Ebay - What Has Been Your Experience?

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After having one negative experience and potentially a second, I'm wondering, what kind of experiences have people had with EBay?

I have only been a buyer, and in my transactions, I've never done business with anyone who has had any negative comments, unless it's been one or two out of a couple of hundred. In my negative experience, I decided not to consider that my seller had only a couple of feedbacks as a seller, but numerous feedbacks as a buyer. (All of his feedback was positive.) This was a mistake.

Note that I've had several positive experiences. But, one or two bad experiences may curb my conducting business in this fashion.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), September 02, 2000


My limited experience with eBay has been good - 5 photographic purchases, all as described, all in the area of 2/3 the cost of the same item new. What I find amusing is the items that go for near or in some cases more than the cost of new.

-- Tom Raymondson (rayson@pacific.net), September 02, 2000.

Hi Neil -

I've generally had pretty good luck on eBay, but you've got to be careful. If I'm considering an item that is more than just pocket change, I always ask the seller LOTS of detailed, specific questions. Question his description. Is it really *mint*? Usually not!

Also, unless an item is ultra rare, beware the adrenaline-fueled bidding war.

I've got some pretty good deals on eBay, but I'm sure it's possible to get burned. Good luck!

-- Kevin Bourque (skygzr@aol.com), September 02, 2000.

I've purchased a number of cameras and had only good experiences. Most were small (under $100) items for my camera collection. I returned a camera that arrived DOA and got a refund quickly. For the two big ticket items, I purchased thorough established Companies that offered warrenties on their equipment. I'd be reluctant to purchase a $1,000 item from an individual, with no extended warrenty.

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@worldnet.att.net), September 02, 2000.

I've bought and sold things, gotten some good deals, some reasonable deals on hard-to-find items, and haven't really been burned, but I'm careful. I try to buy from people with good feedback and who have been using the system for a while. Read the feedback messages to make sure they are legit. If they are all from the same two or three people or if they are from many "different" users but are all written in the same style with the same spelling and grammar problems, go elsewhere.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), September 02, 2000.

I have bought a variety of items through Ebay, but as the others have said "you must be careful". What I was surprised to learn was that Ebay in general tends to lean towards the seller and there are rules of conduct (not easy to find) that may affect your sale or the feedback. As an example I had a really rude seller double the actual shipping because he did not get a good price for his article. That was acceptable according to Ebay so I posted feedback linking to a site with the details of the transaction. They removed my feedback saying that a link was not permitted. Now the feedback is one sided and the seller looks like a good guy.

I have also closely searched commercial businesses for the same article I may be bidding on and have found that frequently the article is the same or lower price than the bidding price. I guess "bidding fever" does that to some people. At the present I am still trying to complete the transaction (I was the winning bidder) with a sale that is over 30 days old. The seller is avoiding replying to my emails because the winning bid I believe is so low. I contacted Ebay and they showed me how to obtain the phone number of the seller. I called and the seller denied even participating on Ebay. Funny...they had sold other articles. The point here is even if you get a great deal, this does not mean that the seller is required to sell it to you. IMHO this defeats the purpose for a buyer to watch and attempt to buy an article for a good price.

In fairness I have had some good purchases through Ebay. My general rule is that if the article exceeds $75.00 and the seller does not have a very strong or long track record I go with I-Escrow for the few extra dollars. Any seller who is fair will normally agree with that. Also read carefully about the conditions of the sale as each seller can set whatever conditions they want. Sometimes you may need to search the item for this detailed information.

-- GreyWolf (dwd@telusplanet.net), September 02, 2000.

I have been using ebay for one year with mostly good experiences. I had a problem with a few deals, though. These came from dealers who did not know the merchandise they were selling. I bought an 8x10 film holder that was really a glass plate holder. When I confronted the dealer with this, he responded, "What is a glass plate?" After I explained the difference between a plate holder and a film holder, the dealer was eager to refund my money. I also bought a Wiser reducing back from a dealer in "mint" condition. The back looked new, but one of the prongs that attaches the back to the camera was missing, so the back (though beautiful) was unusable. I, again, got a refund from the dealer, who had not notices the missing prong. Another dealer sent me a Jobo CPA-2 with missing and broken parts. The dealer did not know the parts were missing/broken. I got a partial and fair refund as compensation.

I have had wonderful experiences purchasing from individuals. I have found the equipment to be well described. Now, I am careful when purchasing from dealers, and have more confidence purchasing from individuals, who usually know what they are selling. Most purchases on ebay have gone well, and the few that did not were resolved fairly.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), September 02, 2000.

Hi Neil

Sorry to hear about your disillusionment with Ebay transactions. I have bought over 15 items on Ebay, and about ten from the rec.photo.marketplace ads.

I think I have had about just two less than happy experiences in total. Which is a pretty decent batting average.

Life is unforunately not perfect isn't it? My philosophy is that if, on the average, you're way ahead, you're ok. I hope that's not too philosophical.

-- KH Tan (kahheng@pacific.net.sg), September 02, 2000.

My first Ebay experience as a buyer was a bad one. The seller, who participates in this forum sometimes, described the lens as PERFECT which I understood as beng flawless. It was not a defect that was immediately apparent to me. I detected it a few days later accidentally when the lens caught the desk-light the 'right' way and showed the internal defect. When I asked the seller for a partial refund for overestimating the condition of the lens, he baulked and said that it was minor and that I was being paranoid and picky, and refused the partial refund. I became irate and wanted to return it for a full refund then and he said that he would reject the parcel if I mailed it. He flatly refused to acknowledge the defect and implied that it was my fault for expecting too much. This for a lens which was described as being perfect.

I wrote to Ebay for help. Ebay did not respond at all. Ebay makes too much money to care. I had wanted to take him to a small claims court and needed to know his residential address. And I found out, as Neil did, that Ebay is squarely on the side of the seller. I am now out of $900 and am a lot wiser and less trusting. The ratings system is a joke. This seller had good ratings but only as a buyer. I tried revising the good rating I gave that was written before I caught the defect; Ebay won't allow me nor listen to my side of the story as to why I thought it should be revised.

If it says Mint or Perfect or Flawless, put your guard up. I should have been warned when the seller agreed to deliver it personally and then not reveal where exactly he lived except to say Las Vegas. He drove all the way to Los Angeles to hand it over to me. I am a fool.

Use i-Escrow for your own protection. And if the seller baulks drop it. The same item will turn up again, trust me. Don't want it so much that you lose your good sense for that way lie mistakes and pain. I did. And that was my first and last Ebay transaction.

There are honest sellers out there. The few rotten apples spoil the bushel. Don't risk your money to find out who the rascals are.

-- Rene (chipmunk@telemail.it), September 02, 2000.


Sorry to hear of your bad experience. Yes, you should know the address of the seller. When a seller says an item is "mint," I email the seller before I bid, asking if I can return the item if I do not agree it is in "mint" condition. A few emails before bidding can help inform you of a seller's character.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), September 02, 2000.

Overall, I have found ebay purchases to be better than from all but the best used camera dealers. You have to know what you are doing, so very many items sell for more than they are worth, e.g., for a virtually new price or the buyer is probably confused about what the item is.

Key tips: look at the feedback, look at any photos, be leary of any auction without a photo, don't pay too much attention to terms like "mint", "excellent", etc., these are just too much subject to personal judgement or sometimes "inflation". Pay more attention to the specifics of the description and to the photo. I have seen items described as excellent which, from the photo, could have been through a cement mixer. Conversely, I have seen items described merely as "good" that looked mint from the photo. Ask any questions you have before the close of the auction. Be leary of auctions that specify "no return" or "as is".

If you are unhappy with the item, send a polite msg to the seller saying that you have a different opinion of the condition or have found a specific problem and request a return for the bid amount. On the very few occasions where I have done this, the seller has immediately agreed to the refund. Mention to the seller that they can get a refund of the ebay sale fee via ebay. If this doesn't work, try a more demanding msg, including a statement that you will post negative feedback if not satisfied. Most semi-pro sellers will do almost anything to avoid negative feedback. If all else fails, contact ebay Safe Harbor.

I have found most ebay sellers to be honest. There are a few exceptions, so you have to know about the item you are buying.

-- Michael Briggs (MichaelBriggs@earthlink.net), September 02, 2000.

Neil I have had nothing but good experiences on Ebay, both buying and selling. I have shipped items worth over a thousand bucks to people without first collecting the money, and I have had people ship me things worth alot of money to check out without my first paying. It all comes from being honest and TRUSTWORTHY, and believing in your fellow man. You cannot expect the world from everyone else and then not give the same back. Every item I have ever purchased that was described as mint was mint. I have gotten some fantasitc deals. And I would say that you need to remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch. When You pay for that new equipment you are paying for that warranty. It certainly is not free but rather built into the cost of the new price for that equipment. Most things, in my experience at least, don't break until the short warranty has expired. I prefer to save the warranty cost that is built into the price of new stuff and if I buy someting that breaks just pay to get it fixed. In the long run I have had the use of outstanding equipment and I have only had one thing break which cost a hundred bucks to fix. You pay yer money and you take your chances. But again, if you are going to trade on ebay, you must give back what you expect. If you expect mint to be mint (and you should) then make sure your stuff that you list as mint is mint. I hope you have as good luck on ebay as I have had. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), September 02, 2000.

I would like to thank everyone for their responses, and also for the advise that's been offered. I'm pleased at the support for EBay. No store could begin to offer the scope of equipment that can be found on Ebay.

It's pretty clear that I was taken in the first transaction. As to the second, and for the same piece of equipment (aarrrg!), the seller responded right away that there had been a mixup in shipping.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), September 03, 2000.


While not a specific comment on e-Bay, I would like to comment on ratings and conditions of equipment. As I read through the posts here, the one topic that keeps coming up is that items were not as described.

Mint, perfect, new, etc are way over used. IMHO, Mint was as it came from the manufacturer/maker, New was as it came from the retailer. It cannot be mint if it's being sold second hand and if it's missing the box, instructions, then it isn't even new.

There no need to reply to my comments, after all they are mine. I know Shutterbug and industry in general put forth different rating systems, but consider my comments as food for thought.


-- Pete Caluori (pcaluori@hotmail.com), September 04, 2000.

Another safe guard is to us a credit card for your purchase. You can always dispute the charge if things don't go well. I've disputed charges before like a $6,300 charge for airline tickets!!!. It took me about 30 seconds after opening the bill to hit their 800 number with a fraud allert! Got it all straightened out in a few days.

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@worldnet.att.net), September 04, 2000.

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