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A simple guide to buying safely and effectively on eBay.

Many new buyers take to buying on eBay like a duck to water and never run into trouble. Some don't however and this is often due to a few fundamental misconceptions.
Ebay advertising tends to paint an idyllic picture of a wonderful community of like minded, wonderfully honest people who buy and sell on eBay for the pleasure of it. There are a lot of people who do this and the community spirit is there for many and some find a fulfilling new 'life' in their collections, shared interests, trading partners and internet friends. This is not all or even most of the multitude of transactions that occur on the eBay site (venue) however.
Understanding this term venue (trading platform) is critically important, as it is a legally acceptable position, which exempts eBay from responsibility for the success or otherwise of the transaction. There are new entrants to this venue every day who believe they can rely on eBay to monitor and police the authenticity and actuality of the items and the bona fides of the individuals. This is not the case and nor is it ever going to be, although eBay to their credit have increased the level of security and verification dramatically in the five years I have traded. It is important to operate with a 'buyer beware' attitude because the outcome will certainly be 'buyer wear' and even a resolved dispute or disappointment with all monies refunded is not a rewarding experience.
There are several key elements that minimise the risks of buying from a complete stranger over the net, but the most basic AND the most important is to use every piece of information available to you. Also measure all buying decisions against the adage "If it looks too good to be true - it probably is!" 

The vital statistics of the seller.

How long have they been selling not merely buying? (feedback ratings comprise both aspects)
The track record of delivering satisfaction to buyers can be clearly seen in feedback and comments.
A consistent and current pattern of sales and repeat customers virtually ensures the seller has a quality product, product knowledge and sufficient discernment to accurately describe their items consistent with industry standard expectations. (a large number of unhappy transactions are the result of incompetence because there is no requirement for sellers to possess business and customer service skills - this applies equally to buyer's skills.)

Recommended procedure relating to payment.

Never allow the deal to be completed outside the eBay sales framework as this will leave you totally on your own in the event of a problem.
For a buyer there is no possible reason not to use one of the safer methods of payment like Paypal, funded by a credit card (or Visa debit) which have effective funds recoupment abilities. 

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