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eBay School: Introduction

Getting an eBay account
by Gisle Hannemyr
Published: 2011-04-25.

If you want to buy or sell photo equipment, you need to know about eBay. It was founded in San Jose, USA, in 1995, and has since grown to become a global marketplace for buying and selling all types of goods.

An immense variety of photographic equipment can be found for sale on eBay. Item listings include photos, descriptions, and detailed specifications. Search functions built into eBay let you know what each one sold for or is selling for. Knowing how to use eBay will let you know what the “street price” of almost any item under the sun is.

On eBay, almost all aspects of buying and selling, other than the delivery of merchandise, are handled by eBay. On eBay, there is a auction system to negotiate the price, there is a system for payment known as PayPal that has some built-in insurance against fraud, and there is system for monitoring the reputations of buyers and sellers to weed out those that do not follow-up on their promises.

It does not cost anything to join eBay. There are sign-up fee, monthly fees or other hidden costs. Buying and selling on eBay is free for buyers and inexpensive for sellers. Sellers pay list items for sale, and another small percentage of the value when an item is sold and paid for.

In the DPanswers' eBay School, I'll tell you everything that is worth knowing about eBay, and then some. I hope you'll find it useful.

1. Getting started

This is the first lesson in the series, and aim to teach you how to get started using eBay, and how you can put eBay to use for you.

To start using eBay, you need to sign up for two services: eBay and PayPal. You will need to be signed up for eBay in order to buy or sell stuff on eBay. You will need to be signed up for PayPal in order to pay for stuff you buy, and to receive payment for stuff you sell. Signing up for both is a simple process and it costs you nothing. I shall outline all the required steps below, one step at a time.

2. How to sign up for eBay

Below, I explain how to sign up for eBay in five easy steps. Take your time and make sure you understand each step before completing it.

Step 1: Click “register” on eBay's front page

You start the process by going to the . Click on to go there.

Near the upper-left of eBay's front page, you should see a message that says “Welcome! Sign in or register”. To sign up for eBay, you should click on the word “register” (circled in red in image below). This begins the registration process.

eBay welcom.
Upper left corner of eBay welcome screen. Click “register” to begin the registration process.

Step 2: Tell eBay about yourself

After clicking on the “register” link in Step 1, eBay asks you to complete a web form. This form asks for various kinds of personal information, providing eBay with enough information to open a trading account for you. In the first area, labeled “Tell us about yourself,” enter the following in the appropriate boxes:

  • Your first and last names.
  • Your street address. Two lines are provided, it is OK to leave the last line empty.
  • The city or place where you live.
  • State or province. Leave this at -Select- if none of options fit.
  • Your zip (US) or postal code (rest of the world).
  • Select the country or regian you live in from the pull down menu.
  • The telephone number you use most, along with an extension (leave it blank if you don't have one). (Boxes marked D.)
  • Your email address. Enter it twice, once in the upper box and once in the lower box. Be sure that you enter it in the same way each time. eBay asks twice to be sure that you've typed it correctly each time. (Boxes marked E.)
eBay welcom.
Start of registration process. Tell eBay about yourself.

Step 3: Choose a user ID, password, and security questions

In the next area of the form, eBay asks you to choose and enter a nickname by which you'll be known on eBay, a password to protect your account, a security question to protect your password in case you forget it, and your date of birth, which eBay must have for legal reasons. Complete this part of the form by entering or selecting a:

  • Nickname of your choosing (box marked A). Since there are millions of users on eBay, it's likely that no matter what your first choice is, you'll choose a name someone else is already using. Click on the “Check your user ID” box (marked B) after you enter your nickname of choice and eBay will tell you whether or not someone else is already using the name you've selected.
  • Password of your choosing. Each time you log into eBay, you'll be asked to provide this password so that nobody else can buy or sell in your name. Enter the password twice, once in the upper box and once in the lower box. Once again, be sure that you enter it in the same way each time. (Boxes marked C).
  • Secret question to protect your password (drop-down list marked D). Click on the list to see a series of personal questions and choose one that you can answer easily and quickly. If you ever lose your password, eBay will ask you this question in order to verify your identity before helping you to choose a new password.
  • Correct answer to the question that you've just chosen (enter the answer in box marked E). Again, if you ever lose your password, eBay will ask you the question you've chosen above. The answer you provide at that time will be compared to the answer you supply here. This is a simple way for eBay to check your identity before helping you with password problems.
  • Date of birth. Select the month and day that you were born from the drop-down lists, then entering the year in which you were born into the box at the lower-right. (Items marked F.)

Step 4: Prove you're a human and agree to terms

You'll now be asked to prove that you're a human being rather than an Internet-based “bot” (shot for robot) creating eBay accounts for questionable purposes. This helps to keep eBay's trading environment safe for humans. You'll also be asked to agree to eBay's terms of service. Here's what to do:

  • Read to the best of your ability the messy, squiggly text that eBay provides. (Item marked A.)
  • Do your best to enter the identical text into the comparison box. (Box marked B.) If you get the text wrong, eBay will ask you to try again in a few moments. This test (reading convoluted text, then entering it) is designed to be an impossible taks for “bots” to complete. Unfortunately, it is also difficult for many humans to complete, so it may take you several tries to get it right.
  • Read the eBay user agreement and privacy policy (click on the links marked “user agreement” and “privacy policy” in each case), then check the box indicating that you agree with these terms. (Box marked C.)
  • When you're done, click the “Register” button (item marked D>) to complete the first form required for eBay registration.

Once you've clicked the “Register” button, be sure to wait for a moment to be sure that the form was accepted. If you've filled out any part of the form incorrectly or your answers require adjustment, eBay will tell you so. If that happens, go over Steps 2, 3, and 4 above to be sure that you've completed the form correctly. Read eBay's response carefully to see if there are any additional instructions that must be followed.

Step 5: Carefully check your email box for confirmation

Once you've successfully submitted the first registration form, check your email box for a message from eBay with the subject “Complete your eBay Registration--last step.” Once the message arrives, open the message and look for a button marked “Activate Now.”

  • If you see such a button, click on it.
  • If you do not see such a button, but you do see a box titled “If the above link does not work,” follow the steps provided in the box carefully. They will ask you to write down a confirmation code (be sure to differentiate between upper and lowercase letters) and then to enter that code after following a link to eBay.
  • If you see neither an “Activate Now” button nor a box titled “If the above link does not work,” look for a box titled “This is the last step, we promise! - Activate your eBay membership” and click on the link below it.

After you've completed any one of the three options above, you should see an eBay confirmation page informing you that you have successfully created an eBay account. Wait! Before you do anything else, be sure to follow the steps given on the next page of this article, which will help you to create a PayPal account, nearly essential for buying and selling on eBay and similarly easy to join.

3. Final words

The five steps above should take you trough the process of signing up for eBay. However, before you can use eBay to purchase anything, you need to be able to pay for it. On eBay, payment means using PayPal. Within the eBay infrastructure, PayPal as by far the simplest and most secure means of payment.

To use PayPal, you need a PayPal account. If you have not got one, I'll you how to get one in the next lesson.

Signing up for a PayPal Account »

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