About three years ago, I wrote a guide to what to look out for when buying a TV boxset, mainly from eBay but also as a general guide as well. I skimmed over it just recently and thought, now with a bit more knowledge under my belt, I'd write another one. I will most likely cover ground I have already covered however hopefully with a bit more emphasis and clarity.
I have well over 2000 dvds in my collection and most of my TV boxsets bar the essential few have either come from eBay or second hand stores. The big reason for this is because, as most of you know who are reading this, boxsets are really expensive and, of course, it is tempting to buy a cheaper set either here on eBay or elsewhere but you should look out for what you are buying.
The first thing to look out for, and it should state this in the description by the seller, is what region the dvd is from. For those who don't know what I am talking about, I'll give a quick guide to what region coding is. Firstly, not all dvds will work in a dvd player because they may have come from a different continent. If you have brought it from Europe (Region 2), you are fine (apart from the actual box might be in a different language, the content (if originally english) should come in english as standard, or, the very least, give you the option to watch it in english (also watch out for subtitles, these are easily disabled from the dvd menu). If you have brought it from anywhere else: USA (Region 1), Asia (region 3), Austrailia (Region 4, though sometimes (NOT all the time) these dvds work on UK machines) then unless you have a multiregional dvd player (look on the box that the dvd player came in or instruction manual) these won't work.
If the seller hasn't stated what region it is, my advice is don't buy it until you have asked the seller what region is. If the seller replies, and this doesn't happen all the time as some dvds are geniunely this way, it is region 0 so will work on any machine, my advice again is not to buy it. It is most likely a pirated copy and quality could be poor, both in sound and picture.
Whilst I have noticed a considerable cut down, I still notice a few asian imports of various television series available on eBay. These look good on the outset: some people just want the show and no extras and more then likely the asian import is like this plus the price is a huge cut down from the UK price making it more appealable. Don't be fooled. When I first started buying on eBay, I brought season 5 of the X Files on asian import, thinking it would only be the box that had chinese writing on it and that would be the only problem. This was not the case. The menus were home made and difficult to naviagte and I was lumped with chinese subtitles I couldn't take off because they were imprinted on the programme. The programme was in english but that was a small, if any, consulation.
Since then, I have not made the same mistake and brought anything other then region 2 dvd boxerts on eBay. The picture of the boxset, if the seller has one, should have the BBFC certificate on the front (the U, 12, 15, 18, PG, E logo) and this will be a good indication that the product is of UK origin. If you are still unsure, or the picture is too fuzzy to make out, ask the seller the question. Most eBay sellers reply quickly now and will resolve with ease most questions. Ask whether they brought it in a high street store (i.e HMV, Woolworths, WHSmith etc) and if they have then there is no doubt your item is a geniune UK product. Also check to see whether the seller is in the UK or not. If they are out of the country, whether in Europe os China, best not to buy it. Not only may it be a faulty product but you may never see the product as it can, sometimes, "get lost in the mail". You may have to also pay a customs charge.
My next bit of advice is the price. What is a good deal? First of all it depends, obviously, what boxset you are buying. If the series/season has 22 or more episodes on it retail price can range, usually from £29.99 to £49.99 depending on the popularity of the product when it was shown on TV. Sometimes it can be less, and sometimes more but that's a indicator of what you'll pay for it IN A STORE. On the Internet it is slightly different, the range can go from £22.99 to £39.99 and again this is only an indicator, sometimes it will be more, sometimes less. So with these figures in mind, we can now assess what is a good deal. We'll take the series 24 as an example. Retail price can be up to £49.99 for this show. When I buy the boxset, I buy it new, in the first week of release and for the retail price of £34.99 (average). This is a special promotion most stores have for TV boxsets when they are first released. The price invariably goes up after the first week and stays that way for a couple of months before a promotion comes around. At the time of writing, 24 is now being sold at £17.99 each for each of the six seasons so obviously if you pay more then this on eBay you will feel foolish when you enter a dvd store and see this promotion.
Most second hand dvd stores (now going extinct) will sell a 24 boxset (if the price in the high street is £17.99) at about £14.99 (the most) and about £9.99 (the least) so if you buy this particular boxset between those two prices (with postage and packaging included) you have got yourself a good deal, especially if the boset is sealed and like brand new. Most second hand stores will half the retail price of a boxset and then offer you about half of that (£4.50, perhaps a bit more) depending how old the series is and how good condition the set is in.
At this junction, I would like to add there is no maths to finding out whether you are getting a good deal as the market for dvds is constantly changing (usuaully going down, then up because of the mass production) so all I am giving is a detailed example and roughly what to work out before you buy the boxset here on eBay. eBay is the best place to buy boxsets because the prices change constantly and if you hit the bid now button just right you can get a really good bargain. At the time of writing, I have just brought Knight Rider Season 3 here on eBay for £4.99 (plus £3 p+p) where this set is going for no less then £20 at the moment. So it is possible to get good bargains on eBay.
My last point, and these guide steps are not the only things to look out for, just some of the most important, is postage and packaging. Rarely will a seller include this in the price for a boxset (you got yourself a very good deal if it is) but, as eBay are monitoring too, don't pay more then about 3 pounds for p+p for a 6 dvd boxset. Anything more and it is more then likely the seller is predicting the boxset won't sell for much so will try and regain some of the price paid originally for it in the p + p. Don't let them do it.
To conclude, buying a geniune UK boxset will be more satisfying in the long run, not only will it have some extra features on there that may be enjoyable but you'll be pleased that you can play it on your dvd player with excellent picture and sound quality. Secondly, research the item in question before buying. It sounds obvious but I've seen people pay twice the amount that a high street store is asking for on a boxset and it makes you wonder why people will do that. So research how much it is, in the store AND on the internet and then knock at least 5 pounds off that price before considering to but it. And thirdly, be wary of people trying to gain more profit through postage and packaging prices. You may have scored a good deal at buying Lost Season 3 for a fiver and then find out it's 10 pounds postage and packaging.
Hopefully this will be of use to some of you and that I haven't bored you too much if you have read up to here.
TV Boxsets: what to look out for?
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3 February 2008
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