There is a wealth of auction sites that could relieve you of
unwanted Christmas presents, if youíre brave (or mercenary)
enough to flog Aunty Ednaís tasteless offerings.
First, choose your user ID carefully ó Donutbrain21 is
unlikely to inspire confidence in a potential buyer. Next,
donít underestimate the importance of including a photograph:
it will increase your chances of achieving a good price.
Asking a low price will attract more bidders, and therefore
increase your chances of making a good profit. Buyers who are
unsure about an item should e-mail the seller before the sale.
And remember, auctions are legally binding.
Price: Ebay has no price restrictions. A
Vietnam War souvenir lighter, £8; a 1975 VW Beetle, £1,000.
Time: Auctions can last from three to
Fee to place an item: 60p for items
worth between £15 and £29.99; £1.25 for items over £30. Make
yours a feature with eye-catching bold letters for an additional
Description: With more than five
million auctions live at any time, Ebay is the largest and most
comprehensive online auction site. Browsing is free but to start
bidding or selling you have to register for a password and ID.
Pay by credit card, cheque or postal order.
To sell: Submit a description of your
item and, if possible, a digital photograph. Setting a reserve
price is optional.
To buy: Before you bid you are advised
to check a sellers reputation by clicking on his Feedback
record. Then type in the maximum you are prepared to pay for the
item, which is kept secret from other bidders. The highest
bidder is notified by e-mail at the end of the auction and the
buyer and seller must contact each other to complete the
transaction within three working days.
Added extras: The site incorporates fraud
protection for buyers on items up to £120.
The catch: The seller will almost invariably
expect the buyer to pay for postage and packing on top of the
Price: Gucci sunglasses, £22; Nokia 8310
mobile phone, £49.
Time: Auctions can last from 24 hours to ten
Fee to place an item: 30p per listing, plus
30p per auction where the reserve price is higher than the
starting price. If the auction ends successfully this fee will
Description: QXL claims to be the safest and
easiest auction site in Europe, although with its complicated
instructions not to mention a tricky star-rating system for
sellers this is a moot point. You need to register your credit
card details before you can buy or sell.
To sell: Submit a description and
photograph, if possible. Setting starting and reserve prices is
mandatory. You can choose to be notified via text message when
your item is sold.
To buy: You can check out the highest bids
before you join an auction and there is a Buy Now option if you
want to buy an item immediately rather than bid against other
Added extras: The site offers insurance up
to £750 according to the sellers star-rating.
The catch: Again, buyers need to check if
delivery charges are included in the price.
Price: Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera, £250;
Sony Vaio computer, £950.
Time: Auctions can last from 24 hours to ten
Fee to place an item: For items below £500,
the price per listing is 4 per cent of the total value. For
items above £500, the price is 1 per cent of total value.
Description: FS Auctions is Freeserves
online auction site. With everything from diet pills to
Encyclopaedia Britannica, it is similar to a car boot sale.
Browsing is easy and the huge range of items means its easy to
pick up a bargain. With most items, buyers dont have to part
with credit card details until a bid is accepted.
To sell: After submitting a description and
optional photograph, you can choose to sell your item for a
fixed price or open it to bidders. You can also opt for a Quick
Sale, whereby the item is sold to the first bidder who meets
your threshold price. Setting a reserve price is optional.
To buy: Clicking on an item brings up the
opening bid and current highest bid. Winning bidders are
notified by e-mail, but must then visit the site to collect the
Added extras: The site runs special auctions
that are exclusive to registered members.
The catch: Reserve prices are not disclosed
to bidders. The site offers no insurance on sales.
Price: 9ct gold opal & ruby ring, £47;
BT Paragon Digital Ansaphone, £25.
Time: Auctions can last from one day to
Fee to place an item: Sellers must pay a 1
registration fee; afterwards, selling is free. You can make your
item a feature on the site for an additional 2 per auction.
Description: With an attractive design and
short-scrolling pages, CQ Auctions is the most user-friendly
site we found.
To sell: If you are selling coins, stamps or
books, the site has minimum quality requirements, otherwise,
submit a description and optional photograph.
To buy: Check the sellers user rating before
bidding. Then enter the minimum bid for that item, or the
maximum you are prepared to spend, which is kept secret from
other bidders. If you are outbid, you will be notified by
Added extras: You can opt to buy through the
SecurePay system, whereby the site acts as a third party on
sales taking delivery of goods and checking quality before
payment for an additional 10 per cent of the sale value.
The catch: If you opt out of SecurePay, the
site offers no insurance, instead, rogue traders have their