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The one thing which most people worry about when bidding & buying things from ebay is WHO they are buying it from.  Questions like "will I recieve the item once I have payed?", "will the item be as described when it comes?" & "How can I decide who is trustworthy & who is not before I bid?" all enter into our heads.  People who already have been ripped off by dishonest sellers, which probably includes quite a few of us, are even more cautious.

Although there is never a way of being 100% sure that a seller is honest - there are most definately ways of checking a seller out.  This guide may be especially helpful to new ebayers:

1.) Check the feedback.  This may seem obvious to most people but do you only look at the total feedback score?...if the score says something like 98% you may think that this is pretty good - but how many items has the seller sold/bought?  if there arent many than something is probably wrong.

Also, dont just look at the total score - click the view feedback button & read the comments that others have left him - dont overlook the "neutral" comments either because these can tell you a lot.  Check how long ago it is since negative feedback was left.  You could even get in touch with the ebayers who left the negative comment to get some more information.

Feedback although certainly helpful isnt always the true story - after all, how many sellers say "if you leave me negative feedback I'll leave you negative"?...  Sometimes buyers leave positive feedback because they are afraid the seller will get their own back and ruin their reputation.

In all fairness, however, it must be stated that there are some truly spiteful people out there who just love to complain about anything and everything and who in some cases will make up reasons to leave negative feedback, so if something does seem well "off" as compared with the other feedback a seller may genuinely have been hard done to by someone spiteful.  In other words be fair!

Another thing to pay attention to when closely examining feedback is the people who have left it for the seller.  Why?...Well sometimes dishonest sellers sell cheap item's to friends in bulk in order to make it seem as though they have a good and honest reputation when in actual fact they are trying to decieve you in order to take your money and not send the goods!  There are many different ways that they do this but whats important is that you check how many feedback's have been left by one buyer.  If there are two or three its may be entirely possible and likely that the person genuinely did buy several items from the seller, but if there are a large amount then beware.  Better safe than sorry!

2.) Check the ID of the seller.  I used to take it for granted that a person can only have one ID on ebay - Not so!

If a seller has 100% positive feedback but has only been selling/registered for a short period of time this may well be good - but dont assume - check!  Sometimes if a seller gets a lot of negative feedback they know that buyers will run a mile from them so they switch to a new identity.  Click in the ID button to find out his history.  If he has more than one ID I generally stay well clear as I have been ripped off by a seller like that.

3.) What is the seller listing?  Beware of anti-virus software, dvd's & cd's that are scanty on the details or which ask you to email for details - they are usually illegal copies & most pirate copies either never work properly or are hugely over-priced.  Stay clear.  If you want a dvd,cd or something of that kind - buy original - at least you know what you are getting.  Also with original dvd's, xbox & games consoles, videos & dvd players dont forget to check which region they are from!  If you are in Europe then the chances are you need discs & players which are R2 (region 2).  Unless you have a multi region player other regions will probably not play.

Perfumes are another nightmare to buy on ebay - you just do not know if what you are getting is a fake or immitation until you have got it.  It's happened to me before & I am now extremely wary.  If a seller is selling loads of a particular perfume brand or lots of perfumes there's a good chance that they are fakes.  It does make a difference as perfumes that arent real never smell exactly the same as the original and also the scent doesnt last on your skin.

4.) Everyone has an "instinct" - follow it!  If you see something & have little niggling doubts about it or the seller dont ignore them.  If in doubt leave it out.  If you are patient enough the item you are waiting for will appear somewhere on ebay.  It's too easy to just jump in and regret it later.

5.)  The actual bidding!  Some sellers - if not an awful lot of sellers actually get friends and relatives to bid against genuine bidders to drive the price higher.  I DETEST this, I think it is dishonest and I would'nt dream of doing it - but it does happen & I've met people who do it (dont worry I told them I think its wrong!).  To be honest there's no real way of knowing for sure if thats happening but it is posible that if the price of an item is soaring above the prices of the other items in that catagory then it could well be that you are being deliberately pushed.  If you think thats happening back off and leave it on principle if nothing else!

6.)  Dont be afraid to ask the seller questions.  If a detail about the item that you think is important has been excluded then there could well be a reason why.  So if you have a question - ask.  If the seller skirts over the answer and you are not satisfied either ask again or leave it alone and go to a different seller.

Also just because a seller emails back quickly and is friendly it doesnt mean they are honest.  A couple of days ago my sister bought a very expensive item.  Before she bid she ask the seller a question - she emailed back quickly and answered it well, then my sister won the item and emailed the seller asking for her full address so that she could send a postal order.  It was given quickly and she was assured that it would be put in the post within 24hrs of payment being recieved.  So the postal order was sent via recorded delivery.  Over a week, a lot of emails and a dispute later - no replies, no item - no nothing.  Just a loss of a substantial amount of money.

So whats the lesson - how do you avoid that?  Well we never saw it coming because that seller had a 100% positive feedback when my sister won the item.  However within 24hrs of her sending the postal order (by which time it was too late) I noticed that negative feedback had just been left by someone else who had been ripped off by the seller. 

So from now on may be it would be worth leaving it a day or so before paying just to make sure no one has anything negative feedback to leave the person.

7.)  Buying tickets.  Buying & selling tickets for big events is a big thing now and there's a huge amount of money in it but not all tickets are genuine.  I saw watchdog a few months ago and its amazing how many people were selling tickets that were either not as described (selling as "front row" or something like that and turning out to be at the back or that the stage was blocked by a railing), or that were disingenuine.  So check it out wisely before jumping in.

8.)  My friend who doesnt know much about ebay is always asking "how do you know that the thing you buy hasnt been stolen in a robbery?".....Very true it is a good question but I honestly dont really see how you would be able to know that.  I suppose that if a seller is listing items that seem a bit randum or that are the type of stuff you would expect a burglar to take then you might get suspicious, but at the end of the day although it would be awful if you were buying stolen goods and therefore supporting thieves - its not really your fault as you cant have any way of knowing.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to sniff such people out then please get in touch I'd love to hear from you!

9.)  Children who use ebay.  This is so important I cant stress it enough.  Children can be so trusting of people, some children almost seem to think that because they are buying or selling something to some one and are having contact with them through the internet that they cant get hurt.  I even heard of one child who gave their mobile phone number out a a buyer in case the parcel got lost in transit!!!!  This is so dangerous.  There are so many preditors just waiting to hurt such trusting children that its frightning.  So never let on your age if you are a child or even if you think you are chatting to another child, NEVER give out your phone number - if you are ever even tempted or are asked for it then tell your parents or even the police.  It may be a requirement for buyers to know your address for sending cheques e.t.c but just be on guard.  Even the nicest of people can be dangerous.  And bad people use ebay as much as good people.  And as a note to parents always be aware of what you children are buying and who from.  There are places to chat to others on ebay I think - but I strongly believe that children and even adults in some cases should never be tempted to get involved in chat rooms.

10.)  Dont assume that if you have payed through paypal that they will "cover" you if anything goes wrong like they say they will.

At the end of the day, & I know this through experience, both ebay & paypal are about making money & they are not particularily interested in disputes.

If you open a dispute, the chances are that you wont get very far, they go through the motions but if you want to push to get your money back and make a claim through paypal they will charge you a substantial fee before they do it for you, which to my mind is disgusting.

Plus ebayers who are dishonest dont really have much action taken out against them by ebay.  They may get a strike but dishonest people arent really bothered about that and most continue selling still.

If you are late paying the fee's you owe to ebay, however, and they feel that they are being ripped off, then its an entirely different matter. You get reminder on top of reminder on top of rude emails and then suspended - and usually thats when you owe nothing and they have made a mistake.  They dont apologize, though.  So what I'm saying is dont rely on them to keep you safe because they wont - they are not on anyone's side - they are about making profits.

I was looking on the police website only a couple of days ago and there was a section on internet auction sites and how people are being ripped off.  They assured people that you CAN contact them if you have been a victim of this kind of problem because there are now new laws to help people who have suffered this kind of crime.  Once you have been through the proceedure of filing a dispute with ebay e.t.c contact the police and they will assist you.

I have never tried it myself and so I cant say whether anyone has benefitted from the "new laws" but at the end of the day if someone has ripped you off and you have payed a lot of money to them then what have you got to lose?!  You might as well try and get it back by contacting the police.


I hope this has been of help!  If you have found this interesting then please vote me a "YES!" - everyone reads these guides and no one can be bothered to vote so please do....and be kind

Thank you for reading safe on ebay and have fun!

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