Good deals are one of the biggest eBay draws according to most buyers and industry observers. Shoppers join eBay because they've heard that eBay can often deliver consumer goods at a significant discount, and they return because they find it to be true. Collectors join eBay because they know they have a good chance of finding rare items without having to pay consignment or antique store prices.
So how is it that so many people get caught up in eBay bidding wars?
Survey the completed listing prices for nearly any popular class of goods on eBay and you'll notice that while most products can be seen to have a clear average sale price on eBay, there are also always a number of finished auctions that exceeded the average sale price and average number of bids considerably. Why does a digital camera sell for $400.00 twenty times in a row, then for $600.00 on the twenty-first?
Often, it's the result of a bidding war. If there are dozens of identical items available, as is often the case on eBay, the buyer has gained little.
What To Do InsteadFor most common types of items on eBay, there's always another listing ending two hours from now, or six hours from now, or a day from nowfor the same item. Help yourself to avoid overbidding due to impatience or "bidding war mentality" by following these guidelines:
- Know what you're willing to pay. Long before you've started seriously searching for "the one you're going to buy" on eBay, you should already have decided on the price you're willing to pay. The heat of a bidding battle is the wrong moment to try to fall back on your frugal instincts. Write it on a post-it note if you have to and stick it to your monitor: "I'm willing to pay $XX.00 and no more!"
- Use the proxy bidding system. eBay's proxy bidding system makes it easy to control yourself, since it allows you to tell eBay what you're ultimately willing to pay, without necessarily having to pay that much in the end. eBay is dispassionate and will do exactly as you say, so by having eBay bid for you, you can avoid losing your shirt in the heat of the moment.
- Be patient. Prices on eBay fluctuate, and not just as a matter of absolute market value. Sellers already know to time their listings in order to generate the best possible sale price. As a buyer, be willing to have patience and wait for an undervalued auction to come along. It almost always will, sooner or later.
Auction buying can be fun, but it can also be stressful, and for a lot of people the temptation to win at all costs can lead to bad buys from time to time. Stay sane and follow these tips to make sure you never pay too much just so the other guy doesn't get to.