Wired Up: Online auctions

Whether you want to get rid of the dusty heirlooms from the family attic or the exercise bike you never quite got round to using, try an online auction house - they are transforming the way consumers and collectors are buying and selling.
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This is the granddaddy of all auction sites. The owners don't actually sell anything - they simply supply a sales facility for others. The site sells everything from Pink Floyd posters to Second World War memorabilia. Once you've registered with the site, a process which is very straightforward and free, you can then bid on any item from the millions on offer. All transactions are in dollars, and the vast majority of the items on sale are from the US, although it's easy to ask to see items that are only up for sale in the UK. The US-centric nature of the site is certainly an inconvenience, but if you are into collecting anything, you really can't go wrong. The entire site operates on a trust system, which has been incredibly successful. Sign up immediately.




Auction Universe is a smaller but similar service to eBay. Where eBay has a real community feel, Auction Universe presents itself as more of a members' club. And where eBay effectively trusts its users to deal fairly with each other (the only penalties available are complaints in a user profile section which everyone can access), Auction Universe has a slightly more stringent code of conduct and threatens disciplinary measures if you're found defaulting on deals. The site makes its money from charging a small amount to sellers. Auction Universe also offers a secure trading facility (for which it charges) and an insurance service against something going wrong. And although it's not quite as user-friendly as eBay, it's certainly the second place to check out.


THE BEST OF THE REST www.klik-klok.com HH

One worth checking out for amusement purposes only, this is a Dutch auction site, where the price of items keeps dropping until somebody makes a bid.

www.golfbids.com HH

A live auction site which concentrates exclusively on golf equipment and memorabilia.

www.edeal.com HHH

A similar service to eBay, it makes a feature of dealing in a number of different currencies.

www.eworldauction.com HHH

An excellent site devoted to books, maps and prints, it also contains plenty of links to other related sites.

www.empireantiques.com/ marquee.htm HH

A network of antique dealers which is a good place to submit a request for a specific hard-to-find item.