eBay can be a great place to find fabulous deals--if you prepare yourself with some much-needed information and background. Here are a few ideas that I try to keep in mind when I'm buying on eBay.
1. Know precisely what you're looking for
With the thousands of items available on eBay, the more specific you can be, the better.
2. Be familiar with retail prices
You don't want to be paying anywhere near retail, but knowing what an item sells for will help you decide what's reasonable for you to pay.
3. Search completed items
Check the lowest recent prices for your item--if you hang around for a while, you'll probably find another one for a similar price.
4. Set your budget--and stick to it
This point goes without saying, but it's easy to get wishy-washy when you're actually looking at the item you'd love to have. :-)
5. Be patient
If you're willing to wait, you can often find what you want at the price you want. Not being in a hurry will give you a huge advantage.
6. Watch for auctions ending at slow times
People like to bid on auctions they can watch at the end. Find auctions that end early in the morning or other times when there aren't as many people online, and you may just nab a deal. Better yet, if you don't have a life, look for auctions ending on Thanksgiving or Christmas and bid at the end of those. :-) Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is another time when huge numbers of people tend to be looking elsewhere for deals.
7. Don't get emotionally involved
This one goes with sticking to your budget--it's easy to let the "auction emotions" push you to bid higher than you really intend to. Bid and leave it alone. :-)
8. Bid toward the end of the auction
For some reason, people often seem more likely to bid on items that someone else has bid on--or to increase their maximum bid if they see that someone else has bid on their item. (At the same time, don't wait too long to bid, especially if you have a slow internet connection.)
And a couple of bonus tips to make your eBaying more successful...
1. Pay promptly
The seller will appreciate it and will also ship your item sooner if you've actually paid for it.
2. Leave feedback after the transaction is complete
This is really just eBay "community service," but it helps to insure buyer safety and protection from fraud.