Tips for Buying on eBay

Tips for Buying on eBay

Despite the popularity of designer-specific resale sites, I continue to use eBay as I believe that it’s still a valuable and relevant resource for high-end goods. Yet over the 10 years I’ve spent buying and selling on the site, I’ve had to learn some hard lessons through trial and error.

I decided to put together a guide of what I’ve learned over the years, to help you get the best price and ensure that your transaction runs as smoothly as possible.

This guide focuses on buying bags, but can apply to almost any purchase you’re looking to make on the site. If you’re looking for a more specific guide to buying high-end bags on eBay, read my tips here.


#1 Assess the Seller

There are lots of scammers on eBay that have no intention of sending your purchased item. They’ll take your money before withdrawing it and cancelling their account, leaving you to chase up eBay to retrieve your hard-earned cash.

Luckily, these scammers are fairly easy to weed out. Look at their profile: they’ll usually have zero, or one, as their feedback score. Their account will also have been registered recently. Both of these clues indicate that they’re only looking to list a single item.

Another sign to look out for is the listing in general. Scammers regularly copy photos from the genuine listing of a high value item, yet in their attempts to scam you out of your money, their techniques are usually lazily executed: the photos will often be screenshots from the real listing (you’ll be able to see the banner from their phone at the top of the photo), and they’ll only list the item with one or two photos.

In addition to this, the descriptions will be incomplete and information will be missing. Scammers regularly fail to include vital information, and it’s not uncommon to find a listing that says nothing but ‘Genuine Gucci bag, good condition.’

In short, be aware of users who’ve only been registered for a short time, and who give very little details of the item they’re selling. Of course there are plenty of genuine new sellers out there, but these users will usually provide a more comprehensive description of their items, whereas scammers tend not to.


#2 Don’t be fooled by buzz words

Quite often, genuine sellers use buzzwords in order to turn your attention to their item. Terms such as ‘rare’ and ‘sold out everywhere’ can look very convincing, but more often than not, they’re used to oversell a not-so-appealing bag.

On occasion, you do come across a highly sought-after bag that’s been discontinued by the designer, and in this case, it would be appropriate to use these terms. Examples include any exotic skin bags from Hermès and Céline, as well as limited edition designer collaborations, such as Takashi Murakami x Louis Vuitton, or their more recent collection with Jeff Koons.

However, in the majority of cases, a bag that’s been coined ‘rare’ is only so because it’s fallen into the natural progression of fashion and has simply been discontinued because it’s no longer trendy or desirable.

My advice is to use your best judgement: don’t be coerced by fancy wording, and do your research online to find out if the bag is in fact, a valuable piece.


#3 Read The Description

This is an obvious one, but as a seller you’d be amazed at how many people ask questions that are already covered in the description. For vendors who have described the bag as thoroughly as they can, it can be frustrating to repeat themselves because the potential buyer has failed to read the description thoroughly.

Of course, sellers often miss out vital information about a bag, and in this case I’d certainly encourage contacting them about any queries you have before buying the item – but only after reading the description and viewing the photos thoroughly.


#4 Ask for more info

This point goes hand in hand with the one above. In the haste of wanting to get their items up quickly, sellers often forget to include important points, or fail to go in enough detail about specific areas.

Sometimes sellers will simply write ‘bag in good condition, with some flaws’, and I would highly recommend asking the seller to clarify. Asking them where the flaws are, the type of stain, or the amount of wear on the corners are all perfectly fine means of making sure you’re completely clear.

Normally, sellers will be happy to answer any queries you have, so don’t be afraid to ask if you’re uncertain about something. They want you to be as assured as possible before you receive the bag, so that they reduce the chances of you making a return.


#5 Ask Politely

Again, this point links to No. 4. Politely asking the seller for more information or photos will likely reap you dividends, as they’ll be more likely to abide your requests. Starting your message with something like ‘This is a lovely bag, I hope you don’t mind if I ask a couple of questions about it?’ will let the seller know that you’re serious about buying.

Similarly, if you don’t ask, you won’t get. I’ve purchased many bags that have been advertised without the authenticity cards, dust-bag or box. Yet after asking the seller politely if they still have these, many of them have been happy to include them, if they still had them.

The accessories that come with designer bags are valuable additions, so it’s always worth asking the seller if they’re still in their possession. The worst that can happen is that they say no longer have them, so give it a go.


#6 Be aware of shipping costs

Be aware that you’ll have to pay slightly more in shipping for high value items. This is so the seller can insure the full value of your purchase. Many vendors charge a lower rate of postage out of fear that any potential buyers will be put off by higher shipping rates, but the downside to this is should your item get lost or damaged in the post, they’ll have to reimburse you, and this will leave them out of pocket.

In the UK, any item worth over £50 should be sent Special Delivery, which will cost £8.55 for a package weighing up to 1kg – so it’s worth being aware of the pricings for your own peace of mind.


#7 Be absolutely certain it’s authentic

This point is a whole other guide in itself! I will discuss it in a later post which will be up shortly.


#8 Know your rights!

Over the years, eBay’s policies have leaned towards favouring buyers. If you’re unhappy with an item, sellers must provide either a full refund after you’ve returned the item, a partial refund if you keep it, or send a replacement. Luckily for buyers, eBay’s rules are solid enough that they can handle any difficult situations with sellers who’ve failed to dispatch an item, or who refuse to provide a refund.

Most sellers will oblige any reasonable requests you make if you’re not happy with your purchase. However, if you come across a difficult seller that refuses to refund you, you must wait the allotted 8 days before eBay can intervene and give you your money back.

The site has specific timeframes to allow buyers and sellers to communicate and resolve any disputes they have, so you’ll have to wait until that amount of time has passed before eBay can step in. Be prepared to have some patience before you can recover your money.

What are your experiences with buying on eBay? Good or bad, I’d love to hear.

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