Bidding on eBay is essentially the same as any other auction. You place your bid and can keep on bidding against others until the end of the auction, hoping yours is the winning bid. However, the fact that it’s online means there are a number of differences from in-person auctions that can work either for or against you.

How It Works

Before you can bid, you’ll need to register on eBay, in order to receive an eBay ID. That’s simply done from the home page, and then you can explore and bid on items.
Note that when you do place a bid, you have the option of not simply placing one current bid, but offering a maximum up to which you’ll go on the item. If the current price is, say, £10, and you’re willing to go up to £20, your bid of that maximum will not automatically raise the price that high. Instead (assuming no one else has offered a higher maximum bid) your bid will register at the next highest level, which could be £10.50. If others come in and bid higher, your bid will still register higher unless the price goes above your maximum of £20.

You can keep track of your bidding on items on your “My eBay” page. It’s advisable to check at least once a day, just so you know what’s happening. eBay does send you an e-mail notification when someone outbids you, but it can often take hours to receive. That becomes especially important as an auction nears its close. Quite often people sneak in during the last couple of minutes with a high bid – it’s not only something you need to be aware of, but it’s a technique you can use yourself to snag an item from under someone’s nose. Novice bidders (those with a feedback score of less than 10) often lose out on items this way.

Some Tips

You can retract a bid you’ve made, under certain conditions. If you accidentally bid the wrong amount (£200 instead of £20, for example), then you can retract, but you must enter the correct bid immediately. You’re also able to retract your bid if the seller significantly changes the description of the item after you’ve placed a bid and if you’ve tried every possible method to contact the seller but not received a reply, and the e-mail has been returned as undeliverable. Beyond those situations, your bid constitutes a contract between you and the seller, so bid carefully!

If you have problems after paying for an item you’ve bought, and you paid via Paypal, you’re protected for up to a certain amount. These vary and change so look carefully. Also credit cards offer some protection. Using these methods adds an extra level of security.

If there’s a specific item you’re seeking, you can post to “Want It Now” to try and find it. Unless it’s incredibly obscure, the chances are someone will have it, and be willing to part with it for the right price.

You can also access eBay on your mobile, and receive a text when someone outbids you. You can also search and make bids on items from your phone.