EBay is possibly the largest online market place, with millions of transactions happening every day. You can find just about anything imaginable on eBay, from that toy you remember fondly from your childhood, to cars and houses. But along with this huge selection and resource there are dangers as well.
The core of the eBay experience is the auction concept where individual Sellers put items up for sale and Buyers can then bid on these items. Here in lies the danger. Who are these Sellers? Can you trust them? Will they send you your item after you have sent your payment? Will they supply customer service after the sale in case something goes wrong?
Many times you will have nothing to go on and you will have to place your trust in the eBay Seller. This is especially true of new Sellers and Sellers who only sell a few items and never build up a track record. But there are several ways that you can get a sense of the Seller before you bid on an item, especially from Sellers who have been on eBay a while or who sell a large number of items.
EBay has some useful tools to help you qualify the Seller ahead of time. The first and most valuable of these is the eBay Feedback system. Whenever a transaction is made on eBay both the Buyer and Seller have the opportunity to leave a short comment about the transaction. EBay calls these “Feedbacks.” The feedback can be labeled as Positive, Neutral, or Negative. Then a comment of about 80 characters can be left to further describe the purchase experience.
Mostly these feedback comments will praise fast shipping or the successful completion of the purchase. You can usually ignore these comments as they are either automatically placed (using an eBay option) or they are not carefully thought out. But if you look through the feedback comments you should see more specific feedbacks. These can be product reviews after a product has been tried, or they can be complaints.
The most important feedbacks to look for are negative feedbacks. These are easy to spot. First find the feedback page for the Seller you are investigating. Find the Seller name in the auction you are looking at. You will find this in an information box labeled “Seller Information” located in the upper right corner of the auction. Here you will find the Seller’s eBay name, the feedback rating of the Seller and the Seller’s Positive Feedback percentage. If your Seller has a 100% Positive Feedback rating, congratulations, you have found a Good eBay Seller!
If the Positive Feedback rating is less than 100% you should take a look at the actual Feedback Page. Next to the Seller’s name you will find a number. Click on this number to go to the Seller’s Feedback page. Once you are here take a look at the Recent Ratings box. This will give you a summary for the last month, the past 6 months and the past year. Look for Negative and Neutral Feedbacks. If there are only one or two Negative Feedbacks listed and the Seller has a lot of Positive Feedbacks it could be an isolated problem. But if the seller has more than 10 Negative Feedbacks during the past year, or more than 2 Negative Feedbacks in the past month you should look further.
Next look at the Feedbacks Received section, here is where you will find the actual comments left by the Buyers. Look through this list to find the Negative and Neutral feedbacks and read the Buyer comments. This will allow you to quickly judge the quality of this Seller.
The next thing to look for is the eBay Power Seller logo. This is a logo that eBay awards to sellers who maintain a certain level of sales per month and who also maintain a feedback rating of 98% or more. So a Power Seller will be a Seller who sells consistently on eBay and who keeps their customers happy. It goes without saying that a Seller with a 100% feedback rating and a large number of sales will also be an eBay Power Seller.
Another thing to watch out for is a recent eBay name change or a new eBay seller with little or no track record. In the Seller Information box in the Auction you will see a line stating how long this Seller has been an eBay member. The longer they have been a member of eBay the better, especially if they have a high Feedback Rating. This will tell you that they have not only kept their customers happy, but they have done so for a long time.
Be wary of new sellers, and be very wary of Sellers who have recently changed their eBay name. The easiest way for a Seller to get rid of a large number of negative feedbacks is to change their name. New name, no feedbacks. For the first 30 days of a name change eBay will put a note next to the new name letting you know that the name has been changed. After 30 days you will not be able to tell.
Finally, one of the best ways to judge a Seller is to ask the Seller a question. Good Sellers will answer questions quickly and completely. Bad Sellers will usually take a long time to answer or ignore your question all together. In the same Seller Information box you will find a link to “Ask the Seller a Question.” Simply click on this link and fill in the simple form. EBay will send the Seller an email with your question. Make sure that your question is specific enough to get a sense of how the Seller will treat you as a customer. If they are good they will answer you back quickly and fully.
EBay is a great market place and one of the most enjoyable places to shop online, but you do have to be careful.
• Look for Negative Feedbacks and be sure to read through them to see what the problems were.
• Look for the Power Seller Logo.
• Watch out for new Sellers and stay away from Sellers who have recently changed their eBay name.
• Ask the Seller a question. There is nothing like communicating directly with a Seller to set your mind at ease, or to convince you to look elsewhere.
There is no guarantee that you will find the perfect seller, but by using these recommended steps you will greatly improve your chances for a painless and enjoyable eBay experience.