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How to Win at eBay:
Buy It Now
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Buy-it-Now listings work completely differently from anything else on eBay.

Most Buy-it-Now prices are just the seller dreaming, but newly listed (less than an hour old) Buy-it-Now listings are sometimes where deals can be found.

If you see something you want, meaning you've checked out the seller and read the listing, then Buy-it-Now NOW, because it may already be gone before you've finished reading it.

The better the deal, the faster it goes.


Pay-it-Now Buy-it-Now

Sometimes sellers reserve the right to sell the Buy-it-Now item to the first person who pays for it, not the first person to click Buy-it-Now.

When you click Buy-it-Now, you'll see a message as you get to the checkout screens letting you know that if you don't hurry it up, and someone else pays for it first, you lose.

This is good, because it doesn't take items off the market until someone actually can pay for it, but know that after you've successfully clicked Buy-it-Now and the confirmation button, you still haven't necessarily won the item.


Disappearing Buy-it-Now

Some sellers will offer a Buy-it-Now price, as well as accept regular bids.

The Buy-it-Now price usually stays up until someone Buys-it-Now or the listing expires, at the highest conventional bid.

Some few auctions will have the Buy-it-Now price evaporate as soon as the first sucker early-bid comes in. This is annoying: I was in the process of clicking to buy-something-now for $300, and at the same time, some other sucker dropped in a $10 bid. Of course the item sold for full price to someone completely different a week later.


Reverse Auctions

Most Buy-it-Now items are overpriced.

If you look the the Completed Listings from the same seller (or same search criteria), you may see that the same item has sat around as a Buy-it-Now at higher prices the weeks before.

A reverse auction is where a seller offers an item at a very high Buy-it-Now price, hoping a sucker takes the bait.

If not, next week it goes up for less, and lowering the price each week until someone bites.

This is called a reverse auction because the offer price starts high, and drops until it meets what someone is willing to pay, exactly the revere of a real auction.


Falling Buy-it-Now Prices

A seller may remove a Buy-it-Now price any time he likes, or have it go away as soon as the first regular early-bid comes in, and he may also raise or lower the Buy-it-Now price any time he likes. If no one has bought-it-now, it can do just about anything the seller wants.

Buy-it-Now prices usually remain the same throughout the entire auction, but that's just because the seller didn't feel like screwing with it.

I've seen Buy-it-Now prices go up, but much more often, I've seen them come down day-by-day as the seller realizes no one is biting.

This is the same as a reverse auction, except that it happens much faster than relisting the item each week.


Make Offer

If there's a Make Best Offer box, you can send an offer with an expiration date. If the seller accepts, you're obligated to buy it at that price.

You are obligated for about three days if the seller decides to accept the offer, so be careful!

I tried this when I saw a guy guessing at price and running a reverse auction.

The seller can come back with another offer.

In this case, I didn't trust the seller because he was all over the place on price, and was trying to get me to buy into one of those Microsoft scams offering 50% off if you signed up for something.

I wouldn't make any offers again, because you've just obligated yourself for several days. I forget if eBay let me know that I was obligated for several days or not as I made the offer.

On eBay, you never want to obligate yourself to anything for any length of time, in case what you really want shows up.



Fraud turns up on buy-it-nows when the "seller" offers a crazy-low price on something exotic that he doesn't really have, and offers to accept other forms of payment than PayPal. eBay doesn't allow this, so scammers post a graphic with text in it offering that, instead of actually writing it in the listing.

Scam operators play on the fact that most of us, myself included, jump to Buy-it-Now when the price is a steal. You can avoid these by being sure that you pay via PayPal. The scam on which I bit only took money orders. Luckily I noticed a moment after I bought-it-now, and blew it off after eBay let me know it was a scam.

If you pay by PayPal, you won't get scammed because eBay will credit you if you play by the rules with its Buyer Protection. Scammers do everything they can to get you to pay by money order, check, moneygram, Discover, Western Union or whatever, and if you do, that's the last you'll ever see of your money.

If you do see any of these scams, click the Report button, and eBay takes them right down. Scammers put these up as fast as they can, and eBay takes them down as fast as they can.


Next: How to Sell on eBay

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