Having purchased a few mobile phones and PDA's over the years on ebay, I have come up with the following guide to help other ebayers bid safely and successfully.
Firstly make sure you know the market in which you are going to be spending your money. Is the item brand new? If so, what's the retail price of the phone and if the item has a buy it now price that seems too good to be true - it probably is, it is likely that there may be a problem hidden within the description.
Seeing as you may be about to spend quite a sizeable amount, i always believe its best to contact the ebayer, at least then you know that his/her email address is legit - for example you could request further information about the nature of the product in which you are interested.
READ the Item Description:
Remember the golden rule: if it looks too good to be true then it probably is! So many times have i looked at an item and am about to bid when i notice a little bit of text at the bottom of the description that says: " You are not bidding for the actual phone" etc. Sometimes items can be so poorly described that it's simply best to email the seller and ask all the desired questions - for example, ' are you selling the phone? could you specify the magnitude and location of any scratches, dints etc?'. Again this is helpful because not only does it get you in contact with the seller but it also allows you to have proof of how the seller describes the item - so there are no comebacks if you recieve a phone completely different to the description.
Always make sure that paypal protection is offered with the item.This should be clearly visible in the details below the seller's name. In my view it is essential that there is such protection in order for an item to recieve my bid.
Needless to say, always check feedback rating, and the comments themselves. Has the ebayer had any bid retractions lately, if so what does this tell you about the individual? Are they a reputable company - who are located where they say they are? Both of these are important questions to ask.
Personally my favourite way to bid is to 'snipe' within the last few minutes as this enables you to put your maximum bid in and then let it be. I find this helps when you are trying to stick to a budget, because if you bid hours before then its more likely that you'll come back later and bid a higher amount, higher than you previously wished to go upto.
Make sure if you are buying a mobile phone that it can be used with your simcard - i.e. that it's not locked to another network. If it is locked do some research and find out that 1. It can be unlocked and 2. It won't cost you much to get it unlocked, as trust me prices do vary!
Thank you for reading, Co-Pilot-Clark