Avoid being ripped off buying MP3/MP4 players on eBay

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Hi fellow eBayers,

Today I want to share some experiences on how to buy MP3/MP4 players on eBay and how to avoid being ripped off.

It's no doubt that MP3/MP4 players are becoming very popular, especially among the young people. Besides the famous but expensive iPod players, there are numerous branded and unbranded MP3/MP4 players that mainly come from China. These are perfect alternatives to iPods since they are cheaper, have more functionality, more flexibility with multi-format support. Everyday, there are hundreds of MP3/MP4 players being listed on eBay, so it's quite easy to go there to grab yourself a bargain.

However, there are many things you should consider before you rush in to buy an MP3/MP4 player.

1. The very first thing you should do is to note down what you're looking for, i.e. what features you want to have and which ones are the most important. For example, some need a player for music only but others want a video player, some need long battery life while others want large storage capacity so that they can load hundreds or thousands of songs/videos. There are also features like FM radio, voice recorder, games, photo browsers, etc. This is important because it tells you which category on eBay to go to, or which terms you put in the search box.

For example, if you want a MP4 player with 4gb storage, you can put all those keywords in the search box like this: MP4 player 4gb. Alternatively, just go to the 'MP4 Players' category under Electronics -> MP3, Digital Players.

2. Secondly, you should customise your display by go to 'Customise Display' located on the top right corner and add 'Country/Region' so that you know where the sellers and items are from (whether local or overseas)  and 'Postage' so you know how much the sellers charge for postage.

Why are these two columns important? Well, you really want to make sure the item you want to buy is from a local (Australian) seller and the item is actually in Australia not being shipped from overseas and also you want to know the postage so you can add up to the item price for the final price you have to pay. I'll explain the importance of these criteria below.

3. You should NEVER buy an MP3/MP4 player from overseas. Why? There are many reasons for this:
- First, there are thousands of known frauds associated with buying MP3/MP4 players from overseas sellers. The most popular fraud is fake players with hacked memory, where you bought a player supposedly to be 4GB/8GB but it turned out to be only 2GB or 1GB or some case only 512MB. This is very popular nowadays and very difficult to know unless you're some kind of computer geek because they can hack the player so that the computer recognises it as a 4GB/8GB but when you load that much songs into the player they are not playable or 'crashed'. Formatting the player will solve this problem and will reveal the actual memory. That's the reason why you see many items from overseas are so cheap, too good to be true. Yes, in fact they are too good to be true! There are many forums mentioning about this matter, so feel free to google about it.

- Second, even if the memory is genuine (which you'd never know until you receive the player and check), then you should expect to pay huge shipping charges. I see many listings with the postage is much higher than the actual price of the item. In the end, you would end up paying a high price any way. Not to mention it takes forever for your player to arrive.

- Third, you'd not be able to chase the seller for refund or warranty because they're overseas. If there's problem, it will cost you a fortune to get in sent back to seller. And this brings up another type of very common fraud. You return the item hoping for a small refund (minus the huge postage you've paid to send it back) but the seller claim the item was never received and you end up not getting any refund and no player! BEWARE with this type of fraud because neither eBay nor PayPal can help you to recover your money. If you have trouble with overseas sellers, NEVER send the player back as they requested. Instead, request for a partial refund and threat them with a negative feedback. Some people have had success this way, while those sending the item back are the worst sufferers.

Australian sellers have taken all these risks for you. They can sell only the good & genuine players. And you usually get the item very fast since most sellers ship via Express post (1-3 business days).

4. So, how can you pick Australian sellers among thousands of listings by overseas sellers? It's very easy. On the left column there's 'Search Options' and you only need to select Location to be 'Australia Only' instead of 'Worldwide'. Then click 'Show items', now you're only looking at items offered from Australian sellers.

5. There's still another way you can be ripped off even by buying items in Australia - Ridiculously high postage charges!! Many sellers are clever enough to use a high postage charge so that they can lower their unit prices. This way, they look better than other sellers in competition and also they can avoid paying high eBay fees. And it's you buyers who pay that part of their fees.

A MP3/MP4 player and its box weights appox. 200 - 350 g so postage to Australia wide is only $7.40 by Express post and $4.00 to $5.20 by Regular post, adding to handling and packaging charge, you should not pay over $9 for Express and $7 for Regular. Any thing above that amount you pay, you are likely to be ripped off. I've seen many sellers charging $15.00 for a $4.00 postage - what a huge diffenrence!!! Reading their feedback can tell you something about this.

Finally, it's really up to you to decide which MP3/MP4 player you want to buy to suit your need and budget. Do some research before you buy to avoid disappointment and being ripped off. Remember to look out for Australian sellers, who have high feedback %, good seller ratings and good feedback. Also look out for those offering return of faulty players and warranty.

Hope this guide has provided you some useful information and good luck with your purchase of your next MP3/MP4 player.
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