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Completing Your Quest For The Masks
Posted by Gregg on August 8, 2001 at 06:01 AM CST:
Most toy collectors have long known that eBay is THE source for those hard to find items. Newer collectors might not be aware of this great resource for buying and selling so I thought I'd prepare a little Primer on the do's and don'ts, whys and wherefores of eBay.

In today's chapter I'd like to give you a rundown of buying since this will probably be the most common use of eBay.

Signing up for eBay is free and once you have your "User ID" you are ready to start bidding. If you are under 18 years old you will need a parent or guardian to help you.

Once you've got your User ID you're ready to start your online Quest for the Masks! Nearly every page on eBay has a search box, type in "BIONICLE" and you are on your way! On any given day you will see many individual masks available for sale as well as sets and even promotional items you might want to add to your collection. Be prepared and don't get carried away! One of the biggest mistakes that new users can make is to bite off more than they can chew. It's tempting to bid on everything that strikes your fancy and you have to remember that your bid is a binding legal agreement to purchase any item that you win.

You also should be cautious, 99.999% of sellers are friendly and professional sellers but there are always a few bad apples out there who can ruin the fun. Knowing what to look for in a seller can keep you from getting ripped off.

First take a look at the seller's Feedback. Every eBay User ID is followed by a number in parentheses like so:
Makuta (124). This number gives an indication of the user's history and reputation, the higher the number the more experienced they are. It is also a measure of how many positive buy and sell transactions they have completed. Every time you complete a transaction both the buyer and the seller have an opportunity to rate the other person and tell how they were to deal with. If they did everything they should as a bidder and paid in a timely manner the seller would leave them a positive feedback along with comments like " Great bidder! Fast pay and good communication! A+++" . As a bidder when your merchandise arrived, hopefully well packed and in a timely manner you might leave the seller a positive feedback like " Fast safe shipping and friendly e-mail! Would buy from again!". This back and forth feedback is how buyers and sellers report to other potential trade partners what their experience with this particular user was like. It's an invaluable tool in judging the character of your potential seller. There is a lot more to it than just the number, even a seller with a number over 100 can be a bad dealer overall and that is why it is very important to look BEYOND the number.

To do this you should click on the seller's feedback number. This will take you to a more detailed record of all the feedback on record where you will see not just the positive feedbacks but also any negatives they might have. Just as a good buying or selling experience might garner a positive feedback, a bad experience can earn a bidder or seller a negative feedback.

At the top of the feedback record is a table that shows the raw numbers of all three types of feedback, positive, neutral and negative over the course of the last week, last month and last 6 months. If the seller has an excessive number of negative feedbacks you might want to think of buying elsewhere. If they only have one or two you should scroll down through all the feedback comments and read the negative feedbacks to try to judge the cause and who was at fault. In some cases spiteful or unreasonable bidders might leave an unjustified negative feedback, yes there are also unscrupulous bidders!

So you've found a good seller with that last mask you need to finish your Noble mask set off, the price looks low and you're ready to place a bid.

STOP!!!

Did you read the terms of the auction? Each seller is free to determine what types of payment they will accept, whether they will ship overseas or not, and how much shipping will cost. Be sure and look these terms over and make sure they fit with what you are able to do. If the seller only accepts Money Orders and you send a personal check you might be earning a negative feedback.

Did you check where the bidder is located? Nothing worse than bidding on a cool item only to realize later that the seller is in Zimbabwe and that it will take 20 dollars shipping and three months by elephant caravan for you to get your mask!

Everything looks good. The seller is in New Jersey and you are in Cleveland so no problems there. The shipping price is fair and he will accept personal checks or Money Orders. The price is only $1.00 and the high bidder is User ID Makuta (that guy again?) so you decide to place a bid of $2.00. You type in your bid and hit "Review Bid". The page switches to place to enter your User ID and password and once that is done you hit "Place Bid".

And you get a page that tells you that you have been outbid! How did that happen?

This is because eBay uses what is known as a Proxy Bid System. When Makuta placed his bid he entered in the maximum amount he was willing to pay. eBay showed him as the high bidder at 1.00 since that was the minimum bid. If you had paced a bid of $1.50 his higher proxy bid would then take his bid up to match your bid, making his bid $1.50 too.

You are undaunted and determined to wrest the possession of that mask from your nemesis Makuta, so you place another bid, this time at the maximum you are willing to bid for it. You decide $3.50 is as high as you will go so that is what you bid. And Lo and Behold! You are the high bidder at $2.25!

Now later bidders will have to outbid you! If your luck holds the auction will end at the appointed time and you will have won the auction at the $2.25 price. The seller will contact you via e-mail and tell you what your total is with shipping and where to send the money and how they will accept it.

Now is the time where you can earn a positive feedback. Don't wait three days and then mail them the money! Send it the very next day if you can. Obey the terms, if they say money orders only then send them a money order. Most sellers love money orders and will usually ship next day when you use them so it can really speed up your transaction and make your seller happy. The sooner you get the payment out the sooner you will get your item too so get right on it! If they take electronic transfers like Paypal and you have a credit card (or your parental units will agree to do it for you) you can get a free Paypal account and pay them instantly.

If you've done everything right within a week or two you will be happy as you gaze in wonder at the elusive Light Gray KANOHI KOMAU, your seller will be gazing in wonder at the lightning fast payment he received and you'll both have sparkling new positive feedbacks on you eBay records. It's just that simple with a little preparation and a little caution. eBay can be a great source in your Quest, use it wisely and it will serve you well.

If you have any questions about eBay feel free to drop me a line by clicking the mail link at the top of the MASK OF DESTINY homepage.

NEXT CHAPTER: Selling on eBay!



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