How to use Ebay, or “Cry me a river”

I’m not an Ebay guru, but I do use the online auction site from time to time. Over the seven years I’ve been a member, I’ve purchased roughly 30 items, and sold about 10.

There are people who don’t know how to use Ebay but try anyway. It didn’t take me long at all to see the strategy in bidding on items you really want. That strategy is very simple: Don’t bid until the very end of the auction. If you bid, which many people do, days before the end-time of an item the price is much more likely to go much higher than it needs to.

This happened to me yesterday. I know, I know, cry me a river, right. I’ve been looking at used kilns for four years now, but haven’t been able to find one that fits my budget. Kilns on Ebay are more complicated than most items to begin with, since most sellers won’t ship them on account of weight. This particular kiln was just what I needed to start out with, and the seller was willing to ship it.

Of course, the winner of this particular auction still got a great deal. The winning bid was $285, which equates to about $150 more than I wanted to spend when you include shipping. New comparable models of this kiln run about $800, including a few more modern bells and whistles.

Why is it, though, that I feel like so many Ebay users don’t know to wait until the end of the action to get the best deal? Are people using Ebay just to buy stuff in general? If so, why bother; why not just get yourself a new item with a warranty and some assurance the thing will arrive in working order? I find this to be particularly true of computers — especially Apple computers — and other electronics. When buying my Nikon D50 last year, I got a better deal from a dealer on a refurbished model than I would have on Ebay. People were bidding more for the same thing, often the same used thing without a warranty.

Good for Ebay and the sellers, bad for those of us who consider finding a deal inherent in the word “auction.”


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

One Response to How to use Ebay, or “Cry me a river”

  1. Pingback: I bought a kiln « The Aesthetic Elevator

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