This is in response to the many guides i have seen recently about people getting ripped off.
Yes, it happens. I have bought a number of vehicles and other items on Ebay and i have been ripped off a couple of times, even when i had my best 'common sense' head on I still managed to let the excitement of the purchase cloud my judgement. I am fortunate not to have lost much money as the cars that i buy are cheap and were generally fixable by myself with no massive garage bills. Myself and my girlfriend have also been caught by the 'big picture' auction, followed by the 'little sample bottle' arriving in the mail. It happens, sometimes the excitement of the purchase overcomes every bit of reason you have.
This guide will give you some things to think about as you go about your ebay buying and selling, and it is all about making sure you take an objective view of any purchase you are making.
Yes, i admit it can be very difficult to avoid the idiots who say the car is a great runner, or the item is unused, and it is not until you get down the road that you realise that the engine is knackered and the previous owner must have been 'Bigfoot' judging by the amount of dog hairs in the car. However it has to be said, this can be a little of the beauty of Ebay, you can save the few hundreds of pounds that the garage would have added on to valet the car and to have it standing on the forecourt for months. Seriously, I mean i have seen cars advertised where the guy didnt pick up the burger wrappers off the floor before taking the pictures of the inside of his prestigous luxury car!
There are many things to look out for, imagine for a minute that the guy who places the pictures of a dirty, messy car for sale, is he too busy to move the rubbish? (unlikely), too lazy? (most probably) or simply thinks that you wont notice because you are buying the car and not his mess? Well if you are looking for a car that will not be needing any garage work within the next six months, think again. If he put this much love in to the inside of the car, how often do you think he has cared for the engine and running gear? Make sure you know what you might be letting yourself in for and remember it might not be a bargain if you have to add on the cost of a full service.
If however you are paying good money and expect the car to be everything that he tells you it is in the sales pitch, then take a look. Sometimes the item you are buying is just too far to visit, but whenever you can, get down there a few days before the auction finishes and have a look. I guarantee there will be a few things that will make you think about it that he didnt mention. A visit to see the item and the item location is what will give you the warning signals in your head. Would you buy a used in-car satellite navigation system from a 16 year old who is living with his parents and doesnt own a car? ... no, me neither.
Most people are generally pretty honest on ebay, and the only time i have come across the rip off merchants are the ones with very little/poor feedback, and not just buying feedback, if they have 20 feedback but it is all from sellers, do you want to be his first buyer? And if you are, do you want it to be that 12 thousand pound Citroen that you are looking for?, well maybe because you havent seen it that cheap anywhere else, it might be worth the risk because it is such a bargain! I mean you know that it happens to be in Italy at the moment, because he had to drive it down to visit his father who is poorly, but dont worry, price includes shipping back to UK .... well you are welcome to that risk :-)
One final set of points to check:
LOOK at the sellers feedback score, his location, his other items for sale (and what they are), you can even look at his other items he sold if you check the tick box that includes 'completed listings' on the search.
READ the item description, Carefully!... it is important to read and understand all of what is written, i know people do not do this, as i still get questions on my items where the answer is in the description already. Lots of people have been conned by dishonest people selling a TV which is not the item for sale but rather an internet link to big screen tv's for 50 pounds etc, but if it is written in the description, you will not get a refund from ebay.
If you are buying a big item, take the cash round and do not part with it until you are happy with the item being as it was described. Do not look at a car in the dark, and if you have to, take a good torch and check it out properly, if you do not know what you are looking for, then take a friend who does.
If you cannot pick it up in person, try to use PayPal as they will refund a percentage of the loss if it goes wrong. Yes it can take a long time for the refund, no PayPal are not the best at customer service and have a bit of a monopoly going on, but it is better that sending a cheque.
Finally, good luck with all of your Ebay bidding. It is a very exciting place to do business and to buy those one off items, and without it we would still be looking through the yellow pages trying find what we want and then dealing with incompetent business people on the phone, attempting to describe something that you are sure they have never heard of. And you would still be wondering why they are in business and if they ever managed to sell anybody anything.