Whether you want to spend money online or finally set up a business, it’s natural to want to know whether the platform you have in mind can be trusted.
In this blog, I decided to answer the question: Is eBay reliable?
With this information, you can decide whether you want to sign up as a buyer or seller on eBay.
There’s a lot of information to cover, so let’s get started.
Is eBay Reliable?
eBay was founded in September 1995 and has been a world-renowned online marketplace ever since.
There are currently well over 180 million people using eBay globally, with the numbers continuously increasing year-on-year.
While eBay users can be found in hundreds of countries, the United States is still their most substantial market.
More than 70 per cent of eBay’s traffic comes from the US, with China, Canada, Russia, and the United Kingdom following suit.
In terms of listings, in late 2019, there were over 1.3 billion listings on eBay.
Based on how long eBay has been around and the number of users and listings, it’s still a reliable and trustworthy platform. However, this doesn’t mean it’s free from problems.
Let’s get into exactly what buyers and sellers should know before committing to the eBay platform.
Is Buying on eBay Safe?
You can purchase thousands of unique products on eBay at affordable prices. However, buyers still need to be cautious when dealing with sellers mainly because you are mostly dealing with individual sellers instead of brands and big businesses.
One of the main factors that makes eBay safe for buyers is their moneyback guarantee policy.
If you don’t receive an item, the item is different, or the item is broken, eBay’s moneyback guarantee comes into play.
Fortunately, in most instances, sellers are quick to respond and rectify the issue. If not, eBay will refund you the money.
Ideally, you want to avoid situations like this in the first place.
If a listing seems too good to be true, it more than likely is. For example, if you can purchase the latest iPhone for a few hundred dollars, understand that it’s probably a scam.
As with any marketplace of this nature, it’s essential to do a bit of research on the sellers you’re considering.
By clicking on the number next to a seller’s username, you will reach a feedback page. This will tell you a lot about what other buyers have experienced and whether you should consider bidding.
Once you decide to bid, make sure that you never accept an offer to deal outside of eBay. If something goes wrong, eBay cannot protect your money.
Is Selling on eBay Safe?
eBay is one of the top platforms that most sellers consider when wanting to start an online business – I did.
eBay isn’t for everyone, though. After using it for several months, I decided to put my efforts into the Amazon FBA model instead.
I found that eBay sellers have to deal with more risks because of the higher number of scams. Due diligence is going to be a top priority if you decide to sell on this platform.
For starters, it pays to know about any scams associated with the items you plan to sell as this will help you avoid some severe monetary losses. For example, it’s easy for buyers to claim certain products don’t work, gift cards being one of them. And, unfortunately, eBay is well known for siding with buyers more than sellers.
One way to stay safe as an eBay seller is to be as accurate as possible when creating your product listings. This way, a buyer can’t claim you sent them the wrong product or that your listing was deceiving.
Another is always to keep delivery and shipment details recorded and in a safe place. This way, if you ever need to prove an item was shipped, you can do so right away.
You should also be aware that eBay can place your funds on hold until you accumulate a certain number of positive ratings. This can be frustrating when you’re a new seller because you can’t tell when your funds will be released.
Common eBay Scams (How to Spot & Avoid Them)
Both buyers and sellers on eBay can potentially be scammed, so it helps to know what you should look out for.
eBay Buyer Scams
- Non-Delivery. There have been sellers who accept payment for products not covered by eBay’s moneyback guarantee. This way, when they don’t send the product, the buyer has no recourse. This generally includes businesses and websites for sale, services, and vehicles.
- Return to Sender. Another common scam is for sellers to ship a product to the correct address, but they include the wrong name on the label. The buyer who receives the package believes it’s in error and returns it to the seller. The seller then keeps the payment and the product.
- Third-Party Payments. Any seller that wants you to make a payment outside of eBay is almost always scamming you. Once you pay, there is no way for eBay to assist you in getting your money back.
- The Overpriced Box. This generally occurs when a seller is selling a highly popular item, often at an above-market price. Unfortunately, once you look closer, you will see the seller is only selling the box and not the product. Always read listings carefully.
To avoid scams as a buyer, make sure you research every seller you plan to deal with, read each listing very carefully, and never accept any offers to transact outside of eBay.
eBay Seller Scams
- The Generous Offer. Sometimes, sellers encounter buyers who want to pay far more than the asking price. This might seem appealing, but buyers often end up with fraudulent checks.
- Private Deals. Just like sellers, some buyers offer to finalise a deal outside of eBay. Once you close the listing and send the item, the buyer ends up not paying or disputes the transaction with eBay. The seller ends up having to pay the buyer for the product.
- The Empty Box. Everything can go smoothly with a sale until a buyer claims the box they received was empty. eBay may end up approving their refund request even though they received the product.
- Cancelled Transactions. Another way that buyers hang onto their dollars is by cancelling a payment once the transaction is completed. Unfortunately, disputing these chargebacks takes up a lot of time and is a major hassle.
- No Item Received. This is when it helps to hang onto any proof of delivery because some buyers will claim they never received your product and want a refund.
- The Feedback Bribe. Since feedback is important for sellers, buyers sometimes ask for money in exchange for leaving a positive review. Should you not comply, they will leave a negative review.
- Damaged Items. Lastly, there is a scam involving buyers who claim an item is broken, even sending photo evidence. Meanwhile, your product is perfectly fine. They get to keep the undamaged item and receive a refund from eBay.
Avoiding scams as a seller is often a little trickier, but the following tips will help:
- Never take a transaction away from eBay. Using the official channels provides you with the most protection.
- Please stay away from check payments as there is too high a risk they won’t clear.
- Document as much as you can, including the item’s condition, any serial numbers or codes, and the tracking number. Any evidence you can offer during a dispute will count in your favour.
- If the item you sold is worth more than $750, arrange for signature on delivery. This gives you PayPal Seller Protection coverage.
- As much as buyers are checking up on your feedback as a seller, you should be doing the same with buyers. If they have low ratings all round, you may want to forgo the transaction.
Conclusion: Is eBay Reliable?
eBay is a trustworthy platform, but a lot more effort is required to make sure you don’t fall victim to a scam – both as a buyer and seller.
As a seller, you need to spend a lot of time covering all your bases to avoid monetary losses. This is one of the reasons I switched to the Amazon FBA model. However, the main reason is that by using FBA you can scale your business whilst working a full-time job.
If you would like to find out more about getting started on Amazon as an alternative, you can read through my personal pros and cons list here.
If you want to see how we great a business that allowed us to quit our full-time jobs, look at our Private Label Training we show you exactly how we start and scale brands on Amazon.