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Discussion Starter #1
Being the Affordables Forum we perhaps get a larger share of those new to the wild and wonderful world of watch collecting.
Eventually we all (95% of us?) go fishing in the 'bay.
It can be fun and rewarding, or distinctly painful.
I thought (being a deep thinker :-D ) it might be helpful to post up some of our sage advice in a single thread and perhaps "stick" it if it flowers into a vast pool of superior knowlege.
I'll start with what I think we can all agree is Rule NUMERO UNO!

BUY THE SELLER!
Feedback matters!
Study it, don't assume a high positive feedback means for sure the seller is a "watch guy/gal".
They may have sold 3 gillion excellent exercise dvd's and don't know the "GENUINE ROLEX" they're selling from a poor Hong Kong replica.

Now that I've started I hope all our experienced ebayer's will follow up with tips, hints, successes and disasters to hopefully guide our "noobs" along the way!

One note, PLEASE keep your posts somewhat general.
Meaning no posts saying "Seller XYZ is a larcenous thief!"
Feel free to relate HOW you may have been hornschwaggled but this isn't meant to "name names".
We have a "Bad Guys" forum here for that and I strongly encourage ppl. to post specifics there when they occur as we all obviously benefit.

Thanks all! :thanks
 

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Dealing with Ebay for over 6 years here is my 2 cents. First off, when buying from a person (as opposed to a big seller/retailer) you can usually find better prices. But alas, be weary, because the watch could be fake and you have less protection against a fraud from a single person than a company who ripps you off.
 

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Good topic. To learn more about the seller:

Ask questions: Mostly this is to learn more about the seller and maybe pick something up on the item. How long do they take to answer? DO they answer? How much detail is in the answer and did they answer all of your questions? All of this tells you quite a bit about the seller.


Spend some time in their history: How recent is their history? Major gaps? do they have a history of selling this type of thing? Keep in mind you can't always keep everyone happy and not everyone will have that perfect 100% but it should be darn close with a response on the bad stuff.


How much time did they spend describing the item: I hate it when 95% of the auction description is their terms and conditions but there should be some T/C's in there along with a very good description on the item.


Pictures: Soft focus? Bad lighting? Even better if you check out their history on other auctions do the pictures look way better in some auctions? If so they are hiding something...


sj, aka MaxBurn on the bay. :-!
 

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Things I've learned about the Bay:
1) Bad photos mean stay away - far away - from the watch. Each time I have violated this rule I have regretted it:-(
2) Read the feedback carefully:
a) some sellers will buy 10-50 1 penny items to build their raw number
b) some sellers have the same buyers or bidders (that never win????) over and over again. This is both odd and disturbing.
c) Read what isn't in the feedback - meaning - if the feedback is generic the buyer might have been too afraid to write a negative for fear of receiving one in retribution (eBay NEVER does anything about those). So, if the feedback says nothing about the quality of the item (or worse a LOT of them for the seller don't) I stay away.
3) Never, ever, use wire transfer. Sorry, I know folks here have used it but in reading the horror stories it just doesn't seem worth it to me.
4) Do not use anything other than a credit card through PayPal for any significant purchase on the bay. That gives you another layer (how about a thread about PayPal????) of protection beyond that <haha> afforded by PayPal.
5) Set your limits and stick to them. Too many watches go for absurd prices (and no not just Breitblings) because people got into a bidding war (see 2b above - hmmmmm).
6) Ask here or other watch sites about sellers before bidding if you have ANY concerns. We answer about Pokemon and other Seiko sellers about twice a month. No one minds - really.
7) Remember that another one will come down the pike soon. Loosing this one is not the end of the world. Sometimes the pursuit is more satisfying than the purchase!B-)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Great so far gents!
Here's one I firmly believe.
99% of the time WON'T find a spectacular deal on a watch.
Ebay is huge and the market will set the price darn near where it should be.
Great buys rarely slip by unnoticed.
If you're thinking, "Gee, why's that supercool watch only at 250$ when I think it should be near 6?"
It's because there's something not right about it, you're mistaken re: it's worth, or the snipers are lurking.
 

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If you are using Firefox and have greasemonkey installed, you have some cool scripts at userscripts.org which will divide the feedback page into buyer feedback, seller feedback, positive feedback and negative feedback.

It just makes it very easy to do all the things people mentioned above.

Also, when a seller have a best offer option, Instead of just making the best guess, you can see his completed listings and see what offers he accepted before for that item if there are any.
 

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I think ebay time runs pretty close to the atomic time so I always have my
trusty atomic solar g-shock with me and bid at the last 3-5 seconds if I were to snipe manually.
But sniping doensn't work all the time.
 

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I've only been doing the ebay thing for a little over a year now. The one thing I have learned to do, and this is just me personally, is to only bid/buy from sellers who have no less than a 98.5% feedback rating. If it is something that you realy want and the rating is lower, read thru his feedback comments to see what some of the negatives might be and what for. I hope this wasn't to redundant, but I just thought I'd share what I have dealt with so far.
 

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Hi -

I've used eBay to build up almost all of my watch collection, largely vintage.

While I agree with most of the points here, here is where I put on my professional hat. :)

I'm an economist (that usually puts *everyone* to sleep...). I've posted some of what I'm going to say here at several other times and forums, but here goes:

1)

What Tragic says *should* be correct: the final selling price on eBay should be what is called a market-clearing price, i.e. the price that all sellers can sell their goods to meet the demand from all buyers. In reality, that's not the case. Why not? Because of a) asymmetrical information (i.e. I know that watch is a rare one, but it is so rare that no one else does, and I get it for $5 as a result) and b) market transparency.

Now, I collect vintages, and the ways things are going, there may *not* be another one coming along the road (I'm seeing fewer and fewer vintage Stowas, for instance, and the Gruens are starting to thin out as well...), so I do have to evaluate the market fairly often for the watches I am looking for. But to a certain degree I have information that the seller even may not have, based on having dealt on eBay for a couple of years now, as well as knowing more and more about vintage watches (still don't know much about Omegas, though...). This has led me to be able to bid with confidence on a couple of watches that I would otherwise have missed out on.

Market transparency is more critical: an auction with excellent photos, a good history of the watch and the watch company, and a great write-up of the watch itself makes the market transparent, i.e. everyone has the information needed easily available. But if someone posts a watch where there is only one blurred picture and the rest is absolutely minimal, then you have to rely on additional information. Someone selling properly, i.e. with full information, allows the buyer to understand what it is he is buying, and should maximize the sales price, as you will find the greatest number of potential buyers by doing your auction page correctly. That'll maximize the seller's price.

But if you know, for instance, that the watch being offered, say, in the children's watches section of eBay is, however, an Omega pre-professional Speedmaster, NOS, and it was placed in there with a really bad picture, on a no-reserve 1 day auction, well, then you can probably minimize your price on that one. Of course, you'd have to be able to recognize what that all meant from a cryptic description ("Omega Spiedmastar never used, ticks OK but dont know how to use the buttons, real old"), but that's because you have information that the seller doesn't. A poorly prepared auction means that the necessary transparency is being obscured, which will reduce the price.

2) Game theory. Bidding on eBay has more to do with psychology and less to do with "knowing" what the price is. We've all seen watches go for silly prices as people get all worked up and start thinking "I GOTTA GET THAT WATCH" and end up buying a used watch in good shape for more than what the damn thing costs new.

To be a successful bidder, you can use all sorts of speculation as to what the other guy is thinking and construct a matrix of outcomes based on what you guess they are thinking. If you are looking to minimize your costs, you might bid in $1 increments and hope to find that way the maximum price your follow bidders are paying. That certainly can work, but you run the danger of losing any sense of proportion and end up getting into a bidding war. If you see auctions with 40 or so bids, you can be sure that this is what is happening.

I don't do that at all: I know what I am willing to pay for any given watch. Just recently I bid on a vintage Enicar that I decided I would be willing to pay around €40 for: it went for just a tad over that. But I have limits set (I'm not made out of money, regardless of what my wife and daughters might think) and I'm disciplined enough to stick to them: when I was starting out on eBay, I wasn't, and bought one watch for more than I should have paid for it. Never again. :)


So, this has gone on long enough. I use a sniper, set it at the maximum I am willing to pay, and walk away. This has worked out very, very well, but I also have abandoned hopes of getting great bargains: as a vintage collector, you have to be able to know what the damn thing is really going to sell for, not what you wish you could buy it at. Knowing what I know and evaluating the watches available on eBay, I've been able to probably save in excess of $1000 or more, and the occasional flops (the Fabre-Leuvre with the wrong calibre inside, a Seatime that was DOA and both buyers being pigs about it...) I can live with in order to avoid negative ratings.


'cause you do have to buy the seller, not the object itself. Most folks are fundamentally OK and honest: it's the guys who masquerade as the rest of us that you have to avoid.

That's why I would be very, very hesitant about spending more than $250 for a watch on eBay, even if it is a grail watch. Beyond that price point, I want to be able to go and handle it beforehand, but I would buy some stuff from the one or the other vendor who I have bought 3-4 items from and which have always been good.

So, enough. Now you know why economists put most people to sleep: we can drone on endlessly using complex terminology and sophisticated theories about things that are actually really simple and should be obvious to any but the greatest fools.

They're our customers. :) Man, am I gonna get in trouble for that one...

JohnF
 

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Great post JohnF.
I have purchased quite a few watches on the bay myself. The range from cheap Casio's to Omega's.
I think that most of you have hit the high points.
I would use a sniper company and set your maximum price that you're willing to pay and "walk away". Check prices on other sites such as this one and TZ to make sure that there are not other watches available for sale through these forums for cheaper.

Speaking of the bay....my Marathon SAR-D should be arriving any day now. :)
 

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Hello:

I've been a casual buyer on EBay for the past two years. I have been fortunate in that I have never had a transaction that went sour. Indeed, I have been the beneficiary of some excellent deals. My caveat though is a reflection of Tragic's sage advice. Research the product, know your seller, ask questions and if the deal seems too good to be true it probably is so back away. Also, when I see a bidding history involving nothing but private bidders I back away. Too great a chance that the seller is bidding to push up the price.

Caveat Emptor!
 

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I have been on eBay a long time, primarily feeding my Zippo habit :-D
The main problem I find with eBay is it tends to skew the market. Try buying a Mickey Mouse Zippo and you will see what I mean (MIB are well over $500). For most hard to find Zippos, the only place to go is eBay.

I do purchase a few watches through eBay, though I tend to stick with Buy it Now after researching the price elsewhere. If I get a better price on eBay (taking shipping into account), that is where I will buy. Usually I can find watches for a better price elsewhere though (excepting the good deals on Seikos from Singapore and Vostoks from Moscow).

Lately I have been trying to get my kids a Nintendo Wii for Christmas. The scalpers are out in full force, driving the price up over $400 for a $250 console. The sad part is that the majority of the crowds camping in line at Best Buy et. al. around here to get the few Wii consoles have no intention of buying the thing for themselves, they buy multiples to scalp on eBay. That is what I mean by skewing the market. I hope all those scalpers eat the darn things when they go unsold.

Regards,
Griff
 

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Griff I know you want to get your peoples a Wei or WIi if you wait a little after christmas you will find lots of them and for $250 if you wait 6mos you will pay at least $175 to $150 do your peeps have a game that they can trade-in because that takes some money off the price as well.

Oh ditto what john and trag said:)
 

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Great thread...............and some great posts!
 

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My thoughts about ebay and sniping (long) >>>

At a classic auction, the bidding goes on until no one covers the last bid.
At ebay a auction is open for a given (fixed) period of time.
This makes the whole difference between the two, because in a classic auction there’s always time to react to a bid, while at ebay that might be impossible when you’re near to the closure time of the auction.

Some electronic auction sites automatically extend the closure time of the auction if a bid is entered very near to the closure time, making them similar to a classic auction, but that’s not the case at ebay. It is unfortunate that ebay rules have led to the emergence of sniping, as it potentially reduces the fun of competitive auction bidding; but such is evolution, and the now common practice of 'sniping' can still result in enjoyable auctions when viewed at face value.

The idea at ebay is that everyone bids their maximum value and in the end the winner gets it at a price that covers the second higher bid.
In accordance with this simple principle, there’s no real point in winning about having been outbid by a sniper or anything, because what really happened was that someone willing to pay more for the item showed up and, consequently, has entered a higher bid.

The fact that at ebay a auction closes at a fixed pre-established deadline makes it very similar with the classic call for tenders, where people can present their tender until a pre-established deadline. But, in call for tenders, the tenders are delivered CLOSED in order to not reveal relevant information to the competitors.

So, how can you mimic the call for tenders procedure in a system where your bids are made public the moment you enter them?
Simple, bid at the last minute ;-) :-D


MORE REASONS TO BID AT THE LAST MINUTE


Last minute bidding defends the bidder of shilling, a forbidden, yet common, practice at ebay :-(. If you place a bid too soon the seller can use a “shill account” to place bids just to take the auction value closer to the maximum of your bid.

Last minute biding also protects you from what I call “competitive schmucks”, people willing to pay just say $75 for an item and that, if someone outbids them, start loco bidding, just because they don’t like being outbid.

Again on all accounts, the problem is the same, you have revealed relevant information too soon, allowing others to take actions against you.

I hope this covers all. Any suggestions, please feel free to post them! :)
 

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eSnipe :gold
 

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Re: My thoughts about ebay and sniping (long) >>>

Hello,
How do sniping programs work? What is the best one to use? I got burned once on a Bell-matic from eBay. The picture was blurry but the watch was described as clean and the only thing wrong is a scratched crystal. The seller never sold any other watches but he had a 100% feedback score so I took the risk. When it arrived it was vary grimy and the bracelet was halfway broke also it kept stopping. At first he was a jerk but we finally agreed on a partial refund.
 

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Re: My thoughts about ebay and sniping (long) >>>

Hello,
How do sniping programs work? What is the best one to use? I got burned once on a Bell-matic from eBay. The picture was blurry but the watch was described as clean and the only thing wrong is a scratched crystal. The seller never sold any other watches but he had a 100% feedback score so I took the risk. When it arrived it was vary grimy and the bracelet was halfway broke also it kept stopping. At first he was a jerk but we finally agreed on a partial refund.
My sister gave me one of the sniping programs awhile back but I haven't used it. From what she told me about it you put in the seller, item number, and end date/time. Then you put in a amount. Then it is supposed put in your bid I believe 10 seconds before the bidding ends, thus giving no time for anybody else to put in a higher bid. Unless you have super fast fingers.
 

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I've been using eSnipe (dot com) for about a year. I use it EXCLUSIVELY for all my eBay purchasing, except for "Buy It Now" purchases.

All you do is register with them, giving them your eBay ID and password so they can place your bids. I was leary of this at first, but after close to 100 bids using eSnipe, I am fully comfortable with them, as are thousands of other eBayers.

Basically you buy "points" from them through PayPal ($10 at a time for me), and they charge you a very small percentage of the auction price (in points) for successful bids only. Their fee is on a sliding scale, but is mainly one percent of the winning auction price, which I find to be extremely reasonable.

When you see an auction of interest here is how it works:
  • Open a second window and log on to eSnipe.
  • Copy the eBay auction number and paste it into the appropriate box in eSnipe.
  • Thoughtfully consider the watch (or other item) in the auction, and decide what is the absolute most you would be willing to pay for that item, such that if the bidding went any higher you would be OK with not pursuing it. Enter that amount in eSnipe.
  • Forget about it.
  • When the auction is in its final minutes and seconds, you can casually continue your business meeting, or fill your gas tank at the local gasoline station, or eat dinner with your family, or sleep (in the case of international auctions).
  • At a safe time in advance of the auction end (which you determine), eSnipe will check the highest bid on your auction and send you an urgent e-mail if your bid is already too low, so that you can still react if desired. I never do because I take great care up front in determining the highest amount I am willing to pay.
  • Assuming the bid was lower than your maximum prescribed bid, eSnipe automatically logs onto eBay as you and triggers your maximum bid at precisely the number of seconds before closing that you determine.
  • eBay translates your maximum (proxy) bid into only that amount necessary to win the auction by the minimum INCREMENT above the next highest bidder. So if your maximum bid to eSnipe was $90 and the high bid at "x" seconds before auction close was $77, eBay would translate your bid into a $78 winning bid. If another sniper entered a maximum bid of $85 AFTER your bid, eBay would counter his bid with a winning bid of $86 on your behalf. And all this is happening while you're at the movies with your favorite girl!
In about 100 eSnipe bids over the past year, I have experienced zero problems. Every bid was handled perfectly. Plus, I only had to pay eSnipe $0.86 for managing my winning bid in the above example!

What more can you ask for?

 

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Hi -

Bod-O-Matic, open source. All you have to do is leave your computer on, and it snipes.

It allows you to test your connection as well, and recommends a minimum time setting based on your latency. I usually have between 4-8 seconds from my DSL at home recommended as a minimum. It logs on 30 seconds before the end, prepares the bid, then waits until the specified time and then bids.

I've used it for more than 70 auctions, with only a single bid not taking placed because my wife turned off the WLAN router 'cause she didn't know that my PC was on.

So simple to use that I won't bother describing it: you can download it (google the name of the program!) and it's very straightforward, will even update your system clock time to ensure accuracy...

JohnF
 
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