How safe is it to buy off ebay?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by bla, Dec 1, 2006.

  1. bla

    bla TPF Noob!

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    Hey everyone,

    If I were to look at buying a camera off ebay, what suggestions would you offer me? Is it safe? Are there any precautions I should take?

    Anything would be helpful!

    Thanks
     
  2. Michael Humle

    Michael Humle TPF Noob!

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    Hi and welcome to TPF! As a Seller on eBay...IF you decide to buy something. I recommend you buy from someone who has been established for over two years, is a "Power Seller" with a minimum of a 99.5% pos feedback ranking. It's also a good Idea to e-mail one of the prior Buyers to ask about thier buying exprience. Also, if you have ANY questions regarding the product you are buying, ask the Seller questions. Do read some of the neg feedback, and pos, they have received. I hope this helps you.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Buying on E-bay is usually pretty safe...but for anything in demand, like digital cameras, you probably won't get a good deal on anything new or in good condition.

    Film cameras, on the other hand, are not in high demand...and you could probably get a great deal.

    Watch out for high shipping costs...which can negate any 'good deal' that you think you are getting.

    If you are looking for a new camera...I would suggest buying locally...or at least from a store in Canada. Crossing the border can be costly. There is no duty of photo gear...but you may have to pay brokerage fees. If you want to see good & fair prices...check out B&H and Adorama...both out of NYC. They are the biggest camera stores in North America...maybe the world. If you see a price that is a lot cheaper than their price...that would raise a flag for me.

    I often check E-bay for cameras and lenses etc....but all to often...the good things are way too expensive to be worth the trouble.
     
  4. darich

    darich TPF Noob!

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    What Michael says is true...up to a point.
    Everyone has to start at zero at some point and not everyone is trying to rip you off. In fact most people are very helpful and genuine.

    I would do as Michael suggested but if the seller is near to your home then don't let a lower rating put you off - you can go and pick up the item and eliminate the risk of never receiving it. If they refuse to meet then you know they're trying to hide something so steer clear. Ask if the seller would meet you half way to exchange goods and money. And ask them to send pictures of the item they're selling, not generic ones taken from a website. Generic pictures are sometimes a way of advertising something that doesn't exist - my bro was scammed for a few hundred pounds this way. :(

    One or two negative comments can reduce a percentage below what Michael recommends and from personal experience not everyone is truthful with feedback - i received a negative from some clown who overcharged me for postage (more than double the £9 it actually cost) and didn't pack everything he advertised. When i questioned it and gave him 6weeks to remedy it he was annoyed at my attitude and left negative feedback despite me paying him in full within a couple of days of auction close. Maybe he wanted me to be less understanding!!

    If you're in the UK and looking for camera gear then try "Canon outlet" - can't remember the exact username but they're an approved Canon outlet and sell refurbished/repackaged Canon equipment with a full UK year warranty.
    I bought my 5D through them and saved over £500 on Jessops price and still got the guarantee.

    Also use PayPal or a cheque to pay. Never a bank transfer or Western Union. Cash is ok in person.

    It sounds a lot but most of it is common sense - it's not as bad as a lot of people make out. Sure, lots of people have had negative experiences but how many transactions go without a hitch every day???
     
  5. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Hi, my advice here would be to avoid any listings that say "I know nothing about cameras". Not only may the seller be genuinely unable to tell you about the condition of the equipment (which is not good in itself) but it could also mean they know it doesn't work and that's their cover. If the listing does not specifically say that the equipment is not working or is in poor condition, then ask if they will accept a return.

    In the case of cameras, ask if it's fully functional; if the shutter speeds appear accurate, if it's a modern auto camera ask if the flash works and the LCD isn't faulty, etc. Ask about general condition too, i.e. is there visible marking or dirt in the viewfinder or other internal parts? If there's a lens, ask if it's clean; does it contain fungus? Does it stop down correctly at all apertures and is the focusing smooth? Of course this sort of information should be provided in the listing, so if not you should check; then you're better covered if you discover a problem on receiving the item.

    Finally, don't buy a very expensive item (especially a digital camera) without checking the seller's feedback, but also their previous sales. If all of their previous sales were of goods costing $0.99 and all their feedback seems strangely similar, yet suddenly they're selling a Digital SLR, there's probably something wrong there. I personally noticed an incredible number of listings for pre-owned Canon DSLRs, all with an identical photo and identical text offering an unofficial buy-it-now price, all from sellers who previously sold suspiciously cheap/fake-looking tiny novelty furniture or cosmetics. In other words, obvious scam. Not all scams are that obvious, and so my advice is to get assurances - about what's included in the listing, the function and condition of items, the cost of postage, and the seller's policy on returns.

    I don't want to make it sound like buying from Ebay is particularly unsafe - chances are the majority of your transactions will go without a problem - but it's still best to avoid those few instances where you do have a problem.
     
  6. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't really agree with this. As an example, I've been an ebay member since 1997, I think. I have about 1600 feedbacks. I was a power seller for a couple of months, not because I asked to be but because they made me one. They invite me to be one all the time and I don't bother. My feedback rating is 99.3, so I wouldn't qualify for Michael. However most of my negatives were payback ffrom other members who got a negative from me and deserved it - mostly people who didn't pay. I like the guys around 98%. They have enough guts to give negative feedback when it is deserved. The 100% guys are afraid to do it. I view them as wimps.

    A lot of this is tongue in cheek, of course, but not totally. Actually Ebay is pretty safe. Not that you can't get hooked. But it is actually pretty rare. You may find that prices on new equipment are higher on Ebay than at some of the better on line merchants like B&H. Used things sold by their owners are pretty much dirt cheap and some of it can be pretty nice. I compiled this very pretty medium format system over the past month on Ebay for around $655. Every piece is pristine. That's a bargain.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    I agree that 99.5% seems fairly high. And IMO a feedback rating is useless by itself, you have to look at the context - this is what I meant by checking what kind of goods they sold before and to whom. A seller with entirely positive reviews could still be part of a scam. Similarly someone with negative feedback could be a perfectly decent and considerate person and the fault could lie with the person who left that feedback. Again, if there's anything you're not sure about, don't be afraid to ask.
     
  8. Michael Humle

    Michael Humle TPF Noob!

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    Take all the opinions you've received, round them in to a big ball and bounce it around a bit. You'll come up with the right decision. Everybody looks at eBay in a different way because people who buy or sell, or both have had different experiences. Even though I am mostly a seller, I tend to take the side of caution...but that's me!
     
  9. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    To limit your loss exposure with PayPal;

    Do not use an existing credit card to link to PayPal.

    Set up a checking account in a bank where you have no other accounts. Many have free checking accounts. Don't even bother with getting checks.

    Use that account to transfer funds electronically to your PayPal account as needed. Each transfer will take about 4 business days.

    Once the PayPal account has been established, never [repeat, never!] open any email which seems to be from PayPal. It ain't!
     
  10. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have to add something regarding negative feedback. There are some people who enjoy giving negative feedback, or the give negative feedback because they get what was in the article's description (e.g. they cannot read properly) I've seen negative feedback such as the camera does not wrok, when in the description it said that it needs arepair.

    I have a buyer at the moment wich gave other sellers negative feedback because she apparently has a problem with her email account and then complains that sellers do not get back to her via email. I'm trying myself now to contact her for almost a week .. all silent. I am afraid I might get my first negative feedback now ...
     
  11. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Whohaa. now i see what you meant when you said MF is getting affordable these days!
    :)
     
  12. 2012326

    2012326 TPF Noob!

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