Dell jumps into the bidding wars

Online auction sites are selling everything anyone could even conceive of owning, so it's not surprising that Dell in the US has jumped in with a site of its own. Dell Auction focuses exclusively on computer systems, peripherals, software and related products.

The site is offering refurbished Dell systems or previously leased systems that have been returned to Dell. Or users can sell any type of system they like. Of course, Dell products are highlighted, but systems from Compaq, Hitachi, Apple and others are also up for bid.

Registration requirements are similar to those at other auction sites -- just supply your name, address and e-mail address.

One especially nice feature of this auction site is the ease of navigation. Recognising that a lot of bidding takes place within the last hour or so of an auction, Dell lets you go directly to listings that close that day or that hour. If you're concerned about shipping arrangements, you can click a button to find listings from sellers near you. Like other auction sites, Dell Auction keeps buyers and sellers up-to-date on the bidding process via e-mail.

As for transaction security and purchasing privacy, both buyers and sellers can rest easy. Dell offers guarantees that it will not release personal information about buyers or sellers except as required to complete a transaction. Credit card transactions encrypted, and an escrow service adds an element of safety when purchasing from sellers other than Dell.

Dell Auction makes i-Escrow available at the click of a button. This third-party service will cost you a percentage of the transaction amount, but the extra security may be worth the price. Instead of mailing payment to the anonymous person selling the item, the buyer mails it to i-Escrow, which verifies the payment and alerts the seller when everything checks out. The seller then ships the goods to the buyer. After an agreed-upon inspection period the buyer notifies i-Escrow, which prints the check and sends it to the seller. Of course, you can also gain some element of protection by using a credit card.

Dell has designed a superb auction site offering a little something for every technology buyer. With thousands of products already available -- many of them from vendors other than Dell -- it's clear that this will be a popular place to unload unused equipment and pick up new stuff.

The Dell Auction site can be found at http://www.dellauction.com

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