All this week, we're covering some of the basics of EBay, the world's most popular auction service. Links to the first three articles in this series can be found below. This time,, weíll talk about how you can be more careful in choosing a reputable seller.
It is said that not all people are created equally. And naturally, this truth extends to sellers on EBay. Over the years, the breadth of users that sell on the popular auction site has stretched from casual consumers to large corporations. EBay began as a means for consumers to pawn off excess wares, but now is largely dominated by companies with large inventories of merchants to liquidate. That being said, there are many factors to consider when determining if your seller is reputable and meets your needs.
Before I continue, let me say up front that out of several hundred EBay purchases, I can count the number of bad experiences Iíve had on one hand and actually canít remember the last time one occurred. Sellers generally donít have much to gain by offering bad service.
The first reason for this is EBayís long-standing feedback system. After completing a transaction, you can rate the seller by giving them positive, negative, or neutral feedback. Every rating for positive feedback gives them a point and is reflected next to their username. Whenever you see a number next to a sellerís name on any auction or other page, this is their feedback score. A score of several thousand or more probably means youíre dealing with a seasoned professional who is used to the auction process and ships dozens or hundreds of items every day.
More importantly perhaps is the percentage given next to this number. This is the percent of positive feedback the seller has received. Generally, anything above 98 percent is considered good, but this can vary depending on the type of seller and how many feedback points they have accumulated.
Next, click on the feedback number link to see more detail on the seller. You can read recent comments by other buyers. Take special note of any negative or neutral comments you see. Sometimes, these are legitimate gripes and could be warning signs not to deal with the seller. Alternatively, it could just be a really picky or frustrated buyer with an unfounded claim or overly high expectations.
Some people will choose not to buy from a person with low or no feedback. This is generally a good idea, since the seller has not established much credibility, yet. If youíre buying a small item, say around $10 or $20, zero feedback is probably OK, however. After all, everyone has to start somewhere.
To increase your protection against anything that may go wrong, pay with PayPal. Since EBay and PayPal are owned by the same company, many benefits are gained by using the latter to pay for items. The most significant of these is Buyer Protection. If you pay for an item and never receive it, or it is received in a damaged state, PayPal can help resolve your dispute and give you a refund if they determine the seller is at fault. Be sure to try to work out your dispute with the seller, first, however.
If you are still in doubt of the sellerís reputation, try asking them a question or two about the item youíre interested in. Thereís a link to ask a question to the seller from the itemís page. You can judge their promptness in replying to messages and knowledge of the item by their answer to your question.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.