Saturday, September 12, 2009

The EBAY Experience: Pros, Cons and some Tips in Buying and Selling

Buying and bidding in Ebay has always been something I enjoy more than shopping. Shopping online would require me to have a credit card and I don't have one. Shopping in malls makes me tired (I just love staying at home and waiting for my packages to arrive).

I'm not sure why, but I have this certain affinity for used goods. I believe my logic in purchasing preloved items is that you're getting the same goods at a cheaper price (usually 50 to 75% lower than the original).

To match my preloved phone, I also purchased a not-so-new headset. Upon receiving the item, I did the usual inspection and mentally branded it with a QC(quality checked) stamp of satisfaction. Now, I got a new trinket to add to my gadget accessories collection.

Here are some things to consider when purchasing an item through EBAY. I've experienced alot of good and bad things in EBAY. I've met buyers and sellers from different places through it, some even became good friends of mine.

Note: The things I'm going to talk about will mostly apply to the Philippine setting.

1. There's an 80% chance you could stumble upon good merchandise at great prices.
2. Items are delivered to your doorstep after a day or 2 (maximum of 3) once payment is confirmed.
3. There's such a thing as trusted buyers and sellers. Once I've bought a touch screen PDA phone from a seller I've previously done business with. Upon winning the bidding, I had requested for him to send the item that afternoon because that was the time I would pay for it. I unable to pay it on time, but he still had the item dispatched as scheduled.
4. It's not that hard to spot a legit seller. Their feedback system is a big help, but you have to be cautious about purchasing expensive items from sellers with less than 10 feedbacks.
5. Need a blast from the past, check EBAY's vintage items. You may find what you're looking for.

1. ALOT of bogus sellers. Their filtering system is not perfect. I've read about stories of sellers who threaten winning bidders that they wouldn't send the item if the buyer won't give them positive feedback. Worst case scenario when these sellers don't send the item at all.

I have two awful experiences with bogus sellers. The first was someone I placed my trust on because his mode of payment was through a bank account. Who would've thought that exposing his real name and bank account was perfectly fine for him just to con people? After not sending the item, I reported him to his bank authorities- just to know I wasn't the only person he had done it to. Anyway, it was a good thing that I had reported this incident. His name is now posted in that bank and his account got frozen because they were setting him up.

The second was awful. This person was very cunning, smart and patient enough to be able to trick alot of ebayers. What he did was gain credibility through the feedback system. He bought items from sellers with very high feedback scores. After awhile, he sold a gadget to a person with high feedback as well. This person commended him because he was a good seller. One way a seller can secure his/her item's pictures and prove that he/she has this certain item was to place their EBAY user name on the merchandise. This is what he did. After paying up, I waited for the item but it never came. I even tried to warn the winning bidder but I was too late. They had also paid for an item that would never arrive. Upon investigation, I was shocked to discover that he was able to trick 3 more people in purchasing this particular gadget.

2. Pictures sometimes aren't sufficient enough for us to be able to decide if the item is worth purchasing.
3. Some item descriptions are just candy coated from the ugly truth.
4. No warranty for used stuff. If a warranty is placed on the item, shipping becomes costly once it has unexpected defects.
5. Pay now, ship later. Although Paypal is a good alternative, even their systems aren't perfect. And you also need to have a credit card to use it. I've heard that you can also use a bank account so I tried that but I wasn't successful in enrolling it.
6. Once the item is dispatched, the seller will no longer be responsible for the item's condition. If it got broken during shipping, sellers aren't liable for it unless an insurance fee was paid prior to dispatch.
7. Ebay no longer allows sellers to give negative feedbacks for bogus buyers or joy bidders.

1. If the price is too good to be true e.g. way cheaper than the usual prices of similar items then double check the seller's credibility. Check his/her feedbacks. Or you could try to contact the people they had transacted with. Most ebayers are kind enough to give you some information about their experiences about your seller.
2. Be cautious in doing wireless transfers. Do not fall for the typical "Payment Mode: GCASH/ SMART MONEY/ LBC/ WESTERN UNION/ ML KWARTA PADALA ONLY...If you do not agree to my terms and conditions do not bid." statement on sellers with low feedback scores.
3. Get to know your seller and more about the item you wish to purchase. Make sure that you know what you bid on. Used means used. Do not expect it to be in mint condition or brand new looking unless stated.
4. Be aware of the seller's shipping rate. Some may have very cheap items but unreasonable shipping fees.
5. Upon the package's arrival, double check its contents. Sometimes the problem will not lie on the seller but the courier service itself.
6. Respect the seller's terms. If it says "No Haggling." then don't. However, if you really are desperate to obtain an item, send the seller a message of your price offer and ask him or her to contact you if he/she is interested in accepting the offer. No Message- Not Interested. Message- Read it First!
6. For newbies in ebay, if the seller requests for specific information as to express your intent of buying, comply with it
6. Give honest feedbacks.

1. Make sure to give the exact item description. Do not hide the item's defects or physical issues (such as scratches, dents, fading, etc) because eventually, the winning bidder will contact you like hell if he/she discovers these unmentioned information.
2. Never forget to place your terms and conditions such as having the right to terminate the auction early, payment and shipping, or responsibility/liability scopes.
3. Give the winning bidders some time respond to you. There are instances that they may be busy or have important events to attend to. For them to not respond/reply through text message or accept your calls within 4 or 5 hours after you've contacted them doesn't mean that they are no longer interested in paying for what they won.
4. As much as possible, give the buyer different modes of payment available such as wireless transfer, bank transfer, COD, etc.
5. For expensive items, make reasonable meet-ups possible.

There's alot more to learn... just be careful and not too hasty on deciding.

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