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Ten Things You Didn't Know About eBay

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These days nearly everyone has had some sort of eBay experience. It's rare to find a regular Internet user who doesn't buy and sell on eBay at least every now and then. But even if you buy and sell on eBay regularly, how well do you really know eBay? Did you know that the first item ever listed on eBay was broken? Or that eBay knows how to send text messages? Or that your tax preparer needs to know about your eBay life?

1. eBay Began with a Broken Laser Poiner

Photo: Sean Gallup / Getty Images
What do a broken laser pointer, Apple Computer, and a man named Pierre have in common? All are steps along the road to the evolution of eBay as we know it today, and all are part of a very interesting story.

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2. eBay's Family Includes a Variety of Brands

Photo: R. John Schuler
Ever use Kijiji, Shopping.com, or Bill Me Later to buy or sell? Rent.com to find an apartment? StubHub to find tickets? MicroPlace.com to invest in the third world? Did you know that when you use these, you're using eBay? There's more to eBay than the eBay auction website. eBay has been busy over the years building a portfolio of acquisitions and relationships to diversify its presence online.

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3. Bidding Can Happen Automatically

Photo: Jason Morrison
At live auctions everything happens out in the open—it's loud and boisterous bid and counterbid until the gavel falls. Not quite so at eBay.

If you've ever felt confused, cheated, bothered, or just plain stymied by the way that bidding works on eBay and how fast "outbids" seem to happen, you may want to read on to learn about eBay's "Proxy Bidding" system.

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4. Jim Griffith is the Voice of eBay

Photo: Aron Hsiao
His name is Jim Griffith and he's become known as "the voice of eBay," hosting a regular Internet radio program about all things eBay. If you're interested in honing your eBay skills and expanding your eBay lifestyle but are more the "listening type" than the "reading type," eBay Radio may be just the thing for you.

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5. eBay Does Social Networking

Photo: Simon Cataudo
Yes, "blogging" and "social networking" sites are a dime a dozen these days, but eBay offers these features while giving you a reason to socialize—share your interests, favorite products, reviews, and other useful information with fellow buyers and sellers.

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6. eBay Enables Activism and Socially Conscious Giving

Photo: Marcelo Michelini
If you're socially conscientious and have ever wondered what would happen if every eBay member gave a portion of every sale to charity, fear not—you can start to find out using precisely this feature offered to eBay sellers.

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7. Selling on eBay May Affect Your Taxes

Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images
If you're a regular eBay seller and have begun to earn a portion of your income on eBay, you should take a moment to learn about the ways in which your eBay sales may affect your tax responsibility.

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8. You Might Need a Business License to Sell on eBay

Photo: XLucas
If you sell items for profit on eBay, did you know that you may be legally obligated to register as a business in your local community, or that specific zoning regulations may apply that restrict the types of business that you are permitted to conduct?

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9. eBay and PayPal Keep Books for You Automatically

Photo: Vangelis Thomaidis
If you buy and sell using PayPal, a bit portion of your transactional bookkeeping is already done for you. Just download the data into Excel and away you go.

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10. It Might be eBay Sending You that SMS

Photo: Georgios M. W.
If you buy or sell often on eBay, and you are the sort of person that always has your phone with you, you can have eBay update you automatically by phone regarding all of your auctions.

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