Vol.1, No.5

Safely shopping through ebay

You can find great deals on practically anything you want on eBay!

Buying a car on eBay
Photo Credit: Brendon De Suza
eBay is the world's largest online Internet auction site. It began in 1995, and since then, the company has grown to over three billion dollars in revenue. eBay has over one hundred and thirty five million users across the globe.

The auction giant has taken a great amount of precautions to make sure that everyone who buys or sells from their site has a safe and satisfying experience. And this has undoubtedly contributed to their success.

For example, eBay implemented a buyer/seller feedback rating system. This allows potential bidders to check on other buyers' past experiences with a seller. If a seller has a poor feedback rating, then that cautions others not to do business with them.

The company also offers each seller an "About Me" page on their web site. This page is often valuable in finding out background information on a seller.

And, of course, eBay allows all bidders and sellers to communicate back and forth easily through their site. If a dispute arises after an auction is won, then eBay steps in to arbitrate the matter. Common disputes can include non payment for an item, not receiving an item, receiving a damaged item, et cetera.

If you are going to do some shopping on eBay, then you should follow this advice for making your experiences safe and pleasant:

First, check the seller's feedback rating before you bid. The rating will be listed as a percent as well as in numbers. For example, John Doe will have a rating of, let's say, 97 percent. He has had 100 auctions to date. This tells you that 97 out of 100 of John's auctions were successful in that 97 bidders/buyers gave him positive feedback. The other 3 percent or 3 people either gave John a negative or neutral feedback rating. John's feedback is pretty good, but you should check his feedback to see why 3 people were unhappy dealing with him.

Next, read the description of the item that John is selling very carefully. A reputable seller will have plenty of pictures to accompany the written description too. Since you can't see the item in person, you'll need to rely on the pictures to get a good view of the it.

A reputable seller on eBay will have a reasonable return policy in place too. This will help to protect you in case the item you win isn't what you expected it to be.

There are many different payment options available for buyers on eBay. The methods of payment available are governed by the seller. One seller might accept personal checks and money orders, while another might only accept payment via Paypal. Of course, eBay recommends that you use Paypal, which is their own secure payment processing system.

A major advantage in using Paypal is that it's tied into the auction web site. Therefore, if you have any problems with not receiving an item, et cetera, you can file a compliant with eBay as well as Paypal too.

Paypal offers a free Buyer Protection Program that has coverage up to a thousand dollars. eBay offers a Standard Purchase Protection Program that has coverage up to two hundred dollars. So you can have both companies standing behind you in case an auction goes awry.

Also for your protection as a bidder on eBay, the auction site has established a list of rules and regulations for their sellers to follow. To make sure that their sellers follow these rules, eBay has their own "Safe Harbor " team. This team monitors auctions and issues warnings, suspensions, or even bans to unscrupulous sellers.

Finally, as long as you take your time and read the particulars of each auction you're interested in, you can have safe experiences on the eBay auction site. While eBay and Paypal offer protection plans, it's still your responsibility to be careful and to use good judgment.