Welcome to this week's Finance Fridays. Last week we were looking at ways of cutting the cost of attending a wedding. This week we are talking about the popular auction website – eBay. Since its humble beginnings back in 1995 eBay has become the go-to website for people looking to buy and sell items. For many of us our transactions through the site go smoothly but sadly there are many people trying to scam innocent users. To keep yourself safe take a look at some of my tips.
Stick to PayPal – Many people don't like the amount of commission PayPal takes which is around 3.4% plus 20p. However you should see this as a form of protection payment. If you have problems with your transaction then you can appeal to eBay and often they will refund your money. If you opt for cash payments be prepared for sellers saying they haven't received your money or buyers stating they haven't received their goods. Never under any circumstances send any money through money transfer sites such as MoneyGram or Western Union even if the person says they are currently 'travelling'.
Read the description – There are sellers putting on items which make people think they are bidding on much higher value items. For example an 'iPhone 6 box' may well be just that – an empty box for an iPhone 6 mobile phone. Sometimes it's not even intended as a scam. Recently one buyer made the news after posting on Facebook the cushions she had bought to go in her bedroom. It was only when they arrived did she realise the size on the description showed they were for a doll's house.
Emails – Never trust emails purporting to be from eBay asking you to action something. If eBay genuinely has something to tell you it will show in your messages in your account. Log into your account away from the email to check. Usually these types of email will be wanting to try and get your password details, requesting a payment or will be wanting you to click on link to a dodgy site.
You should also never start communicating with other buyers or sellers outside of the eBay system. They may start off sounding really friendly and helpful but often they will be trying to get you to do something dodgy. If you have a problem and gone outside of eBay then eBay will state you have broken their terms and conditions.
Recorded post – You take your sold item to the Post Office, get a receipt for it and think nothing more about it until you get a message some days later from the buyer that it hasn't turned up. The reason for this could be the buyer is lying or it could have gone missing in the postal system. Unfortunately a receipt saying you took an item to be posted may not help you much. To make sure you can track if an item arrives use a service such as Royal Mail Signed For®. It will cost about £1 more but it gives more security plus compensation up to £50 rather than the standard £20. If you use courier services make sure they have a similar system as many like to hand over parcels to neighbours or leave at the property unattended.
Send to registered address only – After you have sold an item you may get a message from the buyer asking it to be sent to another address. Don't do it as this goes against eBay's rules. The buyer could have hacked another person's account and is trying to get goods sent to their own address which is being paid out of someone else's PayPal account. You will also have no proof that the goods went to the registered address if the buyer then goes to eBay to say the goods haven't arrived.
Feedback – If a seller has a rating of 95% it may seem good but if they sell in high volumes this could equate to thousands of negative reviews. Always go for sellers who have at least 98% positive feedback. Unfortunately some sellers do manage to manipulate their feedback scores so even if it is high have a look at some of reasons people have given bad feedback.
Go elsewhere – If you've fallen out of love with eBay then try alternative selling methods. If you have a variety of items then a traditional car book sale could be worth your while. For single items Facebook selling sites have become popular. Remember though these methods offer no protection so take care.
Do you buy and sell items on eBay? Have you ever had a problem?
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