You’re standing in line at the grocery store when your
phone buzzes, alerting you that you’ve been outbid on eBay. You up your bid,
hoping to win your wanted item.
Within moments, someone else outbids you again and
there are only 45 seconds left in the auction. As the time ticks down, your
competitive instinct kicks in. Numbers and strategic options dance through
Auction-savvy individuals know it all comes down to the
number — and if you choose the right number, you could win by a mere 5
cents. But now it’s getting down to the very last second and you have to
decide how high you’re willing to go. Flustered, you make your final bid and
hope for the best. You win the auction and you feel a little adrenaline
If you’re beginning to squirm in your chair, it’s
probably because you’re an online auction addict — and you recognize this
scenario (or perhaps you’re in a state of denial?). In more severe cases,
eBay addicts will wake up at strange hours just to be there for the last
remaining minutes of an online auction. If you are addicted (and you know
who you are), it’s okay. EBay.com is immensely popular — perhaps the most
widely known online trading community; sort of like the world’s largest
virtual garage sale.
EBay combines the appeal of the grungy garage sale with
the convenience of keyword searching — mixed in with the thrill of a great
bargain and the heady passion of an auction. This, for some, is a lethal
combination, especially for compulsive collectors, passionate packrats, and
junkstore junkies. And, again, you know who you are.
WHAT'S IN A
While there are other online trading websites out
there, the benefit to using eBay lies in the instant recognition of its
name. With this brings some assurance of security in a World Wide Web
teeming with scam artists and online thieves. The different safety
precautions used vary with each auction website. On eBay, every user is
covered by the eBay Fraud Protection Program. So, if you paid for an item
and never received it, or if you received the item and it’s less than what
was described, eBay will reimburse buyers up to a certain monetary amount.
EBay also has a point system, where sellers are ranked
by the people with whom they’ve done business. There are more than 100
million active users globally in eBay’s online auction community. EBay lists
everything from Beanie Babies to antique picture frames.
In 2011, the total value of goods sold on eBay was
$68.6 billion — more than $2,100 every second.
Here are some great sites featuring tips and tricks
when eBaying. If you want to sell or buy something on any online auction
website, these sites might be worth a quick read:
“As a user of eBay for the last four years, I am
absolutely addicted to checking it three to four times a day. I currently
sell mostly baby items and women’s dresses. I find I get more items sold on
eBay than I do at consignment shops and make more money if advertised
correctly. I also find a lot of bargains on baby clothing for my
15-month-old. Sometimes it’s
cheaper to buy her clothes on eBay than from a store,” explains Amy Frady of
There are other auction websites out there besides
eBay. There’s AuctionGuide.com,
uBid.com, to name a few. According to the Internet Auction List, there are
more than 1,500 auction-related websites. Surplus Auction, for example, is
big on brand-name hardware products, as well as on software. According to
their site, they sell more than $1 million worth of items each weekend.
There’s also QuiBids.com. It’s pretty simple to use.
First, you sign up and purchase bids (.60 each) to start participating in
auctions. Then you pick a product you want (for example, an HDTV or a new
laptop). When the clock starts ticking, the item is available at its
starting price, and then the price starts dropping — and keeps dropping by a
few dollars every 20 seconds or so. The point is to hold out for the lowest
price on the product that you want until just before all the items are
bought by bidders willing to pay slightly more. It’s fun to play and, most
of the time, you’re getting a great deal.
LEGAL? YOU CAN BUY IT ONLINE
Practically anything that can be legally purchased or
acquired can be bought or sold through online auctions — from live cattle to
goose-down comforters, from Elvis memorabilia to antique clocks. You name
it, and it’s probably up for auction.
So if you haven’t been bitten by the online auction
bug, then you’re in for a treat. It’s slowly becoming a healthy addiction
for even the most non-seasoned computer user, both young and old. Simone de
Beauvoir once said, “Buying is a profound pleasure,” and Robert Louis
Stevenson said, “Everyone lives by selling something.”
These men couldn’t possibly have foreseen that one day
we’d be able to do both — all from the comfort of our own home (or anywhere
remotely through your smartphone).