Here are a few quick & easy ways of avoiding possible problems:
1. They do not list all the details of the item they are trying to sell, just a few details that do not give a complete and accurate description. Some sellers just want to make a quick buck and so do not even bother to list a full description as it takes up too much time, making it not a quick buck!
2. No postage prices listed, a quick and easy way to say after the sale that the cost is massive, to make up the price they actually wanted for the item.
3. They do not accept secure methods of payment, only cash, bank transfers (very dodgy, do not give bank details out to anyone), cheques etc. If a seller is reputable they will accept some or all of these AND Paypal, which to be honest is the most secure way of trading, it covers both the buyer and seller.
4. They list an item as New with Tags (NWT) and then in the listing say that it has been used or worn. How can it be both. NEW is NEW as it would be if you had bought it in a shop, WORN ONCE is USED.
5. When you ask a question, for example: A ring is listed as new, with no size. You ask what the size is and in their answer they do not know. Therefore this means that they do not very much at all about the item. It is possible that this could be a stolen item, be careful with these sellers. Quiz them about the item if no details are listed. You should then be able to make an accurate assessment of whether to bid or not.
6. Communication is key, when questions are asked and on completion of the sale. The way they communicate will probably be mentioned in their feedback. If it is highlighted as very positive or a problem, think about whether it is worth placing a bid. You may or may not feel it is.
7. They shill bid (bid on on their own items) please see my other guide on 'How to spot a shill bidder'
8. Check their refund policy. There is no reason why they should not accept a refund if the item is NOT AS DESCRIBED. It is easy to make a mistake in the listing when in a rush, so if this is the case they should be happy to refund your money immediately including the P+P. If the item is AS DESCRIBED and the wrong size etc. has been bought by you, then this is not eligible for a refund, it is at the sellers discretion. Again always read & check the Description & their terms.
9. Lastly, always take note of the negative & neutral feedback they receive. If it all highlights the same repeated problems, then it is very likely that it is true.
Try to ask all your questions before you place bid and if there are any concerns or something you are not sure about, don't bid, find another item sold by someone else who is more trustworthy and has a good reputation.
I hope you find this helpful, especially if you are new (I know I would have). Ebay can be a bit of a mine field at first, once you can spot the mines, buying is safer and you can begin to spot any possible problems.
Happy Ebaying :o)