Some auctions get hundreds of bids, but some go much more slowly, getting only a few bids or even none at all for days. Auctions are generally much slower during the summer months than they are in the winter - and sales on eBay are slowing each year, as more sellers than buyers sign up, hoping to get rich quick. There are a number of ways that you can take advantage of slower auctions to get the best price.
Wait to Bid
If you bid, then everyone can see you're interested - and that might make them interested too. Leaving the item alone for as long as you can bear will make it look less popular, and keep the price down so you can come in at the last minute and get a bargain.
Make an Offer
If the seller is selling an item using 'Buy it Now' and it still hasn't sold when the auction is about to end, use eBay's 'Best Offer' service to make them an offer on it. The chances are they've listed the item two or three times before, and they'll be so annoyed at the prospect of re-listing it yet again that they'll accept your offer just to get rid of the thing.
Conspire with Other Buyers
You might not have thought of this, but if there are two auctions for the same item and only you and one other buyer are bidding, why not get together and work out a 'you take this one and I'll take that one' deal? This avoids you raising the price on both auctions just to get one each. If you make a few friends, you can even work together on auctions long-term, taking it in turns to bid.
Send the seller emails asking questions about the condition of the item, and making it very clear that you are a discerning buyer and will only accept things of the highest quality. This will make them feel better about selling you their item for less.
Don't Feel Guilty
There really are too many sellers on eBay now, to the point where you can get common items at very low prices. Long-term, this will probably force those sellers out of business, but that's the way a market works - it's supply and demand.
Buy in Bulk
When auctions are slow, many sellers will have had the same stock for a long time. If you offer to take ten things off their hands all at once then you can almost name your price - the chances are that they'll fall over themselves to give you a good deal. If you come back again and buy another ten items then they'll love you even more.
The longer you spend on eBay, the more experienced you'll become - and the greater the chances are that you'll stumble across an auction for something very odd, and quite unexpected. In the next email, you'll hear all about the strangest eBay items ever sold.
Buying collectibles is one of the most enjoyable things to do on eBay, simply because you can find so many things that you just can't get anywhere else. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.
Find your Category
You'll probably find that all the items you're after are listed in a single category. Add this category to your browser's Favorites, and keep coming back.
Look for Mistakes
If you collect something, the chances are you know a lot about it. This can be your opportunity to make a mint from a seller's mistake. They might not realise that they have a rare version of an item, or they might have left off the key information that makes it valuable. If you're willing to email the seller and ask them a few questions about the item to confirm that it is what you think it is, then you should be able to buy items like these. You can then resell them at a big profit, if that's what you want to do.
Don't Always Believe Descriptions
If you find something you haven't heard of, and the description calls it 'rare', don't assume that it actually is. Far too many sellers just put 'rare' into all of their descriptions - the chances are that the item is common and has just been described wrongly. Don't bid unless you know what you're buying.
Stalk Other Users
When you collect something, you'll probably notice that there are four or five sellers who seem to come up with consistently good items - and the same buyers buying them. Add their user pages to your Favorites, and check back often to see what they've got - or what they're bidding on - that you might be interested in.
Don't Get Too Attached to an Auction
There are millions of items being listed every day on eBay - whatever you want, it'll come around again, and if you don't get it there are plenty more things to buy. This is similar to the golden rule of negotiating: always be prepared to walk away. If you can't walk away, then expect to pay over the odds. There are few things so rare that another seller won't have one to sell. Go and bid in a lower-priced auction, instead of getting into a bidding war in one that is already expensive.
Beware of the Postage
If you collect lots of small things with a relatively low value, you might end up paying as much for postage as you do for each item. You should take these costs into consideration when you make your bid. Another good strategy is to always buy a few things at once from the same buyer, as they will almost always offer you a discount on the postage.
When you're bidding, you might notice that some auctions go more slowly than others, going days at a time without any new bids. The next email tells you how to take advantage of these 'slow' auctions.