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Assessing Value

Whether or not you ever buy on eBay, you’ll find it is the ultimate pricing guide. Want to know what something is worth? Look it up on eBay. Right now, I have an HTC Evo 4G cellphone. I’m curious as to its value. (Should I keep it another few months, or upgrade? If I upgrade, how much can I get for my current phone?) So I look it up on eBay.

And what I see is a confusing list of 93,829 items in seemingly random order. I see on the left of the page that there are categories. I’m not interested in cell phone accessories, just complete phones. So, I click that, and the list is reduced to 1,788 items. I’m not interested in knowing what new phones or broken ones are worth. So I click “used” and reduce the list to 918 items. Finally, I look to the right side of the page, and see that I can sort the list. So I choose [Price, Lowest First]. The first phone in the list is $1.29. What’s going on?

That’s the current price. I’m not interested in how the bidding is going on these phones. I want to know how much they actually sold for. So, here’s the trick: On the left I see a menu item, “More Refinements.” After clicking that, I scroll down to “Show Only” and finally, I click “Completed Listings.”

I see prices in red and in green. The red ones are ones that didn’t sell for one reason or another. The green ones actually sold. So dang! My phone is actually selling for $25 – $30. I would have thought it would bring more. (Last year it was selling for $200.)

That’s the way it goes with electronics, isn’t it? So, if I was at a garage sale, and saw an HTC Evo 4G phone selling for $20, I could quickly check eBay, and discover that would be a poor choice to purchase. On the other hand I might come across what seems to be a rare music CD from the early 1990s, being offered for $5, and discover that it is currently selling for $150 on eBay. Should I buy it?

Now here’s a cool trick for buyers, or anyone who needs to know current values: With my HTC Evo phone, I have downloaded the free eBay program that you can download onto any smartphone. At the top right is a little icon that looks like a barcode. I click that, then aim the camera at the barcode on the back of a DVD, book, any sort of product. The phone beeps, and in just a few seconds I’m seeing a list of that product for sale on eBay. At the top right of the list is a “Refine” button. I hit that, and then at the bottom of the list I can select [Completed Listings]. Now, I get to see what the DVD is really worth – just that easy!

You might be pleased to know you can do the same thing on Amazon with the free Amazon smartphone software.


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