Tips for Buying at Online Auctions

Buying Smartly Through Online Auctions

Buying items through an online auction site can be a bit of a crapshoot. Anyone who tells you otherwise is fibbing. However, thousands and thousands of transactions take place every year through these sites where both buyer and seller walk away pleased with the deal.

The trick to ensuring that purchases made are those that please is all in the research. It pays for buyers to be a little leery. But, remember, a lot of sellers make their living through these sites or augment their full-time businesses through online storefronts, so the predominance of sellers are in fact quite reputable.

Checking out a seller before bidding on an item is perhaps the No. 1 thing to do to ensure a good transaction down the road.

Look for the following things:
* Check the seller’s item description carefully. Make sure you fully understand what he or she is offering, the minimum bid required, shipping and handling costs and so on. If you don’t understand something about the description, contact the seller. If he or she doesn’t get back to you, you most likely won’t want to bid your hard-earned cash.
* Look at the seller’s feedback ratings. Most good auction sites provide a way for buyers and sellers to rate each other. For sellers, the ratings come from the actual items they sell, the condition they arrive in, the ease of the transaction and their speed of service. Remember, even the best seller in the world can have a negative comment or two, so weigh these carefully. If there seems to be a trend, stay away. Or, if the seller in question always rates high for items, but gets points off for shipping slow, he or she may still be worth doing business with – especially if it’s an item you really want.
* Payment options. If you’re not comfortable sending a check or money order, see if the seller accepts credit cards or uses an online payment service. Good sellers generally offer a variety of ways for buyers to pay.
* Fair shipping and handling. If you’re bidding on an item that weighs an ounce and costs $1, $20 in shipping and handling is excessive. Read the fine print here!

Buying online can be a fun and rewarding experience. Unfortunately, there are some bad apples in the bunch, but they don’t have to wreck the fun for everyone else. Just take a little time to check things out before you buy and you’ll find your chances for a bad experience have been greatly minimized.