The Idiots guide to buying

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The point of this guide is to help you get a good deal when you shop on eBay, and to make sure you do it safely. Every day people are caught out or disappointed in some way or another. While this guide cant include every pit fall possible when buying it should give you a descent set of guide lines.


First the common acronyms used on eBay

NPB - None Paying Buyer (fairly obvious)
NPS - None Performing Seller (they don’t do what they should)
BNWL - Brand new with labels (price tags don’t really count, this means brand tags)
BNIB - As above but boxed
MIB - Mint in box
TOS - Terms of Service
BIN - Buy it now
Shill Bidding - Using a friends or fake account to try and bump up the final price of an item. (Very naughty thing to do, and can get you banned)
Keyword Spamming - adding words to your description that don’t apply to what your selling (for example, “Nike trainers for sale, NOT adidas, puma, fila, other brand” again naughty and not allowed)
NR - No reserve price (the starting price is as listed)
S&H - Shipping and handling (basically P&P plus a small charge to pay for the trip to the post office)
Pinks - eBay staff, called pinks because their forum posts are highlighted this colour

 Price and Payment


Before you place a bid on any item, be sure to check what payment types are allowed. This may be obvious but this can catch out many buyers no matter how observant from time to time. Make sure you know and trust the payment types being offered. Also make sure you are able to pay using the payment methods shown.


While eBay insist that paypal is the only safe way to pay for an item, this isn’t true. Paypal has many merits, but as it is owned by eBay they will often “put down” the rival payment routes as a bad thing. Cheques are equally as safe, the details on your cheques are not enough to do you any financial damage. If they were as unsafe as the Paypal guide makes out they would have been withdrawn from use by now. they are however no longer covered by eBay's buyers protection scheme so bear this in mind if buying high value items.


One little trick that the less honest sellers employ is to charge a stupidly low amount for an item, but then add the true value of the item to the postage. This is against eBay rules and should be reported if you feel like taking the time to do so (I understand sometimes shopping comes first) but if you want to do so by clicking the “report” link at the bottom of this page: you will need the item number which is at the top right hand side in the blue bar.


Not yours, the item’s. If your only looking for a small item readily available in the UK, be sure to check each listing for where the item is located, and the seller is registered. You can also filter what countries the listings are shown from on the left hand side of the page. Look at the big yellow bar on the left hand side, the second section down is marked “Location” use the drop down box and change it from “European Union” to “UK Only” then click on “show Items” this will show just the items located in the UK. You shouldnt be scared of buying internationaly though if you are able to, just be aware of the higher shipping cost.


Every now and again some greedy sod will try to rip you off. Be sure to read the entire advert to check that your buying what you think you are. Some people will try to sell you a link, to where you can find the information to buy an item. Others may be devious enough to be selling the box that the item comes in, but only mention it in small print at the bottom of the advert. One seller was even caught selling pictures of the item that people thought they were buying. These sorts of scams are not massively common, but common enough for you to watch out for.


Try to remember that the cost of postage is not just the price your seller pays for the stamp. The cost will include (if your seller is honest) 3 things:

1. The actual cost of postage (i.e. the stamp)

2. The cost of the packaging (A Jiffy bag, bubble wrap, brown paper e.c.t.)

3. A small handling fee to pay for the time taken to wrap your item and take it to the post office, not all sellers will add this, and if they do it should only be a matter of a few pence.


If you’re buying an expensive item, always take postal insurance (recorded delivery and special delivery) if you have the option. This way you are covered when things go wrong. Your seller should refund or replace any item that is lost in transit, but not all sellers will live up to this.



When you are buying  DVD's and Video games, remember to check that you are able to use them. For DVD's unless your player is region free you will need to buy region 2 disks. For console games ensure that you are buying PAL games. If  you are buying from Europe make sure that they are in English. The only things exempt from region locks are the Nintendo DS, and PC, but still ensure the language is correct.



Always check the feedback of a seller. The percentage score isn’t always a good guide of the overall honesty of a seller. Some people leave negative feedback in retaliation for being reported as a none payer, others may be due to genuine mistakes or problems. Also check how long it has been since your seller has received negative feedback. Use your own better judgement as to if you should buy from them using this information.


I know that feedback is important, and you want to raise your score, but try to remember that not everyone will leave feedback immediately, and a few simply never will. Asking for feedback depending on the disposition of the other party involved can end badly if they think you are harassing them.


Leaving feedback is a way of marking the end of a transaction. Wait until you are sure that you are happy with everything before leaving it. Remember that with most sellers you are dealing with a normal person just like you, and not a large business so don’t judge them as if they were. If you are happy with a deal, give positive feedback, neutral if you had problems but not severe enough for a negative, also keep in mind how much effort (if any) your seller made to try and fix your problems. A negative should be reserved for a truly bad experience.

General Tips


Be sure to know what protection is in place for you as a buyer. This page shows exactly how you are protected while on eBay.


Almost every category on eBay has a number of sellers trading from China. While China is a big country, its best to bear in mind that it is also the counterfeit capital of the world. Anything and everything can be copied with a cheap imitation, and the bulk of these items are sold on by Chinese sellers. Everything from coins, to golf clubs to electrical items and a whole load more are among these.


From time to time you will come across an item that is listed as “untested” quite often this is a way of saying defective or broken. Keep in mind when you buy these items that there is a good chance of your item not working when it arrives if it is sold this way. “Sold as seen” can often fall into this group too. Again use your better judgement when buying, quite often anything too good to be true, is.


As much as you may really want the item being sold, most sellers would rather wait until the end of an auction to try and get a higher price. If you are going to ask a seller to end early, try to make a realistic offer for their item, and don’t be offended if they turn it down. Most sellers realise that the final few hours are key for bumping up bids.


Make sure your seller knows where to send your goods. There are 2 ways to do this, the first everyone needs to do, go to “My eBay” in the left hand column select “addresses” and make sure your “primary postal address” is filled in. Also when you com to pay for your item, if paying by cheque or postal order, remember to print off the details of your purchase, and include them with your payment.


Sellers are free to list nearly anything or set nearly any terms they want in an item description. As a bidder or buyer, it's your responsibility to have read these terms before you bid or buy—your bid is a statement that you have read and agreed to the seller's terms, whatever they may be. You'll find some descriptions that are flashy, overdesigned, and hard to read, and others that are so minimal it's tough to know anything about the item being offered. If you are uncomfortable with an item's description or find it either to be lacking in critical information or so complex you can't understand it, don't bid. Better safe than sorry!


If things go wrong and your seller is willing you will often be able to get a refund. However dont be suprised if your seller asks you to return the item first. They are not trying to con you. No sop out there will give you a refund without the item, and eBay sellers are no different, and know that if they refund prior to a return, they will probably never see the item again.



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