Having spent the last year and a half expanding my wardrobe, I though I'd write a quick guide to purchasing clothing etc on Ebay.
Decide on Your Item
Buying clothing on Ebay can be a great experience. Obviously, you first need to decide on the item you wish to bid for. Most items sold on Ebay tend to be purchased as great bargains, as people sell for difference reasons. Some sell as an alternative to throwing unworn items away, some sell purely for the fun of the experience, and some make selling a full-time job.
I'd always recommend researching your chosen items thoroughly. By this, I mean searching all possible search options as you will probably find several listings of the same item being sold by different sellers. Some will be new, some worn, all will specify the payment methods available should you wish to buy. You should narrow down your decision to the item that most suits your specifications. If you are happy with a lightly worn item, you will find it will quite possibly be alot cheaper to purchase on Ebay than to visit a shop. Saying that, even brand new items will, in 99.9% of cases, be considerably cheaper than purchasing in the high street / designer shop (even with postage)!
Review The Item
Read throughly the entire listing - even the boring, extended essays. The seller has spent time typing their buyer specifications for a reason, and you do not want to waste your time and theirs trying to purchase an item when you may not be able to complete the transaction.
Check the seller's feedback. Ideally, buying from a seller with 100% positive feedback should provide you with peace of mind. Should a seller have received any negative or neutral feedback, read the comments the other party have left to determine the problem. Also, where possible, read the seller's response to this feedback - it will give you an idea of the seller's character, and their ability to resolve problems. Should you have any concerns, try emailing the seller directly to raise your queries before you buy. A seller should always try to accomodate any concerns you have - otherwise, you will find that other buyers avoid them.
Pay particular attention to the description. Will the item fit you? (Bear in mind that sizes differ from brand to brand, and that foreign sizes also differ to UK sizes.) Are measurements provided if necessary? If a picture is provided, has it been taken in good light? (Some camera flashes distort the colour of the item.) Always be aware that some sellers, especially inexperienced ones, do not always provide full details. This can be a disadvantage, as when you search for an item under title and description, if a seller has not described their item as having four-inch-heels, and the photo is not clear, you may end up with heels you are unable to walk in. If you have any doubts at all, always ask! Just click on the 'Ask Seller a Question' link, and ask away. Most sellers are happy to provide further details, including measurements, further pictures, and alternative postal options ... if you just ask.
Before bidding, always check the seller's accepted payment methods. Some sellers only accept payment via paypal. (This is free to sign up to.) Other accepted payment methods are by cheque, by postal order, by bank transfer, by Nochex etc. Always check you are able to comply with the seller's required methods.
Postage and Packing
Check the listing for the seller's prices for postage and packing. These will vary between sellers, as sellers' methods of posting & packing will differ. Bear in mind that some sellers will pack your item thoroughly in padded envelopes, bubble wrap, cardboard or boxes. Others may pack poorly in thin envelopes (Thus increasing the risk of damage to your item, before you've even received it.) Some can drive to the post office, and for others posting may involve bus journeys etc - all of which will affect post prices.
Some sellers will offer several forms of posting - 1st class, 2nd class, Recorded, Special or 24 hour. You as the buyer will pay the post and packing price and part of your purchase, so be aware of this when you enter your highest bid.
Entering Your Bid
Once you are happy that you can meet all the specified conditions, you are ready to bid. Decide what you would pay for the item based on use etc, and then click 'Place Bid'. Enter your highest bid and then click continue, then review all details to confirm you agree, before clicking again to confirm your bid. Ebay will then confirm whether you are the highest bidder or whether you have been outbid by another buyer who has entered a bid higher than yours. If you have been outbid, you are able to bid again should you wish, but do bear in mind that should the auction end with you as the highest bidder, you must pay the final bid price plus postage costs. All bids placed on Ebay are legally binding, and transactions must be honoured. Otherwise, you risk receiving negative feedback, you waste the seller's time and money, and you will eventually be removed from Ebay.
Track the item you are bidding on, right up until the auction ends. Often, bidders will place bids in the last few seconds to attempt to secure the item for themselves. This is called sniping, and is wide-spread on Ebay. This is why it is important to always enter your highest bid in plenty of time. Once the auctions ends, should you be the highest bidder, you will then need to make payment. The seller should send you an invoice for you to complete this. Just follow the instructions on the invoice, selecting the correct options where necessary. Ensure your name and address are accurate, to ensure you receive your item safely.
Posting of Item
Communication is the Key ....
Always remember that your seller is a person, not a shop or company. Therefore, make sure you allow them time to post your item around the possible distractions they may encounter. Some sellers work full-time, some are full-time mothers/fathers, and getting to the post office immediately to post your parcel may not be possible. Should you wish to know when you should receive your item, emailing the seller to politely ask when they think they may be able to post your item should give you your answer. You not be in when your item should arrive, so communicate with the seller to keep up-to-date with your item's progress. Check the postman has not attempted to deliver and returned your item to your local post office for collection.
Leaving feedback to confirm receipt of your item and that you are happy with it is a big part of the transaction process. Sellers will like to know you are happy with the service they have provided, as future buyers will check their feedback before making a purchase. Keep feedback purely factual, comment on a lovely item, a quick delivery or good communication. Remember that feedback left cannot be retracted. Should you have not been happy with any aspect of the transaction, email the seller directly before leaving feedback to give them a chance to resolve your complaint. If you dont tell them, they dont know, however always remember to be polite and to treat other Ebayers as you would like to be treated yourself.
I hope you find this guide useful. If you think I may have missed anything, or have any further queries, please just drop me an email - Im happy to help!
If you have read this far, I'd be grateful if you would take a minute to confirm whether you found this guide useful or not. All responses are much appreciated. Xx