A three-year survey of bidding behavior on the online auction site eBay shows what to avoid if you want to get a bargain: lots that are illustrated, lots from regular sellers, weekend bidding and long auctions.

The research, conducted on the California-based site eBay, showed that if you buy an item that is illustrated with a photograph, it could set you back by an extra 11 per cent, compared to a similar item without a picture. And merchandise sold during the weekend costs about two per cent more.

The study was conducted by Charles Wood of the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota. They looked at the sale of coins on eBay from 1999 to 2001.
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