Tips for Safe Buying on eBay
No matter what you are looking for, chances are you can find it on eBay. Whether you are looking for that vintage postage stamp to complete your collection, a mint-condition Babe Ruth baseball card or the latest electronic gadget, someone probably has it listed on the site.
Buying products on eBay is generally quite safe, and the vast majority of sales go through without a hitch. Even so, the site is not without its problems, and it is important to exercise caution before handing over your hard-earned money. The tips listed below can help keep you safe as you shop.
Check the Terms Carefully
Many disputes on eBay arise when buyers fail to fully understand the terms of the auction or direct purchase. The eBay site can be a strange animal at times, and a bit difficult to figure out.
In some ways eBay is like the classified ads, with people from all over the world buying and selling every kind of product you can imagine. In other ways eBay is like the local auction house, with buyers competing with one another for that one-of-a-kind item. In still other ways eBay is like your local retail store, and many large companies use the site to sell their surplus and overstocked products.
The fact that so many different individuals and businesses use the site means that the terms of the sale can differ markedly from one listing to the next. A big company selling its overstocked products on eBay might welcome returns, while a private seller might not be so willing. That is why it is so important to read the full terms of each auction, from the return policy to the shipping method, before placing a bid. Understanding the terms will reduce the chances of a dispute, and help protect you if one does arise.
Check the Feedback Ratings Carefully
One of the most powerful tools eBay buyers have at their disposal is the feedback rating system. This system allows buyers and sellers to rate one another by offering feedback on their completed transactions. This system is very good at weeding out dishonest sellers by warning potential customers about their practices.
It is important to check the feedback ratings very carefully, including reading the comments and item descriptions. The number of completed transactions can be just as important as the feedback rating itself. A 100 percent positive feedback record may not mean as much if the seller has only sold 1 or 2 items. That positive feedback percentage may be more meaningful for a seller who has successfully completed thousands of transactions.
Look for Closeouts and Deals from Established Companies
One way to avoid problems on eBay is to deal with established companies instead of individuals. While individual sellers can provide great items at great prices, large companies have more to lose if a sale goes wrong. That means they may be more willing to go out of their way to make things right.
While eBay started out as a site where individual buyers and sellers could come together, these days it is home to some of the largest businesses in the world. A quick look around the site will reveal dozens of brands you recognize and many companies selling their refurbished, overstocked and like-new items. Buying from these established companies can mean saving money and avoiding hassles.
Pay with Paypal
How you pay can make a big difference on sites like eBay. Buying with a personal check or money order can be very dangerous, since you often have no recourse if the deal does not work out the way you had hoped. Paying by credit card provides you with a much greater level of protection, so you should make your payments electronically whenever you can.
Paypal is the easiest way to pay for your eBay purchases and make sure they are protected. You can sign up for a free Paypal account if you do not already have one. Once that account is in place, you can use your credit card to pay for your eBay purchases. If the item you bought does not arrive, or if it was misrepresented by the seller, you can dispute the charge with your credit card issuer and have them investigate the claim.
Buying products on eBay does not have to be a crapshoot. With a little bit of planning and some good old-fashioned common sense, you can find whatever you are looking for on the auction site and bid on it with confidence.