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How eBay Works

        Tech | Internet Basics

Using eBay: Paying for Items

If we win our Simpsons Pez dispensers, the next step is to pay for the item. The seller in this listing accepts two forms of payment: PayPal electronic payment or money order/cashier's check. Overall, there are typically four methods of payment you can use on eBay:

  • Cash
  • Personal check
  • Paper money order or cashier's check
  • Electronic payment

Cash is simple but dangerous, because you have no recourse if it gets lost in the mail, and sending it by registered mail is just going to cost you more money. Personal checks are safer to send in the mail. The downside to paying by check is that once the check arrives, the seller usually waits for it to clear the bank before shipping your item, so it'll probably take you an extra couple of weeks to receive it. With money orders and cashier's checks, the wait time is shorter because there's nothing to clear. Electronic payment is the fastest method -- practically instantaneous. Using sites likes PayPal, BidPay and WesternUnion.com, you can draw money from your bank account or credit card or purchase an electronic money order and send the payment to your seller over the Internet. The downside to e-payments is the risk factor involved in any online transfer of financial data.

Once we complete payment, the seller will ship it to us. The auction states the shipping method as "Standard Flat Rate Shipping Service," which doesn't tell us much, so if we want to know more we'll have to ask the seller. We can do this using the "Ask seller a question" link in the Seller Information box at the top of the auction listing.

Once we receive the item, our next step is to leave feedback. If the seller has met all of her obligations (If the auction stated a shipping timeframe, did the item arrive accordingly? Does the item match the seller's description?), then our feedback should be positive. If we are not satisfied that the seller met the standards for positive feedback, the next move is contact her to try to resolve the issue. Always let a seller try to fix the situation before leaving negative feedback. Most of the time, all it takes is a simple e-mail exchange to solve a problem, and you can't retract negative feedback once you submit it.

eBay Etiquette: Buyer Do's and Don'ts

Do:

  • leave feedback for every transaction
  • pay within the seller's preferred timeframe
  • read the entire listing before asking questions

Don't:

  • leave negative feedback before contacting the seller
  • leave rude feedback

So far, we've searched for, bid on and paid for an item. Our next step is to sell one.

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