Bidding for Bargains

by kellie abrahamson
An inexpensive, unique gift is often just a bid away. eBay is a great place to do holiday shopping but there are a few things you should know before you try to snag that perfect present, especially if you’re new to the auction site or haven’t bid in a while.

use ebay’s tools
Over the years eBay has added quite a few new features that really benefit buyers. Taking advantage of these tools could make the difference between winning big and logging off empty handed.
Deal Finder If you’re looking for a bargain, Deal Finder is where it’s at. This section of the site searches for items that have zero bids, less than 4 hours left, no reserve price, free or fixed rate shipping and a total price that includes shipping costs. Check here first and save! (dealfinder.ebay.com)
Bid Assistant If you’ve got your eye on an iPod Nano for your sister but don’t have time to sit in front of the computer all day let Bid Assistant bid for you. Simply type in the amount you want to spend on any given item and walk away. Your “Assistant” will do all your bidding for you while you do the important stuff like catching up on your favorite TV show. Best of all, you can set it up to bid on multiple items so if you lose one auction, it will move onto the next one.
Best Offer Some sellers are just as impatient to unload their wares as you are to snap them up which is why eBay now lets you make a Best Offer. Just enter the amount you want to pay on one of the auctions that features a “Best Offer” icon and if the seller likes your bid, the product is yours.

take advantage of errors
Looking for a Canon Rebel for your hubby? Well, there’s a good chance some poor seller misspelled their ad and has a brand new “Cannon Revel” just waiting to be bought. With websites like spellingsearch.com and Invisible-Auctions.com, which find auction misspellings, title variations, and incorrectly listed items on eBay, you can take advantage of seller’s mistakes.

get outside assistance
Have you ever been bidding on something only to have someone swoop in at the last second with a perfectly timed bid? Chances are that savvy eBay buyer was using a Snipe program and you can too. Free programs like JBidWatcher (which is run on Mac, Windows and Linux systems- JBidWatcher.com) and Bid-O-Matic (Windows- sourceforge.net/projects/bom/) are available with just a click of your mouse and make winning an auction breeze.

do your research
The most important thing to do before you bid is get to know the products you want to buy. If you’ve got your eye on a new GPS for Dear Old Dad, scan store circulars and web retailers to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal before placing any bids. Remember to factor in any rebates or coupons that you can’t otherwise take advantage of on eBay. Finally, take a good long look at the seller’s feedback score to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable member. You want to ride away with a deal, not be taken for a ride!

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