Buying Beads Online - Top Ten Tips

Wholesale Supplies
If you make hand-crafted jewelry to sell, you need a cheap source of good beads. Try to purchase at wholesale prices to maximize profit - either through the internet or from an offline bead store.

You may need to order larger quantities than you need - and in the US, you may need a license. To get around these problems, buy through an online auction site, like eBay. However, this can bring other problems: these ten tips will help you out:

1. Keep Cool
When bidding on online auctions, keep cool. Don't get carried away by the excitement. It's easy to get into a bidding war and end up paying more than an item is worth.

2. Think Ahead
Make sure that the item you are bidding for is what you want. Always be sure you know the size, especially if a picture is enlarged. Don't assume it is a certain size, check with a bead measure. And don't buy a strand of beads if you want a ready-made necklace. Some people do!

3. Use your Head
Don't be naive reading descriptions. Never take words at face value - like "This fabulous bead is so hard to describe, the picture speaks for itself!" Exquisite beads are everywhere, and every other item is unique. Enter the word "unique" in the search box and its overuse makes it meaninglessness.

Many sellers misrepresent out of ignorance, rather than deceit, but it helps to know things yourself. " Antique" is identified by US customs as being over 100-years old - beads from the 1960s are not antique. Occasionally, a little research brings a bargain. You might spot a rare old African tribal necklace being sold as a trinket from Thailand, though more likely you'd be fooled the other way round!

4. Search the Web
Look for similar items and determine what a fair price is. Sometimes dealers will have the same items on their web sites for less than you'd pay if you were competing with other bidders. Or the other way round. Look at the sellers' other auctions. Keep track of similar items before placing your bid, and compare with different auction sites.

5. Check eBay Feedback
Check what other buyers have said about the seller and examine any negative feedback. If there are many unhappy customers: be wary.

6. Sniping
Bid just before the auction ends. This perfectly legitimate practice, of out-biding your competing buyers in the final moments is called "sniping". A sniper program which can be downloaded for free enables you to do likewise

7. Return Policy
Can you make a return? If you pay by Paypal on eBay, it's easy to get a refund for any reason. Buying online is like a catalog sale, and sellers have to give a return policy. However, don't expect to be refunded shipping or a handling fee to cover the seller's expenses.

8. Good auction etiquette
Always quote the auction number with all correspondence to the seller, along with mailing address with the payment. Sellers hate spending hours detecting which beads go to whom. Don't just rely on Paypal to inform this for you. Some dealers with many auctions take a few days to contact all their buyers. Unreasonable e-mails demanding a total slows down the process.

9. Pay fast
Always pay as quickly as possible. Paypal or credit card is best. Otherwise you'll have to wait for your check to clear. US sellers in many states have to collect sales tax for their resale license. They don't get a commission on this and have to pay penalties for mistakes in collecting these taxes - so don't try to evade. Same with VAT in Europe.

10. Shipping
Some sellers will try to rip you off with shipping, especially from China, so check before you bid. However, international airmail is expensive, so expect to pay reasonable shipping & handling fees. Around US$10 for a small order is OK, over $20 is not. Allow a reasonable time for your item to arrive before you enquire - ten days from within your own country, or twenty-days from abroad.



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