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Navigating eBay to get what you want

A great place to find deals or dispose of things no longer needed is the on-line auction service eBay. With millions of potential buyers and sellers, the site has become a favorite place for some and a vocation for others. Here are a few tips to using the service.

For many users, eBay is a browsing experience. We fire up the PC, open and point our browser to the eBay Web address, eBay.com, and start searching for deals or the status of previous transactions.

It doesn't have to be that way. Go to desktop.ebay.com and download eBay Desktop, an application for both Windows and Mac platforms that brings a whole new set of tools to the table. The free application brings functionality not available in a browser like a real-time counter that shows the time left for an auction and alerts when the bid is no longer the highest.

What's the worst problem with eBay? Many users will say last-minute sniping, the term used to describe the frenzy of bids during the final moments of an auction. For many items it's a fairly normal activity that somewhat depends on the auction ending time or the interest level of the item. One program that addresses the problem is called JBidwatcher, available for Windows, Mac and other platforms. The application allows the user to track multiple auctions and submit bids automatically. Visit www.jbidwatcher.com for more info.

Sellers maximize return by correctly listing items which includes, among other requirements, correct spelling. The last tip works on the notion sellers occasionally misspell part of the listing which may prevent the intended audience from seeing the item.

Head over to www.typobuddy.com and enter an item name. Typobuddy will search eBay (and Craigslist) for misspelled entries giving users the potential for a sweet deal.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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