An eBay guide for first time buyers

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So you have set up an eBay and Paypal account and are ready to buy, you have seen what you want to buy but those first few purchases can be pretty daunting. Read on to hear how I got started...

First of all, eBay is the most amazing place for buyers, almost anything you could ever want or need is available to buy. I have bought some amazing items, bargains, items not on the high street, stuff for the house, stuff for other people. Everything is all here waiting for you to buy.

For me, eBay was to good an opportunity to miss out on. I started to buy before I even had a computer, using the internet on my phone. This is fine although it is much easier to navigate on a pc and check out sellers before making a purchase.

I think Paypal is the safest way to pay, as a buyer you are protected should things go wrong. There is no need to share your bank information after the Paypal account has been set up. It's quick and easy and eliminates any waiting for your items whilst the seller waits for your Postal Order to arrive or your cheque to clear. As a buyer, you simply pay the winning bid amount plus postage or the Buy It Now Price, there are no hidden extra's.

I started off getting a book. A friend had loaned me a book which was very thick with thin pages. I am shocking with books, I fall asleep on top of them every night and I had smudged the print on this particular book after applying hand cream. So after a few weeks of falling asleep on top of the book, which was not in great shape to begin with, I broke the spine. Where on earth was I going to get another copy to replace the mangled one? It needed to be in good condition and not cost the earth. My boyfriend told me the answer, eBay.

So I set up my account and the buying began.

Generally sellers on eBay are a good bunch of people. Occasionally they may not be. In all the items I have bought, I have only had one bad experience which was quickly resolved by Paypal anyway.

One of eBays greatest features is the Feedback system. This makes it easy for anybody to see exactly what a seller is like. The better the feedback, the better the seller. When you are viewing an item listing page, the seller information is near the top of the page on the right hand side. You will see the seller's name along with a number in brackets. Click your mouse on the number, it is the seller's feedback score and by clicking on that number, you will be taken to see that seller's feedback.

The page contains at the top recent feedback ratings and next to it Detailed Seller Ratings. Scroll down the page and you will see the seller's feedback. If the seller also does a lot of buying, it may be an idea to click on the 'Feedback as a seller' tab just above the table the feedback is listed in. How does the feedback look, is it glowing? Because ideally, that is what you are looking for.

Once you have looked at a few of the most recent comments, scroll back up to the top of the page. In the Recent feedback box, are there any neutral or negatives? If so, by clicking on the number next to the neutral or negative, you will be taken directly to those comments.

It is worth pointing out, that having neutral or negative feedback does not mean you should avoid a particular buyer. First of all, you should read the feedback comments and also the response from the seller if any. eBay is like everything in life, you cannot please everybody all the time. The seller could have just been the unfortunate victim of a buyer who was having a bad day, on the other hand, the comments could be so bad the seller is better just to be avoided.

Has the buyer left a genuine gripe or something or nothing? How bad is it, is it enough to put you off? Only you as the buyer can decide. If the seller has a very small percentage of neutral or negative feedback and the rest positive and good, chances are, they are ok.

Has the seller replied to the neutral or negative feedback? If so, what was their reply? Do you think it looked to be a genuine mistake or something beyond the seller's control? Has the seller left a helpful reply or a snotty one? If it is a snotty one I would be inclined to avoid. A snotty comment could be exactly what you get if there is a problem with your purchase from this seller.

Next, look to the box next to the Recent feedback box. It is titled Detailed Seller Ratings. Often referred to as DSR's. There are four areas: Item as described, Communication,  Dispatch time and Postage and Packaging charges.

To find out the seller's rating of any of these four areas, simply hover the mouse over the stars. These DSR's come from the ratings other buyers have given when leaving feedback. Ratings are out of 5.

Item as described, I would always expect items to be as described so the rating for this should be very high.

Communication, some seller's do, some seller's don't. Basically this is emails from the seller to the buyer. Has the buyer been notified that there item has been despatched etc.

Dispatch time, this is the time that the seller took to post the item. Sometimes seller's can be marked unfairly here, they send items out immediately with second class postage and because it does not arrive with the buyer the next day, the seller is marked down for it. However, a low score in this area is more likely to mean the seller is slow to post out their items. Are you prepared to wait? If not, don't bid or buy if the score is a low one.

Postage and Packaging charges, again seller's can often be marked unfairly in this catagory. Postage and packaging charges include the cost of the packaging and getting that item to the Post Office, not just the price of the stamp. Packaging is not cheap. A lot of buyer's unfortunately only look at the price of the stamp and do not take any other costs into consideration. However, that being said, there are seller's out there who over inflate their postage costs. The rating for this area should be pretty high, a very poor rating could be an indication you will be ripped off with postage charges.

Okay, so you have looked at all the feedback and are quite happy, there are just another couple of things to take into consideration. Keep clicking the back page on your pc till you get back to the item page.

Is there a picture? If not, you have no way of knowing what the item looks like and whether you will want it or not.

Has the item been properly described? If it's clothes for example, have the measurements been stated? A pair of jeans that are 4 inches too long in the leg will not be much use to you.

Does the seller state that they will or will not accept returns and the return procedure? Are you happy with that? If not, do not bid.

Are there any questions you would like to ask about the item? If so, simply click on the Ask a Question link which can be found in the Seller Details box on the Item's listing page and ask your question.

 Once you are happy with every aspect and are ready to place your bid or Buy It Now, don't forget to pay as soon as possible. that will be as soon as you can after the auction ends if you are the winning bidder or straight away if it is a Buy It Now.

Good Luck!


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