|Founded in 1995, ebay is headquartered in San Jose, CA|
As noted in last week's post, cyber shopping is a convenient avenue to find incredible deals and save serious money. And, no discussion would be complete without mentioning ebay. To date, it has 212 million registered buyers and sellers worldwide. Since I'm not an experienced ebay shopper, myself, I turned to someone who is, Ms. Angel D. Not only is Angel a brilliant bargain shopper, in general; she knows ebay's terrain and is fantastic at explaining the ins and outs to a greenhorn. Here is our interview:
Q: Explain in a nutshell how ebay works. And what you need to shop on it.
A: In order to shop on ebay you first need to set up an account. Accounts are free. You can than make a purchase in two ways: You can either bid on an item you want, or sometimes people have a "buy now" option. Payment takes place in a number of ways, and is up to the seller. Some sellers will accept a personal check (you mail the check to them; when the check clears - they mail your item to you); others use PayPal, exclusively. I prefer to use PayPal.
Q: Talk about ebay's great appeal -- its advantages over a retail store and how you can save money on it.
A: The greatest appeal is, you can find things on ebay that you can't find in stores anymore. Not only antiques and older collectables, but also things that are only available in specialty stores ... and sometimes you don't know where the specialty stores are. For example, I have an Italian charm bracelet. I have no idea where they sell these charms anymore, but on ebay I just type "Italian charms" into the search box, and it brings up 50+ online "stores" that sell these charms.
Q: Name some of the great stuff you bought on ebay.
A: Collectables (vinyl LP's, CD's, hall china), Italian charms, handmade sewing items -- I CAN sew, but often don't have the time.
Q: Besides ebay, are there other websites you like? Tell us which ones, and why you shop on them.
A: I use Amazon.com more often than ebay lately --- I mostly buy books and CD's, but Amazon has just as much variety as ebay -- especially since they have the buy “new” or “used” options. And, Half.com -- a devision of ebay that is strictly "buy now," new and used items .... for books/movies/music/video games only.
Q: What tips have you learned about getting the best deals?
A: I generally compare between ebay and amazon to find the best price available that includes shipping. Free shipping is a supreme bonus.
Q: Do you have any buyer beware advice?
A: Always check feedback when buying .... especially on ebay. A “good feedback percentage” is a must. Some people never buy from new sellers, but I have taken a chance, or two and have not had a problem. Also, if you are getting a lot of emails with multiple excuses that's probably a sign that the item isn't what it should be. Move on ... because honest sellers will settle on a fair price and close the deal. You want to buy from sellers who are professional; people who answer back right away. Not people who send you endless emails that say how hard it is to get to the post office and how they must set up a special box just for you, etc.
Q: It might be fun to talk about the items you bought, which turned out to be a steal. And what you paid for them.
A: Some of the best "steals" I got were vinyl records. Many people do not know what they have, or will sell things in a "lot" instead of individually, to save time. I once bid on a lot of 20 vinyl 45's -- all Jerry Lee Lewis ... paid $5.00 + shipping, and discovered an original, mint "Breathless" recording -- stamped, “signed 45” in the stack. NICE!