Internet auctions are a terrific place to find a bargain and also to get ripped off royally. So how can you get the sweet deals, and avoid the snake-oil peddlers? Here are a few tips that have helped me:
1. Look at vendor reviews.
A vendor having 2000 satisfied customers is a good one to buy from. Check that the ratings go back years. Some scammers can get lots of good reviews by selling cheap items. Then they start selling the expensive rip-off stuff to the marks.
2. Look at completed listings.
These give an idea of how much the going rate is for an item. Whatever the price is now, the item will likely hit the standard second-hand value, so don’t get too excited about how cheap it seems.
Everyone bidding knows the true second hand value of the item. They’ve done their homework. So can you.
3. Buy name brand items.
No-name cheapo brands will lose their resale value fast. It’s all about marketing. A name brand will likely have more support and be more reliable. This is especially true of electronics. There are cheap Third World knock-offs of every successful Western good you can think of, even batteries!
4. Look at independent reviews.
Go to a search engine and type in the item name, model number and the word ‘review’. You may find that you’re onto a good thing, or that there’s a better model available. Product comparison sites are good for this. You can read what real purchasers of the item think about it.
5. Pay by credit card.
PayPal is useful for buying on eBay. It puts an extra layer of protection between you and the vendor, and it makes purchasing easier.
6. Save time, use ‘Buy It Now’.
Save yourself time and emotional energy. Just buy the thing if the likely winning bid, on a regular auction, is near the ‘buy it now’ price offered by another vendor. It’s not worth getting hyped up about winning or losing an item you can easily buy elsewhere for the same price, with less fuss.
7. Avoid buying from abroad.
The postal costs will be high. They are more likely to be scams. So you’re offered a top-of-the-range cellphone or laptop from China, at a steep discount? Be _very_ wary.
You’ll not be covered by your country’s consumer laws. You’ll have to wait weeks for the item. You may have to pay import duty. If you have to post it back, it’ll cost a fortune. If it’s damaged, and you have to post it back, you’ll have a long wait before you get a refund. If you get one at all.
Buying on eBay is great fun. You snag a bargain, and wait like an excited child for the postman to call. Using the tips above, your purchase will more likely be a happy one. Good hunting!