eBay Newbie Relief

You’ve undoubtedly heard of eBay, but have you ever used the site?

You’re probably well-aware of the existence of a little (ok, huge) website that’s been all the rage for more than ten years now. Yup, you read right: The leading auction website has been around for over a decade! Many of you are probably familiar with its functionality, but we find that a lot of people are still hesitant to use it. That’s why we decided to address four concerns that some of you may have before signing up and making your first purchase on eBay.

Concern No. 1: “I’m afraid of getting scammed.”

In this case, “getting scammed” usually means you’re afraid that you’ll win an item, pay the seller, but never receive the product (or receive something very different from what was originally described).

To avoid this situation altogether, there is a feedback system in place, so that every time you complete a transaction with a fellow eBayer (buyer or seller), you have the possibility of leaving your comments on how it went. When browsing an item listing, you should always take the seller’s feedback and other users’ comments into consideration before bidding. Make sure to read the most recent feedback posts, as opposed to only checking the overall percentage of positively-rated transactions.

In the extremely rare event that you don’t receive an item or encounter a problem during the transaction, there are recourses available. Here are the main ones:

eBay’s Standard Purchase Protection Program refunds buyers for a value of up to $200 on eligible transactions, in the event that they didn’t receive the item they won or that it was significantly different from what had been described.

*PayPal, which is eBay’s financial transactions website, also offers buyers coverage on eligible transactions. You’ll know an item is covered when you see the “Free PayPal Buyer Protection” message in an item listing. If it is covered for a higher amount, it will also be indicated; most transactions may be covered for up to $2,000—now that’s reassuring!

Beware of any emails from sellers sent through their personal address, as well as any transaction proposals not within the eBay website; these are possible scammers. Stay within the eBay and PayPal structure and your transactions should go smoothly.

Concern No. 2: "I’m not sure whether financial transactions on the Internet are safe.”

PayPal is really the safest way to pay for purchases on eBay: Sellers will never have access to your bank account information nor your credit card number. Paying with PayPal also protects users from unauthorized payments from their accounts and features a conflict resolution centre in case there is a problem with the transaction. Payment websites such as escrow.com are also an interesting option to look into when purchasing a very pricey item, such as a car; they can be used to withhold payment until you’ve actually received and inspected it.

Concern No. 3: "I don’t want to sit in front of my computer screen, waiting for an auction to end.”

Well, you don’t have to. When you wish to place a bid on an item, simply enter the maximum amount you’re willing to pay. Then, eBay’s automatic bidding system bids only the minimum increment on the item for you, until someone else tries to bid higher. The system keeps outbidding the other users for you until someone enters an amount that is higher than your maximum. When this happens, you’ll receive an email warning you that you were outbid, so that you can go and place a higher one if you want.

And what if you really don’t want to go through the whole bidding process? Choose an item that has the “Buy It Now” logo, which means you can pay the marked price and purchase the item right away (which then closes the auction)—simple as that.

Concern No. 4: “What if I don’t like the item, or I buy clothing and it doesn’t fit?”

It’s not always the case, but many sellers have return policies that allow you to send back an item and get a refund if it’s not to your liking, or exchange it if it doesn’t fit. Just make sure to check whether they do have a policy before you bid on an item if you think there may be a chance you’ll have to return it.

Hopefully, now you’re a bit more open to the idea of making purchases on eBay; it really is a gold mine when you’re out to find that special item that isn’t available in stores in your city, or even on your continent. It’s true what they say: “Seek (on eBay) and you shall find.”

Happy bidding!