the product thoroughly and do your home work -- on new and used notebooks and other PC equipment is very intriguing.I've been flirting with buying a car on eBay. But I don't think so. :) -- Scot
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#10 OFFLINE   littlebone

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 10:15 PM

I was at a Border's bookstore today and noticed that O'Reilly has a book called 'eBay Hacks', that looked interesting. It has lots of tips for getting the most out of eBay. O'Reilly Books, "eBay Hacks"

#11 OFFLINE   Jeber

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 10:30 PM

I've only made one purchase on eBay, a Diamond Mako PDA (still the best PDA concept out there, IMO), and was very pleased with the product and the price.  The entire transaction went smoothly.  But like SonicDragon, I'm a little wary of buying in that fashion.  We have a free computer magazine here, KomputerEdge, that lists items for sale.  I like to buy locally so I can inspect the item before paying.Scot mentioned missing that last bid on occasion.  Has anyone tried one (or more) of the software products I've seen offered that help you keep up on items you've bid on?  Do they work as advertised?

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#12 OFFLINE   ibe98765

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 02:29 AM

Jeber, on Sep 29 2003, 07:30 PM, said:

I've only made one purchase on eBay, a Diamond Mako PDA (still the best PDA concept out there, IMO), and was very pleased with the product and the price.  The entire transaction went smoothly.  But like SonicDragon, I'm a little wary of buying in that fashion.  We have a free computer magazine here, KomputerEdge, that lists items for sale.  I like to buy locally so I can inspect the item before paying.Scot mentioned missing that last bid on occasion.  Has anyone tried one (or more) of the software products I've seen offered that help you keep up on items you've bid on?  Do they work as advertised?
For local buyers, check out the local Craigslist in your area.  Don't know if the others are as big or active as the original SF version but there appear to be locations in many major cities.  Go to the link below and look for the closest city on the left.  Then go to the the SALES section and look under the topic interested in:http://www.craigslist.org/

#13 OFFLINE   LLfan

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 03:02 AM

>>Ah, shipping. The sellers seem to pick numbers out of the air, as insurance to protect themselves if they don't get a high enough bid on the product. My $25.00 keyboard required a $12.00 shipping fee for UPS ground. Perhaps it took 10 people to carefully place it in the box.<<LOL!  I have noticed this and they seem to hope people will bid last minute and not notice the shipping.  For 12 bucks ground I would want that sucker hand delivered!  Heck he better foot it!I have purchased quite a few pc components from there and have been pleasantly pleased.

#14 OFFLINE   Cluttermagnet

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 03:57 AM

Jeber, on Sep 29 2003, 09:30 PM, said:

I've only made one purchase on eBay, (snip)The entire transaction went smoothly. (snip)Scot mentioned missing that last bid on occasion.  Has anyone tried one (or more) of the software products I've seen offered that help you keep up on items you've bid on?  Do they work as advertised?
Hi, Jeber-Sounds like, although you might not realize it, you may be referring to the effects of the practice of 'bid sniping' on Ebay. No software in existence is going to allow you to "keep up on items you've bid on" so as to make you immune to that practice.  Although it has many detractors, there is nothing inherently illegal or unethical about doing it. If you want to track the status of any items you have bid on, that capability is already built-in on Ebay and available to everyone who is registered with them. If you wish, you can even get Ebay to automatically email you immediately if you just got trumped by a competitor bid in any of your current auctions. I think you set that up in your overall Preferences page. This 'works' after a fashion, but is of course no defense at all against bid sniping in the last seconds of an auction. I can offer no actual experience with any of the current crop of supplementary software for auctioning and tracking, but several do sound worth giving a try. I suspect that some of the free ones may install spyware or have unsatisfactory privacy policies, but it should be easy to check the net for that before actually installing one. I managed to stay afloat doing everything manually, even when I was running multiple auctions per week. Selling is a complicated job with many hours of work in the background to make it all go. I doubt I really made all that much as a seller, once all that is factored in. And I was _very_ nice about shipping, always charging actual cost only. That is somewhat rare on ebay, and a few shipping policies are unabashed ripoffs, yet totally enforceable. If you bid in their auction, and win- then you must comply with their ripoff terms. I was wary of that from the getgo, and never have dealt with such auctioners. If in doubt, avoid.The subject of bid sniping is a bit complex, so I will avoid any in depth discussion of its subtleties. Suffice it to say that, despite it being much maligned, with many considering it a despicable and unsportsmanlike practice, it nonetheless produces some amazing results, and you do see a fair amount of it going on regularly all across Ebay. It is the strategy of lurking unannounced in the background and avoiding getting drawn into any competitive bidding at all. You sometimes see others engaged in bidding wars anyway and realize your item is going to go for a king's ransome, so you move on. It is not uncommon for used (good) merchandise to close at or sometimes even above current full retail prices. Then you add shipping! It's insane at times. Sometimes there are few or even no bidders. Sniping in such circumstances can win you the item, often for less than it would have gone for with day-by-day competitive bidding. Very sneaky and sometimes effective. At the end of some auctions you can research the Bid History and be amazed to see that two or three snipers slugged it out in literally the last ten seconds of the auction. These may have been either pre-programmed and done entirely automatically, or may literally represent a bidder hovering over the bid he has set up and hitting the Bid button on the Ebay page a few seconds before the auction ends. BTW the sniper has a considerable advantage in that he has plenty of time to investigate players already having bid. An in-depth reading of their feedback, and even the feedback of those they have dealt with or bid against can be most enlightening indeed. By also looking at bid histories of some auctions won, you get good behavioral indicators. I have been able to build surprisingly accurate assessments predictive of a person's future behavior in a particular auction. Study it long enough, and a pattern will almost certainly emerge. Humans are creatures of habit, for the most part. Habits hold fairly steady over time, though they can and do change eventually. In some cases, I have identified bidders who have essentially no limit on available funds, and they are going to win that auction no matter what anybody else does. They will pay whatever it takes. This is rare, however, but it does happen. Usually, research will indicate that there is a pretty good chance of winning the auction. But you can always get trumped in the last few seconds by other skillful snipers, and most of them know how to set a rational maximum bid level to stop at. Often, as luck would have it, just a bit higher than your own. BTW I don't always snipe. It's not always necessary. I'd say the majority of auctions I bid in did not require it. Then there were others which I would never have won any other way. :ph34r:Those software assistant utilities may be helpful, but Ebay already has a fairly good amount of functionality built in. I think a lot of users don't use much of it or might not even know about all of it. Yes, probably some of that third party stuff might be worth having, and could present your data better formatted, but I personally put a premium on experience- in spades! One third party offering that interested me claimed to be able to extract or aggregate the feedback of another user for you, or to filter for only positives or only negatives, etc. It's good to learn all the subtleties of feedback ratings and how to read between the lines. People are afraid to say much negative, so watch carefully for damning by faint praise! A high feedback rating may or may not signal a good trading partner, because feedback is so heavily weighted towards the positive. Nobody wants to risk getting a negative, so very few negatives are given, even though they are often well-deserved. That is why it is so important to pick up on the nuances, and often only a few subtle hints signal potential problems. On occasion you will find that a persons few negatives were all unfairly given, often by newbies, and were totally unjustified. Further research will almost always enable you to make that call. Auction histories of competitors are most enlightening. Once you put your mind to it, you may realize that, if you are a fairly active bidder (or seller), you could literally spend hours per day discovering all that Ebay can tell you about previous behavior patterns of other Ebayers, sellers or competitors in a few auctions you are interested in on that one day. As a bonus, I found that some other Ebayers were absolutely _fascinating_ and discerning shoppers, and reading their histories led me into new, undiscovered areas of Ebay and even more wonderful finds for myself. It is an entire magical world to itself, and can become quite addictive if you let it. I guess you have to just let it run its course, sort of like a virus.   :blink:  One must become very good at quickly reading boilerplate in detail. You simply have to do it, no matter how cheap an item you are thinking of bidding for. Quite often, it turns out that the bidder has actually left no clue as to the actual shipping cost, or even how it is figured. You can often catch misbehavior in that area from muted complaints within positive feedback. But if you have any doubts about shipping cost, you really do need to email the seller with your zip code and make them tell you how much- in writing. And before you place your bid. There are a few too many shipping ripoff artists on Ebay, even though they are definitely a minority. The vast majority of folks on Ebay have proven to be nice and also reasonable, at least that has been my experience.BTW one software item that I dearly miss is the _old_ "Auction Ferret" from the folks who also did Web Ferret and several others, all free downloads. They got revenue from a series of inoffensive ads that would refresh in their browser window. Dang, that was one heck of an auction search engine! It turned up some good auctions in other venues for me. Ebay is so very successful that some of the competing venues are sparsely populated, yet they continue to run these services. I think it was in a Yahoo auction I was tipped off about by Auction Ferret that I scored my greatest coup. I found a guy auctioning off his entire LP collection of the Firesign Theatre comedy group, and very reasonably on both starting price and on shipping. I was the only bidder, and got them for about 10 dollars plus shipping. All were in good to excellent condition, a couple near mint. He was not even all that depressed at the single bid. He simply wanted to find them a new home, having no further use for them. He said he was committed to the CD format and preferred to collect them that way. Bought individually at that time in separate auctions, they might have cost easily ten to twenty times as much. Research, research! It pays. I'm pretty sure there would have been much more competitive bidding for them on Ebay. It was occasionally cutthroat at that time. One Firesign-derivative LP made by a solo group member once sold on ebay for nearly 250 bucks in a fierce bidding war, for example. Copies usually went for more like 25-40 dollars in good shape. But all those guys haunted Ebay, and none of them thought to search Yahoo that week, to my good fortune. From all that I have heard, once Web Ferret got sold, it went sour overnight and became both useless and highly intrusive. A familiar story in that field, where a good product gets sold and the new owners run it into the ground.Sorry, this has become another long, runaway post. Ebay is indeed a whole little world unto itself.   :teehee:
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#15 OFFLINE   Jeber

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 09:21 PM

Thanks for straightening me out on that, Cluttermagnet.  I certainly didn't mean to refer to something illegal.  As I said, my experience with auctions is very limited, so I'm glad you took your time to explain that so well.  Guess I'll be sticking to my yard sales.  :whistling:

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#16 OFFLINE   Cluttermagnet

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 06:16 PM

Jeber, on Oct 1 2003, 08:21 PM, said:

Thanks for straightening me out on that, Cluttermagnet.  I certainly didn't mean to refer to something illegal.  As I said, my experience with auctions is very limited, so I'm glad you took your time to explain that so well.  Guess I'll be sticking to my yard sales.  :P
Huh? I think you might have misunderstood, Jeber. I can't think of anything in your previous post  you mentioned that was either illegal or inappropriate for use on Ebay. In fact, I think your instincts are probably steering you in the right direction, as I suspect that some of those add-on utilities for using with Ebay actually do add some good functionality. Although I write my own auctions bare handed, carving them from virgin html, I suspect that all the folks who are using auction-writing software are getting some good performance and might otherwise just find it a bit too complicated to write auctions. I'd just say "go for it" and let us know when you find good utilities that you continue to like over the long haul. BTW the ones that most appeal to me at the moment are the ones that promise to dig up various feedback messages from Ebay and present them in formats unavailable directly from Ebay. For example, I would find it quite valuable to be able to get a quick look only at recent feedback a particular Ebayer had written about others. I know of no way to make Ebay present that data in that particular way. You can dig it out of Ebay but it takes more time than it should.
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#17 OFFLINE   ibe98765

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 06:41 PM

I've been looking into perhaps doing some selling on eBAy.  I've done some research on tools to help and came across some that appear useful:http://www.vendio.com/http://www.andale.com/corp/index.htmlhttp://www.auctionsniper.com/http://www.powersnipe.com/http://www.auctionessentials4u.com/http://www.bidspyder.com/Any other good tools you know about or any comments on these?Also came across this very good discussion of how eBay works:http://www.freewarehof.org/ebay.html

#18 OFFLINE   Cluttermagnet

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 11:01 PM

ibe98765, on Oct 4 2003, 05:41 PM, said:

I've been looking into perhaps doing some selling on eBAy.  I've done some research on tools to help and came across some that appear useful:http://www.vendio.com/http://www.andale.com/corp/index.htmlhttp://www.auctionsniper.com/http://www.powersnipe.com/http://www.auctionessentials4u.com/http://www.bidspyder.com/Any other good tools you know about or any comments on these?Also came across this very good discussion of how eBay works:http://www.freewarehof.org/ebay.html
I'm going to guess that probably all these links are going to be at least worth a quick look. I started reading the last one out of curiosity. It is pretty good and quite detailed. BTW with regard to shill bidding, I'm sure it happens but OTOH I do believe it is fairly rare. The AOL thing is worth mentioning. One time I got beat out in an auction for a jazz CD, and when I checked the bid history, I was not amused to learn that I had been outbid by probably a family member of the auctioner. These folks were so dense that they shilled with AOL IDs that differed by only one digit. Somethink like the seller was wxyz13@aol and the shill bidder was wxyz14@aol. Anyway, it was patently obvious and the stupid shill bidder overbid beyond my max. So the shill won it! LOL!  :) I contacted Ebay investigations and reported it. They emailed me back a few days later stating that these folks had been suspended and could not trade on Ebay- at least not for a while.  :) Overall, my experience with Ebay has been fantastic. I do highly recommend it as an interesting and sometimes profitable pastime. Go ahead, get your feet wet, ibe. I think you will end up liking it. Just bid conservatively at first until you start to develop your online auction instincts. Generally, getting in too fast is the only potential problem for newbies. I'd simply suggest cautious bidding at first. By focusing on an area of Ebay that offers the types of items you want to buy or sell and monitoring auctions of interest, you will get a quick education. It will soon become obvious how to write your own successful auctions and handle shipping issues. It is well worth following some of them to the end and clicking on the bid history to see who the players were and what the bids were (this is made public right after the auction ends). BTW I can think of no reason why anyone should start off right away using 3rd party aids to do Ebaying. I think it is important to first plumb the depth and breadth of Ebay's many built in features. It's stuff you need to know in order to understand your buyers or sellers you will be working with later. It is important to develop a shared consciousness or context so you will be better able to understand where the various players are coming from.
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#19 OFFLINE   ibe98765

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 01:32 AM

Here's link with eBay tools I came across.  Some tools are free:http://www.hammertap.com/index.html

#20 OFFLINE   epp_b

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 07:16 AM

I've bought several computer-related items on eBay, including a scanner, various pieces of software, a digital camera, and have got good deals on all of them.  I only recently got ripped of $85.00 (CAD) from a 256MB SO-DIMM of RAM that didn't work, and the seller did not honor his return policy.  But, I should have known better on this last auction (the RAM), because of some of the feedback and the cheap-looking page.I always look at the seller's feedback ratings, and look specifically for the feedback comments that relate to the item I'm looking to by from that particullar seller.  And I don't like to bid on items of sellers that have any more than 2% negative feedback (98% positive).  I also like to "shop around", as there are often many items that are very similar, depending on what you're looking for.To be honest, I also look at how the page has been designed.  All those flashy banners and big letters ("SAVE BIG!!!!!") simply annoy me.  I instantly ignore that auction and look for a more professional-looking approach.  I also tend to stay away from cheap-looking auction pages.  It says a lot about the seller.  If s/he is not willing to make his/her auction attractive enough to be easy on the eyes, are far are they going to be willing to go to complete a transaction?I'd be very wary about buying larger-ticket items, such as notebook or desktop computers, on eBay, just because they're just that -- big ticket.  If something happens, you really have no one to go back to.  If I were to ever buy something like that, I would want a warranty and customer service, which you will rarely get on eBay.

#21 OFFLINE   Cluttermagnet

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 10:37 AM

epp_b, on Oct 7 2003, 06:16 AM, said:

I should have known better on this last auction (the RAM), because of some of the feedback and the cheap-looking page.I always look at the seller's feedback ratings, and look specifically for the feedback comments that relate to the item I'm looking to by from that particullar seller.  And I don't like to bid on items of sellers that have any more than 2% negative feedback (98% positive).  I also like to "shop around", as there are often many items that are very similar, depending on what you're looking for.I also look at how the page has been designed.  All those flashy banners and big letters ("SAVE BIG!!!!!") simply annoy me.  I instantly ignore that auction and look for a more professional-looking approach.  I also tend to stay away from cheap-looking auction pages.  It says a lot about the seller.I'd be very wary about buying larger-ticket items, such as notebook or desktop computers, on eBay, just because they're just that -- big ticket.  If something happens, you really have no one to go back to.
All good points, epp_b. When it comes to negative feedback, I'm even more stringent. Basically, I try to look at every negative on the seller. I also carefully pursue the other end of the conversations, looking for what the seller posted as feedback to buyers who gave them a negative. In other words, I'm saying that the presence of negatives causes me to want to take considerably more time investigating. In a sense, it is like conducting a trial and having to examine all the evidence. As often as not, I usually conclude the seller is OK, and I have seen many instances of negative feedback that were totally unwarranted. It often turned out the the person who posted the negative feedback was a newbie and didn't know what the heck they were doing- and their feedback was totally off the mark and unfounded. You will find many instances where the jerk who posted unreasonable negative feedback comes back and posts an apologetic reply comment which basically says "Oops- I was a little too hasty, this guy is actually very OK- great service, knocked my socks off!". But the damage is done, and the seller who has been unfairly smeared has to live with that undeserved negative. The original feedback remains on their feedback page 'forever'. In fact, this is one very telling indicator of an Ebayers overall good character- if your research shows that, even in the face of grossly unfair treatment, the injured party refrains from posting revengeful comments.OTOH you will also see instances where a seller has well-deserved negatives and one might conclude that there was actually a lot more negativity concealed in neutrals or 'false positives'. As I mentioned before, Ebay feedback is heavily biased towards the positive (far beyond reality). This is because so many folks fear the unwarranted 'revenge negative'. From past experience, I can say with assurance that I have definitely seen instances of revenge feedback- it is real. That is why I encourage new Ebayers to concentrate heavily on feedback and to develop that 'sixth sense' and learn to read between the lines. This is one venue where "damning with faint praise" is often the _only_ indication you will have prior to running into major trouble with another party in some sort of auction/ shipping dispute. And you can have "major trouble" over a ten dollar item just as well as over a big ticket item. There were a couple of times where I was sweating bullets over various sticky situations I found myself in with buyers and with sellers. At times, I was amazed I had somehow preserved my 100 percent positive feedback- and mind you, I am an unusually ethical trader and I always bent over backwards to see that my buyers got a truly good deal on shipping (actual cost, not a penny more, and usually free 'handling', packing, and packing materials- I use a lot of recycled materials and often my only cost was for tape).  Once in a while you are going to run into jerks. Hopefully only minor jerks. And you can get blindsided, having never seen trouble coming despite extensive feedback reviews. At that point, charm and kindness are at a premium. Someone has to 'be the adult', and at times, that job falls to you.  :whistling:
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#22 OFFLINE   Scot

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 11:21 PM

ClutterMagnet, as someone who has rapidly become experienced as a buyer on eBay, I know from my own experience the wisdom of your words. I do all those things that you do, too. Researching not just the negatives, but the responses on the other person's feedback.I never leave positive feedback when the experience wasn't postive. Although I have practiced damning with faint praise, I've only done so with a lazy seller who basically meant well but kept forgetting things. Our communication had been excellent all the way through, so I did leave him positive feedback in the end (he did deliver what was expected, it just took a while to get all of it -- a long while). His responding feedback to me was something like "Great transaction, very understanding buyer." Sometimes when you act positively in a transaction, things work out. I dropped a dime on him by warning people that he might be problematic, but did it in a "nice" way. For another buyer like you, who reads between the lines, my feedback would be like a flashing neon sign. Especially since an earlier buyer had done something similar.But for most negative experiences (I'm in the middle of one now), I just don't leave feedback, or I might leave a neutral. Leaving negative feedback -- especially when you're new to eBay -- is the quickest way to stop getting good deals. Your reputation is everything. If the person you're trading insults with has a feedback of 700 or somthing, and yours is 22, the negative feedback is going to look much, much, much worse on you.Lot of good thoughts in this thread. I'm planning to distill this into a set of tips like the ones I wrote earlier. Clutter, if you (or anyone reading this) have any specific one-paragraph style tips to pass along, I'd be interested. You could also send them to scot@scotsnewsletter.com if that's easier. But I will be looking at the excellent comments by everyone here for this story.-- Scot
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#23 OFFLINE   ibe98765

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 01:56 AM

I brought 3 books on Amazon about eBay recently and have been reading them.eBay Hacks by David A. Karp from O'Reilly and eBay Business The Smart Way by Joseph T. Sinclair from AMACON (American Management Association) are both proving to be interesting and seemingly useful references.  OTOH, eBay in 30 pages or Less, IMO, is a waste of time for anyone other than a rank newbie to both eBay and computers.

#24 OFFLINE   ibe98765

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 02:06 AM

Scot, on Oct 7 2003, 08:21 PM, said:

But for most negative experiences (I'm in the middle of one now), I just don't leave feedback, or I might leave a neutral. Leaving negative feedback -- especially when you're new to eBay -- is the quickest way to stop getting good deals. Your reputation is everything. If the person you're trading insults with has a feedback of 700 or somthing, and yours is 22, the negative feedback is going to look much, much, much worse on you.
It seems to me that not leaving negative feedback because you are worried about YOUR reputation or being challenged simply *******izes the system.  This sounds too much like what I hear about our school systems today, for example, where no one is supposed to get negative feedback because their feelings might be hurt.  If someone deserves negative feedback, then you should give it.  Similarly, if a person deserves positive feedback, then you shouldn't be hesitant to give it.  Doing so makes the system work, stopping it from being compromised.  How can you make an informed decision if you know that other people are gaming the system, just like you?  If this is widespread, then eBay feedback numbers are meaningless!

#25 OFFLINE   littlebone

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 11:23 AM

I'm just curious. What is the impact if I, as a buyer, get negative feedback from a vendor? Will other vendors refuse to let me bid on their auctions? Given that the vendor won't ship until I pay, the only thing the vendor can complain about me is that I am a pain in the neck, no?




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