We all buy banknotes on Ebay, so why do we need to see an article about how to do what we already do? Well, you may not be using the Ebay features to your advantage, or, heaven forbid, spend too much money for the goodies you want. You can start keeping 10% to %30 of your money in your pocket, or even better, get more nice banknotes, if you follow the pertinent 'how to' below. We all know what Ebay looks like and does, so no pictures to waste bandwidth and no long intro to the features.
Buy It Now! BIN is general higher-priced material offered to and purchased by people who can't wait for an auction to end, or perhaps care what they spend, including me if I want to complete a Series or pick up a certain note. It is a good tool to find that Wesayso Republic 5 Pazooza note in the cleanest XF to UNC condition you can find, though, and I use it myself. As long as I'm checking the Auctions listings first, and using it for certain notes to complete a Series or some such, BIN is a very acceptable source of your collection, especially with higher priced material. Some caveats, beware of high 'sucker' pricing, and do be aware that graded material is going to cost double the price of the same note at auction. Do use the Sort by Price (low or high, your choice), and view your material carefully. Also, do look for the 'Make Offer' choice, and do make an offer instead of just paying full freight. You will save between 7% and 26% on your purchase, if you offer is accepted or you accept the counteroffer. At least that's my statistics over the past year. The dollars amount to over $400, which I have but into a few more banknotes or just not spent. Either way, I'm ahead, and you can be too. I've only had one offer rejected, the vendor just thought $5 off a $40 note was too much too bear. His loss.
Auctions are where the fun, and the effort, is at. It's also where the savings in your collection dollar lie, so use it as your main source of banknotes. So you're in the Auctions, looking at France and Nouveaux Franc notes as you typed in your search bar, and you see 243 auctions. I sort by price (lowest first, of course, beer budget, champagne taste !) and start looking for a nice clean copy of something I don't have. I'm an AU-UNC collector, but lately have gotten some good deals on VF-XF and XF-AU notes in nice clean condition, with complete enjoyment once they arrive. This is due to retirement and price, but not a real relaxation in standard. This is what I tell myself, anyway. So, sort your 243 auctions, take a general look, and add any number of them to your Watch List. Put all you want in there, take you time and look 'em over. Using the Watch List feature will save you looking at the same dross in the Auction listing the rest of the week, so use it. Do not bother considering to bid with any vendor with less than 98% positive feedback, unless he's a newbie and you can see he's trying hard. Do check the negative feedback, one buyer ordered 23 notes from a vendor I know, and gave 23 negatives for a single wrong note sent out by the vendor. You can ignore that ratio, but do look for complaints about overgrading, cleaned and pressed notes, all the stuff we don't like. (my next article is about doctored notes, so realize my hypocrisy knows no bounds). Now take you Watch List, sort by ending soonest, and decide which notes to consider for a bidding round. This is your chance to look hard at photos, descriptions, the note itself, so don't rush. Now comes the fun part. You can either be physically present at you computer on the close of the auctions, or you can use an algorithm to place proxy bids in your absence at the final moment of the auctions. I prefer to be there, myself, but the automated bidders have a lot to recommend themselves. Did you notice I did not say go to your first auction and place a bid? That nice UNC from Columbia with a $0.99 open? Surely I can just bid a couple of bucks and get my name on the board, then I'll come back later, you're thinking, right? Don't do it. Never, ever, ever do this. All you're doing is wasting time, and bidding against yourself when you return at closing time. Let the other guy chase being the highest bidder with $4.25, or $65.50, whatever, if you are in the first rounds you are just losing money. You will also avoid shill bidders and the 'recreational bidder' by not opening your bids early. The recreational bidder is the guy who just adds a dollar or two to a someone else's top bid, just to play with it. A dollar or two isn't much, but they add up. Don't give 'em a break, or a bid to play with.
Wednesday evening, it's finally here, the first couple of auctions on your list. You're at the computer, ready to go. And now it's showtime, or almost. Now the auction is nearly over. There is 8 minutes to go, and the six prior bidders are quiet, but the action is going to be in the last minute. Do be sure you are logged in and ready to bid, that lapse can be fatal to a purchase. (Don't ask me how I know this.) Showtime is soon, but not yet. Look at your note, and figure how much you want to pay for that note, and type your bid in the bid window. Do not yet place the bid, you've got eight minutes, right? Patience is a virtue, and bidding against yourself is a sin. You've already done all this homework, hopefully, or you can just price by 'feel', your choice. Everything works. I ignore postage fees in my bidding if it's under a certain amount, say $3 or so. Attending a local show costs me $20 in gas and another $15 in a meal, and I still might not get the note I'm bidding on. So just figure the price of the note. I use the catalog, values on Ebay, (including BIN), and Realbanknotes.com for my price guides. This is part of your Watch List research, you've got a day or two, or a week, before the auction ends to do some homework.
The 8 minutes is now 3 minutes, and your bid is typed in the window and you're ready to hit the 'Confirm' key, sending your legal bid to Ebay. Not yet, keep waiting. If you really, really, want this note, go ahead and raise your bid to any level you want, but I generally don't do that, just stick with my top price and a bit. Whatever, just keep waiting. At less than 1 minute, get ready to pounce. This is called 'sniping'. You are silent, hidden, with your finger on the button. You are One Bid, One Note. A killer in concealment. At ten to fifteen seconds, no more than 4 or 5 seconds, hit your 'Confirm' button and send your bid. Ebay will now sort out all the amounts and submittal times and declare the winner. You stand a very good chance of being the winner. Winning bids are one advance over the next lower bid. You will never win any auction paying more than a few bucks over the next bidder. If you bid $53.46, and the lower bid is $53.45, you will be top bid at $53.46, but in general the advance rules hold and pennies won't count, important as they may be. Let's be honest, you will lose to a higher bid, or an identical bid made before yours. That's fair, nothing to cry about. You can't win them all. But, I guarantee you, you will win more than you did before, and more importantly, you will have spent the least amount of money in doing so. Most other bidders are bargain hunters just like you, only a few are 'any price' bidders, so just be $2.50 ahead of the next-high bidder and you've got that Wesayso Republic note with the smiling President-for-Life portrait for your collection. Congratulations !
I've just started buying graded notes from select eras and countries, and can tell you the difference in cost between BIN and my 'snipe' can be 70% in cost. I like putting that money I saved into another nice note for the collection. Or maybe go out for a good dinner, always a positive activity, even for us nerd-like anti-social banknote collectors. ( I have yet to meet a collector who wasn't an outgoing nice person) You will save, over time, between 10% and 30% of your collection budget. Consider your time to be that money, we all want to be able to buy more banknotes.
A final word about Buy It Now, BIN. Do examine the offers for the 'Make Offer" option. Then do make an offer instead of paying full freight. You will save between 7% and 26% on the asking price, according to my own statistics of last year. That amounts to over $400 in money saved for me, which I plow back into more banknotes for the collection or just save it up for later. I'll have a little put aside for that upcoming Wesayso Republic note with the black margins commemorating the recent death of the President-for-Life, something to look forward to. I have had only one Offer rejected, then vendor just thought $5 off a $40 note was too much to bear. His problem, not mine. So do use the feature. If you have to Buy It Now, go right ahead, but Make Offers where you can and save a buck or two.