Know your out of pocket cost
Before you bid on eBay you should know the total cost of the item you're interested in. Bid price or Buy It Now price is only part of that cost. There is also shipping cost and sometimes tax. Whenever I purchase anything over the internet using eBay or another website, I always add shipping cost and tax when calculating my cost of an item.
Shipping and handling fee abuse on eBay
When shopping on eBay, sometimes you'll see low bid price but high shipping cost. In some circumstances high shipping fee is justified for large or heavy items that cost a lot to ship, for expensive items that need to be insured or when shipping internationally.
There are some sellers who intentionally set shipping and handling fee high as a strategy to get you to buy an item. If you think you found a good deal and purchase an item without looking for shipping cost, you might learn that it wasn't such a good deal after all because you have to pay outrageous shipping fee.
This practice was more common in the past where sellers used it as a way to avoid paying eBay final value fees. Seller would charge low price for an item and high price for shipping and handling. For example seller would list their item for $0.99 and charge $14.99 shipping and handling fee even though it would cost them a few dollars to ship the item. This way they would get almost $16 for an item but pay eBay fee on $1.
Although eBay now charges final value fee on entire amount (including shipping fee) so it makes no sense to jack up shipping cost, there are sellers who do this so their price looks lower than competition. As far as I'm concerned it's a bad practice because it can easily alienate your customers and I usually do not buy from sellers who do this.
Remember to always know the total price of the item you're considering to purchase on eBay. This includes auction price or Buy It Now price, shipping and handling fee and tax if applicable. Looking only on the price of an item can sometimes be misleading.
To get more eBay buying tips, see my other blog posts. Also, check out my eBay buyer software.