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Find Great Bargains With eBay Auction Typos and Spelling Mistakes

Published 5/27/08 (Modified 3/9/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

I love using eBay. I've been a busy eBayer since the online auction service opened for business in the late 1990's, and over the years I've gotten my bargain grubby hands on quite a few deal finds. However, back in the beginning there was less competition among buyers and sellers vying for a piece of the lucrative eBay pie. With less auction and savvy awareness on the part of the general public during eBay's infancy, deals were easier to be had.

Back in the good old eBay days, one of my best past success stories was bidding and winning online auction sales for D.C. Metro SmarTrip cards. People in the Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia metro area use prepaid magnetic debit cards to ride the subway train to work in our nation's capital. When the SmarTrip cards were first implemented on the subway system in 2004, I think I was one of the early few to immediately turn to eBay to buy subway cards in bulk denomination for maximum arbitrage savings. At the time, the whole concept of buying subway cards was still in its infancy so there was less competition for them online. Most of the SmarTrip sellers were federal government workers looking to unload their government issued cards to eBay buyers and make some money in the process (they probably weren't authorized or permitted to do that of course). But regardless of the legality or morality on their part, I was happy to buy them. Since I worked in D.C. at the time and commuted downtown on a daily basis, I needed a huge supply of them at all times. Due to the lack of bidding competition, I frequently won for 40-60% off the face value, although I had to bid on higher value cards to maximize my cost savings. For example, for cards valued at $300, I usually only paid $140 for them. My auction bidding success lasted a few brief years, but as the years went by and the number of worldwide eBay users grew, many of the inherent market efficiencies were ultimately plugged up, causing bid prices to soar and eBay savings to become less and less. Nowadays, it's hard to get any type of significant savings anymore as eBay auction prices usually get bid up to or close to the fair market value, negating the awesome bargains I use to enjoy.

By Bidding For Misspelled eBay Phrases and Keyword Typos, It Is Still Possible To Get Great Deals and Bargains

Over the years, eBay has continuously modified its search algorithm and implemented system changes to weed out arbitrage type opportunities that some suggest hurt the integrity of the eBay search engine and business model. However, while eBay may try to take measures to ensure bidding fairness and listing accuracy, it can really only do so much. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. There will always be absent minded people out there, and there's little that big brother eBay can do to stem their perpetual cluelessness. Which brings me to the purpose of this article - One very interesting area of eBay that is still prone to arbitrage profit and bargains is the area of eBay typos and eBay auction spelling mistakes. While there are many factors that influence how an eBay product listing ends such as auction title, description, timing, number of eBay reviews, and the type of photos displayed, one critical human element that is often overlooked by sellers is spelling accuracy.

The power of eBay is that it is currently the most popular and dominating online auction service in the world and has the capability to bring in a significant number of buyers and sellers together into one open marketplace where products can be exchanged for maximum gain and efficiency. Because of the sheer number of potential buyers and sellers, as well as eyes and ears so to speak, there is little room for inefficiencies to flourish. Even expensive laptop computers valued at $3,000 for example that start the bidding process at $1.00 will absolutely bid up to its fair market value by the close of the bidding period. Even the concept of eBay auction sniping is already known by most people. Sniping, or the process of using special software to fire in your online auction bid at the very last second to keep bidding war competition to a minimum used to work well in the past, but nowadays it seems like everyone uses it on every auction as well. Thus the notion that one can somehow catch an arbitrage or significantly underpriced deal now as a buyer is difficult due to the inherent scale and efficiency of today's eBay market place.

But this all changes drastically when the market place is altered in significant fashion. When the auction seller places an auction advertisement and fails to ensure correct spelling in the auction title or description, particularly for key phrases that denote what he or she is selling, this creates an inefficiency that is just begging to be exploited. This is a critical mistake because such typos prevent prospective bidders and buyers from being able to find your auction at all. Misspelled keywords in the auction title essentially eliminate the buyer and seller equilibrium usually inherent in eBay. Because the vast majority of prospective eBay buyers find their item by typing in keywords into the eBay search form, such spellings errors have the potential to make or break the final sale. However, due to the sheer size of the eBay marketplace, even such spelling error bargains are bound to be snapped up eventually, but there are simply more spelling mistake and eBay typo deals to be had than that with correctly spelled and properly placed auctions ads.

It's clear eBay has at least recognized that spelling mistakes and typos are causing a portion of sellers to wind up with much fewer bids and lower bid values than they ought to have. While they have permitted a substantial number of eBay buyers and bidders such as myself to take walk away with nice bargains we would otherwise not have gotten, eBay doesn't seem entirely committed to stamp out this little shopping loophole. While eBay has installed spell checkers and automated keyword suggestion tools into their online auction software, there is only so much the company can really do to force absent minded sellers to comply. Many grammatically-challenged eBay merchants simply continue to disregard the importance of spelling accuracy. Auction listings containing multiple spelling errors and typos continue to litter the eBay marketplace, to the delight of many potential bidders who can find them. I've been on both sides of the eBay auction, as both a seller and as a buyer. While there's nothing quite like being the seller and experiencing the excitement of registering that first successful auction sale for the first time, I mostly prefer to be the auction bidder and buyer. I love stumbling onto great deals that others have overlooked. These days, my best eBay finds and bargains come from the spelling error misfortunes of others.

A Few Examples Of Critical eBay Spelling Errors and Auction Typos That Will Cause The Seller To Lose A Lot Of Money But May Allow The Buyer To Profit

The unfortunate part of this is that there are thousands of eBay sellers that are going to lose a lot of money due to lost profits caused by lower final bids as a result of less bidding competition brought about by fewer people being able to locate the auction through misspelled keywords. With less bidding competition is the creation of an inefficient marketplace where bidders can purposely keep bid prices low, resulting in anemic final bid prices. However, the reality is that one man's loss is another man's gain. It's not our fault that others fail to properly title or write their ads to maximize their own business revenue. As buyers, we shouldn't feel guilty when we can take advantage of a great bargain or deal find. After all, we don't feel guilty when we haggle at a bazaar, flea market, or any type of barter exchange, so why should any of us feel guilty about being able to snap up savings due to someone else's incompetence?

One of the best, most common, and perhaps most expensive example of critical eBay auction spelling errors is the keyword - "diamonds". Strangely enough, many people still incorrectly spell it as "dimond", without the letter "A". Despite the existence of free eBay provided spell checkers and a myriad of warnings and alerts, many sellers continue to list incorrectly spelled diamond related products for sale. For the sneaky bargain hunter, this is a lucrative gold mine, or a diamond mine for that matter, of great deals. Of course, there's always the problem of discerning fake diamond products from the real gems. eBay and other auction sites are filled with lots of internet scams and online frauds.

As for myself, I'm currently in the market for a new GPS system for my car. My old handheld global positioning map system is currently being loaned to a friend of mine so I've decided to search eBay for any special GPS deals. As you may or may not know, GPS systems are rather expensive and can range anywhere from $200-$500 depending on brand and model. One popular GPS brand is Garmin. A quick search for the incorrectly spelled "Gamin", "Garmen", or "Garnin" yields a few nice results, in the eyes of mighty bargain hunters like myself. I'll be sure to keep my eyes peeled for any good GPS misspelling deals in the near future.

Another common spelling mistake is for the word "monitor" as in LCD or computer monitor. A couple of common spelling errors can be created with the simple juxtaposition of a few letters to come up with "montoir", "montor", and "moniter". I suppose it's a common mistake, but it can be a costly one for the seller, especially if he or she is forced to uphold the sale. Computer monitors aren't cheap! For fun, you can also try entering things like "Playstatoin" or "Playstaton" for the Sony Playstation - you're bound to get a few intriguing bargains.

Instead of manually coming up with common typos and eBay spelling errors, you can also try using online software programs like Fat Fingers to help you come up with misspelling ideas for your target keyword. There are a whole slew of other similar eBay-minded programs online that can help you take advantage of common spelling mistakes. If you're lucky, you might score a great deal too! The scecret has been out for some time but as long as there are absent minded poor spellers out there, there will be great deals for us buyours, I mean buyers.

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