Ebay and buying “stuff”

Having spent most of yesterday with hire companies looking at what stuff costs to hire for the period of time we are likely to need it (which means doubling the estimated time), last night I turned to Ebay to check out some prices.

A word of warning – most of the cheap tools on Ebay are no name and cheap Chinese imports, but if some of these things can last us for the build before they fall apart, that will do us just fine. Last night we picked up a brand new whipper-snipper styled concrete vibrator with 1 years warranty for less than it would cost for 1 weeks hire. We had figured on needing one of these for 8 weeks, so this was a bargain. If it makes it out the other side of the build we can flog it via ebay with any recoup on the original price a nice bonus.

I’ve got some bids in on 3kW sine wave inverter generators right now, again cheap Chinese imports but again with a 12 month warranty. These have been selling for 20% of the price of brand name generators, and I can’t find a bad word about them in google other than “they are Chinese imports”.

A panel lift for ceiling plasterboard is going for less than half of the price I can buy one for locally, and this is an IDENTICAL item. It’s actually less than the cost of hiring one for 48 hours, so again we’ll use it then flog it and any money back is a nice bonus.

Finally some words of wisdom when purchasing anything via Ebay:

1. Know what the product is worth, and how much it is worth to you.

2. Understand how much postage will cost you.

3. Set your price limit taking into account cost + postage vs buying the product from a local shop.

4. Check the seller’s reputation and if there are any negative comments read why and decide if you are prepared to risk the same issue yourself.

5. Enter your set price limit as your MAXIMUM automatic bid. For those not aware of how the automatic bids work lets take a simple example.

The tool you want you are prepared to pay $100 for. You enter $100. Your first bid appears as the minimum required for you to lead the bidding, lets say it was the first bid and it is set at $0.99 (as many auctions start). 3 days later with 3 minutes to go and 15 bids made in total you are leading with a bid of $42.50

Along comes Joe Schmuk who waits until the last minute to enter a bid. He enters $50 and your auto bid counters with $52.50. Joe can play the game right up to $100 and not beat your auto bid, so you secure the tool as the earliest maximum bid will win the auction if there is a tie. If he gives up at $72.50 the tool is yours for only $75.

To explain how there would be a “tie” – unlikely yes, but lets say you both enter a max bid of $100 but are beaten by a bid of $105 that is later retracted. You would win since you placed the first maximum bid of $100.

I have learnt to always enter what I would be prepared to pay. The auto bid system is there to help you win the item at the lowest price without giving away what you are prepared to pay.

6. Pay promptly after winning the auction, and use Paypal where possible as it offers you some security with buyer protection.

7. Don’t forget to leave feedback about your experience. If the experience sucked, rate it poorly and explain why to warn other buyers. If it was good, likewise let your fellow consumer know why you were happy.

If you are completely new to Ebay then I recommend you watch the closing few minutes of some auctions as this is when all the action really starts to happen.  Refresh the screen often and you’ll see the bids begin to mount up as time runs out.

When you are experienced with it, you’ll find you can drop your bid in the closing few seconds, and providing it is realistic, win that item in many cases for less than your maximum bid.

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