So far I have only purchased items (never sold) on Ebay, and so far I have had only good experiences. Your mileage may, of course, vary. As you can see above, I have listed an online sniping service. I have just begun to use this (after having had items sniped out from under me one too many times). So far it has worked well. All of the action in Ebay auctions takes place in the last minute, probably the last 10 seconds.

Ebay is in denial about this being an issue, and they believe that their automatic bidding feature solves the problem. Clearly they are wrong, as indicated by the proliferation of services like this, and the fact that people like me have been frustrated by having been sniped on numerous occasions. What I believe is true is that Ebay is really catering to the seller, who is paying the bills after all.

One advantage to sniping is that it lets you set your price in advance, then go away and forget about it and not get caught up in a bidding frenzy.

Buying tips

Note that I am encouraging the use of a credit card. You have essentially no recourse when an EFT transfer takes place to paypal, whereas a credit card company gives you lots of leverage when you tell them you have been ripped off. Note that Paypal really really tries to force you to do bank transfers. This is good for them I presume because it gets rid of some charges they have to pay credit card companies. However it is very bad for you if things go wrong.

Also note that as of 7/2013 you have only 45 days to dispute a paypal transaction. This is fine in most cases, but I found myself in trouble with one situation where a fellow was making a custom item for me, made many delays, and then I found myself wanting to dispute charges after 45 days had gone buy. I was too much of a nice guy --- don't be!

I discourage buying from "liquidators". I have simply had too many bad experiences. The game definitely seems to be to sell defective items and hope that you either will not carefully test them or no want to bother to return them. A description will describe a minor dent and you will receive a useless item. An item will be described as "removed from working system" and you receive a broken device that turns lights on when plugged in. I have had enough of this kind of thing.

Note also that I urge caution about buying from overseas sellers. The main thing is to think about it hard. I buy a lot of small things that ship direct out of China and have had no problems. I have even purchased a fairly expensive item direct from China, and although I sweated quite a bit, it worked out just fine.

Here is an example of a purchase that went kinda bad.


There are some horror stories about Paypal. Here is one. Many people are suspicious of Paypal, and maybe they have a point. I have had not problems with Paypal as a buyer. Most of my transactions are for low dollar items where it really won't be a big deal if I get burned (though I still keep my eyes open). The few purchases I have made for what I would call serious money, I really scrutinize the buyer.
Have any comments? Questions? Drop me a line!

Adventures in Computing / tom@mmto.org