Hello. Like you I was apprehensive about buying goods on the internet. I thought that my hard earned cash would end up where my stray emails did. Lost forever. But I was wrong.
Ebay is a great place to shop. You just have to know how to avoid the pit falls out there.
Firstly, know exactely what you want to buy. Do some research, find out much it usually costs. After all you are looking for a bargain. If you are not sure if the item is exactely what you are looking for - then ask the seller.
Set yourself a final price and stick to it. How much are you willing to spend? Don't forget to include the postage. It is suprisingly easy to get caught up in the excitement of the final few minutes and end up spending far more than you had planned. There are two ways to go about bidding. Jump in early and bid your maximum - then wait. Or wait till the auction is almost over then bid. I find both methods work well, especially if the item regularly comes up for auction. It may mean that you have to be patient until you get the item at the price that you would like to pay. But you can save a lot of money in the long run.
Look at the sellers profile. How much feedback do they have? How much negative feedback have they had? Click on the tab labelled from buyers. This lets you find out what other buyers thought about that particular seller. The seller might have a score of 34, but this won't tell you if they are a trust worthy seller if all they have done up to now is buy.
What are the payment options? I have found Paypal is the best way to pay. Direct deposit is a little more risky as it involves divulging your account numbers. (They wil appear on the sellers statement). In the past I have organised to pick up goods and pay in person when the sellers have lived locally. Money orders from the post office can become quite costly especially when they involve foreign currencies. So when possible Paypal is most convenient option.
Finally, if it seems to good to be true, then it probably is. You are unlikely to get a solid 24c gold necklace for $5 or a genuine designer item from china. Read the item descriptions carefully and think about the source of the goods.