eBay is a great place to buy a lot about used electronics, but you have to be smart and be careful what you buy and how much you pay for it. Since you can’t really see and feel the product you’re buying, you have to trust the third parties that sell it.
Most of the gear I buy, except for a few things, usually comes from eBay. I bought smartphones from eBay and even my wife’s laptop was bought from eBay. From the time I’ve spent looking for great deals on used gadgets, I’ve learned a thing or two that many eBay newbies should know. Here are some tips to help you get the best possible deal the next time you go looking for a lot of money on eBay.
See Listings Sold for an Average Price
The first thing you want to do is find out how much the item you’re looking at usually sells for on eBay. After searching for an item, there will be a category in the left sidebar that you can check. This will create a filter and show only completed listings that have been successfully sold. From this you can get an idea of what the average selling price is.
Using this information, you can tell yourself that you won’t try to buy an item unless it’s below a certain price. For example, if you discover that the average selling price of a used iPhone 5 is $250, but you’ve seen a few in good condition selling for $225, there’s no reason to pay more than $225. $225, then you can get one for that money too. You have to be patient until the right list comes.
Check Refurbished Prices First
If companies sell their own refurbished items, check prices before committing to buying the same item on eBay. Refurbished items are often in better condition than used items sold on eBay, so before you buy anything on eBay, make sure you don’t save any more money by getting refurbished.
For example, Apple’s refurbished products are some of the best around. They look and work like brand new device with roughly 15% off the brand new price tag. That said, be sure to look at the prices of refurbished Macs, iPads, or iPods before committing to buying one on eBay. You might find a better deal for a refurbished model.
Set a Spending Limit and Stick to It
This goes back to the first point, but once you find an average selling price for an item, you shouldn’t deviate too much from that price. If you’ve gotten a higher bid, it’s really tempting to keep bidding, so while placing another bid of $5 more isn’t too bad, placing it higher for a few bids will easily get you over your limit.
It really depends on the overall cost of the item as well as how much wiggle room you want to do. If I’m buying a $150 second-hand smartphone, I don’t mind spending $5 more if I get a higher bid than the bid, but if I get an offer again I will usually stop here and be on my way. Remember, if you see a decent amount of items selling for $125, there’s no reason to pay more than that since you know it’s possible to get one for $125.
Read Description Carefully
Remember the guy who bought the Xbox One photo for $615? He thought he was buying a real Xbox One console, but was duped. Granted, he read the description but assumed what he was bidding on was an actual Xbox One console. To avoid riddles like this, make sure you read the description thoroughly and it’s the right item you want to bid on.
eBay sellers like to trick buyers by putting good pressure in the description or simply saying “Xbox One box” in hopes that naive bidders will overlook the fact that this is just the box for sale. We’ve also seen sellers list fake iPhones, and while they usually make it clear that this isn’t a real iPhone, it’s important to read the description rather than relying on photos alone. Not all eBay sellers are bad. In fact, you seldom encounter a rogue, but they are out there, so be careful.
Don’t Forget Shipping Costs
When eBay shows you the price of something, it doesn’t add up to shipping costs. It shows the shipping cost separately, but you’ll have to do the math yourself on how much it will cost in total. If you don’t factor in shipping costs, you may end up paying more for the product than you expected. Many eBay sellers charge a ridiculous amount of money for shipping based on how heavy the item is and how far the seller ships the item.
So, before you set a bid amount you want to lower, subtract the shipping cost from the figure, and then you’ll have the maximum amount you’ll put in for a bid. If you win the item, that’s great! If not, be patient and you’ll eventually find something for a great price.