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How to Use Online Auctions and Not Get Burned

Online auctions can be a great way to find bargains, but there are always risks when buying items on online auction sites. Safely buying and selling on online auction sites like eBay can be a great way to save or even make money. This is a guide about how to use online auctions and not get burned.


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5 found this helpful
September 29, 2014

Penny auctions, you have probably seen banner ads in your browser and even commercials on TV. The auction prices sound too good to be true. That is because they are! It is a scam that could cost you more than buying the item directly.

Penny auction sites, including QuiBids, Beezid, Deal Dash, and others, advertise that you can purchase items for pennies on the dollar. For example, you could get a $500 Apple iPad for as little as $50. WOW! That sounds like a great deal.

When you sign up for your "Free" account, they give you a nominal amount of bids for free. You have to purchase the rest. Bids are bought in bundles and, of course, if you spend more, the bids will cost a little less. The introductory offer is usually about $.60 a bid.

After you have purchased your bids, you can go try to win your iPad. The bidding starts at $0.01, but you will only see that price when an item is first posted. Each time you bid, it costs you a bid token and the price goes up $.01. So if they sell an iPad for $50.01(+shipping and handling), then there were 5000 bids on that item. Let's assume the average user paid $.50 per bid. The penny auction site just pocketed $2,550. That's the penny auction scam.

"Yeah, but somebody got that iPad for $50!", you say. Sure, but how many bids did that person use up to get there? How many hours did they spend waiting for that specific item to close, only to not win it and have to start all over? What are the chances that you will be the one to have the last bid when the price seems so rock bottom for the item offered? The probability is very, very low. Add to this the confusing and distracting way the items are presented on penny auctions sites, it is hard to focus on only bidding on one item. If you fall into the trap of bidding on more than one item, it becomes much more difficult to know exactly how you have spent on that item.

Let's say you spent $100 on 200 bids at $.50 per bid. For an item with 5000 bids, that's only 4% of the bids. So AT BEST, you have a 4% chance of winning the item. Better odds than Vegas perhaps, but like a casino, penny auction sites don't stay in business by giving money away.

So, you might get lucky and win an item for a good price, but you are going to spend a lot of time and money to do it. It is more likely that you will throw money towards an auction and never win that iPad. The penny auction site makes money no matter what.

Comment Was this helpful? 5
August 28, 20160 found this helpful

We went to that site and ended up having to have viruses and malware removed...bad sites

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3 found this helpful
July 14, 2011

I have been lucky enough to get some wonderful bargains on eBay. The thing that I tell people who are new to the auction site is make sure you know the value of what you're bidding on!

When my daughters were younger, I loved to dress them in very traditional smocked dresses which were definitely out of my price range. However, by researching online the names and prices of clothing brands I knew to be reputable, I was able to decide if an eBay listing was worth going after money-wise.

I also loved to have my girls in long wool church coats in the winter and was able to do so thanks to eBay. I had one beautiful plaid Rothschild wool coat that was older or "vintage" that was in wonderful shape and always inspired positive comments, and I only paid fifteen dollars for it on eBay!


Other things to be aware of are shipping costs, bidding wars (don't get sucked in to one of those!), and the seller's feedback rating. With a little research and planning, I think eBay can be a wonderful way to stretch your budget!

By Kristen from Grand Rapids, MI

Comment Was this helpful? 3
July 14, 20110 found this helpful

My son who is an astute ebayer told me to wait till the last few seconds of a bid and do it very quickly. I have gotten a few items like that.

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8 found this helpful
August 17, 2011

I would like to add a post for potential eBay Sellers. I was a seller on eBay. Read all of eBay rules and regulations BEFORE becoming a seller. The Buyer is fully protected, the Seller has next to nothing in protection from bogus bidders and/or buyers.


3 found this helpful
July 11, 2011

When trying to get something via an online auction, it is best to set your max bid in your mind and stick to it. On eBay you can do a search, then save that search to alert you if any items get placed for bid that meet your criteria.


2 found this helpful
July 13, 2011

This is a warning to all. EBay is a reputable auction site, and that's a good thing. However, many other "scam" auction sites have recently come into play. They sound too good to be true, and they are. Please beware!


1 found this helpful
July 13, 2011

How I look at not getting burned by eBay sellers. I normally look for good deals, the description that is clear enough that I can see it in my mind. I look at the price of the item and how much is spent on shipping.


1 found this helpful
July 11, 2011

When bidding on eBay or other sites, always check the sellers rating. If below 97, I check I check the comments from other buyers before bidding.


July 7, 20060 found this helpful

You can find good deals at online auctions but one trick that some sellers play is they offer a low bid price for the product, but have a really high shipping price. Never bid on an item until you have calculated the cost of your bid and the shipping charge.


May 11, 20050 found this helpful

Check online auctions for bargains before you make a purchase.



Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
March 31, 2013

I'm thinking about trying to sell on eBay, but I need complete written instructions on what to do as I have never sold anything online. I can't seem to find anything out, i.e., how to start, what to do, what to buy as far as supplies, etc.


They use to send a kit, but do not now. Please help.

By Marilee M.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
April 2, 20130 found this helpful

I cannot give a click by click instruction, it would be too much to write out here. First thing is to sign up for an account. Are you aware that you have to pay when you list an item? Then you pay a fee again depending on what the ending price is? Those have to be paid with a debit card, or bank account through PayPal, so you will need a PayPal account as well.

When people pay you with PayPal, they take more of your money for using their service. You will need a scale and boxes, bubble wrap, permanent markers, plastic bags, envelopes, gas to and from the post office that you have to account for when determining a starting price, and a reserve price if any. Clothing DOESN'T do so well on eBay unless it's a one of a kind item. I won't buy on eBay unless the price is a savings from what I would pay in the store locally or nonlinear elsewhere.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 2, 20130 found this helpful

There's a wonderful group on Facebook called "Stay at home moms selling on Ebay". After you join you can download her free ebook on starting up your Ebay business. Plus you'll be able to connect with tons of other people that have been doing Ebay for a long time.

Good luck!

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April 2, 20130 found this helpful

Thanks for asking this question - I have wanted to sell on eBay as well, but have absolutely no clue how to do so. It seems so intimidating, so I'm trying to muster the courage to try!

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0 found this helpful
August 21, 2012

I understand how eBay works, but how do sites such as work? I don't quite understand. If someone could explain in simple language, it would be nice. Thanks.

By megc

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August 21, 20120 found this helpful

It has been a while since I have looked at Bidz but if I remember right you have to purchase "bids" for lack of a better term. Each "bid" allows you to make a bid on an item no matter how much you are putting in as a bid.

For example, an item is at $10 and you want to bid on it. You have to use your purchased "bid" to say you want the item for $20. If someone bids over you then you have to use another "bid" to increase your bid. If you had made your first bid more than $10 (say $20) then you wouldn't be using another "bid".

And if I remember right you buy the "bids" in blocks. I think you can even bid on "bids".

Needles to say I thought it was confusing and expensive. No telling how much you end up spending on "bids" that you waste to get an item.

But again... to be clear... I haven't been on the site for many months. Maybe even for over a year.

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August 22, 20120 found this helpful

Here is some very simple language. Don't bother with any sites that make you buy bids. It is a huge waste of time and money and you'll never win.

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September 12, 20120 found this helpful

I agree with momma30. These sites that make you buy bids to bid are ripoffs. Avoid them at all cost!

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September 21, 20060 found this helpful

Does anyone here sell or buy items using Yahoo Auctions. I haven't looked at them in years but see that it's free. Ebay gets quite expnesive. Any tips or comments about it?

Deb from IL

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December 5, 20060 found this helpful

If you go to you will be able to post seller's ads for free, and as a buyer you can post wanted ads for free. If your ad is successful, you pay a fee to Oltiby for their service. Keep in mind, when you post an ad as a buyer, you have several sellers compete against each other to give you their best price.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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