Techies like to call ebay an 'online marketplace'. To me it's more like a massive online auction. If you want to sell, say, a gramophone, you put in all the details, maybe set a reserve price and say how long you want the auction to go on for. You can also say how you want payment (eg cash, cheque, electronic transfer …) and if you're willing to post it or if it needs picking up.
Then anyone else can come along and bid for your gramophone. At the end of the auction, whoever bid the most wins as long as they bid your reserve price or more. If no-one bid as high as the reserve price, you can choose whether to sell it to the highest bidder or not. There's one clever bit: When you bid, if the current highest bid is, say, £ 25, you might only want to bid £ 26. After all, there's no point in paying £ 50 if you could have gotten it for £ 26. But then someone else might bid £ 30 at the last moment – and you'd have happily paid £ 31 to get it. But if they left it to the last minute you would not have time!
To get around that problem, when you bid you put in your maximum bid – the most you're willing to pay. So if the gramophone was at £ 25 and I was willing to pay up to £ 50, I'd put in £ 50. eBay would put the bid in at £ 26 and I'd be in the lead. If someone else put in (say) £ 30, eBay would automatically put in £ 31 for me. If your bid is the highest, you win. But you might not have to pay as much as your maximum bid, if everyone else put in a much lower bid. Then once you've sold your gramophone you get the payment, post the gramophone (or wait for them to come and pick it up) and you're done. If you're interested, here's what to do:
- Go to the eBay website *
- Click on Register.
- You need to tell them your name, address and email address (they will not let you sell things without knowing who you are – to avoid any dodgy business)
- You'll need to choose a UserID – usually your name and a number. Eg CharleyBoy1664. You might be able to use just your name but chances are someone else is already using it. If the one you choose is already taken, eBay will make some suggestions of similar ones that are still available.
- Choose a password – so no-one else can pretend to be you. If I was you I'd write it down – somewhere safe.
- eBay will email you to confirm and you click a link to prove it really is you.
- If you want to buy on eBay – you can go ahead. If you want to sell, you have to set up a PayPal account, so you can take electronic payments. Go to www.paypal.co.uk and click on 'sign up' then go through much the same process with them. You then need to tell eBay about your PayPal account – go to the eBay website, put in your username and password to log in and click on "link my PayPal account".
- All that is much easier than it sounds, I promise! Just go through it one step at a time.
- Then to sell something, click on "sell" on the eBay site.
- eBay will ask you a series of questions – what the thing you want to sell is, whether it's new or second hand and so on. Once you've answered them, it's done – your gramophone, carved wooden ostrich or telephone box is for sale.
* the eBay website is www.eBay.co.uk for the UK – the dot com version is US based.
A couple more tips:
- Keep checking your emails in case someone wants to ask a question before they bid.
- If you have several things to sell, start with a really cheap one. It'll help you get a better price for the others if you're known to be trustworthy. Also if you do make any mistakes so you do not get as much as you should, it'll only be on something cheap!
Give it a try – you can always start with something only costing a pound or so to try it out, so you do not have to risk lots! You can buy on eBay as well – and if you look around you can find some bargains (even things you would normally get at the supermarket). Maybe worth spending a few minutes looking around – go to the eBay website and click on 'buy' to have a look at all the different types of things you can find. Everything from razor blades to cars. I know that's just a quick overview – eBay is not difficult to use but there are a lot of ways you can use it so I've had to stick to the basics here.