The little trick that saved me from eBay zombiedom


“Must find chest of drawers …”

I’ve been seeking a chest of drawers to fit in a small, 85cm wide alcove in my flat. The quest sent me into a zombie-like trance, scanning eBay at midnight, murmuring: “chest of drawers, chest of drawers …”

The trouble’s the chest can’t be wider than 85cm and an eBay search for ‘chest of drawers’ throws up 10,000s results, of which only one in every 35 is slim enough.

How to steer eBay’s results

Then a new eBay search trick saved my sanity. When sellers could describe an item in several ways, you can make eBay search for several terms at once by placing (( at the beginning and entering different phrases in quotation marks, followed by a commas.

So for example

(( “chest of drawers”, “drawer chest”, “dressing table”

brings up all the listings that contain the phrases chest of drawers, drawer chest or dressing table.

For my purposes, I needed to brainstorm all the ways people might describe a furniture width. I worked out all the possible dimensions that would fit the space and tapped out these searches:

  • drawer chest (( “80 w”, “81 w”, “82 w”, “80 w”, “83 w” …
  • drawer chest (( “width 80”, “width 81”, “width 82”, “width 80”, “width 83” …
  • drawer chest (( “80 wide”, “81 wide”, “82 wide”, “80 wide”, “83 wide” …
  • drawer chest (( “w 80”, “w 81”, “w 82”, “w 80”, “w 83” …

Obviously I ticked ‘include description’ in the search, because sellers rarely include measurements in titles.

How eBay favourite searches work

The next step was setting up an eBay search alert. I LOVE these. Instead of repeatedly searching for the same thing each day, click ‘save search’ and eBay sends daily emails with new listings fitting your request.

Right now you may be thinking ‘this woman’s a Polo short of a packet’, but the results for a few minutes’ effort were stunning. Instead me of wading through 10,000s of listings, eBay emails 30 bespoke chest of drawers for my lil’ alcove each day. I’m sure you could adapt this for other hard-to-find items.

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