eBAY Hints

Okay, so you've heard about eBAY, probably even looked around at the auctions there, maybe even bid on one or two. I've bid on several hundred tools, have bought dozens of tools at eBAY and even sold a couple. So I have some experience. Let me offer you my thoughts and opinions on eBAY.

eBAY is a great place....
...it's a great place to get ripped-off (thankfully I'm not speaking from experience, but I've seen people do dumb things)
...it's a great place to place to get a good deal or get that hard to find item.

It all depends on how much research you do. So make sure you:

    Know the product (is it brand-new, reconditioned, used, damaged, etc)
    Know the street price (most buyers at eBAY don't realize that you can get items cheaper elsewhere on the internet)
    Know the shipping cost (Amazon.com charges $5 to ship a 500lb machine, on eBAY it may cost you $200 to ship)
    Know the seller (use the feedback feature to get an idea of how many transactions the seller has completed. Email the seller to ask questions)
    Know your limit (don't get caught up in the auction, set a maximun price in your head and don't exceed it)

You won't see the true auction price until about 2-3 hours before auction ends. You'll think you're getting a deal with only a couple of people bidding in the first 9 days of an auction and then right at the end everyone else will bid and you'll be AMAZED at how high the price will go. There are eBAY buyers who wait until about 5-10 seconds before the auction ends to make their bid, knowing no one else will have time to counter their bid.

I've seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of cases where people spend more at eBAY that they could have bought the same item new elsewhere on the internet. In some cases they're buying used tools, other times they're buying brand new tools, but more often than not I know where they could have bought it cheaper. So Buyer Beware!

Shipping can kill you, so be careful and get shipping costs (in writing) BEFORE you bid. You may find that you can get a tool at Amazon.com for $300 tool plus $5 for shipping shipping, and I've seen dozens of cases where people buy that very same item at eBAY for anywhere between $290 and $330 and then have to pay $40 shipping. I sold a used drill press for $225 to a guy who didn't understand that he had to pay for shipping, and when he learned that it would cost over $125 to ship it from GA to TX, backed out of the deal. I wasn't going to force him to spend more on a used machine than he could buy it for new, so I sold it to the next highest bidder who was local and able to pick it up.

Most tools, especially larger heavy ones, and newer ones (as opposed to old ancient machines that need lots of restoration) sell for a lot of money (too much) on EBAY. Old machines that need work, and especially parts like motors, etc can be bought for good deals. Those are the items that I've won, in general.

Finally, the majority of auctions on eBAY are by professionals, not ordinary joe's like you or I, but either pawnshop owners selling used equipment or a business that sells new stuff, either reconditioned or brand-new items. Make sure you understand what you are buying, and remember that not everyone is as honest as you and I. I've seen cases where sellers say "NEW" and upon questioning will admit that they used it only an hour or two. Other's say "New in Box" but the box may have been damaged in shipping, or was left out in the rain, etc.

I've bought about half a dozen electric motors, including Dayton, Leeson or Baldor, from ½-HP up to 2-HP for between $16 and $100. I've bought machine parts like a 12" steel sanding disk from a large combination Delta sanding machine. I spent weeks and months watching similar auctions sell at eBAY to understand what they are selling for.

EBAY can be a great place, just becareful.

Hope this helps.

© 2008 Mark Goodall