This is how you know you have an eBay addiction problem, or at least feed an addiction via eBay:
You go to sleep when you are currently winning bids for five items for which the bidding will close in about two hours, and you think to yourself, “Please, let me not win any of these bids.”
Some preface: I do things by mini-addictions. I find something new to interest me, I throw myself into it, for a couple of weeks I live and breathe that subject, and then I know considerably more on it than could be expected, and then I move on.
So, here’s some description of how eBay captivates you, and how some sellers fail to make use of it. Also, some things to pay attention to.
The way in which eBay really captures you is because very few people do the smart thing; deciding how much you’re willing to pay for the item, bidding that much and walking away. eBay of course helps this by telling you when you’ve been outbid.
Most of us enter an amount we feel comfortable with, then if it doesn’t get accepted, especially if we see the winning bid is less than a full raise higher than our own we’ll outbid that. The thing is, we are so comfortable with making a bid and raising it, that we often go beyond what was our initial comfort zone, and even past what is our “limit”. We are so caught up in the thrill of gambling. Because bidding on eBay is a form of gambling.
See, if you’re a wise seller, and willing to take a bet as well, you start a bid at 0.01$ and without reserve. When things go right, you won’t have two people going back and forth which merely raises the price, but about 5 people who bid and outbid one another. Because once someone bids, their chances of returning are higher, as opposed to when they come to a bid that starts high, or when they come to it and it is already high. BTW, one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen was a seller who had a reserve price and told it to us; the only thing I see it as giving him is people clicking his listing when they search for the item on eBay, because it appears cheap.
Another suggestion if you’re planning to sell on eBay: Sell multiple items. Selling on eBay is a risk, but if you sell an item you know people are looking for, the risk is not that people will not want it, but that not enough people will find your listing, so someone will get it for cheap (potentially even the starting bid). This happens more often if your item has a teeth-shattering name.
The work around is to sell multiple items. The more items you are currently selling, especially if you’re living away from most of your customers (such as if you sell to English speakers and live in Japan), people who are winning one item from you are going to look around and check your other sales, and then they will bid on them.
There’s this thing called “Sniping” on eBay, where people bid seconds before the selling closes, so if they outbid you you are left without an option to outbid them again yourself. I am not against sniping, especially as it is often done by paid services for whom you state your max bid ahead of time and they bid it when there’s about a minute left. What’s wrong with this? The person knows ahead of time what their max-bid is, they stick to it, win or lose, and it stops bidding wars. If everyone used a sniping tool, people would think long and hard how much they’re willing to pay for the item, and they’d win or lose, without succumbing to the gambling mentality.
Besides, if you’re winning, you should be putting as much as you’re willing to put, if someone sniped, you should be thankful that you weren’t pushed to raise the bid beyond what you’re willing to. Thankful!
So now I’ll move some more to myself. And well, eBay’s charms.
Part of eBay’s charm is that it’s all “One time deal!”, you are worried that if you do not bid on something right this instant you’ll never get to see it again – at least, that’s the message whispered at the back of your brain.
Thing is, it’s usually a lie. If you are seeing something new and limited edition, or old and limited edition, you may indeed not see it again, or at least not for a while. If you see something which everyone likes, but is not limited, you will see it again; if not tomorrow, then in a month or three.
You can tell eBay you want to “Save a Search”, and for 6 months you’ll get a daily email with new results matching your query. Note, it won’t tell you when the six months pass…
There’s a problem with those saved searches, one that proves to you how usually what you want can always be found on eBay, a problem exposed when you have about 6 such searches. The problem of the overabundance of desires.
There are so many items on eBay, and so many you will want, that unless you can limit yourself, you will buy yourself out of your entire savings, and then some more. I limit myself first to my money, I don’t buy when I don’t have the money; not coming to me, not promised – money in my pocket. But this is not enough, as I would live with $0 in my bank account forever more if it were so, so I now limit myself per-month, with percentages of my income.
And yeah, “But what if there’s something really really awesome at the end of the month?!” to which the answer is two-fold:
1. There will always be something amazing to buy.
2. I can take money from next month’s bank, but only next month’s. And no, this doesn’t end in endlessly spending next month’s money, because if I have anything pre-ordered, then that means a month without purchases, it happens.
Also, I’m looking for a more lucrative studential job right now, to supplament my income :D
I also have another thing going for me, many sellers just won’t ship to where I live. I can get some friends in the USA to bid for me and then ship it to me, but that lets me think if I really want the item, as it both adds another shipping cost on top, and it cumbersome. Just like using deputy services – they filter the simple ‘want’ from the burning desire.
And then there’s something that arises once you see how eBay can nickel-and-dime you, but which holds true elsewhere. I sometimes want one really expensive figure (like Saber Lily – Distant Avalon, ~$90), but since I’ve wanted that, I got several items which I wanted less, and added up to more than Saber Lily’s price. Because each item is tempting when it’s at 50% off, but sometimes you’d rather pay full price for a figure you want 100% rather than 2 you want 70%.
Of course, the question that now comes up is a different one, with a different answer for each person: Do you prefer 3-4 figures you like OK or one figure you like a lot?
I have a position on the stance, which sometimes comes up when I buy something I really want which is expensive: In years to come, after you pay for this, you won’t care for the price, but just that you have the item.
eBay is dangerous, but the reason it is dangerous is not because it is filled with filth, but because it’s filled with dream shards. And shards have a tendency to cut.
I might try to cut back for the sake of whole dreams. I will judge every purchase not only on its own merit, but also by what it means I’m not buying.