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Analyzing Ebay Coin Selling Sites

Updated on May 24, 2015

Five Coin Set

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Checking on an Ebay Coin Dealer

Coins bought on Ebay can result in fair deals, bargains, or those you wish you would have avoided. Avoiding the latter requires that you not just find a coin and bid, but do a thorough check of the seller before touching the "BID" button.

Feedback is a rough start. Some feedback is higher than one deserves, other feedback has unwarranted negatives embedded. Ebay is working to correct the problems, but the corrections are often on an ongoing basis. So, look!

Even those sellers with 100% feedback need to be looked over. Occasionally, sellers will have almost all "ok" or "as described" feedbacks. Short, nondescript feedbacks may imply the buyers just are being polite.

Another problem is, although not allowed by Ebay, a seller has two names. There is a seller on whose site we almost bid. But the photographs and descriptions were essentially identical to a seller with a horrible feedback. They were also located in the same city. It was too high of a risk, especially since there is a site that sells Ebay accounts, that they were the same person. And, upon more detailed investigation, the 100% was based on the current year, during which only six sales were made. Earlier feedbacks were as bad as the other site's feedbacks. Apparently, the seller had two accounts that were being cycled annually to artificially keep feedback ratings up.

Image from Perth Mint

Some Sellers Use Stock Photographs

If you are buying old coins, you need to see the image of the exact coin you are buying. Many buyers require seeing an image of both sides of the coin being offered. However, new coins coming directly from the mint have little difference, so many sellers use stock photographs. Unless the coin offered has a weak strike, or the one pictured is particularly nice, this should not be a problem. Coins, especially new coins, are so reflective that it is difficult to obtain a decent image.

Some sellers are more careless about the photographs than others. One seller often puts the image of a one ounce coin up for an auction of two ounce coins, or misses a photograph altogether. This is not a problem. The right coins do ship.

For older coins, stock photographs are unacceptable, since they subject the buyer to “bait and switch” tactics.

Some Sellers Use Stock Photographs

If you are buying old coins, you need to see the image of the exact coin you are buying. Many buyers require seeing an image of both sides of the coin being offered, and rightfully so. However, new coins coming directly from the mint have little difference, so many sellers use stock photographs. Unless the coin offered has a particularly weak strike, or the one pictured is particularly nice like a first strike, this should not be a problem. Coins, especially new coins, are so reflective that it is difficult to obtain a decent image.

Some sellers are more careless about the photographs than others. One seller often puts the image of a one ounce coin up for an auction of two ounce coins, or misses a photograph altogether. This is not a problem. The right coins do ship.

Some sellers take photographs that make silver coins appear gold. For new coins, current year bullion coins are a great example, it is reasonable to assume the coin is fine.

For older coins, stock photographs are unacceptable, since they subject the buyer to “bait and switch” tactics.

High Shipping Cost

Some people leave negative feedback for a high shipping cost, or for not having combined shipping. This reduces the sellers feedback, but should not. You can see the shipping cost and whether shipping is to be combined at the time of bidding.

Coins are bid often to a total price, regardless of how much of that total is in shipping. The seller has to pay Ebay fees, which are high, on the final price, but not on shipping. If you simply add the two numbers, the bid price plus the shipping, and stop at what you are willing to pay, there is no problem. A seller with higher shipping cost might be a source of a bargain.

Foreign Dealers

Many people will not deal with a foreign dealer. Yes, it takes a little longer for international shipping to arrive, but the price is usually good. And if you are buying foreign coins, they may have access to a wider variety.

We found one dealer who gets lower than expected bids. Part of the problem is international shipping is more expensive than USPS shipping. However, the dealer’s coins are still bid too low in many cases. So we checked the feedback. It was a little low. Yet we bid.

In this instance the low feedback was caused by a few people who did not pay for their purchases. Yes, Ebay would remove a negative feedback for a won nonpayment dispute, but the seller needs to ask. Apparently, this dealer did not ask. A second problem that Ebay no longer allows to affect feedback is one buyer left negative feedback on many coins. The issue did not warrant even one negative feedback, but the buyer was vindictive.

However, be careful. Some coins are not allowed to be shipped without having the buyer pay tariff. Be careful with collectible coins from Austria and from the former Soviet Union. Philharmonic coins are allowed to be exported, but the commemorative issues are not necessarily exportable without tariff.

Some Sellers Flood the Market

Some sellers buy in bulk. They assume the current price of a particular coin is firm, so they list too many of the issue. The result is a disruption of supply and demand. Even worse is that they often stagger their listings over several days. If the last one listed is still much cheaper than the first one coming due, many people will wait, hopeful of a real bargain. The result is the first ones finish low. If the same seller continues to list more of the same issue, the price may remain lower than it should be. Unfortunately, this practice not only affects the seller who floods the market, but coins of every other seller offering the same issue for auction.

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    • brumot profile image

      brumot 5 years ago

      I bought a 1/2 oz silver on ebay and with shipping turned out to be about spot price total at the time, but normally buy from an online retailer with a reasonable shipping price.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      Excellent advice! I am infamous for asking the seller, before I bid, if the photo is of the actual coin offered on that auction I have purchased a few coins on Ebay and so far, I have been pleased with what I received.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Very nice coin site.