On auction sites like eBay, sellers list specific consumer goods for sale, sometimes with a minimum bidding price, and interested consumers place bids until the auction is over, at which time the highest bid "wins" and the associated customer pays for and receives the item. Transactions on eBay and similar sites take place between the buyer and the seller.
Once the winning bid is selected and the buyer's payment has cleared, the seller ships the item directly to the customer. Afterward, the customer can provide seller feedback based on the condition of the item, the timeliness of the delivery and other factors.
eBay and other auction sites prohibit certain items from auctions, such as drugs, alcohol and pirated or bootlegged media. If a buyer does not pay for an item after winning the final bid, he or she can be blacklisted from eBay.
Some auction sites operate differently from eBay. Sometimes called "penny auction sites," these services require buyers to pay for each bid they place, even if they do not win the desired item. Buyers can purchase bids one at a time or in packages, depending on how many bids they wish to place. Buyers should read the fine print carefully and consider the potential financial losses before participating in these online auctions, according to the Federal Trade Commission.