Living with the Internet: Online shopping
Living with the Internet: Online shopping

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Living with the Internet: Online shopping

2 How to do it – eBay

2.1 Exploring eBay

First, have a look around the eBay system to get a feel for how it works.

Go to the eBay website

Find an item that interests you, either by clicking on the categories in the left-hand panel …

The Categories displayed on eBay. It starts: Antiques &Art; Automotive (Cars | Classic Cars | Motorcycles | Parts | Accessories | more); Books, Comics &Magazines; Business, Office &Industrial; Clothing &Accessories; Coins; Collectables; Computing; Consumer Electronics; Dolls &Bears; DVDs, Film &TV…
eBay Categories

… or by typing it into the search box.

The eBay search box. The search box has 'Nikon lenses' entered. To the right is a button Find It and below are radio buttons to choose Items in the UK or Items worldwide and a link to Advanced Search.
eBay search

I was interested in Nikon lenses, and eBay responded with a list of 27 items in which the words 'Nikon' and 'lenses' appeared.

A screen dump showing part of search results on eBay. It reads: All Categories / 27 items found for Nikon lenses / Located in: United Kingdom / Sort by items: ending first | newly listed | lowest priced | highest priced. This is followed by a list of items each with a picture and title. Two are visible: Nikon N6006, including 2 lenses &external flash, and Nikon F70 SLR Camera+2 AF Lenses+Kit bag. Both are followed by a PayPal icon.
eBay search results

For most of the 27 items listed there was an auction in progress. For each, there was information on the current highest bid, the number of bids that had been made up to that time, and the time remaining before the auction closed.

A screen dump showing part of search results on eBay. It shows the Price, number of Bids and Time Left. Two items are shown: price £100.00, bids 11, time left 12h 59m; price £155.00, bids 14, time left 19h 06m.
eBay search results

I wanted to see how the auction for the Nikon F70 was progressing. Clicking on it took me to the auction page for the item.

The eBay auction page for an item. The item is Nikon F70 SLR Camera+2 AF Lenses+Kit bag and an image is shown (with a link to a larger picture). Details shown are: Current bid: £155.00 (with a button to Place Bid); Time left: 18 hours 54 mins / 10-day listing / Ends 28-Apr-04 17:53:52 BST; Start time: 18-Apr-04 17:53:52 BST; History: 14 bids [link] (£75.00 starting bid); High bidder: marc5746 [link] (1); Item location: Bournemouth, Dorset, United Kingdom; Post to: United Kingdom only; Postage and payment details [link].
eBay auction page

This gives lots of information on the state of the bidding, the number of bids made so far, the history of the bidding and the eBay name of the current high bidder. Note that the bidder's name is a hyperlink. Clicking on it took me to a page giving the bidder's eBay 'profile'.

Part of an eBay member's profile. It is a table showing Recent Ratings with columns for the past month, past 6 months and past 12 months and rows for positive, neutral and negative ratings. It shows that the member has had one positive rating in the past 6 months and one positive rating in the past 12 months and no neutral or negative ratings at all
eBay member profile

This profile attempts to show how the current high bidder is regarded by people he has dealt with in the past. In fact, this particular bidder has only made one previous eBay transaction. But he received a complimentary comment nevertheless:

A comment on an eBay member. It reads: Very fast payment. Great eBayer!
eBay comments

Returning to the main auction page, I can also find similar kinds of information on the seller of the item:

Information about a seller on eBay. It reads: mohc123 [link] ( 1 [link] ) / Feedback score: 1 / Positive Feedback: 100% / Member since 01-Sep-03 in United Kingdom / Read feedback comments / Ask seller a question / View seller's other items.
eBay seller details

What's the point of all this feedback? The answer is that it's eBay's solution to the problem of building trust in an online environment. The idea is that if an eBay buyer or seller builds up a record of reliable and honest behaviour, and if his or her record is available for all to see before anyone commits to a transaction with that person, then the confidence needed for a trading environment will be maintained. It's an ingenious solution to a tricky problem, provided that the security of the eBay system which manages this is not compromised.


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