Now, I like to think of myself as a bit of a pro at shopping for clothes. Not fashion, you understand – I don’t have the first clue when it comes to fashion. But clothes shopping? I know what I’m doing. I think you could even call it a hobby of mine. Nothing brightens up a grey day more than receiving a beautifully packaged garment in the post or strolling out of a store with a new purchase in a glossy bag. As I’ve mentioned many a time before though, as much as I love the buzz of unwrapping something new, I’m also thrifty, and the older I get the more of a scrooge I am when it comes to spending cash on something frivolous. I am also chronically indecisive, and often find myself deliberating over a frock or a pair of shoes for so long that it actually sells out before I have a chance to buy it. Which is super annoying, because that is normally the same time I realise I can’t live without it…! Both of these things make eBay the perfect place for me – with both the chance to save a wedge of dosh and find things that have long since gone out of season, it’s probably the place I spend the most on clothes and shoes.
How it Works…
Now, I know I don’t need to tell you how eBay works, it isn’t exactly a new concept. But with all of the millions of potential bargains on offer, random browsing can be both overwhelming and frighteningly addictive, so I tend to use it for two specific purposes.
Firstly, just straight up bargains. There are a handful of brands that I love to pieces, but they fall at the pricier end of my budget, so I don’t often buy from them full price unless it’s for a special occasion. If I’m ever feeling like treating myself I’ll have a quick look on eBay to see if anyone is listing them and I’ve managed to land myself some amazing deals this way. Here are some of this year’s favourites in that camp:
The second main function for me is tracking the ‘ones that got away’ – those beauties you never managed to get your hands on that haunt your dreams! One of the best things about eBay is that you just never know who might have bought that dream pair of shoes, realised they don’t fit and stashed them at the back of a cupboard for ages until they had a clear out or moved house. That’s how these beauties all came to be mine, in some cases after years of stalking (Yep. They’re all shoes. With bows on. I stalk a lot of shoes with bows on):
The Good Bits…
Well, mainly the above mentioned cash-saving opportunities and the chance to finally be fulfilled in life! But also, while there are many big firms and ‘power sellers’ on eBay these days, most of the time you are buying from a real ordinary person just like you, and sometime people can be a lot more flexible than big stores. In the chaos of suddenly moving house just after Christmas last year I completely forgot to pick up an eBay purchase from the post office, but the seller was so helpful once it had made it’s way back to her and didn’t charge me to have it resent, which helped a lot during a stressful time. It also sometimes means they really add a personal touch you wouldn’t normally get – just look at this adorable note on my last purchase!
The Bad Bits…
People can be sweet, but they can be really annoying too. Unfortunately there is always the odd grumpus out there who will give you a poor rating because it took you half an hour longer than they wanted to make your payment or some other such terrible crime. Once I won an Oasis blouse I’d been eyeing up for a while only for the seller to message me the next day saying, ‘My sister has decided she wants it now. Soz. Here’s a refund!’ I got all my money back, but still, it was pretty disappointing after the thrill of being the highest bidder! Thankfully though, experiences like that don’t come around that often, and eBay’s money back guarantee means it’s pretty hard to get ripped off these days. The aforementioned addictive qualities need to be watched though – once you’ve set your heart on something it’s all too tempting to get drawn into a bidding war that finds you spending far much more than you wanted!
To avoid that bidding war, always set yourself a top price you’re willing to pay, and never bid before the end of an auction. I always go in at the last minute with my top bid, that way, if I win, I might just get it at a much lower price, but if I lose, it will be because it cost more than I was willing to pay. Never be put off by a higher starting price though – lots of people make a point of only watching auctions that start at 99p, which means you probably have less competition if you’re a little more open minded. I’ve bid on many pairs of those Ted Baker shoes over the years and they almost always ended up going for around £70. This time though, the buyer listed with a starting price of £25 which must have put people off as only one other person bid on them and they finally became mine! Finally, be cautious of anyone who doesn’t have photos of the real thing. Plenty of sellers post items with images off websites or even stolen from other people’s blogs. It doesn’t necessarily mean the item is fake of course, but it’s always better to know you’re going to get what you thought you were! I mean, you wouldn’t buy a car or a puppy without seeing the real thing would you?
And now I’ve just revealed that I take shoes as seriously as cars or puppies I think it might be time to leave it there! Plus, I still have a long list of things to stalk….