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Bidding for bargains online

Arti Sharma | June 19, 2003

Let's say you have a camera you want to sell or a pair of wrought iron chairs because you suddenly want to shift to a leather couch.

You can go to your camera shop, put in an add in newspaper classifieds or go to a furniturewallah and see if you can strike a deal.

But there is one more channel you can explore as a medium to sell or even buy that replacement leather couch: online auctions.

Online auction sites have taken off in the last three years, making it easy for people selling or buying goods to meet on the web and make bids. Here are a couple of tips for making online auctions work for you.

First and foremost, remember that when you are listing a product to be sold, you must present full details of the product to ensure you get the right kind of buyers and price for the product.

For instance, if you are selling a camera it is better to specify the make, year of purchase, model and whether it is automatic or manual in the title and place it in the correct category so that prospective buyers can find the product easily.

For instance, do not go and place an oven-toaster-grill in an interiors category when it actually belongs to home appliances.

You can include other features, colour, size, whether new or used and such in the description, and even add a picture of the product so that online bidders can see what their money will be buying.

Most sites such as, for instance, enable you to ask the seller or buyer questions regarding the item and its features. This helps you to clarify your doubts about the item before making a bid.

Also while choosing the start date and end date and time of the auction, bear in mind that a short-to-medium auction period is a better option since it enables you to seal the deal quicker.

Specify the starting price as well as a reserve price (the minimum you are expecting for the item) so that prospective buyers are aware of the price and can start bidding above it.

At the same time, clearly state the bid increment amount, which is the minimum amount by which the bid increases.

In order to settle the transaction quickly, set the payment and shipment details beforehand.

For instance, make sure that people looking at your product understand the sale has to be made by cash/cheque/demand draft or credit card.

And that they also understand whether they will pay for delivery or you will, whether the delivery address is local or outstation.

So details like the location of the item are simple things you can include to make the transaction friction-free.

You can sell any item under the sun provided it is not a prohibited, stolen, counterfeit or defective good. The list of prohibited goods includes arms and ammunition, drugs, pornographic material and the like.

However, remember that the websites only provide a platform for buyers and sellers to meet. So ask your questions before making a bid.

Once a bid is made and if you win it, you have no way of backing out. You cannot change the payment mode, delivery mode or anything else.

The website is also not liable for any problem like the product being different from the description or any such discrepancies since the transaction takes place between the seller and buyer, and the site only gets a fee once the sale has been made.

Your call:

Before placing a bid, ask all the possible questions you can to satisfy yourself about the buyer or seller.

Also websites like have a rating system that enable you to see the auction history of any person on the website.

The rating is based on past experiences of people who have sold something or have bought from that individual. Ratings range from positive, neutral to negative.

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