How-To: Buy a phone off eBay for the lowest price

15 May

It’s a well-known fact that shopping on eBay will (almost always) give you the cheapest/market price for mobile phones.

So here’s my list of handy tips that’ll help you score any mobile phone – whether it’s a Nokia or anything else – for cheaper than what everyone else is paying, not to mention some helpful hints when dealing on the ‘bay.

How to buy a phone the nokiaphoneblog way.

How to buy a phone off ebay, the Nokia Phone Blog way!

1. Bid on auctions ending on major holidays. July 4th, New Years, Christmas. Prices tend to be a lot lower on these dates since a good majority of people are out of their homes – which means they’re NOT on ebay! Take advantage of this little-known fact, know what phone you want to buy in advance, and go in for the kill. You should be able to pick up at least a 10% (and sometimes as much as 25%) discount with this method.

2. If #1 doesn’t apply, never bid on auctions ending at night. In other words, any time from 3pm-11pm PDT (3pm is 6pm EST), since this is when most people are online and have free time. Also, try to bid on auctions ending on Thursday, Fridays, or Saturdays. I believe the absolute best time for buyers is early afternoon on Friday. There are good opportunities to buy during very early morning hours (1am-5am) but auctions rarely end at these times.

3. Research before you buy. Market research, that is. A simple “Completed Items” search will tell you what you need to know – find out the lowest selling prices in the past 30 days and set a maximum target price for yourself somewhere at that level or slightly higher, depending on how much you’re willing to spend. When bidding on auctions, don’t bid any higher than the price you set.

Always factor in the shipping cost when making estimates for phones – some unscrupulous sellers like to jack up the shipping thinking that they’ll make more. That brings us to…

4. Auctions with high shipping rates usually end noticeably lower than auctions with “normal” shipping costs. Personally, my feeling is that seeing ridiculous shipping costs just turns a lot of people off to an auction, regardless of what the actual bid is at.

5. Check out the seller first. When doing an estimate, only look at the auctions with 99% or better feedback sellers. After that, check sellers to make sure they’ve sold cell phones in the past and have at least 20 positive feedback or higher, depending on your risk tolerance level.

6. Watch out for Buy It Now auctions. These are tricky. Generally Buy It Now auctions are worthless, since sellers intentionally set the prices higher – using the BIN option is more of a convenience than anything. However, very very occasionally you’ll find an honest, ignorant (!) seller that set the Buy It Now auction a little too low. To find these, do a search for your phone and check off the “Buy It Now items” box under “Show only…”. Then sort by minimum price.

7. Don’t pre-order a phone. Ever. “Pre-ordering” a phone is not only expensive and a waste of time, it’s not even guaranteed to ship on release date for a number of reasons (you’re not dealing with Nokia here!). Case in point: the Nokia N95 was selling for upwards of $1000-1100 bucks a month before it came out. Of course, when the N95 was released the actual phone was available for $750. Sorry, but mobile phones will never be out of stock everywhere unlike certain game consoles.

8. Always pay by credit card. Don’t pay by bank transfer or check if you can help it. A credit card lets you do a quick chargeback in case the seller screws you over. You might be able to get your bank to reverse a transfer, but it’s a lot more annoying – not to mention that Paypal is generally useless when it comes to this sort of thing. Better to rely on your credit card company

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