eBay: What to do, How to do, What I’ve Learned

Today I’ll share my experiences shopping on eBay. I’ll also share some “tips” to “optimize” our use of eBay. (But you can save your time by ignoring the introduction paragraphs and just go straight to the tips I share in the bolded words/sentences😊).

First of all, I love shopping on eBay, especially for non-electronic stuff. There is a lot of free shipping available without minimal order like other online stores/platforms. No prime membership is required either. The prices are relatively cheaper. Easy and safe transaction. We can find secondhand stuff quite easily too. And I don’t know why but I feel like eBay is more supportive towards individual sellers, so it kinda makes me feel like supporting small businesses, and I guess it’s a win-win because I love low prices, and eBay has it. So that’s it.

Found this in one of my packages 🙂

I joined eBay nearing the end of 2015, I guess. My purchase was a Leather Case 360 Rotating Cover Swivel Stand for my iPad mini 4. But the item wasn’t as described as it didn’t fit my iPad. I asked to return so I could get a refund but the seller didn’t respond and eBay had to step in and gave me my refund. So I get to keep the leather case and I got my money back. It was both not so good first experience and at the same time impressive experience for me. Not good because I didn’t get the item wanted. Impressive because it was so easy to settle the dispute, so I was happy.

But, holy, I guess I was a fool. I didn’t know there were a lot of features I could try to get much cheaper prices on eBay. Lately, I’ve been trying to get some (secondhand) books that I love so I can bring them home to Indonesia (read it here!). By the time I’m writing this, I’ve spent more than $200 🙈 But it would’ve been more expensive in my country, so I guess I don’t really regret it 😊 And, so, I tried some eBay features that I’ve never tried before. I know, it’s 2021, so where have I been these past 6 years? LoL

Anyway, without further ado, let’s go to some eBay features we can use to get lower prices on eBay:

1. Store’s Promotion: Buy 2 Get 1 Free, Discounts, etc.
When I was searching for my books, I noticed that some stores actually offer some kind of promotion. Well, actually I’m not the type who buys something just because there’s a promotion, discount, or such. But this time I was searching for various kind of books, so this kind of promotion is really beneficial for me. It enables me to buy more books at a much lower price compared to when I have to buy them separately. My favorite store is secondsale. On eBay, they offer “Buy 3 Get 1 Free” promotion, so I often bought 4 books and paid for only 3 books. I’ve made 3 purchases in this story already. It means I’ve bought 12 books but paid for only 9 books since the three books were bonuses. So, yes, don’t buy the 12 books in one purchase because if you do that, you’ll only get 1 book free, and have to pay for 11 books. Break it into separate purchases so you can get more bonuses . (Btw, I bought books directly on their website too because the books weren’t available on their eBay, but in their website, they didn’t have the same promotion, so if I could find it on their eBay, I just bought it from there for the promotion^^). By the way, I especially love this store because they work fast. I mean, they ship fast. As soon as I’ve completed the payment, they’d provide me with the tracking number. This is a plus for me, because there is another store that really takes their time in shipping, i.e. they don’t immediately ship the items. There’s this one store that offers similar promotion. They offer “Buy 2, get 1 free” promotion, and I really love that. Because that means I can get more books at much lower prices by making a lot of separate purchases. But they’re really slow. When I contacted them asking when they’d ship my books, they’re like, “Sorry, just be patient, it’s still within the eBay timeframe.” Yeah, I knew, but if you had the item available, why took time sending it, right? So, okay, it’s not really their fault, I’m just being impatient. But seriously, I’ve made three purchases with them too and by the time I’m drafting this, none of it has been delivered, so now I kinda refrain from making another purchase from them, because I want to check the quality of my previous purchases with them first.

Oh, but also, even though they offer promotions, don’t forget to check and compare with other stores. Because sometimes it looks like a promotion so it makes you feel like getting a lower price, but actually, it’s just the same price as the one in the other stores that offer no promotion. So I guess it’s kind of marketing strategy? I don’t know. But, well, if you do need to buy something, try to buy it at a store that offers promotions. But just because there’s a discount or a promotion, don’t be too impulsive buying stuff, especially when you don’t actually need it. Well, unless you’re rich. Haha

2. Bidding/Auction
eBay has this auction feature where we can bid on items and get them at a much cheaper price. So if you need something not really quickly, you can use this feature. That is because the seller usually sets a time when the auction will end. And until that time, we can keep on bidding with the prices we’re willing to pay. But we won’t get the item until the time ends, and somebody might outbid us before the time ends. BUT, I think it’s just safer to bid on the last minute to see if you’ll still agree with the last bidding price. It’s because the whole point of an auction is, at least for me, to get it at a much cheaper price! So I really don’t see the point of bidding and winning if I can actually get the item faster elsewhere, without bidding, and at the same price.

Sometimes I see bidders keep on bidding on one item at the last minute, and the last bidding price gets too high. For example, I was watching Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun. The new book is around $13.32 in Amazon (free shipping for minimum $25 order) and $13.32 in Target (free pickup at the store). And I found this book auctioned on eBay. The starting price was $6.90. Cheaper, right? But the auction will end in 7 days, let’s say on Monday. So if you bid now and nobody else bids until Monday, you’ll get the item with that price, so much cheaper. The problem is, people actually bid on the item a lot. It’s not Monday yet, but the last bidding price is already $12.50. And it’s not even a new book. It’s just a like-new book. And let’s say that is the final price, combined with the shipping cost, which is $4.57, it will be around $16.07, excluding the tax, i.e. more expensive than the rice of the new book at a regular store! I mean, why bother bidding on it at high prices, waiting for a week for the item to get shipped, when you can get it at a lower price without waiting at the regular store, right?

And shipping cost! Do pay attention to the shipping cost on an auction. Sometimes the item is priced so low, but the shipping cost is crazily high. I was watching this item that was auctioned with a starting price $0.99. So cheap, right? But the shipping cost was $4.01. So the price was actually $5 excluding tax. But guess what? I could get the same item at another store at a lower price (less than $5) with free shipping. So yeah, I guess being poor makes me pay more attention to such details. LoL I mean, my head kinda does the calculation automatically to make sure that it’s really cheap and not just looking cheap^^

And by the way, tips for bidding: Don’t bid early. Always bid at the last minute. Take a note of when the auction/listing will end. Set a reminder for it. And bid at the last minutes. Bidding early is foolish because there’ll always be somebody who outbids you before the listing ends, and that can make the price much higher than the normal price. It’s not worth the wait and the stress. Bidding at the last minute, however, lets you know the highest price you’re willing to pay. Besides, you can still get the item at a lower price even though you bid at the last minute, especially if nobody else actually bids on the item 🙂

3. Best Offers
I learned about making offers when I was watching an item and the seller offered some discounts to everyone watching. Well, I have got this kind of offers before, but this time, there was actually an option to counter the offer, so I tried it. The original listing was $21 something, and the seller offered $18something, and I countered the offer $14. Well, actually I didn’t really expect the seller to accept it, but they did. Haha And I was both remorseful and happy. Haha Remorseful because I could’ve actually offered a lower price and they’d accept it, but I didn’t. Sigh Hapy because actually I wanted to bargain $15 but I changed my mind and offered $14 instead because it wasn’t really the book I had been looking for. LoL But this series was quite famous, and the price was quite good+shipping around $4, so it cost me a total of around $18. Well, it’s not that cheap, though; the books weren’t complete and my friend who studied in Aussie said they found the complete series for only $13 AUD. So, to some extent, mine was still expensive. but, holy, among other listings, that’s the cheapest, so I’m happy 🙂

But, anyway, obviously, when we were watching an item, the seller sometimes would offer us some discount. This offer was sent to other watchers and the first/the fastest to accept would get the item at that discounted price that was offered. Also, best offer is actually available at some other listings even though you don’t actually watch the item.

And, ever since the seller accepted my offer, somehow I became braver and more confident in initiating making the offer. Not all of my offers were accepted, though; sometimes they were declined. But that’s alright. No hard feelings. And, if we’re lucky, the seller will accept our offer, and that’s how we can get the item we want at low prices 😉 The point is: It never hurts to try and make an offer (with a very low price) because they seller can always decline if that’s not the price they like. Also, I usually send a nice message when making my offer, something like, “Will immediately pay if accepted.” And I guess that’s ok as long as we’re being nice. Sometimes the seller already sets a minimum lower, price, though, so when we make an offer below that price, it will be automatically declined. But again, we’ll never know till we try. When I made my first $14 successful offer, eBay actually warned me saying that the seller would likely consider the offer if it’s above $18 but see? I was lucky because the seller actually did accept my $14 offer, so we never know. Hence, just try 😊

4. eBay Community
This one might have nothing to do with getting cheap prices. But, ugh, I feel like I need to put it here. I didn’t realize that eBay community actually exists. I guess, like most of the things, I kinda found this accidentally. At that time, I was about to buy a 2TB flash drive. I’ve read that actually those kinds of flashdrives don’t actually store 2terabytes. Hence, before I made the purchase, I contacted the seller to make sure of the actual storage capacity. But the seller didn’t respond, and when I decided to just buy the item and risk it, I couldn’t click on the listing, so I wonder what went wrong and tried to Google, and that’s how I found eBay community, and finally made a post myself, asking about the incident. Some eBay users responded, and apparently, the seller blocked me, and they said that it might have been because they’re worried I would report the listing or worried that if I bought the item from them, I’d leave a negative feedback because the item wasn’t as described. So I guess that’s it.

Got this in one of my packages 🙂

And then, I also asked the community about getting an offer on a separate listing from a store/seller that gives “Buy 3 get 1 free” promotion. I wonder if I accept the offer, would I still get the “Buy 3 get 1 free” promotion? But people said it was a case by case thing, and suggested I ask the seller directly. So I did. I asked the seller. Unfortunately, I could get only one promotion, either the discounted price offered for the separate listing or the “Buy 3 get 1 free” promotion. I guess we can’t be greedy. Haha But of course I chose the “Buy 3 get 1 free” promotion because it’s much cheaper than the total discounts of the four books 😀

Look, I received 4 eBay packages in a day! Actually 6. These four were dropped at my door, while the two others were in the mailbox, which I found out after taking this pic 😀

But, again, it never hurts to try to ask the seller as long as we do it nicely. I know this is not a big deal for some people. But for me it is. I am often anxious when contacting the seller because I don’t want them to think I am being annoying or nagging. But again, we’ll never know unless we ask. And sometimes we both need it. There’s this one time I asked a seller about the tracking number for an item I bought from them. eBay notified me that the item has been shipped, but no tracking number was provided. Hence, I couldn’t track my package. I asked the seller about it, and they responded after a while, apologizing saying that they didn’t know that they had to provide a tracking number. I said maybe they didn’t have to, but a tracking number is useful for both sellers and buyers. I mean, if I’m a bad person, I’d say the item was never delivered, I’ve never received the item and asked for a refund even though the item was actually delivered, right? They wouldn’t be able to tell because there’s no tracking number. (But of course I don’t do such things; that’s too mean!) So yeah, the seller actually thanked me for contacting them about it, saying it was helpful for their next transaction. I apologized for spamming them with messages (because they didn’t respond at first), but they said I didn’t have to worry about it because they was really glad I did. So yeah, I guess it’s just nice to have such nice conversation. Not everyone will get worked up thinking we’re annoying. Sometimes people need us to remind them. So yeah, that convo makes me happy 🙂

So yeah, don’t forget that we have eBay community if you have something you’re not sure of about eBay 🙂

Alright, I guess that’s all for today. I know that maybe eBay is not available in all countries, but if they do have eBay in your country, maybe you can give it a try. Also, you might think it’s just a hassle to do all of those just to get a lower price. But, well, I’m not rich and I want to save money, so even a $1 difference matters to me 🙂 Gosh, I guess I’ll miss eBay once I graduate andgo back to my country :'(

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