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Frequently Asked Questions

Topic-by-topic, some of the most frequently asked questions about eBay use in brief, easy-to-digest portions. If you're in a hurry, try these first. Most also link to more in-depth explanations.

Get the eBay Help You Need
Despite several years of attempts to make eBay more user-friendly, eBay remains one of the most complex buying an selling environments online. Questions are inevitable. Happily, answers often can be, too. Here is where to find the eBay help you need.

How did eBay start?
A brief history of eBay from San Jose, 1994, to world domination.

Why must I join eBay to buy or sell?
Reasons for the requirement that users become members of eBay before being allowed to buy or sell on the site.

How do eBay auctions differ from “real” auctions?
Buyers and bidders new to eBay are often shocked and bewildered to discover that eBay auctions don’t work like the most common form of auction to which they are accustomed. There are a number of important differences between eBay auctions and “regular” auctions.

Can I change my mind about a sale?
Sellers can change their mind about a sale only if no one has yet won or ended an auction listing.

What does it cost to trade on eBay? Is there a catch?
If you're not yet an eBay trader, you may assume that it actually costs a lot to trade on eBay: annual memberships, transaction fees, surcharges, and so on. In fact, this isn't the case. If you're a shopper, eBay doesn't cost you a thing, and if you're a seller, your charges depend entirely on how much you sell.

Why am I being charged by eBay?
It can be frustrating to be billed by eBay unexpectedly. Whether you're a regular eBay user or not, here are tips to help you get to the bottom of...

How can I be sure I'll get enough for my item?
If you would like to try selling an item on eBay, but aren't sure you want to sell at rock bottom prices, reserve prices or a high starting bid price are the way to go.

Why do I always get outbid?
Understanding the reaons why you might sometimes feel as though you're bidding upstream.

Can I buy and sell anything I want on eBay?
No, there are indeed limits on the range of things that you can buy and sell on eBay, and they are generally quite strictly enforced.

Why are my sales so slow?
Wondering why your sales are slow? Lots of inexperienced sellers find themselves in this position. Don't just wait to see if they pick up; see whether you're doing something to harm them.

Can I take back (retract) a bid?
It is possible under some circumstances to retract a bid, but in general eBay rules forbid it. That's not to say that you can't get away with it, though, and here's how.

Can my friends and family bid on my auctions?
Your friends and family can not bid on your auctions. It's not only unethical, it's against eBay rules.

How do I contact eBay directly?
To contact eBay directly, use one of the customer support forms on the eBay website to contact eBay with your question, issue, or concern.

Why is it so hard to succeed on eBay?
Some say eBay is a get-rich-quick heaven. Others say you'll be luck to clear a few dollars rather than go bankrupt. So which is it? Is today's eBay feast or famine for would-be sellers?

Is eBay dishonest?
Whether it's a matter of "too quick to be real" counterbids, high shipping costs and low starting prices, or used goods turning up instead of new goods, buyers new to eBay often wonder whether eBay is an entirely honest or fair company. Understanding more about eBay can help to answer such concerns.

Does eBay care about online crime?
Those who have had bad experiences with eBay can often be heard to say that eBay doesn't care about online crime. Are such accusations true? Is eBay really uninterested in fighting fraud and other harmful activity, or are they willing to turn a blind eye?

Can I protect my eBay purchases?
Worried about buying on eBay because you'd like to get a warranty for your purchase? Don't. You can, in fact, get a warranty for most types of goods that you can purchase on eBay. Here's what you need to know to get covered.

Is my seller overcharging me for shipping?
Buyers often suspect that sellers are overcharging for shipping. But is this really the case? And how do you determine the difference?

How do I buy and pay for goods from other countries?
From time to time you may find yourself wanting to bid on goods listed in other countries. Can you bid on these goods? If so, how do you pay for them?

Why is eBay sending me email?
Are you getting email from eBay that you don't want or that you don't understand? Maybe that email isn't from eBay after all, or maybe you can do something about it.

Why is eBay so slow?
If the eBay website seems to be running slowly to you, it can be caused by any one of several possible factors—and the fix can be any one of several possible remedies.

Are those auctions for real?
There are so many weird auctions on eBay, surely the can't all actually result in sales, much less for the tens of thousands of dollars that some of them appear to earn for their sellers. Right?

Does eBay archive auction listings?
eBay maintains auction listings indefinitely, but using the eBay website members can only access listings that have ended within the last 90 days.

Should I allow on-site pickups?
From time to time buyers may request that you allow them to come and pick an item up from you directly. Should you say yes?

Can I give an eBay gift card or certificate?
Gift certificates are a classic way to give an open-ended gift without having to send actual money to someone. Wouldn't it be great if eBay offered such a product?

Does eBay track sales statistics?
The more serious you are about buying or selling on eBay, the more likely it is that serious market research data will become important to you. Once you decide that you want to know what the most listed items are, or what the average selling price of a certain kind of item is, there is nothing left but to choose a product and access the data. Here's a starting list of datasets.

How do bid increments work?
If you're new to eBay, you may wonder how eBay decides what the next "minimum bid" for an auction is, since it seems to vary from auction to auction. In fact, the next minimum bid for any auction is determined according to eBay's "bid increments" table.

How do I become a PowerSeller?
Most sellers who sell on eBay as a business dream of becoming PowerSellers. But just how does one become a PowerSeller, and what are the requirements for remaining one?

When is an eBay auction null and void?
Though in nearly all cases completed eBay item listings are binding legal contracts between buyer and seller, there are a few exceptions to this rule that come into play under exceptional circumstances.

How do I change my eBay user ID?
Sometimes it's necessary to change an eBay user ID. If now is the time for you, read on to find out how it can be done.

How do I close my eBay account?
Dissatisfied with eBay's customer service? Tired of buying and selling in auction format? Just generally turning over a new leaf? If you're sure you want to close your eBay account, here's how.

Can I manage my auctions using Excel?
Ever wonder whether you could use a well-formed Excel sheet to upload lots of auctions to eBay at once, or to download, view, and revise your auctions? It may be possible for you to do so.

Can I get RSS feeds for my eBay searches?
If you live your life through RSS feeds, you may be wondering whether you can shop eBay the same way. You can.

Does eBay track sales statistics?
The more serious you are about buying or selling on eBay, the more likely it is that serious market research data will become important to you. Once you decide that you want to know what the most listed items are, or what the average selling price of a certain kind of item is, there is nothing left but to choose a product and access the data. Here's a starting list of datasets.

Can I buy and sell major assets on eBay?
Yes you can buy and sell homes, automobiles, boats, and other major assets on eBay. Millions of people have already done it!

Is it safe to buy a car or truck on eBay?
eBay Motors offers shoppers the chance to buy major vehicles of all kinds on eBay. But is it safe to buy and sell assets of this size and complexity online?

Can I avoid doing business with problem buyers?
Sellers, you can indeed prevent problem buyers from placing bids on your auctions in the first place, whether you want to exclude low-feedback bidders, international bidders, or non-PayPal bidders.

Can I buy and sell wholesale or in bulk lots on eBay?
Though eBay is a great market for finding deals on (and getting rid of) household items and products that you use, it's also a great place for big-time buyers and sellers to move inventories at wholesale.

Can I back out of an auction bid?
Can I back out of an auction bid? Generally speaking, no. Your bid is a legal and binding contract.

Where can I find out about eBay service outages?
eBay maintains two announcement boards that members can use to find out about current eBay outages and major eBay initiatives and events.

Can I give to charity through eBay?
Yes, you can. Sellers can elect to have a percentage of proceeds donated to a chosen charity, visible to buyers.

What do the stars after member feedback scores mean?
The stars after member feedback scores "rank" members according to their eBay feedback scores.

Can eBay feedback be erased?
Can eBay feedback be erased? Yes, if both parties agree to the removal.

How does eBay affect my taxes?
How does eBay affect your taxes? The same way any other self-employment income would.

What is eBay Live?
eBay Live! is the annual eBay conference where execs, sellers, community members, and eBay-related businesses gather to talk shop.

Can I automatically calculate my eBay fees?
eBay's fee structure has traditionally been complicated, and that complexity has been magnified by ongoing changes to eBay's fee structure. Isn't there some way to automatically calculate what fees eBay will charge?

What can I do if I receive a fake or counterfeit item?
Though it's not a pretty truth, there are a significant number of fake and counterfeit items for sale on eBay. Here's what to do if you suspect that you've received such an item.

Should I agree to sell items for family or friends?
It's become common for those who are not eBay savvy to ask family and friends that are heavy eBay user to sell items on eBay for them. Should you agree to do this? The answer may be more complicated that you imagine.

How much can I get for my item on eBay?
If you're thinking of selling on eBay but have never done it before, you may be wondering just how much you can "get" for your item. It's a complicated question, but there is an answer.

How do I track repeat buyers and popular items?
eBay doesn't provide easy-to-find tools for making lists of your most loyal buyers or your most popular items by title or category, but there are free ways to compile such data quickly on your own.

Can I use one listing to sell on all of eBay’s websites?
eBay has marketplace websites around the world in many different languages. Does eBay offer a feature by which one listing form can be used to sell on all of them at the same time?

Why it happens, dos and don'ts, and what it means for your future
If you've received a notice that your selling has been temporarily restricted, don't worry, it's not the end of your eBay selling days. If you don't keep a few things in mind in the future, though, it could be.

Can I block particular bidders?
Is one particular eBay member giving you fits by bidding on and/or winning your auctions after you've asked them not to, for whatever reason? Block them. Here's how.

Isn't eBay Teeming with Shill Bidders?
To hear some talk about eBay, the place is crawling with shills, some working for eBay and some working for sellers, all ready to send auction prices higher just as you start to bid. Here are responses to some of the most common scenarios and accusations.

What is a Seller Performance rating?
Because it impacts everything from search placement to PowerSeller status, serious eBay sellers today closely monitor and nurture their Seller Performance rating. Learn more about what this rating is and where to find it in your eBay account.

Should I Join That Drop-Shipping Website?
There is some seriously persuasive marketing out there telling prospective eBay sellers that drop-shipping is the path to success on eBay, or even to financial independence in general. What's the real story on drop-shippers? It's a lot more complicated than that.

I Wired Money for an eBay Item that Never Came—Now What?
Did you sent money via wire transfer for an eBay item, only to still be waiting weeks later for your item to arrive? Having trouble locating the seller or getting eBay to do anything about it?

How can I find out when (or if) my purchase will arrive?
Waiting for a package is hard enough without having to wonder just when it is going to arrive or whether there is a problem of some kind with the purchase or shipment. But how can you find these things out?

I'm Unsatisfied with My eBay Purchase. What Now?
When you're unsatisfied with your eBay purchase, there are a number of steps that you can take to rectify the situation, though some may surprise you. Here they are.

Should I buy that item from China?
Shoppers that have never bought an item for a Chinese (or other overseas) seller often balk at the thought. But how risky is it, really? And what should you know before buying from a foreign seller?

Is eBay selling the right small business for me?
It has become almost automatic to think "eBay selling" whenever anyone begins to talk about "small business" these days. But is eBay selling for everyone? Here are some facts to help you to decide whether or not eBay selling is right for you.

Can I run an eBay business on a Mac?
So much of the eBay-oriented tutorial material around the web is focused on Windows that Mac users might ask themselves whether or not they can become eBay sellers. The answer is yes, and here are the tools to make it happen.

Can I use an eBay store as my small business website?
Looking for a way to create an online selling website for your small business, without having to learn HTML or other languages, and without having to spend weeks or even months "developing" your site? eBay stores may be a good solution for you.

Should I let my kid buy or sell on eBay?
If you've got kids of "browsing age," you've probably already had a discussion or two about something on eBay. Should you let your kids buy on eBay? Should you go so far as to let your kids sell on eBay? Here's what you should think about as you make these decisions.

I wanted to buy that! Where did it go?
You thought about the purchase and you studied the listing and the seller. You went, came back, went, came back, went again, and finally decided to come back and buy. Only this time, when you got back, the item was gone! What gives?

How do I keep snipers away from my listings?
Shill bidding is a practice that many auction buyers swear by, but sellers in snipe-heavy categories can take a hit in closing prices. Is there a way to stop sniping?

How do I find an item number?
To talk to eBay about any listing or transaction, you'll need to know the item number of the listing in question. But how do you find this?

On eBay, How do I...
Links to dozens of how-to documents for common tasks and needs on eBay. Retract a bid, cancel an auction, place a bid, find a drop-shipper, and too many other tasks to mention. Start here!

How much is my item worth?
Need to know how much your item might be worth before deciding whether or not to sell it on eBay? Here's how to get a pretty good estimate.

How do eBay and Craigslist Differ?
Describing the differences between eBay and Craigslist is an exercise in opposites, but for some buyers and sellers, Craigslist might be just the thing.

How do I access my money after an eBay sale?
Recently make your first eBay sale? Wondering how to access the funds that you received in payment for your goods? Here are your options.

Position yourself to automatically win disputes
eBay's Seller Protection program can give you a leg up in eBay disputes, but only if you know the ground rules and how to position yourself to take advantage of it.

When should I ship my item?
The question of "when to ship" often isn't on small sellers' minds until PayPal lets them know that it's they shouldn't ship an item. When is it okay to ship, and how does a seller find out?

How do I make a fast, guaranteed sale?
Sometimes you just want to get rid of something. So what's the best set of choices to get you to a fast, guaranteed sale on eBay?

They negged me, then bought again! Now what?
Every now and then a buyer that has just savaged you will suddenly return to make a second purchase from you. Why would they do this? Are they just making trouble? Do you have to do business with them? Here's what to know.

Why doesn't eBay have better prices or selection?
You keep hearing the hype and returning to check eBay out, but each time you find that the prices and selection aren't what you're after. What gives?

How does eBay Buyer Protection work?
eBay's Buyer Protection program is widely touted on eBay and beyond as a way for eBay shoppers to feel safe about their purchases. But how does the program work, and what does it protect?

Why is PayPal holding my money?
Did you complete a sale only to find that PayPal has placed a hold on the funds that your buyer paid you? Why did this happen? How long will the hold last? And how can you avoid one in the future? Find out.

I received lots of offers very quickly. Is this a scam?
Get a lot of offers really, really quickly for that item you're selling? Wonder what it means and what to do about it? Here are the answers to these questions and more.

Can I shop eBay from my home country?
People generally assume that eBay can be used for international shopping, but the details are often fuzzy. Is it officially allowed? How much does it cost? How is it done? What about returns? Here are answers to these questions and more.

Why does eBay want my personal information?
New eBay users are often taken aback to find out how much personal information eBay wants. Some veteran users are startled to find that they can be suspended if their information is out of date. Why does eBay require all this data?

Can I eBay if I can't (or won't) use PayPal?
Can't (or won't) use PayPal? There are alternatives, whether your issue is currency or aversion, though none of them are quite simple as PayPal itself.

I want an eBay business, but how do I start?
There's no link that you can click on that will magically grant you a profitable eBay business. If you want to start one, you'll have to build your business the old fashioned way.

How do I buy goods on Alibaba or from overseas manufacturers?
It looks temptingly easy these days to buy goods for resale online, direct from international manufacturers. What you may be missing and/or why you may feel as though you're getting in over your head.

As a seller, should I ship to mail forwarding services?
An increasing number of eBay buyers abroad use mail forwarding services to shop the U.S. eBay site. Should you do business with them? Can you avoid it? What are the pitfalls? Here's what to know.

For non-U.S. shoppers, mail forwarding services can be a tempting way to gain access to domestic U.S. eBay auctions. Are there things you should know before you make use of one? Yes!

Can I link to my business from eBay?
Linking somehow to your own business or business website seems an obvious thing to do on eBay. So what's the best way to do it? The answer might surprise you.

How do I know when I've received stolen, fake, or counterfeit goods?
It's one thing to be furious that you've received a stolen, fake, or counterfeit item from an eBay seller, but it's another thing altogether to have the uncomfortable worry that you might have. How do you go about finding out? Here's how.

What can I do if buyer protection didn't work for me?
eBay's Buyer Protection is a shopper's first line of defense when things go wrong, but what if Buyer Protection has let you down? What else can you do?

Should I "Max Out" that eBay Promotion?
eBay increasingly offers tempting listing promotions to sellers on a regular basis: 100 free listings this weekend, 1,000 free listings next weekend, and so on. What's not to like? Shouldn't you take advantage of these promotions since eBay is offering them? The answer may be more complex than you imagine it to be.

Are these two sellers really one and the same?
Have you encountered listings or items on eBay that you suspect are being sold by the same person appearing to be two or more different sellers? What should you make of this practice?

Can eBay sellers have multiple accounts?
There are both buyers and sellers that want to know whether or not eBay allows individuals or businesses to trade under several eBay accounts. Here's what you need to know.

Should I shop eBay or Amazon for my purchase?
With Amazon.com becoming a second 800-pound gorilla in online sales, it can be easy to think that eBay has been eclipsed. In fact, it often makes more sense to choose one over the other, depending on circumstances.

Where can I get eBay news and updates for sellers?
Updates and important notices for eBay sellers can seem hard to find. Here are the four basic places to watch for news from eBay that affects sellers.

How can I get my trading partner's real-world contact information?
Believe it or not, it's still possible to get the real contact details for a trading partner on eBay. Here's how.

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