Lately, auction houses have joined the ranks of the hottest places to pick up bargains or unusual items on the Net. Not only are online auction houses great places to pick up new and used merchandise ”and especially hard-to-find collectibles ”but the bidding process can be a lot of fun, too. eBay, at www.ebay.com (see Figure 15.10), might be the most popular online auction house now, but there others, including the following:
Figure 15.10. eBay, a popular online auction house.
Also, you'll often see links to auctions on retail sites. You can bid on an item you might otherwise buy outright , and maybe save a bundle.
How Online Auction Houses Work
Although you can usually view the items up for auction without registering, you typically must register with the auction house ”a quick process of filling in an online form ”to bid on items or to sell an item. Once registered, you can use the search tools or categories on the auction house's page to browse for items to bid on. Note that most auctions go on for several days, and some go on for a week, so it's not necessary to sit in front of your computer for hours to join in the fun.
The auction house usually has no role in the actual financial transaction between seller and buyer, so a secure page is not really necessary. Typically, if you win an auction, the auction house emails both you and the seller to notify you about the win and to give you each other's contact info . After that, you and the seller have a set period of time in which to contact each other to arrange payment and shipping. Many sellers who use these auction houses are commercial merchants who can accept payment by credit card via email or telephone. Some individual sellers might require that you pay by money order or personal check.
eBay features a Feedback forum (see Figure 15.11) where buyers and sellers can post positive and negative comments about their experiences with each other. Before buying, you can always check out the comments others have made about the seller to determine whether that seller is a safe person to do business with.
Figure 15.11. Some auction houses have feedback forums so you can see what others have to say about a person before you do business with that person.
If you want to try, here are a few important tips:
If you're interested in trying to sell something online, here are a few quick tips:
Using a Payment Service
Online payment services like PayPal (www.paypal.com) and Billpoint (www.billpoint.com) offer secure transactions that can allow you to send or receive a payment instantly. All you have to do is set up an account at one of the services, and you can start using it to buy and sell.
The payments are processed rapidly , and the security of the transaction allows the merchandise to change hands more quickly.