Making your first purchase on eBay

Maybe you want to buy a book, a t-shirt, or a DVD to get used to the process. There are a few steps you’ll need to follow to get started.

Creating an eBay and PayPal account

First, go to and click on the “register” link. You can also click here to go there directly. Fill out the information they request, and you’re an eBay member! Welcome to a rich community of shoppers and merchants.

The majority of eBay sellers only take PayPal for payment (myself included). You’ll need to get an account. PayPal is an online account that you link with your own bank account or credit card. When you use PayPal to pay for something online, it can’t be traced back to your personal account. I have used PayPal for as many years as I’ve been on eBay and have never had a single issue with it. My bank’s debit card has been compromised at the grocery store buying a gallon of milk, but my PayPal account has remained secure. You can do the same with PayPal as you did with eBay. Go to and click “Sign Up” or click here.

The hunt begins

Now that you’re signed up for eBay and PayPal, the search for that great bargain begins! There isn’t much that you can’t find on eBay. Besides movies and books, there’s sewing supplies and auto parts, clothing and toys, shoes and jewelry, collectibles and sporting goods. Not to mention any kind of electronic equipment you can think of. It’s simply not possible for me to list everything that you can find on eBay.

Let’s say you’re interested in purchasing that new children’s dvd Moana. A quick trip to your local Walmart will show that they’re selling it for $17.99. Type Moana into the search bar at the top of the eBay page and choose dvds & blu-ray discs under the categories. Pages of that movie will appear before your very eyes. Now the trick is to sort through the list to find the one for you.

On the left of the page are options that you can choose to refine your search. You should choose between dvd or blu-ray, and you should choose the region of your dvd player. Deciding on the condition of the dvd that you want is a personal preference. Some people want only brand new, sealed dvds. Being the seventh of eight children, I am used to my possessions being slightly used and well loved. I tend to look for the dvds marked “like new”. This usually means that the seller bought it new, watched it once, and then listed it for sale. The discs are often just as good as “brand new”, but usually much less expensive.

Buy it now vs. auctions

After you decide on the condition that you prefer, you can decide between “buy it now” or an auction. “Buy it now” is exactly what it sounds like. You can click on the “buy it now” option on an item, pay for it, and it’s yours. An auction is a listing that is started at a low amount, and you and others can place bids on it. Auctions are normally 7 day listings. It will show above the current bid how much time is left.

At the end of the auction, the highest bidder wins! When choosing to make a bid in an auction, be sure to not get caught up in the excitement of a bidding war and bid more than you really want to pay. Set your high price in your mind, and if it goes above that price, bow out. There’s always going to be another listing for that item, that you can try again.

Getting your purchase

Shipping is an aspect you need to pay attention to. Some sellers offer free shipping. Others have an added cost for shipping. If you go to the top right of the list of movies, you can sort the list by ‘price & shipping: lowest first’.

Then you just scroll through the list. I did that for the Moana dvd, choosing dvd and “Buy It Now” for Region 1. The first listing is for a like-new dvd for $7.85 with free shipping. I’m liking that price! You need to check the seller’s description to make sure it’s really what you’re looking for. Sometimes they’re selling the dvd without a case, artwork, or just the digital copy of the movie. Either way, these are things you should know before purchasing. The description on this particular movie says “like new condition with case and artwork”. Check! You’ll want to check out their “free standard shipping”. How an item is sent through the United States Postal Service (USPS) is dependant on how long it will take to arrive to you. If you need what you’re purchasing within a month of the purchase date, don’t buy from an international seller. Although price-wise it might be an awesome deal, the wait might not be worth it. The USPS offers several options for shipping which basically tells you how long it will take to get to you.

First class mail is for letters or packages for 13 ounces or less at the post office, 16 ounces or less if they use eBay shipping. It’s very reasonably priced, starting at $2.67 at the post office, and $2.61 using eBay shipping. Are you seeing a trend here? Ebay shipping gives a seller small discounts for using it, and it normally arrives at its destination between 2-5 days. DVDs and/or books can be sent media mail, which is cheaper than first class, but much slower, sometimes taking up to 2 weeks to get to where it’s going. Packages weighing more than 16 ounces can go parcel post or priority. Parcel post is very inexpensive and is slower than molasses, and because it’s in the postal system for so long, I find that the packages are pretty beat up and “man-handled” by the time they finally arrive to you. That all being said, I prefer first class or priority mail to receive my packages in a timely and efficient manner, and in the best possible condition.

This particular listing states that you should expect delivery in 2-3 days, which means it’s being sent first class. Great!

The last thing I like to check is the seller’s feedback. It’s a review system that eBay has set up that allows buyers and sellers to “rate” their purchase experience. As a buyer, it’s a good idea to look at a seller’s feedback history to make sure that they don’t make a habit of selling inferior quality merchandise, or wait a long time before shipping an item. That’s not to say that if a seller doesn’t have a perfect feedback, that you shouldn’t buy from them, but if they’ve only received 1 feedback and 2 or more are negative, then I would probably shy away from this seller. A seller that has thousands of positive feedback, and only a few negative, is usually a pretty safe bet.

You’ve found the dvd we want, in the correct format and condition, for the right price, being shipped first class, by a seller with good feedback, all that’s left now is to click the “buy it now” button. This will take you to the the eBay checkout screen where you will “confirm and pay”. Because all of your information was set up when you registered for eBay and Paypal, your address and paypal is already to go. If you happen to be in possession of an eBay gift card, this is the page you would use it on. The final page is the confirmation of your completed order and shows your estimated delivery date. Now you just have to wait for your item to arrive.

Reviewing the sale

Three days later, you receive the dvd in the mail. You should open and check your purchase when you get it to make sure that you got what you ordered, and that it’s in the condition the seller advertised. If you have an issue with your purchase, maybe you got the dvd Sing instead of Moana, please contact the seller first. Everyone is human, and mistakes happen. Most sellers are more than happy to correct whatever error has been made. In this instance, a seller will either send out a shipping label for you to return the Sing dvd to them at their cost, and then mail you out the Moana dvd, or refund your money if you don’t wish to wait longer. Usually, entirely your choice. If all is well with your purchase, you should leave your seller positive feedback. You will be asked to rate the seller up to 5 stars for shipping time, shipping costs, seller communication, and whether the item was as described, and then to leave a short comment about your experience.


If there was an issue, and your seller doesn’t resolve it to your satisfaction, you can leave neutral or negative feedback for them. I prefer to wait until all options have been exhausted before leaving neutral or negative feedback, because once feedback is left, it can not easily be retracted. Be sure that your comment states only the facts, not your feelings.

If you paid for an item and never received it, you can contact eBay to resolve the issue for you. If the seller can not prove with a USPS tracking number that the item was delivered to the address you gave, then eBay will make sure that you receive a refund. You merely need to go to the Resolution center and follow the prompts, eBay will do the rest.

Hopefully, all went well with your purchase, and your seller gave you your first of many positive feedback.

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