Non UK sellers - buyers beware!

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If you are prepared to wait a little longer for your items then there are bargains to be had all over the world. In the UK for example many items can be bought much cheaper from the USA. However there are many sellers out there who pretend to be from the UK but in fact aren’t. I have seen eBay shops with names ending in UK and photos with Union Jack flags plastered all over them. Many also use subtleties like "Royal". Yet when you get into it, you’ll notice horrendous postage and packaging charges and estimated delivery times in weeks rather than days. The biggest culprits of this, and just about every other scam are Chinese wholesalers, who will use every trick in the book to con you into thinking you are buying genuine items from a UK seller. I don’t know why eBay lets them even advertise on

But if you do want to buy from a genuine international seller (such as many in the USA). Here are a couple of things to take note of.

  1. Voltage. In the UK (and Europe) we have much higher mains voltage than the USA. So whilst many electrical items may be much cheaper in the USA, check that they can supply UK or European voltage (and plug!) and I guess vice versa.
  2. Import duty. If you are buying an expensive item, you really need to check this out. I have bought items in the past from the USA only to find them held by the UK post office until I paid import duty. It may end up being not quite the bargain you thought!
  3. Legal constraints. USA is awash with weapons of all kinds, but please check the legalities where you live or you may find yourself loosing your new purchase altogether to customs and excise or even facing prosecution.
  4. Check the small print. Many companies will not refund postal charges. SO you’ve paid to get it, it doesn’t work, now you have to pay to send it back! For a heavy  item you may well end up out of pocket (and it isn’t your fault).
  5. Get postal insurance and recorded delivery. Make sure your item is being tracked and you get the tracking number from the seller.
  6. Don’t leave it too late.If you don’t receive your items, or they are not as they should be -act quickly. You don’t have very long to claim compensation. So don’t be fobbed off by excuses and emails. If you’ve paid the money you want your goods - or a refund.  

I have been emailing a guy in the USA for over a year now to get a refund. Despite continuing to trade on eBay he ignores my emails, and from 12,000 miles away - there is nothing I can do. He even continues to proudly show his "Square trade" logo. Many people just seem to be immune to the rules and seem to repeatedly get away with it.

The last piece of advice I can give is to check the seller’s reputation. Many people leave "positive" feedback but will put realistic (i.e. negative) comments. So do read them and see what people are really saying. Just be aware, that’s all I'm saying. Yes I have lost money to dodgy foreign sellers, and yes I unwillingly have bought useless Chinese knock off's. But I have also bought a great many superb bargains from some great USA sellers, with friendly coms, and great service.

Mind how you go and happy eBaying.


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