Buying Clothing on eBay - hints and tips

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1. ALWAYS check the feedback of the seller - it gives you a good idea of their business practices and ethics. Bear in mind that even the best seller will run into the occasional 'nutter' - as a general rule anything above 99% will be fine.

2. ALWAYS read a seller's terms and conditions BEFORE you bid - they are put there to ensure a smooth transaction and it's no good arguing afterwards. If you see something in a seller's terms and conditions that you don't like, simply look elsewhere - it will make your life much easier.

3. Feel free to ask a seller ANYTHING that you might deem important that is not already on the listing. It's important for you that if you require stretch, you ask if a garment has stretch, for example. It saves a lot of disappointment afterwards. Any good seller will be happy to answer questions for you.

4. Bear in mind that price is not always indicative of quality. Likewise, many sellers list items well below wholesale price in order to generate bidding interest, and it's easy to get sucked in to thinking you're getting a bargain but by the time bidding ends, you've paid as much as you would elsewhere. A low start price does not guarantee a low finish price.

5. Make good use of the auction proxy bid system and don't risk missing out. Especially important with clothing, which is essentially an emotional purchase - you have no idea of the amount of emails we get saying 'we missed out - do you have another one?'. Most often, the answer is no, and it's disappointing. If you like an item, decide the highest price you'd like to pay for it and bid it - there's no point in waiting till the last minute to bid the same price you were prepared to pay earlier, yet risk missing out.

6. Take advantage of buy it nows - they are often still much cheaper than the mall stores prices and ensure you get your item without having to constantly check back on the bidding - much less stressful!

7. Consider registered mail. All top sellers will do the right thing and mail your item as requested - they wouldn't be in the position they are in otherwise. They are there to run a business and are not out to personally rip you off for a $20 skirt. If it goes missing, it goes missing because of Australia Post. There is always that risk, and it really is no good complaining to the seller afterwards. You are responsible for choosing the required level of postage security, just in the same way as you are responsible for insuring your home (or not) - it's your risk. With lower volume/lower feedback sellers, always err on the side of caution.

8. Probably the most important of all - CHECK MEASUREMENTS! CHECK MEAUSUREMENTS! CHECK MEASUREMENTS! This should be so obvious but so many buyers overlook this one simple thing. If you go into Target and try on 3 skirts in size 16, odds are that they will all fit differently. The same applies online - and measurements are your virtual fitting room. A size 16 in one brand can often be another brand's size 12 and another brand's size 18. You just don't know until you try it on. The only way to 'try on' a garment online is to check the measurements against a similar garment that you own, which will give an idea of the fit. If you want more measurements, ask the seller. A good seller will always be happy to give you any measurements you require.

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