Monitoring Listings: My eBay Watch List

How to Watch Items and Save Your Searches on eBay

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The eBay website provides buyers with two powerful tools that can help them to search for and monitor items that they think they might like to buy. These tools are the "Add to watch list" tool found on every auction listing page and the "Follow this search" feature found on search results pages.

Note that you must have joined eBay and be logged in to be able to use either feature.

For Individual Items: My eBay Watch List

Near the top of any listing page, you'll find a link labeled "Add to watch list." When you click on this link, the item listing in question is saved for you in your My eBay area. There are two benefits to be gained by doing this:

  • Ease of finding the item again. Once you've clicked on "Add to watch list," eBay remembers your interest in it. Anytime you want to check on the status of the auction in question, you can simply return to the buying area of My eBay and click on the title of the auction to check its status and current bid, without having to search for it again.
  • Notification of pending auction close. Once you've clicked on "Add to watch list," eBay will take care to send you an email when it is about to close. You can then return to bid if you are interested in doing so.

    To visit the buying area of My eBay to take advantage of these features, follow these steps:

    1. Visit the eBay front page.
    2. Click on the My eBay link at the top of the page.
    3. When the My eBay page is displayed, click on the word "Watching" in the sidebar on the left side of your screen. You'll then be offered a list of all the items you're watching.

    Watching Groups of Items (Saving Searches)

    If you want to monitor not a single item, but rather an entire category or list of search results, you can have eBay do that for you, too. After running any search, near the top of the listings, you'll find a link entitled "Follow this search."

    When you click on this link, eBay will remember the search terms and categories that you used to arrive at the displayed result, saving them in your My eBay area. This provides you with two benefits:

    • Ease of re-running the search. Especially in the case of long and complex searches, this can be extraordinarily useful — any time you want to see an updated list of results, simply return to My eBay and re-run the search automatically.
    • Notification of current search results. Once you've saved a favorite search, eBay can be made to send you periodic updates listing new search results by setting an option on My eBay.

    To visit the saved searches area of My eBay to take advantage of these features, follow these steps:

    1. Visit the eBay front page.
    2. Click on the My eBay link at the top of the page.
    3. When the My eBay page is displayed, click on the word "Searches" in the "All Favorites" section of the sidebar on the left side of your screen. You'll then be shown a list of your saved searches and can re-run them by clicking on them.
    4. To have eBay periodically email you the results of the saved search, click "Sign up for Emails" to the right of the saved search in question.

    By judiciously watching items and having eBay save and run your favorite searches for you, you can stay on top of the marketplace, remain aware of your listings, and be a step ahead of other potential buyers.

    If on the other hand, you happened to save an item to your eBay watch list yet it seems to have disappeared by the time you went back later; few different reasons could be to blame.

    Disappearing Items

    So you're busy shopping on eBay—, making comparisons between items, checking out sellers' feedback profiles, looking out for red flags and generally getting ready to make up your mind about a purchase. When it's finally time to buy, you go to find a listing again, and it's gone! Either it doesn't come up in search results any longer and/or when you try to view it from a bookmark or in your watch list, you don't get the listing you're looking for.

    You wanted to buy that item; now it's gone. What's going on?

    There are several reasons why an item might disappear between the time you started thinking about buying it and the moment at which you decided to make your purchase. Though each of the following reasons is slightly different, all of them have the same unfortunate ending: you can't buy the item because the item is no longer available for sale.

    • A limited-quantity item has sold. Lots of things on eBay are sold by small or independent sellers that only have a few of the item in question or perhaps even only one of the item in question, and that will never get more "stock" of this item. In short, there are lots of "one-shot deals" on eBay. If someone else saw the item while you were thinking about it and bought it first, it's gone, and it will no longer turn up in search results, nor can you buy it any longer. If this is happening to you a lot on eBay, it's time to step up your game, since a lot of the best deals go very quickly.
    • The item violated eBay rules. In some cases, an item you were considering buying may have been removed because the seller wasn't allowed to sell that kind of item on eBay. There are lots of things that shouldn't be sold on eBay, but some of the most common examples forbidden by eBay include hazardous or dangerous items like lots of chemical or weapons, unauthorized copies of software or other media items that are protected by copyright, counterfeit and fake goods of all kinds, and consumer goods of any kind that have been recalled.
    • The item listing violated eBay rules. Sometimes it wasn't the item for sale that caused eBay to remove the listing in question, but the way that it was listed. Sellers aren't allowed to do things like use photos taken from other sellers' listings, include links to their business websites where you can buy their products, use profanity or explicit imagery, or a number of other things that eBay forbids in order to keep the eBay marketplace orderly and "clean" enough for general-purpose use.
    • The seller is no longer selling on eBay. Sometimes items are removed from eBay not because of the item in particular or because of the way it was listed, but because the person or business selling it has proven (either by breaking eBay rules or by failing to satisfy customers) to be a bit shady, and eBay no longer wants to be associated with them or their selling practices. When this happens, all of the items on offer from the seller that was suspended are removed from the eBay marketplace so that there's no chance that buyers will be exposed to them.

      It can be disappointing to spend lots of time and energy being interested in an item only to be unable to follow through and make the purchase once all is said and done, but unless you've taken a long time to decide on the purchase and the first case above applies to you, the unavailability of the item is really in your interest.

      Generally speaking, if you can go back to your eBay watch list and find the saved items you had added to your list, then you should be able to go ahead and make that purchase with no problems. eBay wants to protect the safety of its buyers by preventing dangerous items and listings that seem to be shady in nature or sales by sellers that are clearly shady in nature. They also prevent you from having to deal with problem sellers and the scams and risks that might otherwise make eBay a much worse (and less safe) place to trade.