Really Useful-Buy Nothing New

Ten Top Tips for Buying Secondhand on eBay

January 28, 2016

Having just blogged about “Peak Stuff”, I have to confess to feeling a little conflicted writing a post about where you can get yet more stuff from…
In my defence, this guide is for buying secondhand stuff, so it’s helping to keep the reduce, reuse, recycle thing going, and in no way endorsing buying for the sake of it!

When we were in the midst of our official year of buying nothing new, the temptation to hit eBay for everything we needed was strong. It’s easy, you can find some brilliant bargains, and you don’t even have to leave the house! But I realised early on that this wouldn’t make the most thrilling of reading for a blog, and in hindsight, I would have missed out on some of the richest and best experiences of My Make Do and Mend Year: I would never have discovered the joys of charity shop shopping, or exploring flea markets, or found Freegle.
But I do think that eBay shopping has it’s place. If you are looking for something really specific, it can be a godsend, and can save you hours of trawling your local charity shops in the hope that the charity shop fairies are looking out for you, and the thing you need will magically appear (you would be surprised how often this actually happens!)

I’ve learned over the last few years some tips and tricks to make it easier to find the things you need on eBay, and to get them for a decent price.

Know what you are looking for.
The more specific you can be with your search terms, the more likely you are to end up with what you want.
eBay seems to work especially well for clothes. If you are a Boden fan, or a sucker for Fat Face, for example, you can search for those particular brands, and are more likely to find them than you would be randomly trawling the charity shops.
We often use it now to find things like wellies and football boots for the boys, that we are unlikely to find in charity shops.

Don’t assume everything is secondhand.
Although it started life as an auction site for used things, most things on there now are new.
Make sure you tick the ‘Used’ box under Condition, so that you don’t inadvertently end up buying something new.

eBay Condition
Don’t assume eBay is the cheapest place.
There is an assumption that eBay is the cheapest place to buy things, but often this is not the case. You might even get lucky and find some things for free on Freecycle or Freegle.

Look for local items
For larger items, like furniture, narrow your search down to your local area (as far as you are prepared to travel). Some bigger items are ‘collection only’ and therefore the pool of people interested in them will be narrowed to those people local enough to collect. You might be more likely to get a bargain!

G-Plan TallBoy

We got this G-Plan tallboy recently from eBay for just £10, as a local pick up. It will be perfect for storing all my fabric..!

Look out for bundles and Job Lots
Things like baby and children’s clothes often come in bundles, and this can be a great way of sourcing lots of clothes for not a huge amount of money. You might end up with more than you need, or a few things you don’t like in amongst the good stuff, but you can always sell this on, or donate it to a charity shop.
For craft and making supplies, search for job lots. I recently got a job lot of soap making stuff for £10, and have sorted through it, and re-listed the things I didn’t want, and have made a profit on the transaction!

Maximum Bids
Decide how much you are prepared to pay for an item, and enter a maximum bid that reflects that. A handy tip is not to enter a round number, eg £10. Make it £10.32 and you are more likely to not be outbid at £10.

Check when the listing will end
Items ending at unsociable times tend to be cheaper. Look for listings that end in the middle of the night, or in the middle of the afternoon (when most people are at work, and might not be able to be logged onto eBay and be bidding!)
I’ve never tried it but there is a website that will allow you to specifically search for items ending at certain times. Then you can place a maximum bid and go to bed!

Check out the cost of postage before you bid. 
A 99p bargain is less of a bargain if you end up having to pay £5 for postage.

Vintage finds1
Check the returns policy of the seller.
If the seller is a trader (eg selling vintage fabric) then your usual consumer rights apply.
If the seller is an individual, then theoretically you have no comeback if the item arrives and isn’t what you wanted after all. There is a section on the item description for ‘Returns Policy’, check this!
If you’ve just changed your mind then you are probably out of luck, but if the item is not as described, then eBay does have it’s own buyer protection rules with a Money Back Guarantee if the item is not what as it was described in the listing.

Pay with Paypal
In order to benefit from the Money Back Guarantee, you do need to have paid by Paypal. This is usually the default on eBay anyway, but it’s good to know that you get the additional peace of mind with it.

eBay Buying-P

I hope these are helpful.
Are you an eBay fan? Do share your favourite finds, and any of your top tips that I have missed out!

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  • Reply Kizzy January 29, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Great tips, I’ve not bought anything off ebayfor a while but have a huge list of stuff I need to sell!

    • Reply Jen January 29, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      It’s really satisfying selling things on there isn’t it?

  • Reply Ness January 28, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Don’t discount stuff labelled as new as it could well be unwanted unused items. I like a certain cosmetic and beauty brand and the cheapest way to buy them is in big sets. Not all the items I use so I save them up and sell them in batches and they are sold as new as I haven’t used them at all. If I couldn’t sell them on they would end up in the bottom of the wardrobe for ages before ending up in the bin! A couple of Christmases ago I bought off eBay a lovely Gap scarf for my niece. It was labelled as new and still had the tags on. My niece loved as did my label snob sister-in-law! If you look at the photos and the seller’s other items you can usually work out if they are buying stock in to sell or just selling on unwanted stuff cluttering up the house.

    • Reply Jen January 29, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      Good point Ness, thankyou!

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