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eBay for eBabes

Shopping on eBay is easier than walking in flats, but it still scares some people. I've done it for years, but my relationship with eBay is a long, c

Shopping on eBay is easier than walking in flats, but it still scares some people. I've done it for years, but my relationship with eBay is a long, complicated affair. We've had our good times (last month, a Herve Leger skirt for $32) and our bad (the year 2000, a fake Kate Spade bag, $9.99, traumatic - someone glued fabric to four pieces of cardboard and stapled them). But I've stuck with eBay for all these years, partly because I've had a lot of time on my hands (grad school, people), but also because I love a great deal. Below is a list of tips for future (and present) eBay shoppers. All you need is time, patience, and an internet connection. A PayPal account won't hurt either... --ALLIE MERRIAM

Tip 1: The Down Low Brand. If you know a thing or two about labels, you're already one step ahead of the game. One of the biggest thrills on eBay is finding an item that the seller doesn't know is valuable - a DL label, so to speak. One of my favorites is Norma Kamali - there's a lot of vintage stuff that people have, and they're clueless about her value. Tip 2: The misspelled item. Though rare, this urban eBay myth does occur. I once scored a pair of "Miu Mium Platform Sandals Size 41" for a mere $9.99. A friend bought (2 years ago) a "MARC JACBOS BUBBLE SKIRT" for $40. An especially good case of sellers ignoring their spell-check: "Todd's". Tip 3: Shipping. What is the point of buying a pair of Ked's for $5.99 if the shipping costs $20? For that price you should head over to Zappos and buy a new pair. Also, beware of international shipping fees. Tip 4: Seller feedback. Every seller gets ranked by their previous buyers (just as buyers get ranked by sellers), so you can get a good impression of whether someone is trustworthy. A seller doesn't need a 100% rating to be legit, but a safe ballpark would be between 96%-100%. If you're buying something expensive or designer, it's also worth seeing what they've sold previously. If you're buying Chanel ballet flats from someone who has a 100% feedback - because they previously sold baseball cards for ninety-nine cents – you might want to rethink that purchase. It's not unusual for sellers to up their feedback with small-scale sales, and then try to rip someone off by selling an expensive (and fake) item. Tip 5: Designer Bags. Have you ever been to Canal Street? Fake bags have little tags that state their label. Like this one. Sophisticated fake bags will have the right lining and maybe even a serial number. It's a risk – but a friend bought a Spy bag on eBay for $199, brought it to the Fendi counter at Bergdorfs, and they told her it was real. A good rule of thumb for eBay bag buying might be to stick with lesser known brands – because who is going to sell a knockoff Hogan or Sonia Rykiel? Tip 6: For the Intense eBay Shopper. There is a whole wide world of eBays to explore! Looking for a Longchamp bag? Why not try French eBay? Of course, you need to know some basic French, and be willing to pay an international shipping fee, but often items made in other countries can be purchased cheaper on their home sites. Exchange rate logic suggests that Americans shop on Canadian eBay, which is horrible - think the difference between Crocs and Manolos. But Australian eBay ( ) is pretty good. Did you know Stella McCartney had a line for Australian Target? Neither will your friends when you show up rocking a Stella trench coat. Although, when shopping on the foreign sites, keep in mind that the sizing varies - you don't want to ship a dress from Australia only to realize it's four sizes too big. --ALLIE MERRIAM

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