Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Joy of Ebay

I will admit, I have become something of an Ebay addict. Not for everything on the website; I don't just randomly look for junk that other people are wanting to get rid of. No, my vice is none other than stuffed animals.

Two particular breeds of stuffed animals, to be more specific: Care Bears and Pokemon. (Yes, I really am 21 years old.) I have a weakness for all things cute, but in particular, these little bears and little battling creatures have captured my heart. (And my wallet.) Although I do have a fair share of other stuffed creatures adorning my bed, closet, shelves, and ceilings. (Many of whom will be featured in "The Stuffed Animal Biographies.") Mountain Dew Girl only adds to the chaos with all of her Plums.

In any event, I have been learning the tricks and trade of the bidding world while searching out my stuffed treasures. Here are some of the things that you should always keep in mind while shopping on Ebay:

1.) To bid, or not to bid? Sometimes when an auction has many days left, it's hard to tell what your best course of action is. Do you place your maximum bid and hopefully scare off all of the other bidders? Or do you let the auction sit and come in at the last minute? I've found that it's better to place at least SOME bid, because otherwise the seller can take their listing down. (I lost a giant Bright Heart Raccoon that way.)

2.) The Title is Everything. If you use the same search as everyone else, you'll find the same auctions everyone else is finding and bidding on. To avoid bidding wars, it is helpful to look for misspelled titles, or titles that conviniently forget a very key word. For example, I managed to find a very cheap Grumpy Bear plush due to the fact that seller called him "The Raindrop Bear" instead of by his proper name. Also, I found a wonderfully rare Pokemon on a Japanese auction site that no one else had even looked at since most people were searching for "Chikorita" and not "Chokorita." (I think I will call this little creature "Cho" when she arrives.)

3.) It's Not Over Until it's Over. Don't think you're safe just because the auction only has a few minutes to go, with no rival bidders in sight. I've been sniped at one minute, 30 seconds, and even 15 seconds to go! Refreshing the screen often is a key during those last few nailbiting seconds of the auction. The only way to really ensure that you'll get the item of your dreams is to put in a very high bid. (And even then you're not completely safe!)

4.) Don't Forget Shipping. Sure, that used Battlestar Galactica DVD set may only be $5.00, but with $25.00 shipping, suddenly it's looking more economical to just buy it new at the store. (Plus, then you can start watching your sci-fi adventure series right away.) Especially beware when buying overseas. (I thought that the invoice was just showing me the total for my item again when the shipping charge came up!)

In the end, you just want to be that winning bidder. Isn't there something just infinitely satisfying about seeing your username as the winner of a steal of an auction?

But watch yourself: you may find your bank account being sucked dry by Paypal payments to cover your Ebay auction spoils. It's important to find a balance, and know your limits. Ebay wins also feel a little empty since you don't get the item right away. It's important to remember what you've purchased already when you feel that itch to buy something while you're out shopping at Target.

If you keep these tidbits in mind while you're out searching the Ebay ocean for something that tickles your fancy, I guarentee you that you'll be able to make better decisions about your bids and buys. And maybe, it will leave you one step ahead of all the other bidders.

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