46. Profit from your junk on eBay
By Mark Alberstat
I would like to get involved with bidding and buying on eBay. How do I go
about it? How do I recognize a reputable seller? How do I ensure my
financial information is secure? Would you please outline some pointers on
how to make sure I've made the winning bid? Thank you.
L. Wells, Bayside
Would you believe a local man took a sports poster that sat in his attic
for decades and sold it on eBay for more than $15,000? Amazing but true.
Stories like this are what make television programs like the Antiques Road
Show and Bargain Hunt popular.
Although few people have items as valuable as that poster, on eBay you can
turn your attic or basement clutter into cash.
Armed with a few basic pieces of information, a couple of established
accounts, and, preferably, a digital camera, you can get your items
posted, viewed, and sold.
eBay, founded in 1995 in San Jose by Pierre Omidyar as a marketplace for
goods and services, really took off around 1998 when Meg Whitman became
involved in marketing the company.
The rest is Internet and business history. In fiscal year 2000, eBay
sellers had record sales of $5.5 million with more than 22 million
If you intend to buy or sell on eBay, you must first establish an account.
It is an easy process, with straightforward fields and forms to fill in.
From the opening page eBay.com or eBay.ca, click sign-in and then also the
register button on the left-hand side.
The next screen contains a variety of personal information needed by eBay
to later invoice you. Once the forms are completed you have to agree to
the terms and then confirm the registration.
Once registered you can bid and sell. Everything imaginable has and will
be sold on eBay, within reason.
Some items are not allowed up for auction and others have been removed by
eBay for being in contravention of their rules, regulations or ethos.
There is a long list under user help for items prohibited for sale,
including firearms, alcohol and lock picking devices, to name just a few.
When you find an item you want to bid on, you can see the seller's eBay
name and also the location of the item. If you are bidding on 40 kilograms
of bricks and being sold from Arkansas, and the description states that
the winning bidder pays shipping, you can be assured you will be in for
quite a few dollars more than the basic selling price.
It is often a good practice to e-mail the seller and ask what the shipping
costs will be for a particular item before bidding on it. You may not want
to pay $15 shipping on that $3 item.
Listed next to the seller's name is often a number and a coloured star.
Click on the number to read the feedback other buyers and sellers have
posted about this eBayer. These comments can give you a good indication as
to the reliability of whom you are about to deal.
If you are bidding on an item, the description and/or the payment methods
will explain how the final transaction is to be carried out. A lot of
sellers use a third-party funds transfer company called
To use this, however, you first have to establish your own account there.
Once established you can have PayPal charge the amount of the auction to
your credit card and the seller receives their payment from PayPal, never
seeing your credit card number or any of the personal information needed
to bill you, except, of course, a shipping address.
With this information in mind, you too can get in on the eBay craze and
maybe even find that precious poster in your attic.
The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community
Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about
computing, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If we use your question in
a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.
Originally published 7 November 2004