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Interested in learning how to use eBay?

How many times have we heard friends and family say they bought or sold something on eBay – stories of people making tidy sums of money by selling unused items found in and around their homes, while others claim that there is an abundance of great deals just waiting to be found?

Some regular eBay buyers and sellers make a living off their earnings. Words like “PayPal,” “auction bidding,” “reserve,” “Buy it Now” and even “eBay” itself can be intimidating to first-time users.

What exactly is eBay? It is an American auction and shopping Web site where people and businesses buy and sell goods and services worldwide. These items can be new or used.

eBay Inc. also owns PayPal, a protected Web site that enables buyers and businesses to send and receive money online.

Buying and selling on eBay is actually a breeze. Recently I made my first large purchase on the site: a 1936 Ford Coupe.

After asking the seller numerous questions, my husband decided this was the car for him. I have to admit, clicking “Place Bid” made me a bit nervous, but the end result was positive.

I will say that when the car arrived and was taken off the car carrier I was a bit stunned to see that it was exactly as described by the seller. Not bad for my first purchase.

To get started, all one needs to do is register to become an eBay member. The next step is to sign up for PayPal.

PayPal is a free service that protects your credit card and banking information. It’s fast, easy to use, private and secure. PayPal’s buyer protection for a qualified listing on eBay provides free coverage up to $2,000.

Registering for these sites is quick and easy.

If you ever have questions or get stuck on something you can go to eBay University Learning Center, which is found in the upper righthand corner. The easy-to-understand tutorials found at the center guide you every step of the way and answer many questions.

Now you are ready to buy and sell on eBay.

Before starting your eBay experience, research items to be purchased or sold. By thoroughly researching items, you can determine what price you would expect to sell an item for.

Use the search box at the top of an eBay page to locate an item. In the case of a purchase you can compare prices and find the best deal.

Do multiple searches using keywords describing the item. When the item is located, all matches will be shown. These items can be new or used, depending on preference.

To sell items, make sure photos are good quality and completely describe the item in detail. Be as honest and as thorough as possible because your buyers will rate your service and item at the end of their transaction.

Also, verify and check shipping costs prior to bidding or purchase. There’s nothing worse than paying more for shipping that the item itself.

When clicking on the item you are interested in, the “description” page will appear, giving all details and information on the item, current bid and time left to bid.

This section also provides the seller information and seller feedback score. The higher the feedback score means a high number of successful transactions.

If you have questions about the item, click “Ask seller a question,” which allows you to directly e-mail the seller.

Shipping, payment details and return policy follows this section.

There are several ways to purchase items; members can either submit bids or use the “Buy it Now” feature.

All bids are binding contracts. Items with “Buy it Now” can be purchased for the seller’s fixed price. This option is not available as soon as the first bid is placed unless there is a reserve (a seller’s minimum price) that hasn’t been met.

If you are the winner of the bid you will receive a notification that will state, “Congrats, you just bought this item.”

Notification and checkout through PayPal completes your eBay purchase.

The last step is to leave feedback on your sale or purchase so other members will have an accurate account of your dealings with the seller (or buyer).

My nephew buys PlayStation2, PlayStation3 and Xbox games on a regular basis for less than half the retail price. When he is done with them he takes them into GameStop and gets credit toward another game. Sometimes the credit is more than what he paid for the game.

A friend of mine periodically goes through her children’s toys, books and clothes. She looks up similar items and determines a price. Included in her price is shipping, which can be calculated by using the shipping chart.

She usually makes back around 50 percent of the money she spent buying the items – considerably more than selling them at a garage sale.

eBay also has eBay motors, where vehicles, boats, parts and accessories can be purchased.

eBay express offers fixed-price items from merchants and eBay stores feature retail merchandisers offering discounted shipping, specials and large selection of items.

Have fun buying and selling on eBay!

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