Auctions & Resale Tips

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How can I tell if I am being overcharged for postage?

Calculate Postage

If you are buying from an online auction, make sure you are not being heavily overcharged for postage.

Ask the seller for the approximate weight of the item and where they are shipping from (if not already listed).

Go to and click on calculate postage. Follow the instructions and add on the appropriate services (such as delivery confirmation or insurance). Compare your result to what the seller is advertising.

If they advertise shipping via UPS go to this site:

If it's substantially higher you may want to consider bidding on another auction.

What do I need to know when buying from Ebay?

Be Courteous

When buying from a seller on Ebay always remember to be courteous.

*Ask your questions before you make your bid.
*Contact the seller promptly to work on payment arrangements.
*Notify the seller when you receive your item and the condition it was received in.
*Leave appropriate feedback.

What do I need to know when buying from Ebay?

Ask the Seller

If you are not certain about an item you like on Ebay, e-mail the seller. You always want to make certain you understand EXACTLY what you are buying before you bid on it. By bidding on an item you are agreeing to accept the item as described and agree to the terms of payment.

What do I need to know when buying from Ebay?

Always Do Your Homework

ALWAYS do your homework before you bid on an item.

You need to know ahead of time:
the usual retail price
the model number
the product features
the quality of the item
any recalls

Look at other completed items on ebay to see what price the same item has sold for. Look at the manufacturer's website for product information. Look at the CSPC (Consumer Safety Product Commission) website at to make sure the product you intend to buy is not recalled.

How can I protect myself when buying from a garage sale board?

Do Your Research

You CAN get a good buy online by visiting different "garage sale" boards on the Internet.

Buyer beware though when doing this. Not everyone follows through on their end of the deal. Remember the saying "if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is".

Some way to protect yourself:

Ask for references. If it's a board you frequent ask for usernames and follow through on e-mailing them to inquire about prior deals.

If they just joined the board within the past few days either be extra cautious or avoid transactions.

If they have just joined AND have a free e-mail address like "Hotmail" definitely avoid.

Be wary of purchasing from someone who is not "verified" on Paypal (when paying via Paypal). Even though there are many "personal members" who prefer not to go through this process for privacy reasons, you have no recourse through Paypal if the seller is not verified and the deal goes sour.

Know your prices before agreeing to a deal.

Ask about the specific condition of the product.

Ask about shipping costs..$1 for a box of haircolor is a great deal, but when the postal costs are $3 it's not so great afterall.

Don't be afraid to ask if they have anything else they would like to sell. Maybe you can get additional things and not have to pay too much more in postage.

Buying online can be fun and rewarding, just be aware and take the steps necessary to ensure a great trade.

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Guru Spotlight
Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.