Buying on ebay - top tips to avoid problems

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Guide to buying on ebay :-

treat buying an item on ebay like you would buying a second-hand car.......with caution!


  • then read it cannot expect a smooth transaction if you cannot be bothered to find out what you are bidding on

  • understand exactly what is and what is not included BEFORE you bid - do not assume it will come with extra accessories or boxes as it probably wont.

  • if an item says UNTESTED or FAULTY you should not be surprised if you receive something that is broken

  • see if you think you can trust the seller by looking at their feedback - are they reputable?

  • If you are looking at higher value items like digital cameras, mobiles etc then be extra cautious as these products have a higher incidence of problem than say baby clothing

  • if there are inconsistencies in the description or the location of item or if you think it just looks a bit suspicious remember it is easier to find another seller before you bid than to try and recover money if it all goes wrong

  • it's a very old saying but remember  -  if it looks too good to be true, it probably is

  • is the seller knowledgeable, or have they just copied a load of text from a manufacturers website

  • sellers often use stock photos but  you should not assume they are showing the same style or colour that they are listing as many times sellers get things wrong.

  • It is against ebay rules but some sellers copy someone elses photo to save having to take their own....this is always likely to cause problems because small differences can be very important to the buyer and not noticed by the slap dash seller who uses the wrong picture

  • if not detailed in the listing use ask the seller a question link to find out about age and condition

  • remember to check the P&P and be happy with it before you bid. P&P is post and packing and good sellers buy good packaging to ensure your item reaches you safely. It also covers the cost of getting to the post office etc. Even if you feel the P&P is high and they are profiteering, don't ignore their listing as quite often the listings with high P&P are sold for a lower TOTAL price.

  • once you have found the item you want from a seller you can trust then make a bid. Don't feel you have to wait until the last minute. Ebay has a PROXY bidding system, which is like giving the auctioneer your maximum bid and them doing the bidding on your behalf. If an item is starting at 99p you can bid £20 and it will show as 99p until someone else bids against you. If noone else bids you win the item for 99p. Unless someone else is prepared to pay £21 you win the item.

  • If you dont want to use ebays proxy bidding directly then look at auction sniping software. Some people think it is somehow cheating the system, but if everyone followed the suggestion above then sniping would not work. It only works because people bid 99p when they would actually pay £20.....and the item sells for £1.04 with a sniped bid. Sniping just automates the proxy bidding system.

  • If and when you win, pay promptly by following the instructions given or using ebays checkout process. You should be able to choose the Pay Now button on the listing and pay using paypal or get address details for sending a cheque or postal order. You should not need to contact the seller, and they probably dont need to send you anything further but if you do need to get in contact you should do it through ebay.

  • Don't forget to be polite and reasonable. You may ask for immediate despatch but you should not demand it or expect it as sellers have lives outside ebay, and family or work commitments may prevent them taking your item to the post office that afternoon.

  • If you have followed the advice above you should receive exactly what you want, for a good price, well packaged and fairly quickly. When this happens you realise how great ebay can be. You should leave the seller positive feedback to let them know your item arrived safely and that you are happy.

  • Hopefully by following the advice above you will avoid any problems, but if you do have a problem with an item not as described, damaged or missing, you should contact the seller. Do not leave negative feedback unless you have contacted the seller and they will not help. We all make mistakes and things do go wrong occassionally but all good sellers will try really hard to sort out any problems as long as you remember to be polite and reasonable

This may all be common sense, but will hopefully give you some things to consider and help you with your ebaying. If you have found this helpful please take the trouble to click the YES button.

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