How to avoid Jewellery "Not as Described" or fakes.
This is about unscrupulous sellers on eBay promising fabulous gold and precious gem jewellery and delivering junk. They buy cheap, barely gold plated jewellery set with fake gemstones, and then eBay them as the real thing. They turn off eBayers from buying jewellery from honest sellers, distort the price of genuine jewellery and make many eBayer's experience a bad one. Unfortunately there will always be someone looking for an easy dollar so here are a few ways in which I protect myself from buying an item ‘not as described’ when purchasing gold jewellery. This guide can be just as easily be applied to a lot of other categories and is written from an Australian perspective.
A seller that consistently lists many expensive items in a short space of time and sets no or very low start prices needs a second look. With anything, you get what you pay for. I repeat, you get what you pay for. Have a look at a sellers listing, view "sellers other items", then, on the side search bar, go to "completed listing" for that seller and have a look at what, how many and for how much they are selling and have recently sold. If they are selling expensive gold jewellery for unbelievably low prices in large quantities, beware. They must be either be selling at a huge loss or selling things not as described. There is rarely such a thing as “selling gold” below “world gold price”, especially from a professional seller. And what about those so-called fabulous gems in the piece. That’s like selling $50 notes for $20. There are plenty of bargains on eBay but no genuine seller can consistently sell at a loss. I know we all dream of "something for nothing" but in this case it's "nothing for something".
Generally these sellers have been at it for a while and know the eBay system very well. They are constantly changing ID's when things get too hot. So if you see a VERY professional listing from a seller with low feedback numbers, have another look. Examine the photos closely. Nearly all gold jewellery is hallmarked, so look for it. I and most sellers try to show the hallmark in the pictures. Sometimes that is not possible so ask the seller if it is hallmarked BUT remember that hallmarks can be forged. If you have doubts about your purchase, the easiest and cheapest way to check its authenticity is to take it to a Pawnbroker. They will test it and make you an offer. You don’t have to accept any offer but you will get an indication from him, a professional, as to what you have, at NO cost. I am a pawnbroker. I should know.
I am surprised at how few people actually go to my feedback page and have a look as I have access to those statistics. Just because a seller has excellent feedback doesn’t mean he’s OK. Go to the feedback page and study it. Always look at when a person joined. That, in relation to how many items they have been selling can be an indication. I am not happy with anyone that has a lot of feedbacks in a VERY short time as they have been listing a huge amount of items. Also, with the star system you can look at the ‘item as described’ area and get an idea of their description accuracy.
Some of these sellers accumulate reasonable feedback very quickly so a high feedback number does not necessarily mean that the seller is genuine.
Make sure you read a few comments and not just the Negatives and Neutrals. This is a must. Things like...’OK...Item received..Nice...Thanks...All good...etc’ are not strong comments. I prefer sellers that get...’Fantastic...Would buy again...Lovely...Delighted...’. To me that inspires a bit more confidence.
Make sure you leave appropriate feedback for others. As a buyer DO NOT BE AFRAID to leave negative feedback if, at the conclusion of a transaction, it was not satisfactory. It always surprises me when a buyer says ‘not gold or diamonds’ or some such for a problem seller and leaves a positive.
Don't leave feedback straight away.....As in life, not everything runs smooth, so if you have an issue, contact the seller and try to sort it. If they do the right thing, leave the appropriate feedback.
Once you have left feedback, it cannot be changed so always try to confirm what you have received first.
Feedback is for everyone's protection so help all eBayers by leaving what is appropriate.
Generally, but NOT always, a less than reliable seller will try NOT to use either Paypal or Credit Cards, preferring Direct Deposit or Money Order, etc. The reason being that PayPal and your credit card provider (a little know fact) can do a charge-back and refund your money if the item doesn’t arrive or is grossly misdescribed.
Even though new sellers are required to have Paypal, I've seen these sellers say things like..."We are having trouble setting up our Paypal account at the moment, so please use another form of payment" or some other lame excuse. Direct deposit, money order, wire transfer and other forms of paying do not offer you a way of getting your money back.
I was cynical of Paypal at the start but, as a buyer, you cannot get away from the fact that it does offer you substantial protection. Credit cards are almost as good, because to accept them you have to be a merchant, well known to your bank and the buyer has recourse to a charge-back if things go wrong.
When in doubt ask the appropriate questions of the seller. Don’t leave it too late for the seller to respond. If you don’t get a response, don’t buy. If you do get an answer keep it. Always file emails away so if there are problems you have all the details and communications relating to that transaction.
Most of these pieces are sourced from Third World and Asian countries and resold in Australia. For that reason I do not purchase jewellery from these countries. It's just to risky. There is plenty of jewellery available from better sources so use those.
Recently I have seen and purchased these "gold rings" from sellers that do not fit the pattern. With many of these fake pieces being sold it is inevitable that an unsuspecting person will buy them thinking that they have got a bargain and then try to resell them. Twice, now, I have been caught in this way, but as I have found most eBayers are honest, I was able to get refunds. This is difficult to foresee, as they are genuine sellers that have, themselves, been caught. That's where Paypal wins if you have an issue.
I buy a lot on eBay and have not had many problems. I sell a lot and have had even fewer. I follow my own guide lines and when in doubt I leave an item alone. There is always more. Having said all that, there are many terrific buys on eBay, and with due diligence your experience should be good. You will save money so don’t let that one bad transaction put you off. The "occasional lemon" will anger you, but just remember all the money you have saved over time, all those wonderful things you purchased and put the rare bad transaction down to experience and a lesson learnt that won't be forgotten.
“Caveat Emptor"...Let the buyer beware!
I have been a pawnbroker and second hand dealer for 25 years. I have been regularly selling jewellery on eBay for the last couple of years.
SEE MY OTHER GUIDES FOR OTHER INFORMATION ON JEWELLERY. Vote as appropriate.
© 2010 Edward Vabolis