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Online Etiquette

November 16, 2000

Here's how to be the perfect buyer, and the perfect seller, in an online auction transaction.

BUYER

* Research before you bid. Read the description thoroughly. What does it say and what does it not say?

* Examine the seller's feedback to see whether you want to do business with that individual.

* Search for similar items currently for sale to get a sense of values.

* Search for similar items in Completed Auctions for final prices and to determine whether the seller has sold similar items.

* E-mail the seller about any questions.

* Place a bid through one of three ways: a maximum, a "marker bid" (one that is high enough to make a person the highest bidder at that moment but that can be changed if it is outbid), or through "sniping," which is the practice of waiting until the very end to submit a price.

SELLER

* Thoroughly research the items you sell.

* Take good photos and have high-quality scanned images.

* Write a brief, factual description covering as much information as possible. State shipping and payment terms clearly.

* Decide when the auction will end to avoid a never-ending process. (Some obscure items benefit from longer exposure, while others seem to get action only on the first or last day.)

* Answer e-mails quickly and precisely.

* Immediately after the auction, inform the high bidder of the price, shipping costs, mailing address, acceptable form of payment and a time frame in which you expect to ship it.

Source: USAWeb.com's AuctionTalk site

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