|Understanding Listing Details|
You can buy just about anything from anyone on eBay—that's why it's such a great shopping venue for smart, independent shoppers. Unfortunately, for the beginner some aspects of the eBay shopping experience can be a bit bewildering, or even a difficult to understand. eBay's auction listings can sometimes present such problems, and it's often only once you've found something you'd like to buy that the real work begins.
eBay's auction listings contain a wealth of information. Descriptions and photos of the item(s) for sale are par for the course, but so are a number of other details that should help to inform your decision about whether and how to buy. These details include the current bid and listing details that appear at the top of every eBay auction listing. An understanding of these is central to success as a savvy eBay shopper.
Anatomy of an Auction Listing Summary (Items A-E)
Above you see a typical auction listing summary—something you'll see at the top of each and every auction listing on the eBay website. This summary acts as your on-ramp to purchasing the item in question, since many (if not most) of the things you'll need to know (and click on) in order to buy the item in question can be found here. Not every component appears on every auction listing; this summary happens to show most of the things you're likely to encounter as you browse through eBay listings.
Here is a breakdown of components A-E above—and what they mean—organized by letter. Refer to the illustration as you read through the information below.
- Item A (Current bid)—This is the highest bid made on the listing yet. If there is no reserve price (see item B, below) and there are no other bids before the auction's end is reached (see item J on page 3), this is how much the winning bidder will pay for the item. Note that this amount is only the highest bid currently placed; the top bidder may actually have bid higher than this, but without the bid becoming active yet.
- Item B (Reserve met/not met)—If the words "Reserve not met" appear here, then the auction is subject to a reserve price that has not yet been reached, meaning that there is not yet any guarantee that the seller will sell the item at the current bid price. If the words "Reserve met" appear here, then the reserve price has been met and the seller is obligated to sell the item when the auction ends. If there neither phrase appears (i.e. there is no text about "reserve" pricing at all) then the auction was not subject to a reserve price and the seller must sell to the winning bidder at the high bid price once the auction is over.
- Item C (Your maximum bid)—If you decide to bid on this item, type your maximum bid into this box. Remember that eBay's auctions do not work like traditional auctions since you may not actually have to pay this price and there is rarely a need to bid more than once on any auction unless you intend to snipe. Before you try to decide how much to bid, be sure to read more about eBay's bidding system and eBay's Bid Assistant tool.
- Item D (Place Bid button)—Once you have entered the amount of your maximum bid for this item, click the "Place Bid" button to actually bid. You will be shown a confirmation page on which eBay asks if you really mean it. Don't bid unless you intend to pay the winning bid amount if you win, since your bid is a legal contract with the seller. If you bid, win the auction, and fail to pay, the seller may take action against you.
- Item E (Minimum next bid)—Below the bid entry box eBay shows the minimum price of the next bid. This is the minimum bid that you must place in order to bid on the auction, and will typically be anywhere from several cents to several dollars more than the current highest bid.