How to Shop on eBay

How to Shop on eBay

Some of my shopping successes on eBay: Coach Poppy swingpack ($66), Miu Miu S/S 2010 wallet ($59), Miu Miu sunglasses (£69), OPI Funkey Dunkey (RM40)

I’ve had some requests via Twitter to post an eBay guide, so here it is!
This guide is based on my personal experiences shopping on eBay, but it is also useful for shopping online from Etsy and others.

GETTING STARTED

  • Get a credit or debit card. I’m currently using a debit card (keeps credit card debt at bay, and it’s free! Very convenient especially for students like me). If you don’t have one, borrow your parents’ but keep in mind that they will be able to track your spending habits *ahem*
  • Open an eBay account.
  • Open a PayPal account and verify your card. Bear in mind that PayPal will send its verification code in your card statement, so you might have to wait a couple of days or weeks (depending if your card statement is available online, if not then you will have to wait to the end of the month to receive your statement) to start using PayPal to pay for things.
  • A transaction is needed to get a monthly statement, so PayPal will charge a small deposit of a few USDs, and will refund you once you have successfully verified your card.

START SHOPPING

  • Browse eBay (Malaysia, USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia etc.) and see if you can find something you like. The full listing is available at the bottom of eBay.com
  • There is also eBay Global, where you can search for items from all eBay sites that are available to your country.
  • Found something you like but can’t find any information about shipping to your country? Ask the seller! They would usually agree to ship with a tracking number (more expensive, but it gives both the seller and the buyer a peace of mind) unless stated otherwise in the listing.
  • Bidding: You will have to outbid the others to win the auction.
  • Automatic Bidding: Once you have successfully bid on an item, you can set the maximum bid amount just in case someone outbids you before the end of the auction. Let’s say you found a book with a starting price of $1, so you bid $1. You can set your maximum bid to the highest price you are willing to pay for the book (let’s say it’s $10), so eBay will bid on your behalf until $10 if someone outbids you. If the auction ends and you get the book at $5, you only pay $5 (excluding shipping!) instead of your maximum bid of $10.
  • Shill Bidding: Sellers using different accounts to increase the prices of their own items. It is against eBay’s policies, but very hard to prove since bidders’ identities are kept anonymous for security reasons. It happens, but if you can still afford the item in the auction, then continue with the auction.
  • Buy It Now: No auctions, just click and buy immediately. The items on ‘Buy It Now’ may be more expensive, but you get them immediately without waiting for auctions to end and worrying if someone will outbid you. Sometimes sellers offer both auctions and ‘Buy It Now’, but the ‘Buy It Now’ feature is automatically disabled once a bid is made.
  • Make an Offer: The seller is willing to let go of the item if they agree at the price that you offer. Only a maximum of 3 offers per item.
  • Always ask questions on shipping rates, details of the item etc. BEFORE bidding! eBay does not allow cancellation of bids unless you made a typo of adding more zeros at the end of your bid amount, and you will have to purchase it if you win the auction. The seller can cancel the bid for you, but only if they want to.


So easy to spot who the shill bidder is! No feedback, meaning a brand new account set up just to raise prices!

SHIPPING METHODS AND CHARGES

  • Always always always get a tracking number. It might cost an extra USD$10 or so, but it gives you the sense of security of knowing where your package is. If it goes missing during shipment, the seller can always file a missing package claim at the post office and issue you a refund.
  • If you are shopping from eBay USA, then make sure to get the seller to ship you via USPS Priority Mail Express International (about $60 for a large package). Priority Mail Express International is trackable (only for international deliveries) and takes about 3-5 working days to reach Malaysia. You may choose USPS Global Express Guaranteed which is much more expensive (about $100 for a large package) but will only take 1-3 working days. You can track the location of your USPS packages online.

FEEDBACK

  • Always check the seller’s feedback before bidding! If they have consistent good feedback from their buyers, then dealing with them will be safer.
  • Stay away from sellers with a lot of negative feedbacks (bad communication, item never arrived, item arrived broken etc.)
  • Always leave a positive feedback to your seller when you have received your item as described, and ask the seller to do the same!

VERIFYING AUTHENTICITY

  • This one is very important if you want to purchase designer goods online. It’s fine if you don’t mind buying fakes (keep in mind that you’re funding criminals), but it’s wrong and against the law to try to pass fakes as authentic items.
  • A ripoff is an “inspired” item, but without the original label’s tag on it. Example (photo below): Buying something from Forever 21 when you know that their shoes are a ripoff from Miu Miu. This is not against the law because Forever 21 didn’t put Miu Miu tags on their shoes.


    Left: Forever 21; Right: Miu Miu

  • A fake is an exact replica of the item, all the way from the design to the LOGO. Example (photo below): It’s like going to Chinatown to buy a fake Coach handbag.

  • Don’t know how to tell the real from the fake? Always check official websites and authorised resellers like Net-a-Porter and compare the photos. ShopStyle lists out all the authorised resellers for you according to your search terms.
  • For designer bags, purses and wallets, PurseForum will gladly authenticate them for you, but remember to follow their format of posting questions (and the seller must provide a lot of clear photos)

MAKING REPORTS

  • Unfortunately, I’ve had instances where my packages never arrived, even with tracking numbers. First things first, report it to your seller so they can investigate with their local post office. If all fails, the seller should be able to get a compensation from the post office which will be passed on to you as a refund.
  • eBay and PayPal do not offer Buyer Protection after 45 days, so be sure to note the date of transaction because there have been cases where sellers ask buyers to wait for a couple of weeks longer, hoping that the Buyer Protection will expire.
  • However, if the seller in not cooperative and refuses to help, you will have to report it to eBay or PayPal within 45 days (depending on where the transaction took place). If you are reporting to eBay, they will check the eBay messages between you and the seller to collect evidence, so NEVER DELETE YOUR EBAY MESSAGES! For PayPal, you may have to upload your supporting documents and screenshots of emails. As long as there is a tracking number and it shows that your item never arrived, eBay/PayPal will decide in your favour and refund you.
  • If you are shopping from reputable online shopping sites, just let them know that your package hasn’t arrived and most will gladly offer a refund. Please check the site’s terms and conditions regarding lost packages before making a transaction!

* * *

I hope my guide is comprehensive enough for everyone to start shopping on eBay.
Remember to shop safe (especially online), do your own research, and never let sellers talk you out of making transactions out of eBay or PayPal!
Always remember to resolve issues with the seller first before giving them a negative feedback. Report them to eBay or PayPal only if the seller refuses to cooperate with you.

HAVE FUN AND GOOD LUCK!
Feel free to ask me questions about shopping online especially from eBay, and I will try to answer them as best as I can.

PS: I got that OPI before I knew that you could get them at a lower price from Malaysian blogs.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18129977882779481461 THE SHEZ

    Very helpful tip for first time online shoppers. Very glad you made this guide. I'll have people refer to this post if they ever need help! So, thanks! (;

    Would just like to share my experience regarding the shipping. Ever since I lost the ring that I ordered from Etsy (it never crossed my mind to ask the seller if she used registered mail), I always made a point to ask the seller.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10853382259309320340 ❀ doreen

    Thanks so much for the info, Aggie! I'm gonna be bookmarking this for future reference! :DDDDD

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11346056011534526632 { aggie }

    @Sheila: You're welcome! And thank you for recommending them in the future ;)

    I've had packages go missing before because I never paid for a tracking number (although I have received packages without it), but at least the packages I never received weren't really important and coveted.

    @Doreen: You're welcome, and I'm glad that my guide was helpful! ;)

  • http://styleonthecouch.com/ styleonthecouch.com

    That's a pretty good guide! I bought many clothes from Ebay when I was studying for my Psychology degree, the best advice I was given was to decide how much you would pay for an item and leave it at that, no sneaky upping the bidding! I've lots some amazing clothes but hey it's an auction and that happens. I do love the site.

    http://www.styleonthecouch.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11346056011534526632 { aggie }

    @SOTC: I love eBay too! You can buy just about anything there!

    Your tip is so much easier, but I prefer to pay as low as possible so I would always wait till the end to bid :P