I don’t think it matters where you are these days, if you mention the name ‘ eBay ‘, there is someone there who has either bought an item on it, or who has sold something on it, eBay has become a household name around the world. I started buying and selling on ebay around 7 years ago. There are thousands of people living in the U.S. that make full time living’s selling item’s on eBay, and thousands more that buy items on it daily.
eBay was started by one man named ‘ Pierre Omidyar ‘. When Pierre was 28 years old he started writing the programming code that was to become the internet site eBay. The site was launched online on Sep 4, 1995, ‘ Labor Day ‘ here in the U.S. At first it wasn’t called eBay, but was named ‘ Auction Web ‘. Later it was changed to ‘ ebay ‘ , which was a short version of a consulting firm Pierre owned named ‘ Echo Bay ‘. eBay was free at the start, then it started charging fees to help cover it’s internet costs for hosting and other charges. At the time, Pierre was dating a woman that collected PEZ toys, she used the new eBay site in its earliest incarnation to buy and sell rare dispensers. In 1996 Jeffrey Skoll, a Stanford MBA, joined the company and by 1998 eBay had gone public in the stock market, making Omidyar a billionaire. In 2005, Omidyar’s 214 million eBay shares were worth around $8 billion. In March 1998, Meg Whitman was brought in as President and CEO of eBay where she serves still today
Let’s start by going to the eBay site and joining. Just visit: www.ebay.com and you will be taken to the main page of the website. Once there look towards the top area of the screen and you will see text that says: ‘ Hello! Sign in or register. ‘, using the mouse button, click on ‘ register ‘. After clicking on ‘ register ‘ you will be taken to a screen with a form on it, enter the information about yourself, such as your name, address, telephone number and email address. Next you will be taken to another screen where you must choose a password and ebay user name, the eBay user-name is the ID or Name you will be known by to other ebay bidders and shoppers.
The password should be something that is not common, for instance do not use your first or last name, or some common word such as ‘ pencil ‘, or ‘ computer ‘, take your time and choose something difficult and a little long, make sure you write this password down and keep it near your computer in case you forget it. I recommend writing your ebay password on a yellow post-it note and hanging it someplace near your computer.
When your done with the username and password screen, you just have to check your email for the confirmation link that eBay sends you, just click on the link as shown in the email to activate your eBay account, now you have joined eBay, and you can start bidding and buying right away, but before you do let me tell you about the different features of eBay and how some things work.
eBay is not just an auction site, I mean you do not have to bid and wait for an auction to end, in order to purchase every item on eBay. In fact many items can be purchased for a set fee, and bought instantly, these are called ‘ Buy Now ‘ listings. For an example of how listings differ from each other, let’s look at some ebay items. Let’s say you and I are looking for a ‘ singing fish ‘, the fish that look like their mounted and displayed on a piece of wood, when someone gets near it, it will start singing and move it’s mouth and tail, they are often called ‘ big mouth billy bass ‘.
To see if eBay has any of the ‘ singing fish ‘, we just go to the main ebay page (www.ebay.com) and in the ‘SEARCH’ area, type in: singing fish, and the screen shows there are currently 60 different items or listings found. I scroll down and select one of the listings, it currently shows the current bid price is $7.00 and it has had 4 bids, with 1 day and 13 hours remaining before the listing or auction ends. If I really wanted this item, and was willing to pay up to $15.00 for it, I would just click on ‘ Place Bid ‘, and enter my ebay username and password, if requested to do so. It tells me that I have to enter a bid of at least $7.50, remember I am willing to spend $15.00, so I would now enter $15.00 as my bid price. The item description page would then show that I am the current high bidder, and the amount needed to outpid me would be $8.00 or so, eBay keeps my maximum bid price ($15.00) secret, and automatically bids in increments for me as other folks bid, until reaching my $15.00 limit. If someone bids more than my $15.00 limit, there is no way I can win the item, unless I bid again and set another higher limit, if the item listing time ends with my $15.00 bid as the highest one, I am the winner.
The ‘ maximum bid ‘ option is a very neat feature, if you will be away from the computer and can not watch an auction closely while the time remaining is ending, eBay will automatically bid for you until you have reached your maximum bid limit.
Besides bidding, some items have others ways of purchasing them. Now lets go back to the screen that showed the 60 different listings for the ‘ singing fish ‘, I scroll down and notice that besides the current price of one fish, it says ‘ Buy It Now ‘ and shows a price of $8.99 near it. Clicking on this listing, I see the fish can be purchased instantly for $8.99, by clicking on the ‘ Buy It Now ‘ button. If I clicked on the ‘ Buy It Now ‘, button I would be taken to another screen where I would confirm that I want to buy it by clicking on the ‘ Commit to Buy ‘ button, or I could simply click ‘back’ on my web browser, or just go to another page to cancel my decision to buy the item. If I did click on the ‘ Commit to Buy ‘ button, it would show me other screens, and tell me where to send the payment, etc, all which are explained in simple and easy to understand terms.
There are three things to always check on before buying or bidding on an eBay item, the first is the sellers location. As you use ebay, you will see that some of the sellers live in Canada, or even the U.K. If you are like me and live here in the U.S. you may wish to just buy or bid on items that are here in the same country, to avoid a long delivery time, and large shipping fees. Each ebay item description page, tells the users address, for instance it will say ‘ Item location: Chatsworth, CA United States ‘, etc, near the top and middle area of the screen. Another thing to check is what the shipping costs will be. Some folks offer very high shipping, for instance someone may sell a shirt for only $2.00 but have a set shipping fee of $15, so always search the item description page before bidding and buying to find the shipping information. Some item description pages have a box, with a button on them called ‘ Calculate ‘, once you click on this button, just enter your zip code, and it will tell you what the exact shipping fees will be. One more thing to always check on is what methods the seller accepts as payment. Some folks only accept PayPal, others only accept Money Orders, or Checks, while some accept all methods. Look for this information on the item description screens also, it’s listed usually under the item’s description section, in an area called: ‘ Payment methods accepted ‘, all three of these things I have told you about, are easy to find and view on any item’s description screen.
As you search and look at different items listed on eBay, you will see that a lot of people only accept PayPal as their form of payment. If you are not familiar with ‘ PayPal ‘ visit, www.paypal.com. Signing up and joining PayPal is simple and free, and it has great benefits especially for using eBay. PayPal payments are secure, and the money is sent instantly to the seller, it makes eBay a lot more fun to use, when buying items on eBay I use both PayPal payments and money orders.
Now let me just explain a little about ‘ feedback ‘ and how it’s very important when it comes to buying and selling on ebay. Let’s go back to the ebay webpage that shows the listings for the ‘ singing fish ‘. As I pick a listing at random, I look under the ‘ Seller Information ‘ area of that page, I see the sellers eBay name, and the Feedback Score. The feedback score tells you how many buy/sell transactions a user has made in the past on eBay, and the percentage of the transactions that were positive. This info is a great way to protect yourself from a seller or buyer that may not be very reputable. For example if you were interested in bidding or buying an item, and you noticed the person listing the item had a feedback number of 6 and a positive percentage of 20%, stay away from this person, but if the person had a feedback number of 6 and a positive percentage of 99% or so, they would be a lot safer to deal with.
Now before finishing this article I want to give you two more pointers or bits of information to use to make your eBay experiences good ones. Once you become familiar and can find your way around the different areas, go to your account screen, and find the option to change your password. My eBay password is over 14 characters long and contains letters and numbers in random order. I change my password every month or two, and I recommend you do this also.
The main reason I recommend you change your eBay password every month or two, is because there are a lot of nasty computer viruses and trojan horses floating around on the internet and arriving through email, and the purpose of some of these viruses is to scan your hard drive and seek out your passwords, ebay’s included, and to email this info to hackers and other websites, giving folks you don’t know access to your eBay account information.
In all of my years using eBay, I have never had one problem, and you should not either if you read and follow my advice and tips in this article, and just use some common sense or internet savy. There is no way I or anyone can guarantee you will never have trouble using ebay or any internet site, but neither can someone guarantee you won’t become involved in a wreck while driving a vehicle.
There is a great FREE eBook that describes in detail how to ‘ How To Join eBay and PayPal – and Safely Use Each ‘, The eBook contains NO AdWare or SpyWare and is available for immediate download from this website address:
By Robert W. Benjamin
Copyright © 2006
You may publish this article in your ezine, newsletter or on your web site as long as it is reprinted in its entirety and without modification except for formatting needs or grammar corrections.
Robert W. Benjamin has been in the software business on the internet for over 5 years, and has been producing low-cost software for the past 25+ years. He first released software on the AMIGA and C64 computer systems in the late 1970′s-80′s.