Are you longing to dive into the online auction scene but afraid of getting soaked by unscrupulous operators? We test the waters at seven major sites so you can nab the best deals.

Glenn McDonald and Harry McCracken

From the August 1999 issue of PC World magazine

Ten minutes before my auction was due to close, everything fell apart. I was about to score a sweetheart deal on a brand-new, in-the-box 3D graphics card–and my bid of $50 was just sitting there.

Without warning, two other bidders swooped in and upped the price to $60. Panicking, I raised my bid to $65. No good. The price jumped to $70 … $75 … $80.

When the dust settled, the card went to “BD from Richmond, Virginia” for $95. I cursed him under my breath. Then I surfed off to see what other cards were up for bid, and the hunt began anew…–Diary of a Web auction bidder

Welcome to the wild world of online auctions. At its worst, the adventure can be hair-raising. But at its best, it can be an addictive way to buy high-quality products at bargain-basement prices. The range of items up for bid is nearly unlimited, from factory-fresh PC gear to toys like the ones Mom tossed out when you were a kid. Read the rest of this entry »