eBay Review

Thinking of betting on eBay as your choice for an online marketplace?  Hold your horses… you might want to see what people like and don’t like about the website before you dive right in.

Pros

  • Proven track record — eBay is one of the oldest and most successful e-commerce websites on the Internet.  With over 700 million items listed on the website, you’re bound to find something that you’d like to buy.
  • Three ways to buy — You can buy certain items at fixed prices, or you can enter an auction and bid on other items.  For some items, you can even offer to buy the item at a lower price than the seller has listed!
  • Bidding made easy — eBay makes bidding in auctions a snap!  Just type in the maximum amount that you want to bid on an item right now, and it will automatically bid one increment higher than the current highest bid for you.  If someone bids higher than that, eBay will re-bid for you to keep your bid one increment higher than the next highest bidder, up to your maximum bid.  This takes the pressure off you to constantly re-bid manually in order to stay ahead of the competition.
  • Thorough search tools — Find items by their name, brand, category, type of listing, price, listing date, and more.  You can even search for items that have already been sold!
  • Become a seller — Where would all of the great stuff on eBay come from if nobody was around to sell it?  Join the storefront side of things and sell or auction off things around the house.  With how big eBay is, you never know who might be looking to buy the stuff that you no longer want… or how much they’re willing to pay for it!

Cons

  • Not every item will have a choice — It is usually up to the seller of an item how they will allow you to buy their items. Some will not allow you to make price offers towards their items, and others will not allow you to buy items at fixed prices (meaning that you must bid for them in auctions). Also, if an item has an option to buy it at a fixed price as well as an option to bid on it, once the first bid is made, the option to buy at a fixed price will be gone.
  • High fees sometimes equal high prices — Some people feel that the amount of extra money that eBay charges people to buy or sell items, or to even list items for sale, is too high. This can lead some sellers to overcompensate by increasing the price of their items, or not offering buyers free shipping (even for returns). You can get around this somewhat if you’re smart about how you buy, bid, or make offers, but always be sure to shop around and check shipping rates to know how much you’re really paying for an item.
  • Difficult to cancel orders — The process for cancelling or returning items that you’ve ordered or won in auctions on eBay is cumbersome, and you are usually at the mercy of the seller when it comes to whether your request is accepted or not. Usually it will be, if you give a valid reason. Otherwise, though, if you can’t get things solved through eBay customer service, you may have to pay for the item anyway, or risk racking up penalties on your account.
  • Customer service is difficult to reach — eBay’s customer service department has an unfortunate reputation of being difficult to contact directly. It used to offer support through email and live chat, but now it only does so through telephone (at specific hours) or through on-site forms. Our best advice is to plan ahead to prevent problems before they happen.

The Bottom Line: 7.5/10

eBay’s large user base and name-brand recognition are definitely its main strengths, but another is its versatility in the fact that it operates as both an auction website and a direct-sale website.  This gives both buyers and sellers options in terms of how they want to buy or sell items: through an auction, through a direct sale, or through price offers and counter-offers.  Add to that eBay’s other powerful features such as automatic proxy bidding and thorough search tools, and it’s small wonder that the website is still going strong, despite being launched when the Internet was just becoming commercially popular.

Though eBay strives to be a “perfect market”, it is by no means a perfect website.  Since how an item is sold is usually up to the discretion of the seller, you may not always have a choice of whether you can straight-up buy it, bid for it, or make a price offer to the seller for it.  Sellers also largely have the final say when it comes to allowing you to cancel or return items, especially ones that you won in auctions or made offers for (since eBay considers these purchases to be legally-binding).  eBay does have a customer service department and case system for helping you resolve problems, but it doesn’t exactly have the best reputation in terms of helpfulness; it’s often better to do your homework ahead of time in order to avoid problems in the first place.

eBaymay be one of the oldest and largest online marketplaces, but it has lately received quite a bit of competition from other direct-sale websites such as Amazon, AliExpress, and Bonanza. With that said, it is still the most popular online auction website, so that may be what you end up primarily using it for.


Is eBay Safe, Reliable, and Trustworthy?

Now that you know a little bit about what eBay.com is, the most important thing to consider before using it is whether or not you can trust it. When you’re buying products online, your personal safety, privacy, and financial security are of the utmost importance. Here at TechBoomers, we know this, and we want to ensure your experience using eBay is a positive one. So, is eBay safe to use?

How safe is eBay?

eBay.com is as safe to use as any ecommerce website, as most people who sell items on eBay do so honestly.  eBay also protects the use of your credit card through its online transaction services, and has money back guarantees. eBay is one of the oldest and most popular online marketplaces for reasons such as these.

With that said, eBay is like most other e-commerce websites, such as Amazon.com, where you pay third parties in advance in exchange for goods. That is to say that there is always the potential for people to try and cheat the system. You should take similar precautions to the ones that you do when ordering items through the mail, as well as when entering personal information (such as your credit card number) elsewhere on the Internet.

Whether you’re buying electronics, collectibles, beauty products, toys, or a car, it’s important that you keep yourself safe. Check out our list below of 5 safety tips for using eBay, no matter what you’re buying online.

5 safety tips for eBay

1. Research the item and its seller.

Before you buy, bid on, or make an offer for an item that someone is selling, take some time to do some research.  See what kind of condition the item is in, what parts it does or does not include, and so on.  More importantly, though, do some research on the seller.  See how highly they’re rated, and check what people who have bought items from the seller have specifically said about them.

Most importantly, check the fine print of the seller’s various policies. Some sellers may give you a refund if you cancel or return a purchase, but they may only give you a limited time to do so, or may force you to pay return shipping. Others may have a “no refunds” policy. In addition, some sellers may only ship to certain countries, or may only accept certain forms of payment.

Knowing this information ahead of time can help you avoid problems and disappointments with your item or its seller. It can also even help you avoid doing business with someone who’s actively looking to scam you.

2. Make sure that you really want an item before submitting a bid or offer for it.

eBay’s legal policies appear rather slanted towards protecting sellers, so make sure that your buying intentions are pure.  While it is possible to cancel purchases, bids, and offers for items, it is more difficult to do so on eBay than it is on other e-commerce websites.  It often requires you to contact either its customer service department or the seller directly.

In addition, bids and offers for items on eBay are considered legally-binding contracts between buyers and sellers.  This means that if you win an auction for an item or a seller accepts an offer you made them on an item, very rarely will a seller be under any obligation to let you cancel your purchase.  This can lead to you receiving penalties on your account for refusing to pay for items, which can eventually lead to your account being restricted or suspended.

3. Never respond to emails that ask for your personal information, even if they appear to be from eBay.

eBay will never ask you to provide or input information such as your credit card number, social security number, or account password via email.  Nor will they put a link directly inside an email to a web page where you must enter this information.

If you are unsure whether an email regarding your account is really from eBay, you can cross-check it against eBay’s internal email system by logging into your account, moving your mouse cursor over My eBay, and clicking Messages. If an important message about your account shows up in your regular email but not there, it’s probably a fake, and you should delete it.

4. Never offer or agree to complete a transaction outside of eBay.

Always complete a transaction for an item being sold on eBay through eBay itself and its electronic transaction services.  Buying an item from outside the website may help you avoid things like tax and shipping charges, but more likely than not, you will be walking right into a scam.

In addition, people who sell items outside of eBay (if they aren’t trying to outright scam people) are often trying to cheat eBay out of selling fees.  So by agreeing to buy from them, you’re helping them break eBay’s rules. It is better to simply refuse any offer like this, and perhaps also report any seller who tries this to customer service.

5. If all else fails, contact the authorities.

If you have a problem with a seller or an item that they sold you that you can’t resolve by contacting the seller directly, then contact eBay’s customer service department.  (See our customer service article for instructions on how to do so). If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, it would also be a good idea to contact your bank, credit card company, and/or local law enforcement.

Is eBay reliable?

Usually, eBay is a reliable place to buy things over the Internet. But, again, the important thing is to do your homework regarding the item you’re buying and who you’re buying it from. Ask yourself questions like: where is the seller shipping from? Where does the seller ship to?  What does the item look like? Has the seller indicated that the condition is less than stellar, or the item is missing parts? How happy have other people been with purchases from this seller?  How much is the seller charging for shipping (if anything)?

How to know if an eBay seller is trustworthy

An eBay seller is generally trustworthy if they have a high feedback score and a high percentage of positive feedback on eBay.  However, be sure to look at how much positive, neutral, and negative feedback overall they’ve received from other eBay users.  Also, judge this against how many orders they’ve completed.

Review seller rating and buyer feedback

In general, the higher the percentage of positive feedback on eBay, the more trustworthy the seller is. However, there are a few other things you should take into consideration:

1. How many orders has the seller filled?

A 100% feedback rating is great…right? But what if the seller has only ever filled two orders (both of which could have been to a close friend or family member)? Knowing how many ratings a seller has received is just as important as knowing how much of each kind of feedback they’ve received. Make sure to take a look at this number, as the feedback scores for sellers who have filled thousands of orders is more reliable than the feedback score for a user who has filled very few orders.

This is not to say that a new seller on eBay is automatically untrustworthy or that you can’t have a great experience with them. But you’re taking a bit more of a risk by going with a new seller who hasn’t yet established a reputation on eBay. If you do use a new seller, be sure to rate them after you receive your order to help them build their reputation, or to discourage others from using them if you have an unpleasant experience.

2. How old are the ratings?

A seller could have tens of thousands of ratings and a high percentage, but that doesn’t mean that they are automatically a safe choice. If you look at the most recent reviews, especially those from the past 6 months, you could find that the seller has actually had only negative reviews recently. And since you’re buying from them now, how great they were running their business eight years ago isn’t always relevant to you. Be sure to read the most recent reviews to see what’s in store for you.

3. What specifically have people noticed about this seller?

Look for keywords within ratings that are important to you based on the product you want to buy. Many sellers on eBay sell all kinds of different products. Their ratings on book sales may be 100% across the charts, but if you’re buying makeup from them, is that really the same thing?

Be sure to click Search Seller Feedback when reading reviews to look for products that apply to you, or what’s most important to you. If you need the product as soon as possible, search for keywords like “speed,” “slow,” “late,” or “lost” to see if there are negative ratings regarding that particular characteristic of the seller’s shipments.

Search for keywords in seller feedback

4. What is their percentage rating, and what is their star rating?

On eBay, your feedback score from other users is calculated on two levels.  As a buyer, you should look at both of these scores for the sellers you’re considering.

The first is the percentage rating, which is a score out of 100. eBay takes the number of positive feedback ratings and divides it by the total number of feedback ratings. For example, a user with 50 positive ratings and 0 negative would have 100 %, while a user with 50 positive and 5 negative would have a rating of 90%, and a user with 50 positive and 25 negative would have 66%.

Each user also has a colored star beside their name, which indicates their feedback score in a different way. Starting at 0, each time a user gains a positive feedback review, their number increases by 1; each time they receive a negative feedback review, the total score goes down by 1. As you increase your score, the color of your star will change, making you appear more trustworthy to eBay buyers.

What do the eBay stars mean?

A tiny icon with a number will appear beside the seller’s name. The number indicates what their feedback score is, and a small icon of a colored star represents a category of ratings. As the number increases, it is more and more likely you can trust the seller. Negative feedback will cause their score to go down, likely meaning that they aren’t as trustworthy.

This is a great way to determine if a seller is reliable, because each person that has taken the time to rate them (which is most eBay users) must decide if their experience was positive or negative (or neutral, which would cause the score to remain the same). This star-rating system tracks a seller’s service over time, for the duration of their entire account. You can likely trust a user that has any shooting star, as this means people have bought from them numerous times, and have more often than not been satisfied with the service they received.

The star rating system on eBay works as follows:

Color of star Rating score
Yellow star 10-49
Blue star 50-99
Turquoise star 100 – 499
Purple star 500 – 999
Red star 1000 – 4999
Green star 5000 – 9999
Yellow shooting star 10,000 – 24,999
Turquoise shooting star 25,000 – 49,999
Purple shooting star 50.000 – 99,999
Red shooting star 100,000 – 499,999
Green shooting star 500,000 – 999,999
Silver shooting star 1,000,000 +

 

Checking out the details page of an item or its seller will go a long way towards helping you reliably get good-quality items promptly at a reasonable cost. To learn more about the process of buying items, visit our eBay course page for step-by-step tutorials that cover how to buy on eBay and how bidding works. We’ve also got lots of tips for bidding, which will both keep you safe AND help you find great deals!


What eBay Is and How to Save Money with Bidding

Who even shops in person anymore? You can buy almost anything online today, and because of recent technological advancements, there are some websites out there that sell millions of items each year online, and some people who sell their own items online as well! One of the popular websites where this happens is eBay, which gained its popularity due to its unique auction-style sales that help its users save money on purchases.

How does eBay work?

eBay is an ecommerce website. It does not stock and sell its own products, but provides space for sellers to showcase items, connect with buyers, and manage their stores. The site’s unique auction system provides buyers the opportunity to bid on items, often obtaining them for less than retail prices.

eBay search bar

In that same space, buyers can find and monitor products that they’re looking for, make purchases, and have wares delivered to their homes or businesses. Because eBay doesn’t sell anything, it makes money by charging fees for listing items, and for processing transactions between buyers and sellers.

The history of eBay, and why it’s so popular

eBay was started under the name “AuctionWeb” in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar to auction off miscellaneous objects he owned, such as laser pointers.  It was renamed “eBay” in 1997 as a shortening of “Echo Bay Technology Group”, the name of Omidyar’s consulting firm.

eBay has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar online marketplace. Initially the site focussed on auctions, but new functionality was gradually introduced to the site. To supplement the auctions, straight purchases through the “Buy It Now” function was made available. Now, eBay also features other services to facilitate things such as reverse auctions (on Half.com) and event ticket trading (with StubHub.com).

eBay’s popularity likely lies in its brand and longevity. Since it was founded in the mid-1990s when the Internet was still reaching mainstream, the fact that it has been around so long gives it an advantage over any competitors. While online purchasing can still be iffy for some, the popularity and branding of eBay strengthens the confidence of a consumer making purchases.

What can I buy on eBay?

There are so many things you can buy on eBay – and very few things you can’t! Some popular categories of items include:

  • antiques
  • books and magazines
  • clothing and shoes
  • electronics
  • event tickets
  • home décor
  • vehicles
  • music
  • sporting goods and fitness equipment
  • toys
  • video games and consoles
  • watches and jewelry

For obvious reasons, items like alcohol, tobacco, weapons, drugs (and paraphernalia), and hazardous or dangerous items (ex. fireworks) cannot be bought or sold on eBay. For more information, check out eBay’s help page on the Prohibited and Restricted Items on eBay.

Is eBay safe and reliable?

eBay is generally safe to use, as most people selling products through the website are honest. In addition, dishonest sellers are weeded out by the online feedback system. eBay also has money-back guarantees, and uses secure online transaction technology to protect your financial and personal information.

Always read the feedback other users provide about a seller before making a purchase. Sellers with many successful orders filled and a high rating are generally trustworthy and more reliable than those who have filled few orders or who have low ratings.

4 reasons to use eBay

1. Save money by bidding instead of buying

Bidding on items in an auction on eBay allows you to often win an item for only a little bit more than the second-highest bid that was placed. If you learn how to participate in auctions well enough, you could end up winning items at prices that are less than at retail!

Make an offer on an item on eBay

2. Name your price and haggle

For some items, you may be able to convince their owners to sell them to you for less than their current asking prices.  Submit a “Best Offer” for an item, with the price you are willing to pay. If the seller is desperate enough to make a sale, they may accept your offer, or make a counter-offer.

3. Fixed prices for when you’re in a rush

If you don’t feel like bidding for an item or trying to talk the seller into lowering the price, many items have the option to Buy It Now at a fixed price. No muss, no fuss… just pay for the item and have it delivered.

4. You can sell, too!

Have some stuff lying around the house that you don’t want anymore?  List it on eBay and see if it sells. You can hawk it at a fixed price, accept offers from buyers if you just want to get rid of it at any price, or put it up for auction and see how much money you can get!

The pros and cons of eBay

There are many great things about eBay that make it one of the most established online marketplaces in the world. Here are some reasons to use eBay:

  • Its proven track record means you can trust it – the company will fully refund you for any purchase that goes wrong.
  • It makes bidding easy, allowing you to enter the maximum amount you would bid on an item, and then re-bid higher than other users by 1 increment to help you win the item.
  • A great internal search engine, dividing items into dozens of specific categories you can easily browse.

A few of the drawbacks of eBay include:

  • It is difficult to cancel orders if you change your mind, and it is really up to the discretion of the seller if they will accept a return.
  • Sellers decide the ways you can buy their items, and set the prices at whatever they like.
  • It can be difficult to have questions about the products answered, as it is the responsibility of the seller to answer customer service claims.

Though often you can get great deals on eBay, buyers are at the mercy of sellers, and have to trust the authenticity of what they are buying to what someone has written about it online.

How to get started on eBay

To begin bidding and/or selling, you will need to sign up for an eBay account!
Signing up is easy; you simply enter a bit of information about yourself and create a password. From there, you can look at listed items, and then start bidding!

We can teach you all about how bidding works here, but essentially, it happens like this: you find an item you like, and then post a bid.  When someone bids higher than you, your bid is revealed to other users. As the clock for the auction counts down, you can increase your bid. When the clock runs out, the highest bid gets the item at the price of the second-highest bid, plus one bid increment.

Once you’ve won an item, you need to pay for it, which you can do through eBay’s secure server.  After you’ve made a payment, the seller will ship your item to you. As you wait, you can track your order online to make sure it’s going where it needs to. After receiving your item, make sure you provide feedback about your seller to help other eBay users in the future.

You can also become a seller on eBay, and sell your own products!

Becoming a seller on eBay

To become a seller is easy; what’s more difficult is establishing a reputation on the website so that users actually want to buy from you. Here is our 3-step method for how to become an eBay seller:

1. Set up a seller account on eBay

The first step is to set up a seller account. You must confirm your name, address, and phone number, as well as set up an automatic payment method for your seller fees and money-back guarantee returns.

2. Create a listing on the website for your product

The next step is to create a listing on the website so that eBay users can find your product and purchase it from you. Clearly explain what the item is (or does), and be sure to use language that most people would understand – simple is always better. Make sure you post a fair price, or no one will buy it.

Chances are there are other similar products like yours and in general, users always want the best price. So, to make your first few listings effective, be sure to check out listings on eBay for similar products, and format your listings accordingly.

3. Manage your listing and complete a sale

Once you have your listing up, the next step is to wait! By checking on the Sell section of eBay, you will be able to see if anyone has bid on your item.  You can also answer any questions about the item that people have posted. Sellers establish better reputations by having good customer service, so always remember to treat potential buyers well, and do everything you can to help them make a decision.

If you make a sale, be sure to verify you have received payment from the buyer. From there, package your item as nicely and securely as possible, verify the shipment information, and leave feedback about your buyer for other eBay sellers. Reviewing buyers is just as important as reviewing sellers!

4 tips to saving money with eBay

One of the great things about buying online with the auction system is that you can get items for much less than they sell for in retail stores! Check out our list of the best 4 ways to save money by using eBay:

1. Compare the going rate with other sellers

When you’re looking for something specific on eBay and you find it, you get excited because you found exactly what you’re looking for! But don’t just bid right away. Be sure to check out suggestions, or look for other sellers who are showcasing the same (or similar) products. You may be able to find the same thing for a much better price, especially if there are new sellers out there looking to build their reputations.

2. eBay Coupons

Sometimes, you can find coupons on other websites that you can use at the checkout. Be sure to check popular coupon websites periodically, or do a simple search in your web browser for “eBay coupons” to help you find even better deals.

3. eBay Best Offers

eBay has an option called “Best Offer,” which allows you to make an offer to a seller to see if they will agree to sell it to you for that price. You can even offer less than the asking price! Simply make your offer and wait for them to accept, reject, or counter your offer. It is always up to the seller, but it may be worth a shot!

4. Buy large quantities of things you need when the price is right

If you see a great price on eBay for something you may need plenty of, be sure to buy in bulk! Sellers sometimes sell off inventory to make room for new products. So be on the lookout for great deals on products you buy frequently, and buy them in larger quantities!

eBay customer service

If you have an issue with something you purchased on eBay, or have had an unpleasant experience with a seller, there are a few things you can do.

1. Try to resolve issues with the other party (buyer or seller) first, when applicable.

It is very likely that if you try to contact eBay’s general customer service, they will suggest (or even require) that you contact the other party in the transaction first. If you’re having an issue with a buyer or seller, contact them and try to resolve it. Then, if this does not work, proceed to one of the options below.

2. Use the eBay help pages.

eBay knows that you may have questions, so they have taken the time to write tons of pages of help for you! If you click Help & Contact on the eBay website, you can click through the dozens of categories of help to find what you’re looking for. If you have something more specific in mind, you can search for it at the top of the help page.

3. Open an item case.

If you need someone from eBay to look into your issue, and the help pages can’t solve your problem, you can open a case. In your Account Settings, you can click on the Resolution Center, and explain why you need to open an item case. eBay’s customer service team will jump on the case, and update you as they progress through solving your problem.

4. Call eBay, or have them call you.

If you’re looking for more of a personal touch, click Contact Us at the bottom of the help page. eBay will still attempt to solve your problem with other resources, but you can click Call Us or Call Me to speak to an eBay customer service representative.

Websites like eBay

There are many websites out there like eBay that can help you buy items online, participate in auctions, or find great deals on products that you just can’t find in retail. One of the most popular competitors is Amazon.com, which is another one of the largest online marketplaces in existence. Amazon has everything “from A to Z” (as they say), so you’re likely to find what you’re looking for… and often, at a great price. Bonanza.com is another alternative to eBay, and though very similar, claims that it’s better than eBay.  In fact, it has been voted better by sellers online for five years in a row.

On Zazzle.com, not only can you buy great products online, but you can also customize them and make them just for you! You can also check out AliExpress.com, which has quickly grown to one of the most-used online retail services. The sellers are mainly Chinese businesses offering their products to buyers internationally, which cuts out the middle-man and keeps prices low.

 

eBay is among the largest online retailers in the world, and for good reason. Its interface is easy to use and intuitive. That doesn’t mean it can’t be challenging to get used to, especially if you’re new to online shopping. If there’s more you’d like to know about how to actually use the website to buy, bid on, and make offers for stuff that you really want, you can find tutorials for all on our website. Saving money on, and even making money on eBay is easy and fun!