Friday, 4 November 2011

Bidding on the Bay

Photo by Porbital at

Trips into  big conurbations like Exeter, Torbay or Plymouth are rarities for me these days.  In saying this I know I'll be raising a titter from those confirmed urbanites who view these, the most populous places in Devon,  like large villages compared to their own massive home towns.  Because the range of shops in smaller towns are more limited, I've become much more reliant on postal shopping since my move to the country.  And those wheelers and dealers on Ebay have certainly been amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the contents of the Lovelygrey purse.

Now, not everything on Ebay is a super cheap  As auction sites go you're looking at the most favourable seller's market in the world.  If something is ├╝ber desirable then many people are going to be scrapping around trying to get their mitts on it.   So they'll be no i-Phone 4s or Faberge eggs at ridiculously low prices.  The likelihood is that  popular items will be sold over the odds to a bidder with more money than sense.  But here's are my ten top tips for using this wonderful resource sensibly and maybe, getting some bargains to boot.

  • Shop around.  It's easy to get carried away with the format but other places could be cheaper.  Look to online and high street shops for cheaper deals on new goods.  You'll almost certainly buy that prized antique cheaper at an auction house because there won't be so many potential buyers who are aware of what's on sale.
  • More bidders are on line in the evenings and I recall from somewhere that Sunday is the most popular day.   There's often less competitive bidding on auctions that end in the wee small hours or the daytime. 
  • Too busy to sit around at the computer to catch those items where the auction ends at times when you're busy?  Use a sniping tool to place bids ahead of time on your behalf.  I've been using the free service,  bidding scheduler with a lot of success for some time.
  • Don't forget those 'hidden costs'.  Postal charges and duty on items shipped from overseas may increase the price of goods to levels where they don't seem like bargains after all.  Gen up on the implications of buying from a certain country before placing a bid
  • Conversely some things from overseas work out cheaper overall because people are more reluctant to bid on items listed internationally.
  • There are real savings to be had when items are marked 'Pick up Only'.  This often applies to furniture and heavier goods.  Don't let the fact that the table you've fallen in love with is in deepest darkest Cornwall when you live in Manchester.  You can always arrange for a courier service to collect the item and deliver it to you.
  • Save searches for more obscure items that you're after so that you're notified by email when they're available for sale.
  • Recreate that charity shop experience by setting filters on a search, say for items of clothing.  Sort by 'ending soonest' and put in a price limit of £1 on items listed and see what comes up!
  • Just as in traditional shops if you buy unseasonally there a better likelihood that you'll bag a bargain.  Down jackets during a heatwave, swimming costumes at Christmas, toys at any time of the year other than Christmas etc etc.
  • Tick that box that says 'include descriptions' when you search to sneakily  find items that other people performing searches on just the titles of listings may miss!


  1. Great tips there. Hubby uses Ebay a lot & learned from an early mistake - having to drive a long way to pick up a Kayack !
    I bought a Sari for a themed evening event but that's all.

    If I start browsing I may never get off the computer !

  2. OOPs, I meant to say that I was born in Exeter though we didn't live there long. I love Devon & don't visit nearly enough.

  3. Good advice, but I really can't bring myself to shop on the bay again. I tried it two or three times, I sent money to Germany for a book and had to fight to get the book. I bought some flower pots and the seller would not itemise the bill, I wanted to know the price of each pot, he was a trader so should have known.

    One good experience, I sent a seller a cheque for a book, and received it two days later.

    Don't even mention Paypal, they took money out of my account without authorisation and I had a job to close it.

    It bugs me when people say they have won something, no they didn't they bought it. It works for a lot of people, must do, there are millions using the site, but I won't bother again.

  4. It's weird isn't it. I've been using the Bay for years and only ever had one difficult transaction. But I have had the experience where it seems that every transaction that I've had with a certain company or person seemed to be affected by gremlins. For example, I had to use a certain dealership to service one of my lease cars and had anxiety attacks every time I had to contact them - and for good reason! x