Buying and Selling Online: A Guide to eBay for Seniors

EBay has been helping people around the world buy and sell hundreds of millions of items since 1995 – making it even older than some of our grandchildren!

Originally created as an online alternative to a car-boot sale, eBay still uses the same mechanisms that it did when it was first created. Users can bid on items in an auction style or (if the seller allows) they can ‘Buy It Now’ and pay straight away. Whether you want to use eBay to make little extra cash from your old knick-knacks or buy something new, our quick guide will help you get started.

Getting Started on eBay

You will first need to set up a personal eBay account using your email address. EBay won’t share any of your personal information without your consent without your permission, so you can be safe in the knowledge that your details are being held securely. Once you have entered all of your details you’ll be asked to create a user ID that will be unique to your account. Make it something memorable, or if you are joining to sell items choose a user ID that is relevant to the items you’ll be selling.

Our top tip - eBay now has its own in-house payment system called PayPal, which many of us will already be using regularly to pay for items online. PayPal provides another level of protection to eBay purchases – if the item you purchased doesn’t arrive or isn’t in the condition that the seller has listed then you can use PayPal as a mediator to claim back the money you have spent. EBay also offers a Money Back Guarantee which applies to the vast majority of transactions on the site (motor vehicles and properties are exempt) if you do not get your item as originally described in the listing.

Buying on eBay

You can shop for almost anything on eBay! First, search for the item you are looking for by typing it in to the search box at the top of the page. EBay also has useful categories to help you locate the right item. 

Once you’ve found an item that matches your description you should carefully read the description to see if there are any flaws or issues before you buy. If the description doesn’t answer all of your queries you can click ‘Ask Seller a Question’ and submit a private message for the seller with your questions. It’s important to review the seller’s feedback before buying. All users who have a transaction history with the seller will be asked to leave a review and a rating for them. The higher the rating, the better the seller! You can also see how many transactions they have been part of by hovering your mouse over the coloured star next to their username.

If you decide you are happy with the item and the seller you can proceed to place a bid or ‘Buy It Now’. Buying now will take you straight to payment as the item is now yours or you can enter a bi. We recommend entering a lower bid at first and then waiting to near the end of the auction before entering your maximum bid. You can see how long is left on the bidding on the item listing on the brightly coloured countdown clock, use this to help you decide when to place your bid! Remember – if you win the bidding or click ‘Buy it Now’ you are obliged to pay for the item.

Once you’ve won, you must send payment to the seller within 3 days. We’d advise paying instantly to gain good feedback from the seller – both buyers and sellers have feedback scores! You can pay via any method that the seller accepts but PayPal is advisable.

Selling on eBay

Before you start listing your unwanted items for sale it’s a smart idea to do some research. Take a look at what other users are selling similar items for and how they have set up the listing and the category that they have place it in to. Find out how much it would be to post the item to ensure you are charging a fair amount for postage. EBay users will appreciate knowing in advance how much extra they will need to cough up to get the item delivered.

Upload a few photographs of the item, be sure to take them in daylight so that the item looks true to real life. Bright flashes or dark rooms won’t show off your item to its full potential! When writing a description, think about the kinds of questions you would like answered about the item, include any flaws or quirks and be as honest as possible. Once you’ve entered all of the details you can choose whether you’d like to auction the item or list it so it can be instantly bought, specify an automatic payment method for your seller feeds and choose how you’d like to be paid.

Once the buyer has paid, pack the item well and dispatch it promptly to ensure you get great feedback from your buyer! You should then leave them feedback in turn to inform other sellers about your experience.

If you need any help with the buying or selling process, eBay has a comprehensive Help section that has guides on bidding, buying, and even on researching the best details for your own listings.

Are you an eBay user yourself? We’d love to hear about your experiences! Tweet us @ChurchillRL or leave a comment on our Facebook page

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