Throwback Thursday: How to Shop Ebay

Ebay is definitely one of my go-to sites for procuring specific wardrobe wants/needs. I can almost always find what I'm looking for at a decent price, making it a nice, happy compromise between the chaos of the swap meet and the priciness of the mall. Still, many of my friends still say they find Ebay a bit dizzying. Here's how I navigate the site - maybe some of you will find it helpful. :)

How to Bid

  • Search for what you want. Add keywords depending on how specific your desires are - for example, if you've already tried a specific brand and style of jeans on in-store, and you know you need the size 27, you can go ahead and enter "Hudson signature jeans 27." However, if you're open to a variety of brands and just want to find the best deal for you, simply enter "jeans."
  • Filter your search results. Ebay is fabulous at allowing you to sort your results by a wide range of criteria. Select the sizes, prices, materials, conditions, colors, inseams, et cetera by clicking on the check boxes in the left hand menu. To select multiple options, click "choose more."
  • Identify the likely suspects. If you come across an item you think will work for you, click "Add to Watch List," and move on. Repeat until your search results have been exhausted.
  • Contact sellers with any questions. Let's say you love a pair of shoes, but you've ordered enough shoes off the internet to know that few people can measure a shoe heel to save their lives. You can contact the seller and ask them to please measure the heel exactly the way you want. You can also request additional photos or ask them to describe the color in more detail, since computer monitors can sometimes lie to us. Don't worry about being a pain - most sellers are more than happy to help you get an item you love the first time around, given how painful it can be to deal with returns/refunds/negative feedback. After that, you can remove from your watch list any item that turns out to be the wrong size, color, whatever.
  • Lie in wait, then pounce! A practice sometimes known as "sniping," I'm a fan of waiting for the last minute to bid. This ensures that no one comes along at the last minute to outbid you by a measly dollar. Be sure to enter the absolute highest price you're willing to pay, though, because there might be a gal with deeper pockets sniping the auction along with you, and you won't get a chance to reconsider your bid after the fact.

Examples of Information Requests:

"Hi there! I know Arden B. runs a little small - could you please let me know the measurements across the shoulders and across the bust from armpit to armpit?"

"Hello, would you please let me know the measurements for: shaft height from footbed to top, from the center back; shaft circumference at widest point; heel height measured from center back; ankle circumference? Thanks in advance!"

How to Resolve a Problem

Stay calm. First and foremost, step away from the feedback button! Most issues can be resolved in an easy and friendly way, but negative feedback will damage a seller's rating for an entire year! As a seller, there is nothing worse than getting negative feedback from a buyer who never even bothered to ask for a refund. Honest, negative feedback for a seller who won't work with you is find... but the feedback isn't going to get you your refund.

  • Message the seller. Once you're calm, contact the seller with your issue - be nice, and describe your problem in detail. Understand that buyers try to steal items all the time by claiming that an item was not delivered (even though it was) or demanding an undeserved refund under the threat of negative feedback (tantamount to extortion, IMO).
  • Appeal to Ebay/Paypal. If the seller will not cooperate with you, don't get into an email brawl. Simply click over to the Ebay resolution center and open a dispute. This way, Ebay/Paypal will investigate the case and determine whether or not you should receive a refund (Ebay sides with the buyer most of the time).

Example of a Refund Request

"Hi there, I received this semi-mount a week ago and had my stone set this weekend... and one of the semi-mount diamonds already fell out. :( Do you think you could refund the cost of replacing it - I'd send back the whole item, but I already paid to have my stone set."

See? Not scary at all! Ebay is an amazing resource for everything from clothes to shoes to Pez dispensers -- unless you're planning to bid on those shoes I'm watching. In that case, back off! ;)


This article was originally posted on my first blog, onedollarwonders, in 2011. 

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