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The little guide to buying on Ebay Answered

Like or not Ebay is now the number one online market place.
Since they do their best to keep it that way a few tips might be of use to someone.

Unlike some other guides this one is not about how to find the best bargain.
It is about showing some things you should be aware of, especially if you are new Ebay.

1. New, unused, refurbished....
These three can literally mean anything if you find them in a listing title.
Unless you read the full description you simply don't know.
Assuming the listing goes along with the title.
New should mean exacty that: Same condition as you would find in any retail store.
Unused can be the same but could also mean it was opened, like to check it or take the pictures.
Refurbished is something to take with caution.
Unless it clearly states Manufacturer refurbished you just don't know if the refurbishing is done to specs.
For a phone it could mean a badly glued screen, a no name battery, non matching serial numbers...
Unless an item is factory sealed you should expect detailed pictures.
In a lot of categories you will only find generic pictures though - buyer beware!

2. Warranties....
Ebay does have a buyer protection but Ebay does not deal with Manufacturer warranties in any way!
In some countries a seller is legally required to provide a warranty and return statement.
Sadly that is not the case in all countries Ebay serves.
When it comes to brand new devices you might experience problems with your warranty.
As more and more companies go against online selling platforms they do not support they simply exclude them from a warranty.
Let me give you an example for this one:
You see your favourite smartphone at your local retailer for the bargain of just under $1600, while on Ebay you find the exact same model for $1200.
Easy choice? Depends...
If the manufacturer does not support this then only the seller can provide you with some sort or warranty.
The good one claim to do so but don't expcet this from someone only selling a handful of items per year.
In the worst case it could mean your new gadget develops a fault over time that would be fully covered by a manufacturer warranty but you would totally miss out.
The money is gone and you have to fix it at your own cost.
If the item in question is also of value then please check the warraty and return conditions the manufacturer allows before buying.

4. Pricing....
Especially when it comes to things that somehow could be bundled or used with something else you can get screwed.
The culprit i question is the multi-item-listing.
You might look for a battery pack to keep your phone charged when on long hiking trips.
But the first 50 or so listings are all in the lowest imaginable price range.
The listing title shows what you are looking for, the image does too....
Then you dare to check and it is a listing where you can select multipl items.
The price shown in the search result is only for the lowest crap listed there, like a "waterproof usb plug"....
The actual thing you need is usually overpriced.
You are forced to either ignore suspiciously low priced listings or check them all to compare prices.

5. Postage costs....
A lot of things these days come with free shipping, all good.
If they don't then again: Buyer beware!
Sometimes there are exclusions, like certain post code areas.
Or the free shipping is not for international customers.
If it is clear you have to pay shipping and you buy only a single item then again the case is quite obvious.
Combined shipping however does not always mean single costs!
Check the psotage options for multi items carefully!
Often additionalitems are free if they are small.
But if a seller already charges you a high postage fee than chance are you pay the exact same price again for the second - even if the arrive in a single $2 prepaid envelope.

6. Faked locations....
It seems to be common with Chinese sellers to avoid import taxes by faking a local item a selling address.
In some cases (often after Ebay got too many buyer complaints) they list the real shipping time of 2-3 weeks.
More often however they don't.
Once you have the problem the best option is to open a "item not received" claim 3 days after it was due.
On the due date contact the seller and ask when to expect it.
There is a way to spot these fakes and tax frauds:
If a local seller, with a locally listed item gives you a Chinese Paypal account with an address in China than you got a fraudster.
Problem is that once you committed to buying and can see the sellers account details it is already too late.
To cancel such a transaction you need to do it the official way and if the seller won't agree then don't expect Ebay to accept that you don't want to suppport tax evasion and fraud.
Either way, I report each and every single one seller showing a local item with a local selling addrees but using a Chinese Paypal account.

7. Fraudulent listings and sellers....
Let me give you a slightly overstated example on what I mean:
Seller has only sold a very few items, usually of low value.
Suddenly you spot y nice and this years model laptop at a bargain price.
You check the listing closer and find just 2 or 3 pics.
Further down you read something along the lines "Unwanted gift, comes with car charger only."
If it is this years model then it is still under warranty and no one would lose all the additional hardware like the wall charger.
Again it is up to the buyer to decide....
Ebay does not check where an item comes from or if the seller is the legitimate owner of it.

8. Exclusions to make...
Be it price, auction only, distance and so on.
You can make certain limitation and selections to narrow your search results.
Some make sense and work, like just showing items to auction.
Distance no longer really works as sellers are no longer required to state a town or post(zip) code anymore.
Price is relative too.
If you know the ting you need definately costs between $100 and $130 then the search still won't filer anything out that is a multi item listing and within the price range.
And in some cases it just totally fails.
A very vital exclusion was removed around 2014: by country.
Now all that is left is to limit to all within your home country.
You can't select for example Japan only if you are located in Europe and would like to avoid the rediculous postage costs from the US.
And you could not exclude China either...
All or local is what you can play with.
For the rest that is available: use it whenever it make sense and is possible.

9. You buy it - your problem!
No I don't mean faulty items or wrong ones.
I mean simple things that can happen to anyone distracted, unconcentrated or too full of exitement.
You buy something and think you are the happiest guy in the world until you double check the listing to confirm your luck.
Missed the over $300 in postage ocsts?
Did not see further down that it states "replica" or "scale model"?
Or hints that the massive sized Opal in fact is just a resin with a thin and cheap layer of Opal flakes on a black background?
As said, your problem alone.
I know a lot of people who started having fun on Ebay until they got their gib bargain surprice - one way or the other.
Don't become one of them and read and check listing you might want to buy with great care!

10. Feedback...
You might have noticed that it is next to impossible to find a seller with a feedback rating below 90%.
The reason is quite simple: The lower your ratings as a seller the further down the search results you appear.
And of course you don't make any business anymore once so low...
But feedback you leave is as important as feedback you get!
So if you spot a deal where the seller has a rating below the magic 99.5% positive rating you should check his feedback.
Quite often it is clear that some angry customer left it.
Most obvious if the seller left a reply stating otherwise.
But in some case you more than one buyer left a negative feedback for the same reason as other buyers - this is where you should be careful.
The reason to actually check the feedback is quite simple: It is heavily manipulated by Ebay.
A seller won't get and negative feedback if he agreed to replace the item in question or if he offers a refund.
Same for simply stating that a negative feedback was not justified.
The later can be anything from the words used to just wanting a clean sleeve.
And if a seller is highly active than business rules and the feedback is corrected by Ebay.
You might have noticed that for some sellers now now new negative feedback show up that would be of any real concern for a potential buyer...

11. Retractions :(
Be it a seller not wanting to sell something that auctioned off below his expectations or a buyer who simply failed to pay attention to the price and all details : A retraction is possible.
If you try a lot of auctions you might have had the "second chance offer".
After you lost an auction you might get notified that the winning bid was retracted and that you are next in line.
In almost all cases your last bid will be accepted but some sellers offer you the item for what the rectracted bid was - so pay attention to details!
Now you might think that if happens so often you could make good use of it.
Like for example participating in several autions to try to win the device one way or the other.
Set some sutomatic bids and go to bed.
If lucky you got one, if too lucky you won all auctions.
Retracting your bid on those you now no longer need is possible but I strongly advise against it!
Firstly you can negative feedback from the seller for it and secondly Ebay will keep you under watch if it happens too often.
An honest mistake and all is fine but ask for a retraction a few times a month and you will have a hard time on Ebay.
In the worst case Ebay can even suspend your account or exclude you from auctions.

So, is it still worth signing up and trying to find a bargain?
IMHO it all depends on WHAT you are looking for.
Someone in a remote area of Brazil will certainly value it differently than someone living downtown L.A. with access to all sorts of shops, retailers and outlets onevery corner.
Same for spare parts, electronic parts or stuff that is made in China anyways.
But times have changed for sure.
What started free for everyone became a paid platform for those who sell.
Later those buying also had to pay extra as still all transactions come with fees on the side of Paypal.
Not much to be fair but still...
And from a platform with a few scammers and frudsters that always got and kept your money we came to something flooded by sellers that should not even be allowed to have a Paypal account.
The buyer protection helps in some way but it can take weeks to get your money back and if it something expensive than this money makes interest for someone else while you don't have to buy what you wanted to buy.
While, in a real shop you just go back and return your item to get your money back - plus you get a real warranty.
Do your homework and be aware of what could go wrong.
If it looks like it could go wrong somewhere than you might want to consider a deffierent option for this item.


The forums are retiring in 2021 and are now closed for new topics and comments.

2 years ago

I got some disturbing news and not just from one person but from two different persons at basically the same time.
They both tried to buy a new phone, one was a Iphone, the other a Pixel2.
In both cases the phones went dead or unusable within two weeks.
Both of my friends had troubles getting a working replacement as the seller make suggestions like "I refund you $50 and you have it fixed yourself?"
So Ebay was contacted and a refund claim started.
With all sorted and their money back they both tried again,with different sellers of course.
And by coincidence they ended up buying from the same guy.
This time instead of new they received refurbished phones in re-used boxes that did not even have matching serial numbers - but came foli sealed in shrink wrap.
After starting their claims they got suspended now from buying or selling until Ebay finnishes their investigation.
Ebay really had the guts to claim my friends made fraudulent claims trying to get broken phones replaced through ebay.
Appearently their claim with the serial number mismatch shows this because the seller insists he only sends genuine products in original and sealed packing.
Funny that his feedback clearly shows otherwise now...

Ebay is turning the wheel.
Instead of weeding out fraudsters quickly they let them off with no real consequences until a certain amount of successful claims were made against a dodgy seller.
I have now cases where a seller repeated to sell through fraudulent listings for over 6 months.
As a result I wasted a few hours last week and started reading in the Ebay section on Reddit.
Here mostly sellers run the show and what you find there is often interesting.
You can a learn a lot about how power sellers deal with buyers, claims and so things.
But you also find their complaints in regards to buyers, auctions, increasing fees and "lack of freedom".
Seems to be mostly US sellers on reddit but still a lot of it applies to other countries in the same way.
Sellers often complain that their sales went downhill after getting negative feedback, especially if a claim was involved.
I checked a few that used the same name on ebay and have to say the limitations put on them seem fair considering the sometimes quite severe feedback they got.
The one thing I totally fail to find anywhere is cases of a seller talking about real Ebay sanctions like an account suspension.
The only case I found was in regards to WW2 stuff that is clearly banned not just on ebay.
Here the seller just ignored all warning that popped up by the automated system.
Ebay removed the listing and banned him based on a severe violation of the terms and conditions.
And guess what?
The seller had his case escalated, claimed he did not do it for profit and without knowing that his particular items would be not allowed.
Ebay freed his account under the condition he won't try to sell any WW2 related items without properly checking the rules and if doubt contacting Ebay prior to the listing.
The most concern I have in regards to feedback handling.
A buyer has a very hard time forcing a seller to leave feedback but if he leaves bad feedback then it isnext to impossible to have it removed or altered.
A common practise for sellers is to only leave buyer feedback once they got positive feedback from the buyer.
And as you guessed they won't leave positive feedback if they gotnegative from you - which is a clear violation of Ebay rules.
A seller is required to leave feedback once the money is in his account as this ends his part of the transaction.
But since changing feedback later on causes Ebay to watch you....
The thing with negative feedback for a seller is that it took me a long time to decipher how it works.
Ok, not how to leave feedback, I mean in terms of how negative feedback sticks to a seller and how it affects him.
Let me try to put into into simple terms everyone can follow:
A supported seller is someone making enough sales to qualify for Ebay seller program.
The really big ones here are the Power Sellers.
A normal guy just selling a bit here and there won't qualify for any of the following.
If a buyer leaves negative feedback then the seller has the option to have this feedback checked by support.
For example when a buyer gives negative feedback like this: "Fast delivery, works great, anytime again!"
Clearly the buyer ticked the wrong box...
A lot though can be deemed unjustified for the item in question.
Best example is when a buyer had no communication at all with the seller and just leaves negative feedback with no proof.
Again this a case that the support is happy to check for the seller.
This all means that if a seller can somehow explain that a negative feedback he got is not fair and would impact on his business then Ebay can remove the offending feedback.
Fun fact: The buyer will still see the negative feedback he left in his account....
Before the new buyer protection there where a lot of sellers getting a lot of negative feedback.
In relation to their sales it was no big deal though.
And for all the negative feedback you found a meaningful and honest reply from the seller.
Now we only see very little negative feedback for a seller and usually with no responce.
To be fair: for some things it makes sense that the feedback is left untouched by the seller or Ebay.
But the numbers no longer add up unless a seller goes dogy and and Eaby started to put him on watch.
This however takes a lot for Ebay to step in. :(
Sometimes you can spot a seller just starting a new business.
Not that much feedback but hundreds of items on sale already.
I had a guy selling nice electronics parts from the old days and kept him on watch for new items.
Here I noticed that for a lot of his listings the counter for the available items went down but no corresponding feedback appeared in his account.
Went on for a few weeks then suddenly every week there was one or two negative feedback comments left.
I had no problem with my first purchase so I tried again when I spotted something interesting in his listings.
Right after I paid I got an automated response from Ebay informing me the seller is suspended but that I should await no complications with my item.
If I do I would get a refund.
Unlike the first time my stuff arrived just a week later and was all fine.
As I could not leave any feedback I misused the Paypal details to send an Email directly to the seller.
As he did not use tracking or signature for small items he got flooded with not received claims.
Ebay forced him to refund each and every single time and then suspended him claiming he would not actually send the items he lists.
So not all is green on either side of the Ebay river, both seller and buyer suffer from it.

I still have a $500 warranty claim issue running.
Started 5 weeks ago and after a lot of discussions with both the seller and Ebay I am still nowhere.
Why is this important you might wonder?
As stated far above in the start, different countries can mean slightly different terms and conditions for sales on Ebay.
In some countries you even have to include warranty and return conditions for your old and well used teddy bear.
If in doubt you at least have to state that it is a private sale and that you neither offer a warranty nor a return.
And still, if it arrived non working then you will be required to provide proof that it was in perfect condition when you lodged it at the post office.
For a lot of listings you will find they might come from outside your country or that in your country there is no requirement to include these terms and conditions with a private or even business listing.
What does that mean now?
Ebay does not deal with this unless the law requires them to do so.
And if the seller is not required to provide these statements then you can assume Ebay is of little help if you need help.
Apple has already declared war on online shops that are not authorised.
They can no longer forward the Apple warranty onto the new devices they sell.
Same now for Samsung and most other big name brands.
Together with the recent flood of dodgy sellers Ebay has turned into a minefield.

Unless your item is dirt cheap do your homework on the seller!
Whenever you can prefer only those with 100% positive feedback.
95% + might sound great but if it is based on 50000 or more items and the bad feedback is all quite recent....
A good power seller has no problem with some fair negative feedback but it will be little and far spread over time.
There are a lot of dodgy buyers as well and sellers blame them for a good reason so check and double check the feedback if you must.

Proper claim handling:
Is you did all the right way and a seller won't cooperated with a problem then the resolution center is the official way out.
However, I do recommend using the support chat before going into a dispute.
In many cases a clear explanation of your problem with a hint to check the corresponding meassages between you and the seller is far better.
You might have missed something, the seller might have done something, someone was not playing fair - you never know for sure in the Ebay world of rules and conditions...
Plus: The support might see things on the sellers side that you can't and that might help you.
Either way you will get some advise on how to proceed - keep the transscript of the chat for future reference ;)
At the start the new buyer protection meant a buyer was basically getting his money back as soon as a claim was started.
This "promotion" however backfired big time.
With the claimed safety net in mind buyers jumped onto buying like never before - Ebay had a new boom!
The downside was that some sellers took advantage of this boom and decided to use all loopholes and evasions possible.
More and more active buyers are now facing investigations by Ebay as a result of making too many return/refund claims.
My problem with this and afeter reading tons of postings and their replies:
Ebay is not using a fair system to judge the cases and problem.
The feedback system is flawed as it lacks vital options in regards to seller location, packing and so on.
And right now Ebay is using legal loopholes and their changed terms and conditions to get the sheep back on dry land.
With no binding requirements for a seller to prove the status of a device and the corresponding warranty and return terms Ebay starts to put the blame on the buyer.
Ebay statements like "You should have checked the manufacturers warranty details before buying on Ebay" or "Ebay does not handle warranty issues" should tell you enough.
If you still need a claim then do it properly by checking the sellers feedback again.
Quite often you will find that negative feedback exists that relates to your problem.
Stating this in the support chat can make the break for your case.
Ebay is then forced to check the corresponding sellers activities and how he handled previous cases resulting in negative feedback for him.
Be prepared to loose!
See a possible claim as a chance only to get your money back.
For a low value item it is better to suck it up and to only inform the support about the problem while stating you don't want to bother with a claim.
If a claim has to happen then do follow the rules!
You send some text then seller has to reply before you can send again - so do not use the normal message system once you started a claim!
If the seller is the last to reply and failed then it will be only in your favour.
That is if you were fair and used the right words, so no abuse and such things...
If in doubt, wait it out!
No point in sending messages to the seller asking him to continue with the claim.
If nothing from the seller after a week then either escalate the case and ask Ebay to step in or better consult the chat and ask for and update in case the seller started to contact Ebay like you did.
Don't fight with a seller and have endless arguements, stick to the point and problem only.
The support can be your friend or your foe - it all depends on your selection of words and how much you can find that violates Ebay terms and conditions to use in your favour.

Common things any unsuspecting newbie might overlook when buying high value items:
1. Never, ever accept any payment methods outside Ebay!
2. Always expect tracking info and the requirement to sign for the delivery!
If you don't get a valid tracking info and no signature required contact the support
and state you fear the item might get lost as you can not keep an eye on your
letterbox while at work.
3. If a manufacturer warranty is available then check if it applies to your seller.
(authorised retailer or not?).
4. Use common sense for the price!
If the fancy designer handbag is far under retail price then chances are it is not genuine.
Especially if sold in bulk...
5. Spot the fakes and frauds!
For a lot of things you find comparisons between fake and original.
Same for certain checks you can do like serial numbers, packing and writing/prints.
In some cases you can even use the model identifaction and serial number to check
between new, retail and refurbished.
6. Act with caution when the listing text seems to be bogus!
People like to use the times of new models coming out to sell their old devices.
Others like to sell things the got as a gift, weddings to name one...
And there are those trying to fool you.
If someone gets a new car stereo system as a gift but has no wiring harness or
packing box for it then the case should be clear...
7. Avoid binge buying!!
Sometimes the itch needs a scratch and for some people this means taking a day to
buy what they want on Ebay.
Be it the tax return or some loose money, suddenly you bought 30 odd items
within a few hours.
Just imagine 5 or so turn out bad deals when they arrive.
Trust me: You do not want to open several claims within a short period of time!
Even with xmas around the corner, try to spread it out!
Having one $300 claim is bad enough having a bunch of them will be
your worst nightmare!

Otherwise please enjoy making a bargain on Ebay as much as you can!


2 years ago

1. I love the sellers, that when I ask them a question about the item they're selling, they politely suggest I should but the item and then let them know - WHAT!

2. There's a really weird scam I've seen several times with new sellers (DON'T BUY! https://www.ebay.com/itm/EPOXY-RESIN-1-Gal-kit-CR...) like this one where they sell a high value item for a very low price, then when you buy the item, the listing gets canceled - and they make no money! I don't understand what the point is. I found a listing selling 2 drill batteries for half the price of 1, and as expected out of curiosity, the listing was closed by eBay and the seller didn't get paid.

3. The money-back policy is really good for buyers. Some sellers have some type of automated response, refunding immediately after you request it. Sometimes I receive an item late and after getting a refund, but I still would like to pay the seller to be fair, though.

4. You might hear mostly bad stuff about eBay, but overall I've found amazing products for almost nothing, for example, this flashlight (https://www.ebay.com/itm/142985346756?var=441952945880&ssPageName=STRK:MESINDXX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1436.l2649 #11) is insanely bright, has a side lamp, and is worth every penny.


Reply 2 years ago

*Insanely bright, then I realized I was over-charging my 18650s to 4.3v :)
The zooming function is super useful. Done... what is this, an ad?


2 years ago

Oh: In case you wonder what mostly sellers struggle with then check the Ebay section on Reddit.
If you though we buyers feel bad then might be surprised by what some seller have to deal with, especially when it comes to dodgy buyers and changes Ebay makes....