eBay Seller Evaluation Checklist
How can you be sure that a seller is trustworthy before you place a bid? There is no foolproof method that can guarantee the seller is reputable. However, there are several areas of the listing that collectively, will provide you with important clues.
Specifically, I would carefully check the seller's return and payment policies, shipping rates, seller location and their feedback score and comments.
1. Read the seller's policy descriptions carefully. Are their policies reasonable and clearly written? Is the tone of each policy friendly or harsh? Do they give a 100 percent money back guarantee? All these details give an indication of the quality of their products and their customer service commitment. If any of the descriptions, terms or policies seem unreasonable I would be very cautious.
2. Is the shipping charge for the item reasonable? This is an indication of honesty or at least fairness. If the seller has not provided a shipping charge, they have failed the test. There is no reason to bid on an item if you do not know how much they will charge to ship it to you.
3. What is their overall Feedback Score number? If it is over 100, they are experienced.
4. What is their overall Positive Feedback percentage? Anything greater than or equal to 97% is a good percentage. If their percentage is less than 97%, I would be cautious.
5. If there is any negative feedback, was it more than six months ago? Anyone can receive negative feedback occasionally. Sometimes things go wrong beyond the seller's control. Sometimes the problem was not with the seller but that they had to deal with an unreasonable buyer. How the seller responded to the negative feedback is an indication of how professional they are and how the seller will treat you if a problem occurs with your order. If the seller has more than one negative feedback within the last six months, then they have failed the test.
6. Check their Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs). This will give a more specific rating for how the seller communicates, describes their items, how reasonable their shipping rates are and how timely they ship.
7. Are they a PowerSeller? If yes, this reveals a serious and experienced seller.
8. Is the seller located outside of the U.S. (check next to the price to see the Item Location)? If it is not located in the United States be VERY careful. Many scams on eBay are from international sellers.
9. If the item is from an international seller, thoroughly check their shipping terms, return policies, payment policies and feedback comments from buyers. If you find anything unusual, the seller has failed the test. Additionally, if the Item Location has been hidden so you cannot tell where the seller lives, the seller fails the test immediately.
10. Does the seller's information box claim that the item qualifies for PayPal Buyer Protection? If yes, you know you have protection if you pay for the item with PayPal (as you always should for maximum protection). If the seller does not offer this protection, you are at risk if something goes wrong. For me this is a showstopper. If you decide to proceed, use extreme caution.
11. Has the seller stated that they do not accept PayPal? If yes, they have failed the test.
If everything looks favorable at this point, you have done as much background checking as is practical. I would feel comfortable with a seller that passed this test. If this test has provided you with three or more cautions, the seller has failed the test.
While this test may sometimes mistakenly fail a reputable seller, it will identify most of the disreputable ones. If a seller fails the test, look for competing sellers who offer the same product at a similar price. If a seller has failed the test but you choose to bid on a particular item because it is rare, understand that your risk of experiencing some sort of problem is considerable.
Have fun on eBay, but do it safely.