I’ll admit I don’t consider myself any sort of expert in the subject but I have made a few observations which may be helpful to some. Consider this article more of an opener for discussion rather than anything conclusive.
Ebay. It is the very spirit of capitalism. It is planet Earth’s garage sale. It is the greatest auction ever put together. It is all of those things and more. You can quite literally find anything for sale on Ebay. And for this reason it is both a blessing and a curse for a geek on a budget. You like star wars minatures? You can find them on ebay. You like Star Trek costumes? You can find those on ebay. You like My Little Pony Vintage lunchboxes? Yup, ebay. So if you like comic books, take a guess, can you find some on ebay? You betcha!
And that’s the double-edged sword. The risk is that you’ll go casually looking for something you want for your collection or a hardcover/TPB you’ve been wanting to read and in your searching you’ll come across something you didn’t even know you wanted. So use ebay as a tool and do not let it use you.
Here are a few guiding principles for ebay shopping I’ve established for myself. I’ve translated them to latin to make then sound more important.
Sententia vadum have a valde imprimis budget quod adhaero is (You shall have a very specific budget and stick to it). Before even searching anything on ebay, I make sure to know precisely what I can spend. Overspending is too easy to do. Nobody likes a nasty surprise on their bank statement.
Vos vadum consulo vestri votum album pro iens in ebay (You shall consult your wish list before going on ebay). I always check my StashMyComics wish list before shopping on ebay. This helps me stay in a focused frame of mind. Whenever I see something interesting I cross reference it with my wish list. This way I buy only things I really like and want.
Vos vadum exsisto patiens quod exspecto a bargain: (You shall be patient and wait for a bargain).
Listen, unless you’re looking for something ridiculously rare, chances are what you search for will be up for sale on ebay. The trick is knowing when to buy so you can get a good bargain. Especially in auctions. The temptation to win an auction for the sake of winning it must be fought. If you see a price increasing anywhere beyond the point where it’s not a bargain anymore, give up and move on. Ebay is a planet wide store. If you are patient the right product for the right price will come along.
Vos vadum officina in shipping sumptus in bulk pretium: (Y ou shall factor in shipping cost into the bulk price). A price tag on ebay can be somewhat deceptive. Shipping costs change depending on where the product is being shipped. My rule is that the total price of the product includes shipping. If I can get the product at a higher cost somewhere else but forego shipping cost, which price is really the best? It seems obvious but it’s easy to overlook hidden costs. Generally sellers include shipping cost on their home page but in the event that it isn’t, contact the seller for details. DO NOT DELETE any communication. If there is a disagreement you can refer to emails sent back and forth to settle a dispute. Which brings me to my final guiding principle.
Vos vadum take vicis studio exigo rating (You shall take the time to study the seller’s rating). If you don’t know already ebay has a clever system for keeping people honest. You see, when you buy a product from a seller you must provide feedback. The same goes for when you sell a product. You must provide feedback on the buyer. Before buying or selling, you can look over other buyers’ and sellers’ feedback. Do they have a high approval rating? If they do what sorts of negative feedback have they gotten in the past? Even if it’s just a few complaints you can get information from them. Are the complaints related to one specific type of problem? Is it serious or minor? I suggest spending as much time as you need to really get to know the person you’re dealing with on ebay.
Yes there are risks involved but if you’re smart and patient you can greatly reduce those risks and have a good shopping experience while saving money. Ebay is not the be all end all for geeks on a budget but it is an excellent money saving tool.
Do you have tips on how to safely shop on ebay? Leave them in the comment section below or discuss it with other users at the Stash My Comic forum.
Jason Newcomb is a frugal Canadian geek who has not been burned on ebay because he didn’t play with fire.