From the Kenosha News on 7-31-05

     Get started on Ebay as a buyer

     If you haven't tried Ebay yet, it may be time to try this on-line flea market experience. If you like looking for bargains or have an entrepreneurial spirit, you'll enjoy Ebay. I recommend that "newbies" (new users) start as buyers before trying the role of seller. First, create an Ebay user ID by pointing your internet browser to www.ebay.com. Click on the "register" link at the top of the page. Fill out the requested information, including a user id of your own choosing. You need to enter a valid e-mail address, but no credit card is required since there is no cost to be a buyer. Now search Ebay for the things you want to buy. For example, I am looking for a video called "The Park is Mine." In the search box on the Ebay home page, I type "Park mine." (There's no point to putting in words like "the.") I click on an item that looks like the video I want. Here are some things to look for:
  1.      Minimum bid. In my case, it's $5, but I decide to bid $6, because I'm willing to pay that much. Ebay will automatically place the lowest possible bid and then continue to bid for you up to your maximum bid. It's called a "proxy." So, if I were willing to pay up to $10, I would bid $10, but if the other bidders stopped bidding at $7, then I'd get it for $7.25 or so. Use Ebay's on-line Help to learn about this.
  2.      Shipping cost. Sometimes, shipping makes buying an item from Ebay more expensive than buying it at a local store. Read carefully. In my case, the shipping cost is $3.75, which means my $5 DVD will cost a total of $8.75.
  3.      Accepted forms of payment. In this case, the buyer wants "a certified check or money order, a personal check, or well concealed cash." This is a great way for newbies to pay. A postal money order will cost you less than $1, and I've sent a $5 bill in a security envelope before and had it arrive just fine. While it isn't necessary to set up a PayPal account, which allows you to pay on-line with a credit card, it makes it much easier to participate in auctions. Some auctions will only accept PayPal payments. There is no cost for a buyer to set up or pay with a PayPal account.
  4.      Is the merchandise really what you think it is? Read carefully. Sometimes, the items are broken! Sometimes, they're selling the handbook and not the actual item. If the price looks incredibly low, there's probably a reason.
  5.      The seller's rating. All Ebay users have a number after their ID. This is their rating, and it indicates how many successful transactions they've completed. You can even see individual "feedback" from previous buyers. When you complete your transactions properly, you'll get feedback from the sellers you buy from, and this will give you a good reputation if you become a seller later on.

     There's even more to learn, but the information above is enough to get started.

     By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 7-31-05