Everything you ever wanted to know about eBay

EBay University visited Newport Beach, Saturday, April 21st. Rosalie and I spent the day there attending sessions and learning first hand just how eBay works.

In the past I have commented on the phenomenon that eBay has become with its 29 million users and over five million individual items for sale. For any who haven't visited the site, go to and see for yourselves. It is unbelievable.

Now I just want to share with you some observations about our day at the Marriott Newport Beach.

We learned about eBay University from a newspaper clipping that Phyllis brought to Coffee and Computers awhile back. They hold these meetings around the country on a pretty regular basis. Last year they visited Los Angeles but I didn't get a chance to go. This time they were local so we registered on the Internet for $25 a person. You can find their schedule by visiting

We arrived at 8:30, signed in and each were given a bag containing an eBay T-shirt, session information and a copy of "eBay for Dummies," itself worth $20. While waiting for the sessions to start we enjoyed free coffee and picked up nicely prepared and bound literature covering each topic.

There were seven topics from which to choose which were to be presented in four time slots from 9 until 5:30 that afternoon. At 9, I attended "Improve your listings with Photos/HTML," while Rosalie went to "Browsing and Buying." Later we both attended sessions on basic and advanced selling techniques.

The presenters were outstanding and we learned a lot about how to navigate the eBay infrastructure. But more interesting was watching the attendees.

Those attending covered the spectrum, ranging in age from probably early twenties to well into retirement. Many were couples. From listening to the comments, most were active eBay users who were there to gain an edge in their endeavors.

It was interesting to hear the "Power Sellers" talk. These people consistently sell between $2000 and $25,000 per month on eBay. Yes, up to $25,000 per month. This is serious business!

While there were people who sell items from their own attics, others scour the garage sales, swap meets and local industries. To be a Power Seller, you need a pretty consistent source of items.

One couple told how they visit garage sales. No more browse and buy. The husband swoops down on a garage sale as early as he can and has his cellular telephone at the ready. If he sees an interesting item, he calls his wife who is sitting in front of their computer with eBay on the screen. She immediately searches for similar items on the auction site and tells her husband how much they are selling for. He then makes the decision whether or not to buy the item. Then off to the next sale. No low tech stuff here.

For us non-Power Sellers, we were told how to list our items to get the most bids. Start the bidding at one dollar and set a hidden "reserve" price instead of showing a "minimum" price. One dollar bids get people excited and they are likely to get caught up in a bidding frenzy, driving up the price until you get more than you thought possible.

A picture is worth a thousand words and we were shown how eBay makes adding pictures easy using the ipix service. To make buying and selling easier and safer, a new credit card service called BillPoint is available.

It's hard to see how eBay misses any tricks. This was a very worthwhile day with their experts and I would recommend it highly to anyone interested in using eBay.

If you have further questions about buying or selling on eBay or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 So. 'C' St., any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

Return to Doc's Home Page