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In 1995, a computer programmer called Pierre Omidya, who'd worked on Claris software for Apple computers, had a website. It was mostly about the ebola virus.
One day, he noticed a broken laser pointer sitting beside his computer, and for a bit of fun, wrote some code which allowed him to list it as an auction on his website. He didn't expect anything to come of it. He hosted the page on his server, and called it "Auction Web". Then he walked away and forgot about it. Imagine his surprise when he came back to his computer and found it had sold for $14. Pierre emailed the auction winner, and asked if they knew it was a broken laser pointer they'd just won. The winner emailed back, and said that they were a collector of broken laser pointers.
Realising he might be on to something, Pierre set up Auction Web as a website in its own right. He renamed it eBay, after his consulting company, Echo Bay. He made $7.2million in his first 12 months of trading, and gave up his day job.
Less than a year after selling his laser pointer, eBay had got so big that Pierre couldn't manage it by himself any more, and hired his first member of staff, Jeff Skoll. The two of them built the business over the following two years, until they realised that they needed more expert help to get the business to grow even more.
In 1998, Pierre and Jeff recruited Meg Whitman. Meg was a graduate of Harvard Business School, and an expert at branding, after working at big name brands like Hasbro. With Meg on board, the team developed a business plan together. Meg set about head hunting her team from some of America's top companies - Disney and Pepsi Co to name but a few, ensuring that she got eBay the talent it needed to make it as a big business. On average, Meg's team had more than 20 years of experience each, and she soon got them on board with her vision for the company. No longer did eBay need to be seen as a platform for selling - it must be billed as a way of connecting people; buyers and sellers.
In 1999, eBay expanded outside of America, opening regional versions for the UK, Germany and Australia. By 2010, they were operating in 180 companies across the world.
18 years on from Jeff and Pierre's decision to hire Meg and their business is going from strength to strength. They bill themselves as a community where peers trade with each other using the internet to connect them. The seller lists an item in a specific category. The buyer logs on to eBay and browses either in that specific category or just with a key word, and eBay automatically generates a list for the buyer to look at based on whatever they typed into the search bar. Users can look into general topics, more specific categories, or even for a particular item.
Bidding on auctions and just being a member of eBay is free. Selling an item does incur some fees. The transaction system which Pierre and Jeff devised is still working well for them. Sellers pay an insertion fee of 35p, and a final value fee of 10% of the sale price. You can pay extra for featured listing, or adding a Buy It Now to your listing.
eBay retains Meg's description of acting purely as an introduction system, and does not get involved in selling. They let successful buyers and sellers know the final value of the item at the end of the auction, but all money handling is done outside of eBay. The contract of sale which is formed does not involve eBay, and remains between buyer and seller. While there's always a bargain to be had on eBay, regular voucher codes do come up, and can save money for both sellers and buyers.
Keen to be seen as a serious business, and not just a place to sell your collectables and knick knacks, the eBay group early on decided to focus on selling big name brands. After all, big names mean big money. They had already decided that their business model was going to revolve around collecting commission, or a "transaction fee" on each sale, so higher value products would mean more income for them. They partnered with Disney, Sun Computers and General Motors. Sun continues to be a good partner for eBay, with more than ten million dollars worth of stock sold through eBay's channels, and listing anywhere from 20 to 150 items every day.
In 2012, eBay staff calculated that there were more than 20,000 different categories of item to choose from on eBay.
eBay is online only, which means it's open all the time. They have phone, live chat and email support staff, all of which are available 24 hours.
Since eBay doesn't deal with the actual sale of items, each seller has their own delivery and returns policy. Private sellers, for example, don't have to accept returns. It's best to consult each listing before bidding.
Despite its high profile, eBay maintains that it has never been successfully hacked. Individual accounts however, can be hijacked if the user's password is not strong enough, and it has been known for a hijacker to purchase items through someone's hijacked account.
41% of Trustpilot reviews gave eBay UK five stars, meaning they were happy with it. 29% gave it the minimum one star, with most complaints involving poor customer service from eBay's staff, as opposed to problems with specific sales or purchases.
We list all the latest deals available and we constantly update the site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if you are looking for a eBay discount code for July 2020, chances are we have it listed!
We also list expired discount codes too which sometimes work, so make sure to try them before you checkout to get a few extra pounds off your order!
All our discounts are free to use for everyone including NHS staff and Police officers, students may also be able to gain a eBay student discount.