I have compiled this mini guide based on the kinds of questions buyers ask me or that I ask sellers. I hope it helps someone!
Sizes and sizing
UK sizes are different from US ones by being one or two sizes higher depending on which chart you look at!! So a UK 12 is either a US 8 or 10. European and other sizes can vary according to the Country. It is always best to get the seller to measure for you if you are unsure rather than being disappointed. Footwear sizing is equally difficult and I have been caught out taking the sellers conversion of a US size to a UK size and it being too small! Some UK stores famously made the clothing larger to fool the customer into thinking they were "slimmer". In the past M & S,Wallis and Next(in the 80's) were major culprits. M & S are still a little generous today and cheaper brands are often skimpy(like Primark and George at Asda) and you would be better going for a larger size in slim fitting garments.
When buying vintage, the clothes are often small by today's standards with not much give in the fabrics they used then. and can often disintegrate if pressure is applied to the fabric.
It is better to get any measurements in centimeters than inches as it is much more accurate. We Brits love our inches and yards and even our younger generation don't seem to use metric but if you start using it you will soon wonder how ever you managed before!!!!
I would recommend always asking for the "maker" of the item, if not supplied, especially on new clothing to help you assess the value. I have won items which I then found out could have been bought cheaper on the high street(and without the added cost of postage!). Some clothing may have labeling removed to comply with UK trading regulations, this should be conveyed to you by the seller. Read the description carefully if you are suspicious about the authenticity, looking for phrases using the words "like esk" etc. There are also many sellers using a brand name in a listing title but the item being from another(usually inferior) brand. You could report them but I personally don't have the time. Check out the sellers feedback if its below 99.5, if you are suspicious. I looked at a supposed 100% authentic designer bag and the feedback was 99.1%. It exposed 3 negatives for fake bags!
If a seller does not know the brand I would not pay very much for the item, taking a chance on it being cheap rubbish. I would like to think I know where I got most of my vast clothing collection from! I ocassionally remove labels if they irritate but I still know the heritage.
Post and packing
No one likes being overly charged for postage. Look at other users selling similar items and compare. You can then decide if the item is worth paying a higher cost for P&P. Shoes and boots can be quite heavy as can outerwear. If no postage cost shows on the listing, ask how much it is before bidding as you may end up paying a totally unrealistic amount and you are then committed to the sale. A good seller will always offer a reduced combined postage for multiple purchases, again ask before you start bidding.
I had a very nasty experience with a seller in the US who was selling costume jewelery with little vintage(from about 15 years ago)all used. I won about 10 items like charm bracelets, rings etc, nothing very big. I was then issued an invoice for $80 postage(surface mail!) on goods costing about $36. I protested, the listing was so confusing about multiple combined postage, I cant see how anyone could understand it. I did not pay and received unpaid item strikes. Lesson learned! Also if buying from overseas there may be VAT to pay if customs decide to randomly check your package. It might make the item more expensive than buying from the UK, its a risk. I fell pray to this and got a demand to pay an extra £20 on a second hand item. I paid about £70 including postage and it only cost just over £100 new so no saving there!
It goes without saying, that you should always try to resolve any issues with the seller, no mater how trivial, before leaving bad feedback. Many "newer" users think leaving feedback is a way to voice their complaints (even very minor ones) without firstly contacting the seller. Most sellers are genuine and are keen to keep buyers happy!!
Some sellers are very quick to start the unpaid item process without trying to see if there are any problems the buyer is having. We all have problems unforeseen in life! Maybe the buyer is hoping to win a second item you are selling?
There are rogue sellers, buyers and fraudsters out there, nothing is for nothing and if it seems to good to be true it probably is! Check carefully feedback and look through the completed listings option to see who they are selling to and what they sell. You can build a very clear picture from doing this. I would question a seller of designer handbags who have different stories on different listings about the reasons for selling. I would also question someone selling lots of currently available clothing very cheaply as most high street stores would exchange or give credit vouchers if no receipt was kept (Topshop, DP, Wallis, New Look etc all do so).
And finally!Just a couple of other things to say:
If a seller claims in the listing to have bought something on E bay and it does not fit etc. Check out their feedback to see if it all rings true, you can be surprised by what you can find out.
I personally do not like to buy from (or sell to) a reseller, i.e. someone who only buys to sell for a much higher price on the same Ebay username. I had one who even used my pictures and wording from my listing and a Buy it now 3 times the price paid.
Lastly, the feedback left for others is a really good indicator of the type of person you are dealing with. There was a buyer I once saw who had 100% feedback as the sellers all left positive when the items were paid for. If you clicked on the feedback left for others it was page after page of negatives. If you see something like that as a seller add the username to your blocked buyer list immediately!