Posted by Allison on 1 April 2009, 16:13
If you go online with the intention of buying something from eBay, which site do you visit?
That's an easy answer – it's ebay.co.uk isn't it? After all that is your national eBay site, so why go anywhere else?
But if you are looking for something a bit different or even if you are looking for something very specific that you cannot find in this country, it's worth going on to eBay sites in other countries to see what you can find.
Now the first thought that will probably come to your mind is that you will need to pay much higher postage costs as a result. That is true, but you should be aware that sellers will charge vastly different amounts in their own currencies, so you should look for a seller that is responsible and honest and charges a reasonable amount and not something totally extortionate.
It obviously pays to have a currency converter handy when you go window shopping on any site in another country; this is especially useful for eBay because the item you like may not simply be a Buy It Now item. It could be an auction item, in which case you will need to think about how high you should go with your final bidding amount.
You can of course use an automatic bidding tool to do this for you; all you would need to do is set the highest bid you would want to pay, and then sit back and let the tool do the rest for you. But if you would rather see the auction finish (perhaps it's an item you very much want to have) you will be bidding manually and that can lead to confusion if you are bidding in any other currency than the one you are used to.
The bargains you can get from foreign eBay sites will obviously depend on two things – firstly the items that are available in that country and how many of them there are, and secondly what the current exchange rate is. It's not inconceivable that over the course of a ten day auction the exchange rate could experience a sudden surge or drop, resulting in a better or worse deal than you thought you were going to get. So it pays to keep an eye on the exchange rate as well as on how well your auction is going.
One other thing to bear in mind is whether or not you will have to pay any taxes on the item if you win it. There is plenty of information about this subject at the government website, which can be reached at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk
The key point here is obviously that shopping on eBay sites in other countries does open up a much bigger selection of goods than you would otherwise have, but you need to be much more aware of the cost of this type of shopping. It may be cheaper to do what we sometimes do in this country and buy several items from the same seller, in order to combine postage costs and get the price down a bit more. Buying in different currencies can certainly result in some good bargains – but only if the currency markets are going your way.