How to Buy on eBay

Get Started with eBay

  1. The first step in either buying or selling on eBay is setting up an eBay account.  This will include a password.  Select your passwords carefully and copy them to a safe place.
  2.  You must also open a PayPal account.  The PayPal account allows you to purchase an item that you see on eBay.  The PayPal account will require a password, but not the same as your eBay password.  PayPal also requires that you list a credit card for your purchases.

Once you have an eBay account and are able to open it with your password, you can search for your treasures.  With a PayPal account, you can buy what you see.


Most of eBay buying is based on research:
Purpose – Are you buying for your use or as part of a collection?

A. With a collection, you must be specific – the purchase must fit in with the rest of your collection.
B. Buying for your own use allows you to be somewhat flexible.

Search on eBay

Use the Search bar to type in words that describe the product you are looking for. Add more descriptions if the list is long and you want to shorten the list. Browse the products presented by eBay until you find something you might like to buy.

Product Research

  • What is the condition – new, gently used, used, heavily used, for parts only?
  • Read the description – carefully and then read it again. Do you still want it?
  • Look at the pictures – the more pictures the better, look once then look again.
  • How soon do you need it? This week? In a few weeks?
  • Don’t overspend – Keep track of your spending
  • Research what is the listing price of similar items that have been sold
    • What was their condition?
    • What was their list price and their selling price?
  • Research the sellers report card
    • Does he sell alot ?
    • Any negative reviews?
    • How long has he been selling?
    • Is he a generalist (sells anything) or is he a specialist (sells only certain items)?
  • Shipping What is the shipping charge – add this into the price of the item.

    • Is the price still reasonable?

    • Can you purchase the item in a store for the total price?

    • How long is the shipping time – when do you want it? Are you willing to wait?

Making your Purchase

You have a few options for the purchase:


eBay sellers who have only one item of a kind to sell will often allow prospective customers to bid on an item. A time frame is established for the bidding so you know when the bidding is going to be over. The highest price wins the bid. Make your offer and follow the bid history,  If you Bid  you should follow the auction to make sure someone else doesn’t top your bid especially as the bidding deadline approaches.. Buyers who are competing for an item may put in last minute bids just slightly over your bid.

Buy it Now:

If a seller has many of the same item to sell, the seller may just offer a Buy It Now offer. You can Buy It Now and pay immediately. There is no need to wait for the bidding deadline to end.

The seller can also use a Buy it now option at the start of the sale.  The pricing is usually 30%+ higher that the opening bid and once a bid is made the Buy It Now option disappears.

Best Offer:

If the seller offers a Best Offer option, you can use it, but usually the discount is 5% to 10%.  The down side to a Best Offer is that the seller has up to 48+ hours to decide and while he is deciding, someone else can come along and buy it from under you.

Closing the sale

Once you win the sale, eBay will advise you that you won and that you must pay for the item.    Go to PayPal and make the payment.  Keep track of your spending.


How to deal with Problems with your delivery or your product.

  1. Contact the seller through the eBay interface. eBay’s email system does not disclose your personal email address nor that of the seller. Your email is tracked by eBay so they know you have contacted the seller. You can also enclose pictures using eBay’s email system.
  2. If the seller is not resonable or your are dissatisfied, you can complain to eBay.
    • You do not have to deal with the seller, contact eBay.
    • eBay will intervene and/or refund if there is a problem with the sale.
    • Notify eBay if you do not receive your item in the time stated by the seller.
    • Notify eBay if the product you received is not as described
  3. You may or may not have to return the product you purchased. Some sellers will allow you to keep the product and just issue a refund.

Rate the transaction through eBay feedback.

eBay has a system to gather feedback from customers on the performance of the seller and the quality of the product you purchased.

  1. Rate the seller using the eBay rating system. This way bad sellers will get poor reviews and others won’t buy from them.

Best Practices

  1. Never send checks, money orders or cash. Deal through eBay and PayPal.
  2. Refuse requests to deal outside of eBay.

The content of post was generously provided by Jerry Murphy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.