There's a lot of "do" and "don't" information out there for eBay buyers, but it's sometimes hard to get a concrete list of just what the risks are that buyers are meant to be avoiding by observing best "do" and "don't" practices. Here are ten of the biggest risks that eBay buyers facethings to watch out for as you shop your heart out on eBay.
- Seller fraud. Of course, this is the number one thing that every eBay buyer is worried about, and the thing that people suspicious of eBay in general often point to. Though outright seller fraud isn't as common on eBay as critics would have buyers believe, it does happen. Happily, sellers engaged in fraud don't stay on eBay for very long, but that's of little consolation to those that are affected. For this reason, it's critical to watch for red flags in item listings, pay careful attentiont to recent seller feedback and how you evaluate it, and always avoid common fraudulent practices like demands for wire transfers to pay for won item listings.
- Counterfeit goods. Though at first glance many buyers will assume that counterfeit goods appear in the previous category, in actuality sellers can often find themselves selling counterfeit goods without realizing it. Many of the world's goods today come from the same manufacturing-oriented countriesChina and others around the Pacific Rim, for examplewhere legitimate goods and counterfeit goods may even be made in the same factory by the same employees. Buyer and seller are often surprised together to find that traded goods are fakes. For this reason, it's a good idea to be careful about avoiding common indicators that goods might be fake or counterfeit, and a good idea to know what to do when you suspect you've received such goods.
- Junk and gimmick goods. Not all kinds of buyers are susceptible to this kind of risk, but those that are can often afford it the very least. A few categories on eBay, most notably the "Everything Else" category of goods, are full of auctions that are sold "for entertainment purposes only" but with promises and descriptions that make them sound like wonder products at wonder prices. In general, they aren't, but spending hard-earned cash on worthless nonsense can be a difficult lesson for beginning eBay buyers to learn.
- Misunderstandings and unmet expectations. Sometimes purchases can go wrong not through any ill will or dishonest practices, whether by a seller's supplier, a seller, or anyone else, but simply as a matter of misunderstandings, differences in values and assumptions, and unmet expectations. This is the sort of thing that happens when a seller describes an item as being in "like new" condition, and a buyer receives what they believe to be an item in "poor" condition. For a seller in inner city areas full of crowded shops and high levels of foot (and hand) traffic, brand new goods might obviously tend to come with scuffs, dust, even minor scratches and dents, while someone in the suburbs accustomed to shopping at big-box retail chains might be accustomed to absolutely pristine merchandise. Similarly, a seller might list an item like a "laptop computer" intending to sell just the computer unit itself, while a buyer takes the term "laptop computer" to imply that an AC adapter/charger, case, manual, software CDs, and other goods are included. In neither of these cases is anyone necessarily in the wrongbut the differences can lead to unmet expectations. This is why it's so important to read item descriptions carefully and pay attention to eBay jargon and item condition conventions that might help to reduce these kinds of differences.
- Unwarranted and AS-IS purchases. Many items on eBay are sold either on a "no refunds or exchanges" basis or on an AS-IS basis. While these things are openly stated in the item listing, buyers often have difficulty understanding that they really will be on their own if they purchase these items, and the situation is made more difficult by the fact that many (or even most) of the items sold this way are perfectly workable and being sold by liquidators, something that tends to generate a false sense of security shattered only when the item received isn't workable and the buyer realizes to their dismay that the seller won't budge. Buyers that want to minimize this risk need to keep in mind what AS-IS means on eBay and be ready to try their hands at disputes, buyer protection battles, or even credit card chargebacks to try to recover their investment.
Whew! This is a lot to digest, and it can sound rather scary, but don't worrywe're halfway through the list already. Read on for five more risks that buyers face as they shop on eBay.