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Using eBay for your Christmas Shopping [Guide]

Category: Tech Stuff | Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:56 pm

If you're like me and you hate shopping for Christmas presents in crowded shopping malls then the Internet is a perfect alternative. This is my second Christmas using eBay as my source of gifts. "Hold on" you say, "doesn't eBay just allow you to buy second-hand items? I'm not that desperate!". Well that's where you would be wrong, you can buy completely new, packaged items at lower prices than elsewhere. The selection is also wonderful, you can find items on eBay that you can't find elsewhere online, e.g. Amazon.

Before I continue let me just mention that the easiest way to use eBay is if you have a PayPal account for making payments. Most sellers require that you have one to buy their items. Also it is the most secure way to make payments, I recommend avoiding other types of money transfer. I have a PayPal account that is tied to my credit card so that ordering items on eBay is a breeze..

Ok on to the shopping!

Visit eBay and search for something you are interested in. When I use eBay I like to view items that I can buy straight away without having to go through an auction process ("What, you can do that!" - Yes you can :)). When you perform a search you should see a little "Buy It Now" icon listed beside items you don't have to go through an auction to get. It looks like this:
You can filter your search results to only show "Buy It Now" results by looking for the area "Buying formats" on the left hand side and selecting the "Buy It Now" option.

When you find an item you may like to buy there are a few things to look out for:

- Seller's feedback score. This will tell you what the eBay community thinks of this seller in a useful percentage score. If it says 98% this means that 98% of buyers liked their interaction with this seller. It goes without saying that the higher score the better. Personally I like to look for a score of 97% or higher.

- Detailed feedback for the seller. It makes for interesting reading to peruse the comments left about a seller by the buying community. If I am interested in a seller's item I visit the detailed feedback and search for the item name within these comments (use the "Find" feature of your web browser for this, CTRL+F). That way I can find out exactly what others thought of this exact item from this exact seller (e.g. was the item as described when delivered). Set the number of comments per page to 200 to search faster.

- Read the item's description very carefully. Is it exactly what you are looking for? Are the features described what you are looking for? If it is an electronic item will it work in your country? (e.g. some DVDs only play in certain countries). Contact the seller directly through eBay's messaging system if you are unsure.

- Shipping and handling. Check if the seller ships to your country. If the seller of an item you are interested in buying resides in another country then you will pay higher shipping and handling fees then if they reside in your country. On each item's page there is a Shipping and handling section where you can calculate what the costs will be.

-Return policies. Have a look for the Return policy section on each item's page so that you know what your options are should you be unsatisfied with your purchase.

- Committing to buy. When you decide to buy an item you will be asked to commit to buy. Be aware that this is a legal agreement between you and the seller so in this way it works differently then adding an item to your shopping cart on a site like Amazon.

Using eBay last Christmas was a success. I ordered from 4-5 different sellers with high feedback scores and followed the rest of the tips above. I had all of the item's delivered straight to my family's home in Ireland so that I didn't have to so my shopping here in Sweden and carry it all home in my travel bags/rucksack.

I hope this short guide helps you in some small way. Happy Christmas shopping, wherever you end up doing it!

Last edited: Fri Dec 05, 2008 7:19 pm

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Netty wrote on Fri Dec 05, 2008 7:07 pm:

Great tips Frank.
I have used e-bay and love it :)


kuntrygal wrote on Sat Dec 06, 2008 4:15 am:

Thanks for the tips Frank. I have never used ebay. I was fearful that I would end up buying something I didn't want...something that I was only looking at! So I was very sceptical about it. Also didn't know you could buy straight forward without a bidding war!! Thanks again.


eileen wrote on Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:19 am:

I use e.bay a lot and have had very few problems with it. It's so much easier than queuing up and having all the hassle of visiting the shops - especially around Christmas.

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