Evaluating eBay item listings

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Though you should check the other details in eBay item listings before reading the description to ensure that there are no show-stoppers, you should also take care to pay as much attention (if not more) to the item's description. The description begins underneath the price, shipment, and seller information and forms the bulk of the item listing.

In the description you'll find all kinds of information about the item, possibly including, but not limited to:

* Features and specifications. Any details about the item, including make, model or vintage, included features, equipment, or accessories, etc. This is where you ask yourself: "Is this the item I'm looking for?"

* Condition information. A description of the item's condition, including whether or not the item functions at all, is generally given by the seller in the item description.

* Photos of the item. It's in the main body of the listing just below the description that you'll see photos of the item.

Smart buyers only buy from sellers who provide photos, preferably of the actual item (rather than a stock photo from marketing material), since such a photo allows you to evaluate the item's condition yourself.

* Additional details about the terms of sale. Sellers are free to list nearly anything or set nearly any terms they want in an item description. As a bidder or buyer, it's your responsibility to have read these terms before you bid or buy—your bid is a statement that you have read and agreed to the seller's terms, whatever they may be.

You'll find some descriptions that are flashy, overdesigned, and hard to read, and others that are so minimal it's tough to know anything about the item being offered. If you are uncomfortable with an item's description or find it either to be lacking in critical information or so complex you can't understand it, don't bid. Better safe than sorry!

Understanding Item Descriptions
Item descriptions and photos are provided by the seller and are shown directly to you without interference from eBay. They are, however, given contractual weight, and often given additional terms or details that are important to the seller and the sale, so read them carefully before you bid.

In addition to the elements above, you may also want to read carefully for payment details, details about shipment times ("I only ship thursdays," or "I'm going on vacation during February and will ship all items in March"), and sneaky details ("This auction is for an iPod BOX, not an actual iPod!") or similar admendments to the rest of the listing.

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