Beyond Ebay: 5 Buyer Tips For Online Computer Auctions

These tips can save you time, money, and aggravation when bidding for goods in online computer auctions.

There are definitely bargains out there for online auction buyers...but remorse can easily come with your "win." The following 5 tips can get you what you want effectively.

1) Bid late.

Most bids come at the close of an auction. The reason is simple: this works. If you are involved in a contested traditional English auction, coming in late is sound strategy, since other bidders will frequently do the same. Your best bet is to research what you want before bidding, determine your top price, and bid late while staying within your original budget.

2) A lack of information or image can be your friend.

If a listing doesn't have the details you want, e-mail the seller for that information. This is an excellent opportunity, because sellers that fail to provide extensive detail don't get the number of bidders they should. When you find out what you need to know in a private e-mail, you not only get the info you need to make a comfortable bid, but you also get info other bidders don't see.

3) Auctions are an exercise in trust. Don't make a bid without some.

Auctions are a mutual trust exercise - buyer will pay and sellers will deliver. And while there are bad sellers out there, the vast majority of transactions happen without incident. You can also frequently sniff out bad buyers from their listing copy, especially if the hype seems particularly overblown.

So if you are going to the trouble of making a bid or even sending an e-mail, avoid rudeness or distrust in that communication. As the old cliché goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar... and as many sellers have duplicates of the item they sell, being nice now might really pay off for you later.

4) If you've found a steal, do the research and keep your mouth shut.

The ultimate buyer's dream is to find a piece that a seller has undervalued, probably out of a lack of knowledge. When faced with such a windfall, many buyers sabotage themselves with a lack of due diligence or effective silence.

Making sure the condition of your item is good, and that there isn't anything fishy going on, should be a part of every bid...regardless of how good a deal it is. If your auction has merchant or seller ratings, check them before getting involved in an auction.

Next, check if there is a good "QuickWin" or "Immediate Sale" price. The chances are that if you've found this great bargain, someone else will as well. When that happens, you'll wish you had taken the "sure out."

Last and most obvious: do not tell anyone about this listing while it is still in play. Believe it or not, people do this all the time...and when the failure in discretion catches up to them, as it always must, they are far from happy. Play it safe.

5) Read the fine print.

Many sellers will try to make a quick buck on shipping and handling items, or have payment plans that seem unnecessarily restrictive. If you find such a listing, seriously reconsider bidding at all. After all, if the seller is willing to play fast and loose on the parts of the transaction that's easily checked, their performance on the bigger issues might be even more disappointing.

Before jumping to conclusions, get an accurate shipping quote, and determine why your paying method is not allowed. While dubious fine print is a red flag of alarm, you might not be seeing the same color as everyone else.

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