A Basic Guide on Buying Safe and Authentic - On eBay

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BY: seriously_funky_clothes

Online auction house eBay has over 70 million shoppers worldwide and if you are planning on buying something off eBay then this can be a daunting experience. Buying without any knowledge about online shopping can often leave a buyer open to fraudsters or scams. Plus the biggest problem buyers have is that they are not covered by the same consumer protection rules that retail stores give you.

This is why we created this basic guide on buying safely for the novice and part-time buyers on eBay. Hopefully it will help make you think about what you're buying in more ways that what is written on the auction page. Also to help you think logically rather then emotionally when making a purchase as this will help you get a more accurate perspective on what you are buying and not fall into a pitfall like so many of us have.

Follow these 7 basic steps to avoid 'red flags' and listen to your instincts to buy safe on eBay, and remember to have FUN!

1. Get to Know the Seller

Rule out all but the most excellent sellers. This is your money you're dealing with so spend it wisely. A rule of thumb of a good seller is that they have been a member of the eBay community for at least 6 months, have sold items consistently over the past 6 months, have a feedback score of over 100 and at least a 98% positive feedback rating. A power seller symbol next to their username is also a good indication that they are a reliable and honest seller.

Another tip would be to visit their ME page if they have one. Do they look genuine and have they taken the time to tell their potential buyers about themselves (who they are and what they're about). What do they say and are you comfortable enough that they are a genuine eBay seller. If all this checks out, then you are 90% of the way to a safe and successful transaction.

2. The Auction Title, Description and Pictures

Take the time to check the wording in both the auction title and description and read over everything with a fine tooth comb. When anything over $30.00 is involved, be sure to read the auction thoroughly 2 or 3 times over. An example of suspicious descriptions could contain keyword spamming in the auction title. This may suggest suspect auction activity through the seller selling fake goods. Scammers selling fakes often spam to gain internet traffic to their listed auctions in order to sell as many items as possible before they get caught out.

      • For example eBay user Fake_Handbags_RUS are selling Louis Vuitton handbags at a bargain price. The price is suspicious activity to say the least, however you notice the title has spamming in it, 'Genuine Leather Louis Vuitton Monogram Handbag - Gucci, Prada, DKNY, Guess, Versace'.

The above example might be an auction to steer clear from. Many of these auctions are sellers selling fake goods to as many people as they can before being caught out. Always do you homework when buying from a suspect auction as spamming is not allowed on eBay.

Another thing to look out for is the pictures shown in the listing. Are they just copied from the internet or are they the real deal. If they are pictures from the internet then ask the seller for actual pictures of the product they are selling to prove that it exists. If they say they 'dont have a camera' or that 'the camera is in the shop getting repaired', then don't bother with the item. Chances are you will be ripped off by paying for an item that never existed in the first place.

Remeber, always read the fine print and check the wording of the description because 'A Genuine Leather Louis Vuitton Monogram Handbag' might be genuine leather, but not genuine Louis Vuitton.

3. Feedback - Past and Present

One of the wonderful things about eBay is that we can get to know who we are dealing with through the eBay feedback system. We would all like to buy from sellers with 3000 feedback and a 100% positive rating, however this is not possible alot of the time. so the next best thing to do is to use your common sense and ask yourself some questions.

      • What feedback rating does the seller have?
      • How many positives and negatives do they have?
      • How many transactions a month does the seller average?
      • Are the negative remarks questioning the authenticity of the items the seller is selling?
      • How old are the negative feedback?

Feedback is important, however is not the be all and end all of a transaction. Many feedback remarks are left because the buyer wants to spite the seller or the buyer may not have known how to use the feedback system properly. Alternatively the seller may have not received feedback for all items they have sold, thus their feedback rating should be alot higher then what it is. However, just keep an eye on what the seller has sold recently and look at what feedback they have received for selling those items.

A rule of thumb is 2 negatives for every 100 positives and no reoccuring negative feedback statements from different buyers (e.g. Slow to post out item, looks like its a fake, abusive seller).

4. Payment Methods

Do not buy or bid on any item that asks for Money Gram, Western Union Money Transfers or Cash as a method of payment. These will most likely be scammers. EBay prohibits the use of these payment methods anyway so buyers beware. These are scammers preferred methods of payment as they cannot usually be traced and the buyer has no protection. Never give out your credit card details unless you are paying through a secure website (which has a padlock down the corner of your screen). If you are purchasing an item overseas and want to pay via Paypal, make sure that you are covered under the buyers' protection scheme.

5. Origin of Sale

Avoid purchasing high price items anywhere in the world unless you are completely sure who you are buying from. Australia would be best to purchase your items as you are protected under law somewhat and have a better chance of recovering your money if you were ripped off. Once you purchase an item offshore, there is very little you can do if you get ripped off. Also keep in mind if you do purchase a high priced item that you may have to pay GST when you item enters Australia.

Places to avoid buying from are: Africa, China, South America (Argentina, Brazil), France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan (and be careful when buying an item from the US).

Auctions listed in these countries have a very high fraud rate and a majority of listings are suspicous and fake.

6. Other Items the Seller is Selling

If the price is too good to be true then it probably is. Check out the buyers other auctions and see what else they have listed. If they have several high priced items for sale at a bargain price, then chances are they will be fake goods or if you pay for them, will receive nothing at all.

      • For example Fake_Fones_4U are selling 15 brand new release, in the box Nokia N91 music phones for a bargain $200 under RRP price. the auction as states that they are so cheap because they purchased the phones in a bulk order. They are selling them all at a 'buy it now' price and dont have anything else listed for sale.

The above example may be a good auction to stay away from because they are most likely stolen, fake or an item you will never receive in the post. If they can purchase 15 mobiles and sell them for so cheap the why cant a mobile phone store that purchases 1500 at a time do that.

On the flip side make sure that if you are buying an item from a seller that they have other items for sale. This will reduce the chances that you are swindled out of your money and that the seller is actually an honest eBay member.

7. Ask Questions

Ask questions because it's your money you are spending. If something doesn't look or feel right then ask away. If the seller chooses not to answer them, then they chose to lose the sale.

Remember ask questions to get facts, and then make your own logical judgement.


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