eBay Buying - The Dos and the Don'ts

by - 14:24

So - eBay and I have this love hate relationship. eBay is great when it works - you buy super cheap items you have been lusting over for ages - or snap something up on the spur of the moment. As a seller it is amazing how one person's junk is another person's treasure - and making a bit of spare extra cash is always welcome. However, eBay can be a bit of a minefield, especially if you are looking at selling and buying regularly. I have been selling/buying for just over six years now and have learnt many tips along the way. I thought I would share with you some ideas and advice that may help if you are falling out of love with eBay or are just starting an eBay love affair.


1. Always, always...always read the description and view as many super sized photos as possible. It is obvious but then again all too easy to see an item ending soon at a good price - bid on it impulsively then realise after that the item was super cheap because of x, y or z.

2. Set yourself a limit if bidding - it is so easy to get carried away in the moment and then after regret that you've spent your last bit of wages on that ' oh but it is gorgeous- I'll probably wear a couple of times' coat/top/skirt whatever. Set a limit and remember - the item you are bidding on maybe relisted by another buyer and at a cheaper price, so always try to be realistic about how much you are willing to spend and if it is worth it.

3. Problems - ok so you have bought this beautiful coat that cost quite a bit because it's sold out online but you received it and it is looking a bit worse for wear - firstly, if an item leaves you feeling disappointed check and double check the item description and photos. If the seller has listed the item as excellent condition and there are no clear photos of any wear or tears you may be able to claim your money back under the eBay Money Back Guarantee. Obviously there are a few blurred lines within this guarantee - but strictly speaking, if an item has been mis-sold to you then you may have a case.

4. So, assuming the item didn't arrive or you have a feeling the item was not as it should be first of all contact the seller. Be polite as eBay do read all communications if a case escalates - and explain the problem. I always wait at least 15 working days before raising a case of item undelivered. Usually the seller will be helpful and wanting to keep a good customer service record, so in most cases will refund you straight away or send another item out to you. Sometimes however it is not as straightforward as that and if you feel the seller is being unfair I would recommend talking to eBay.

5. eBay customer services - my experience. You can contact eBay over the phone/email or online chat. I find the phone is the best way as it's so much easier to  just chat with someone rather than explaining everything via typing - however the chat has usually less waiting times. In regards to the waiting times be prepared to wait up to 30 minutes if not more at peak times. I have almost always found eBay customer service to be helpful and point me in the right direction. They are usually very realistic and if they believe you to have a case after reviewing evidence (photos/descriptions/messages)  they will help you as much as they can. If you decide to take a case further, which I would recommend doing if you feel let down, it does take a few days and if the seller doesn't respond within that time frame and you are not happy with the outcome eBay will decide what action to take.

6. Refunds. I have always found eBay are pretty good in this area. If your item didn't arrive and there was no proof it was delivered eBay will almost certainly step in and refund you via the seller. There have been times when cases have escalated and eBay have refunded the buyer but also the seller has kept the sale money. I have found overall that eBay are more fairer to buyers than ever before and usually will do all they can to make you happy and have an overall positive experience - which is what it is all about at the end of the day.

7. Returning an item. This use to be a complicated process and as a buyer you sometimes felt that it was easier to just cut your losses and keep/chuck/donate the said item. However, I have had to return two items recently and as a buyer the process was fairly simple. First of all I bought a coat which was stated as the wrong size. I messaged the seller and they agreed for me to return the item. The second case was a clock radio I bought brand new and when I tried it out it didn't work. The seller didn't send me any communication but did accept my return request. eBay will send you a link with a pre paid postage stamp. Once this is printed bag up your item - if you happen to have the original packaging I would recommend using that - and then all you need to do is take it to a post office to be scanned through the system. eBay will then alert you once the item has been delivered back to the seller. This is super easy and very quick and once this has all gone through the buyer has a few days to refund you. The only draw back is you will need access to a printer. It can also be annoying if the returned item is showing up as undelivered as I experienced. I messaged the seller gently reminding them that the item was being held at their local depot. It did take quite some time from the start of the process to claim back my refund but eventually I received it.

8. Feedback - this is a touchy subject for sellers as feedback scores really affect their selling limits and therefore sales. I would really reconsider leaving bad feedback especially if an item didn't arrive. After all, is this the seller's fault or the courier company? Sometimes situations are beyond sellers control and as buyers it is worth keeping this in mind. If you have had a bad experience with a seller I would report them to eBay in the first instance. Depending on how bad the experience was and the outcome neutral feedback with a brief description of the event is usually enough to give a seller a wake up call that they need to up their game.

I hope as a buyer you found these tips useful. As a buyer over the years I would say my experience of eBay has been an overall pleasant one. I've hardly ever not received an item - and if an item has turned up not matching the description I have found most sellers to be apologetic and helpful. I am hoping to draw up a list of tips for selling on eBay over the next few weeks as I would say that side of eBay is definitely more complicated than buying!

*All views/pictures and experiences are entirely my own!

Good luck on the bidding! xx

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