With over 159 million active users, eBay has become one of the biggest (and oldest) online auction sites. It’s a marketplace where you can find everything from the latest gadgets, stuffed animals, heavy industrial equipment to domain names. There is even a whole category named “weird stuff”.
Due to its rapid growth, eBay has also become a little riskier to shop at. Some will try to use eBay for selling all kinds of things, even masked in a form of some popular products. You might even end up with a knock off iPhone instead of the real thing. When you try to contact the seller, he doesn’t reply and basically, you lose your money. Here are some tips to prevent these scenarios from happening.
Take Care of Your Money, Don’t Accept Stock
First of all, answer this question: do you really need to buy that thing online? Sure, a smartphone pouch is fine, but do you really want to buy a $2,000 computer on eBay? Wouldn’t you feel more secure if you gave a couple of hundred more to get a brand new, guaranteed computer on a proper web shop? It’s your money, so take a good care of it.
Once you’ve found the product you want to buy, there are some things on the actual listing which you should examine. Find the information regarding shipping and return policy. Once you know the item can be delivered to your country, move on and take a look at the item itself.
If you need any more photos of the item, feel free to contact the seller. (Actually, it’s always a good idea to contact a seller and see how fast he responds. The faster response, the more credible he is.) Don’t accept stock photos, ask the seller if he can hold the item in his hand or something like that.
Read the description of the product, the whole thing. Sometimes they are very long, but mean sellers will try to trick you by counting on you not reading it. They will put that the product is a knock off by stating it’s a Chinese phone at the very bottom, so be aware of that. You will probably not be able to get your money back for a mistake like that.
Use The Sense, Luke
Common sense is a great factor with any online auction. A laser printer for only $30? The latest iPad for $100? Don’t you think that these offers are too good to be true? Well, in 99.9% of cases – they are. Make sure to research the price of the item you want on sale. eBay items can go a bit lower but not by too much. Find a product with a good reviews, normal, average price and bid on that one.
Now, before you bid or buy an item, it’s time to get to know the seller. Check out his profile page and his feedback the previous buyers had left. If it’s above 99.5%, you’re good, since you should avoid anything below that mark. Yep, this feedback percentage is taken really seriously and it’s probably the most important indicator of how honest the seller is.
You’re now ready to place your order, except for one thing – your delivery address. Some sellers will ship the item to the address listed in your PayPal profile, so make sure they’re all set up properly.
If you’re unsure about anything or if something seems suspicious to you, I’d recommend that you take extra caution or ask someone more experienced to give you some advice. Don’t agree to anything beyond eBay’s terms, like giving the money in some other way than PayPal or buying an item directly from the seller. PayPal provides you a Buyer Protection program, which ensures that:
If an eligible item that you’ve bought online doesn’t arrive, or doesn’t match the seller’s description, our Buyer Protection will reimburse you for the full amount of the item plus postage and packaging costs. Buyer Protection covers all your online purchases, on eBay or on any other website, when you use PayPal.
eBay also has a eBay Money Back Guarantee program that’s got you covered both in case you want to return an item and if the item you received is not exactly what you ordered. Before you even start ordering on eBay, get familiar with their regulations and their buyer protection programs so you know what to do if you unpleasantries do happen.
Also, reliable sellers have a clear description on their refund policy. If they do not, ask for one via email, and if you still don’t get it in written for, pass on the seller. Yes, no matter how much you need that cooler.
Do you have any tips or maybe a bad experience buying things on eBay? How did you solve your problem?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2012 and has since been given a face-lift and updated for accuracy and relevance.