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10 ways to safely shop on eBay

Updated on August 15, 2012

I thought, some facts I learned from my experience as a buyer on eBay, would help others to have a safe shopping on eBay. Some of these points are applicable to eBay.com. However, you can find similar features on other eBay sites also (eBay.ca, eBay.in etc.)

1. Know your product

Before you buy anything on eBay, know about the product as much as possible, its features, model, approximate market price, availability in your area, country wise features/restrictions etc. You can do a quick research on the Internet of the product and collect this information upfront. This would help you easily detect any false claim by the seller thus ignore him and his product.

2. Sellers ‘real’ rating / feedback.

Always look and read seller’s feedback, but not just the count (number), but the other factors like for which product he received the feedback, what was the product price etc. Ensure he had received the feedback for selling the item but not for buying items from other sellers. I have seen a couple of such situations where in the first look I found the seller has more than 50 +ve and 100% +ve feedbacks. When I checked this in detail, I found all these feedback he received for buying $1 items from another seller!!! So he spent $50 to get 50+ feedback thus buyers would feel he is a good and legit seller.

A seller not necessarily has 100% +ve feedback always, but a high score on this would always help and assure buyers to have a fair deal with that seller.

3. When did the seller register with eBay?

Checking when (date) the seller registered with eBay would also help to make our decision whether or not to buy from him. This doesn’t mean that all new sellers are fake/scam. If you are buying a $10 item from a new seller, this point certainly does not count. But imagine buying a $500 item from him!!! Even he is legit, still we should worry about his inexperience with eBay. And in my experience I always found all scammers are newly registered, I know need not say…obviously.

4. What other items are sold by the seller?

This is another key point. Just check what other items are sold by that seller. If we found he is selling mainly clothes and accessories, and the item we looked from him was an iPhone, then this should be an alarm not to deal with him. I have seen many top-rated sellers accounts are hacked (eBay says so, but I doubt) and used to scam buyers. In the above example the seller account, who mainly sells clothes and accessories, has been hacked and used to sell iphone!!!

5. eBay's buyers protection

Ensure that the item you are buying is covered under eBay’s buyer protection. eBay has different protection plan for each country. Read their policy in this regard and understand facts like the coverage period, how to dispute etc.

6. PayPal's buyers protection

Apart from eBay buyer’s protection, if you have used PayPal to pay for your purchase, you will get additional coverage from PayPal too. And again this will differ country by country. Read your coverage on your PayPal account.

On eBay.com PayPal has special coverage for the item bought on eBay while on eBay.ca only PayPal protection is available. But I don’t see any significant difference on this as PayPal is also owned by eBay.

7. Dispute on time every time!

Always watch your coverage period on eBay or PayPal (usually 45 days) and before it passes, ensure that you have received your item. If you realize that your item has not arrived yet and the coverage is going to expire, immediately raise the dispute (read more about "disputes" on eBay and/or PayPal), do not wait for anything.

Sometimes you will not be able to raise a dispute on eBay even if you are still under protection period. You may get a message from eBay asking you to wait till a date to raise the dispute, but you will realize that by the time the date arrives, your protection period would over! This is due to the clever scammer/seller, while listing the item he mentioned it would take 50 days or so to ship internationally. In this situation, you can use PayPal to raise a dispute. I personally experienced this and PayPal protection helped me to raise the dispute and I got all my money back!

8. Always purchase and communicate through eBay

Never ever do a transaction outside eBay. Seller may ask you to transfer money directly so that he can give you good discount or blah..blah. Always stick with eBay to purchase the item.

I have seen in the product listing, the sellers are asking buyers to send an email to him to buy the item. When buyer sends an email, he would be convinced that he will receive an email from eBay agent and he needs to transfer money to him, and the agent would give money to the seller only if buyer confirms that he received the item. The email would look too good to be true that it has come from eBay. In fact this is really a scam and once we transfer the money to the agent, we ripped-off. As it happened out side eBay, we cannot dispute anywhere and we lose all our money.

If you happen to receive any such email you can forward them to spoof@ebay.com. Also, be aware that any official email send from eBay can be seen in your eBay messages section on your eBay user account.

Adding to this, always use eBay messaging system to communicate with the seller. Once you open a dispute, eBay will also check the message communication between you and the seller and consider as evidence for the transactions.

9. Not all Top-rated sellers are legit

As I explained in the point 4, don’t blindly trust Top-rated sellers. There is always a chance their account to be hacked by someone and use for cheating people.

10. Last but not least - chargeback!!

Yes, if you are out of all protection and no other go, you can always call your Credit card provider to do a charge back. However, some countries have limited chargeback option, like India.

Finally, you know, there are scam buyers too who either will never pay seller or once they receive the item they will raise dispute claiming they have not received the item. That’s why eBay will always check the messages between you and the seller to check who is legit!!! And the final decision would be taken by eBay.

Have a nice safe shopping.

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