eBay Guide : 8 Top Methods To Get The Cheapest Deals

Following on from our article on how to uncover the best left handed guitars on eBay we’re back with a follow-up guide on how to get the best prices on the guitars and other gear that you manage to discover.

There are several methods which you can employ, some sneakier than others, some riskier than others, but they do all work…very well!  If you have any of your own little tips be sure to leave a comment at the end of the article.

1. Bidding At the Last Second (Sniping)

If you bid on an auction early and show your interest in the item you are likely to start a bidding war between yourself and the other trigger happy eBayers, which is generally great for the seller and not too great for you.  A bidding war is likely to increase the price of the item considerably.

Sniping is just a term for bidding at the last second.  The hope is that if you bid late the current highest bidder won’t have time to retaliate and place an additional higher bid.  It is of course pot-luck as the current bidder could have a maximum bid which is higher than your last minute offering.  However, more often than not sniping will result in a terrific deal.

There are several variations of sniping software available which will carry out this task for you, but personally I wouldn’t recommend them. A few years ago they were convenient, but now that eBay has implemented a second by second countdown timer on all auctions you can clearly see when an auction will end and can easily place your bid at the right time. Of course there is always the risk that your connection could crap out in the last few seconds of the auction, so be careful!

2. Antisocial Auctions

Another great tip for finding the best deal is to look for auctions that end during unsociable hours.  An item which ends at 3am is going to have far less people bidding on it at the last minute, if any at all.  Likewise, auctions ending during work hours will attract slightly less attention.  Possibly even items ending on Friday/Saturday nights when most people are out getting hammered.

3. Incorrectly Listed Auctions

A sure-fire method which will almost always guarantee a cheaper sale is to look for items that are listed in the incorrect category.  If we stray from the subject of left handed guitars for a minute I can give you a great example of this idea in action.  Whilst I was studying at university I bought a PlayStation which had been listed in the Sega Dreamcast category and ended at silly o’clock in the morning.  I did some sniping and won the console for stupid money. Six months later I got bored of it and put it back on eBay and sold it for twice the price.

4. Use the Completed Items Filter

One sneaky method of landing a killer deal is to use the completed listings feature.  If you search eBay for a guitar and don’t find what you are looking for, scroll down the page and on the left-hand side you will find the ‘completed listings’ option in the sidebar.

You will need to sign in to eBay to use this feature but what it does is shows you recently ended auctions. If you spot an item which has its price highlighted in red this means that it did not sell.  Maybe the price was too high, maybe they listed it incorrectly, maybe they only offered local pickup, there could be any number of reasons why it did not sell.

If you find something you are interested in which did not sell, shoot the seller an email.  Offer them a price you are happy with and you may just get lucky!  After all, if it didn’t sell the first time they may just be in the mind-set to get rid of it quickly.

5. Local Pickup Only Auctions

Many sellers do not have the means or know-how to ship larger items and so will often list their goods as ‘local pickup only’.  Depending on where the item is located you can get fantastic deals on these types of auctions.  If the item is located somewhere which is a little off the beaten path there will be significantly less competition for it.  While I was at university I bought a mountain bike from a small town 30 miles away for £350.  I used it for 3 years while I studied and then sold it for £400 because I listed it for sale in Scotland’s largest city where there was far more interest.

Even if you don’t live near to the seller you may be able to convince them to ship it to you if you explain how to do it.  So don’t just automatically disregard local pickup items, try your luck. I’ve bought at least a couple of guitars from the USA where the seller didn’t offer international shipping.

6. Check Newly Listed Buyouts

Periodically sort your search results by ‘Time: newly listed’ and check the ‘Buy It Now’ (BIN) tab to show only the newest BIN auctions.  Buyers will often list items for a great BIN price in the hopes of a quick sale, so some really great deals can be had here as well.  You can try a similar idea with auction format listings by asking the seller if they’d end the auction early for a specific price.

7. Use Best Offer

Make use of the ‘Best Offer’ feature if the seller is offering it.  Even if you send a silly offer the seller may send you a counter-offer with a price he/she would be happy with.  They wouldn’t use this option if they weren’t open to accepting lower offers.

8. Ditching the Middle Men

This tip is against eBay’s terms of service so use a little common sense here. eBay will charge a seller Final Value Fees (FVFs) which basically means that for whatever they sell their item for eBay will take a cut of the profits.  On an expensive guitar this can amount to a significant chunk of change.

If both you and the seller have a reputable feedback score you can try and come to a deal outside of eBay.  Offer them 5-10% less on the condition that you ditch eBay and complete the deal yourselves.  The result is that you get a cheaper deal and the seller gets rid of his item for the same price as if he were to pay FVFs on it through eBay.

You can even go one step further and ditch PayPal to get an even cheaper deal. You can save the seller another 5-10% by paying without PayPal.

Please use some common sense here folks, this is a very situational method and can obviously be risky. Make sure to research the seller beforehand.

That should be enough to keep you going for a while.  We have no doubt omitted a few techniques so leave any insider tips you may have in the comments!

8 replies
  1. mcarp555
    mcarp555 says:

    And if you do agree to pay cash in person, arrange to meet somewhere with a lot of people. Do not go to the seller’s house under any circumstances! “Yeah, I’ll meet you in a dark alley on the edge of town with £1000 in my pocket! You’ll have the Michael Jackson authorized underpants, right?” I usually like to meet at train stations. Then I don’t have to figure out a strange town, and I can hop the next train back.

    • Neal
      Neal says:

      Good tips there :) I’ve been to a few random houses and had a few randoms come to mine, you never know who you’re going to end up locked in a room with 😛

      Here’s another tip – if you agree to meet someone to exhange products and funds, do not get absolutely hammered the night before. I met someone who I’d sold a Keeley DS1 pedal to and I had the worst hangover of my life. Unfortunately he left with my pedal and very nearly half of the contents of my stomach…oh dear!

  2. Mike
    Mike says:

    Just discovered your site today. This post reminded me that several years ago I sold my beautiful lefty koa wood Carvin electric to a couple of students in Scotland who came across my ebay auction and talked me into selling internationally (from the LA area). Everything went well, aside from the little Customs fee surprise they had to deal with on their end…

    PS: Why did I sell my Carvin???

    • Neal
      Neal says:

      Beats me. If I lived in the States I’d be playing Carvin for sure :)

      Customs fees are another place you can get a better international eBay deal if the seller is willing to help you out. Although this is obviously risky and highly illegal 😉

      • Chris
        Chris says:

        I’ve got a friend who has a Gretsh White Falcon that he got bought from customs or something like that basically for the cost of the import duty, because whoever brought it in wouldn’t, or couldn’t cough up the duty, and after a period of time of it sitting there they basically offer it up for the cost of the import duty or something like that.

        Not sure how that works in general, I think his work took him there and it was a case of right place, right time effectively.

  3. Tami
    Tami says:

    I just the other day got sniped on a guitar i was bidding on…my fault, i got complacent and didn’t put in a higher hidden bid for insurance. i’ll know better next time. if i could have reached into my monitor and grabbed that s.o.b…oh man..it would have been bloody. heheh. 😉


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *