The safest way to shop on eBay would be to purchase from a 'Premium Seller' - much like ourselves. These sellers have worked hard and continue to work hard to offer a service akin to any major online retailer and will take customer issues very seriously.
However if buying privately on eBay there are a few helpful hints you can use to keep you safe when buying mobiles and similar items on eBay:
- Use PayPal: in the guise of Fight Club we'd also say this was the second rule as it so important. Paying by any other means is very risky and any protection that eBay gives to its buyers are thrown out of the window. Ignore any requests to pay by bank transfer or the like, and report them to eBay if necessary.
- Check feedback: it would be ideal that the seller has some notable history on eBay, even if it is a bit colourful at times. If the seller does have negative feedback however it doesn't always mean the worst; some buyers can't always be pleased it seems! But obviously watch out for terms such as 'scammer' and 'never sent item', also take note of what the actual items were if possible; if they have 98 positives for 99p items and 2 negs for £200 items then alarm bells should ring.
- Check completed/sold items: you can view what other items a seller may have available and from here you can click the checkboxes for 'completed' and 'sold' to view their history. If they've sold or are currently selling 20 iPhone 5s or similar high priced gadgets in the last month and aren't a business it's very likely they're not genuine.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions: if they're keen to sell they should be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. If you're buying a cellular device asking for the IMEI number is a great way to re-assure yourself that the seller actually has the item in question. You can also confirm the model by entering the IMEI number into a mobile recycler website, which should map the IMEI to a model. Also make sure you Google the IMEI number to make sure the seller hasn't just taken it from another source.
- Remember your rights: eBay's basic policy is 'either you get your item, or your money back'. Also make sure you carefully read the description for any item and check that the item matches it once you receive it. If you're not happy try speaking with the seller first, many may be willing to work out an amicable agreement. If you're still unhappy you can open a case, which if you're honest will probably result in a full refund once you have returned the item.
If you have any useful hints we'd love to hear them. eBay's policies may not be to every sellers liking, but we agree that they've worked hard to change their image and is now a great place for an informed buyer.