Buying online can be perilous. If you get conned, the seller disappears into oblivion; you can’t send your boys round to beat the crap out if them like the good old days. But here’s what you can do:
This is the definitive guide to buying safely and reliably on eBay. BOOKMARK THIS PAGE!
On the listing, at the top right, there’s the seller name (with a link to their profile), and a feedback number next to it. That is the total feedbacks over the life of the account. Under 100 and they’re almost definitely a private seller; certainly not a proven online seller. Over 2000 and it’s probably a business. In between is the gray area. Buying from a business seller is safer, since you can look in detail at their feedbacks to get a good idea of their quality. And they have a reputation to uphold to keep selling. The percentage next to it should be at least 99%. Any less and you need a good reason to buy from them – eg if you’re buying a very small ticket item. But beware: this percentage is only on transactions (bought and sold) over the last 12 months. Ie no guarantee they’re a good seller. (Since 100% could be a bad seller). It only tells you if they’re a bad seller. (90% is a lousy seller).
Next, click on that feedback quantity. You need to check that the feedbacks are for items they sold, not bought. Do this by (after clicking on the user’s feedback number), click the tab “feedback as seller”. This lists all feedbacks ever given, for items they’ve sold.
At the top of that list, check the number of feedbacks as seller. If it’s less than 10-20 items, especially. If they’re low value items, it’s not a safe bet.
Now, you want to see what they’ve gotten bad feedback for. Even the best of sellers can have occasional bad feedback. But you must investigate…
Above the tabs, there’s a 3×3 table with rows being positive, neutral and negative feedback, and columns being 1 month, 3 months and 12.
If they’ve had any negative feedback over the last 12 months, that number will be linked; click on it. This will show you:
- The item that was sold that received negative feedback
- The amount the item was sold for
- The comment the buyer left
- Possibly the seller’s response.
Look for high value items. The comments the buyers leave tell you everything. Watch out particularly for comments like these:
- Item not received
- Item not as described
- Seller not responding to messages
Another point: only buy using PayPal. If the listing does not say it can be purchased with PayPal, forget it. This gives you essential protection.
Last but not least, look at the following THOROUGHLY:
- Listing title
- Listing description
- Listing pictures
- Item condition (at the top of the listing, either “new”, “seller refurbished” , “used”, (with description of condition eg “like new”) or “spares or repairs”
- “Item specifics” – above the description there’s a small boxed section giving bullet points eg screen size for a phone.
MAKE SURE THEY ALL MATCH. The more discrepancies there are, the greater the chance of a dispute going in the seller’s favour. Similarly, watch out for what is NOT said. If you’re buying a stereo, make sure it comes with speakers. If you’re buying a digital thermometer, make sure it comes with the probe.
It sounds like a nightmare, but consider how things were before the Internet. Buying used goods was a total bloody gamble. But now, with the above tools, the buyer has all the power!! Remember:
- Money buys everything but good sense
Finally, if you have been conned, or let down, contact the seller to arrange a refund. They have to pay the return postage if the listing was inaccurate. If they refuse, open a “dispute”. If an agreement is not reached, “escalate” it, eBay will step in. They might only do so if PayPal was used. But you only have 30 (or is it 90) days to start a dispute, and 7 days to escalate. Opt for returning g the item, rather than getting a replacement, since this can be a delay tactic so your dispute runs out of time and you lose.