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Understanding eBay Bidding

Bidding online is different from bidding at live auctions

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Understanding eBay Bidding

You can instantly purchase an item being sold at a fixed price. Just click the "Buy It Now" button to purchase the item at the listed price.

If you're new to eBay, item pricing and bidding can make what should be an easy task (making a purchase) seem unnecessarily complex. Here is what you need to know about the items you find in eBay searches and how to "bid on" them.

Two Kinds of Items: Fixed Price and Auction

In general, items on eBay are being sold in two basic ways:
  • Fixed price items are easy to identify because they have a "Buy It Now" button with a price listed next to it. You can buy this kind of item simply by clicking the "Buy It Now" button. You will pay the price listed next to the button.

  • Auction items have a "Place Bid" button next to a box for entering bids and show a "current bid" price. Auction items are open to bids for a predetermined amount of time. When time is up, the item is declared "sold" to the highest bidder.

  • A few items have both kinds of buttons and show two prices at once. Items like this are for sale both ways. If nobody uses the "Buy It Now" button, the item goes to the highest bidder when time is up.

How to Bid (What You MUST Know)

If an item you're interested in has a "Place Bid" button (meaning that it's an auction item), you'll have to bid on and "win" it in order to buy it. To do so, enter a dollar value into the box (your bid) and click "Place Bid."

Before you decide to bid, however, but there are some things you should know:

  • eBay auctions accept bids only for a specific amount of time. In a traditional non-eBay auction, bidders frantically place competing bids. When bidding slows to nothing, the auctioneer pounds the gavel and the item is sold. On eBay, auctions are open to bids for exactly 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 days. When time is up, the high bidder wins, even if people are still frantically bidding.

  • You must place a bid that is higher than the current bid. Below the bidding box, you'll see the text "Enter (some amount) or more." This amount is the current minimum bid; you must enter at least this amount if you want to bid.

  • You may pay less than your bid if you win. When you win an auction you always actually pay only a small amount more than the next highest bid-even if your bid was thousands of dollars more.

  • If your bid wins, you must buy. Your bid on an auction is a legally binding contract. If when time runs out your bid is the highest, you have purchased the item and must pay the seller for it.

  • Use 1-Click Bid to place small bids. In the last 15 minutes of an auction you've bid on in the past, you can instantly bid one increment higher than the current bid by clicking the "1-Click Bid" button.

  • Other bidders may be using the automatic bidding system. Because many shoppers use eBay's automatic bidding system, eBay auctions may not behave in ways that make sense to you. The good news is that you can use the automatic bidding system, too—as you'll see on the following page.
Technically, this is all you need to know to bid on eBay auction items. Learning about eBay's automatic bidding system, however, can reduce your frustration and improve your bidding success. Read on to learn how to use it.

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