If you have even an ounce of knowledge with regards to online shopping, you’ll have heard of a little organisation called eBay. Perhaps you’ve come in contact with it before and experienced no problems as a customer or a seller, but there are still many internet users who are terrified of parting ways with their bank details online. In some respects they’ve every need to be, but eBay is a little different.
For those of you who don’t know what it is, eBay is an online auction service which is home to literally any sellable product in existence. From a mobile phone to a mobile home, a camera to a couch, both consumers and small businesses are given the opportunity to trade at their leisure. A number of changes have been made to eBay’s rules and regulations over the years from when it began as a simple bidding site for collector’s items, there is now a more restrictive guideline to the methods of buying and selling which makes it safer for the eBay community.
They have a list of restricted items, and each buyer and seller who wishes to participate in eBay activity must adhere to this or face penalties which can include suspension of accounts.
Examples of prohibited items:
- Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs
- Firearms, Ammunition and Military hardware
- Live animals and human body parts (with some exceptions)
- Legal documents
- Gambling items
- Sexually oriented material (with a few exceptions which must be listed under the “Adult only” category)
- Souls, ghosts and other unverifiable items
Prohibited items that have attempted to be sold by customers on eBay in the past include Britney Spears’ allegedly used chewing gum, various claims of virginity, human souls in a jar, and most recently an iPhone pre-installed with the now extinct game “Flappy Birds” which soared to an amazing £50,000 before being pulled from eBay for breaching terms and conditions.
How does it work?
Customers can list items on eBay via Buy It Now or Bidding methods, the former service allows you to set a fixed price on an item, and bidding allows the starting price to climb higher the more bids it receives. The item can be listed for only number of days or weeks, after which you have the option to re-list the item at no extra charge if it doesn’t sell the first time around.
Listing an item is quite a simple procedure, but other things like fees incurred can be a little complex. There are a number of different charges depending on the amount of the starting price and scale of the item in question. eBay charges you for the listing of an item and again when the item sells, both of which are dependent on the starting price (or buy it now price) and how much the item totals at the final value it is bought for.
Buying an item is even simpler, using the search bar or browsing categories for the specific item you are looking for makes it easier for customers to find what they need. Once you have found a listing for that particular item, you can buy it for a fixed price or place a bid dependant on which service the seller has opted for. If it is an auction, it will run for the number of days stated on the description page. Bids may call for you to be vigilant and careful, particularly towards the end of the auction, as other buyers tend to leave it until the last few seconds to place a final bid. Items are generally delivered by myHermes or another courier.
Is it safe?
Fortunately, eBay continues to battle for tighter customer safety and service when shopping online. They have a number of steps put in place to ensure customers are protected when buying or selling on eBay. For instance, each registered account has a visible feedback score, which enables other customers to check what experience previous users have had. If the feedback score is 100%, they are a trusted member of the eBay community and anyone with a ‘Top Seller’ badge next to their user name is a recognised member of eBay that continues to uphold eBay’s trading standards.
PayPal is a fully integrated subsidiary of eBay, and anybody with a PayPal account who chooses to make eBay transactions using this method is instantly covered by the Buyers Protection, which serves as a protective blanket to customers who have been scammed or shafted by sellers and require a full refund.
eBay encourages customers to settle their disputes amongst themselves, but if that proves to be an impossibility for whatever reason, you can escalate the case to eBay customer service, who will then open a case.
eBay Customer Service – Opening a case
In the event that you are a customer dealing with a particularly difficult buyer or seller, you can open up a case against them in which eBay steps in and takes action, information on this can be found on the sites Resolution Centre. Money Back Guarantee gives customers piece of mind when buying, as you can usually receive a full refund on the total price of the item you paid for plus postage if your item hasn’t arrived within the agreed time-frame. This can be anytime from one day after the estimated arrival date, in which eBay will contact the seller and give them 8 calendar days to make the situation right, if they do not comply, eBay will issue the customer a full refund and press penalties to the offending seller.
If the item that you have bought is not as described, you can contact the seller and explain the situation. The seller may offer you a partial refund, or ask you to return the item for a full refund.
In any case, if you are not satisfied with the seller or buyers solutions, the eBay customer service team are on hand to help you and review your case, and will always offer support provided you have stuck within the trading guidelines set by eBay. You can review the terms and conditions on their website http://www.ebay.co.uk
Or you can telephone their Customer Service line