Shopping Safely Online

Hi, I’m G.G. Bundles. When people ask, “What do you do?” I happily reply, “I sell online.” I can’t tell you how many people respond, “I never shop on there.” Hey, I get it. Prior to joining Ebay in order to sell, I had only been on the site a couple of times. So, when I joined, I was learning the market as a Seller and a Buyer. As my selling experience increased, I expanded sales to Etsy and Amazon. I see so many benefits to purchasing on these types of marketplaces, here are a few:
1) There are no seasons, you can buy shorts in the winter, and Thanksgiving items in the spring.
2) Because it is so easy to search and compare, the online markets help keep pricing down.
3) You don’t have to spend your gas money.
4) You can shop in your pajamas.
5) You can shop 24/7.
I have full confidence in selling and buying on these sites, hopefully after reading this post, you will too.

People say they won’t shop online, because they don’t trust online marketplaces. They are afraid they will lose their money, or not get what they ordered. Shop assured: Ebay, Etsy, and Amazon all have Buyer protection policies. For example, if the sale meets certain criteria, Ebay will refund a Buyer and require the Seller to pay Ebay back, if a Seller hasn’t resolved an issue. There is the option to file a case, with easy to follow directions. This puts the complaint on record. Also, the opportunity to leave public feedback, helps keep Sellers (and Buyers) on the up and up. As a Seller, I would suggest, that if there is an issue, contact your Seller immediately and make them aware. Many issues can be remedied by good old communication. Watch any time restrictions on returns, and make sure you act quickly. If you are not satisfied with the Sellers response, move on to filing a case, that’s why the option is there.

Prior to purchasing, I always take a minute to find out “what is in a name.” Click on the store or member name and look at their rating and/or feedback. If Buyers are satisfied, they will make it known. Look at how long they have been selling, how many sales they have, and how many items they have listed. If there are a couple negative notes, I glance them over and get a feel for the legitimacy of the complaint. If a Seller has many sales, there is a higher likelihood there may be a couple Buyers who were not satisfied. If a new, less experienced Seller, has minimal, less than glowing feedback, I don’t discount them out of hand. I look at how many items they have listed. It’s a lot of work to list, especially for a new Seller. If there are a lot of items listed, this Seller intends to be around for a while. That type of Seller has a lot vested, and usually will want to do a good job to get established.

People want to actually “see” the item. True, you can’t pick the item up, but you have photos, decription and condition narratives to check out. I take the best photos I can, showing every aspect, the best side and any flaws. On Amazon, most photos are stock photos, so you are not seeing the actual item you will receive, this is not a problem with new items. Etsy allows Sellers to post five photos and Ebay allows twelve. Most sites are now flagging photos that do not meet their quality standards, you should also be able to zoom in and see details. If you want more photos, or the photos don’t answer your question or concern, contact the Seller and get your question answered before making a decision.

Always get a second opinion, right? Take a couple of key words from the description and search within and outside the site. That way, you can price compare, possibly negotiate with the Seller, or find out it is, or isn’t, such a great deal. For example, I found a “vintage” pendant that was described as 1970’s. I thought I had found a very unique piece to give as a gift. However, when I searched some key words, I found that same pendant sold by many Sellers on various sites. The item I had found was vintage “inspired” not “true vintage.”

Many people are under the impression that items can not be returned when purchased on these types of marketplaces. Most sites either require or encourage their Sellers to take a return within a set amount of time, meeting basic requirements (in same condition, not used, etc.) That said, always check the individuals return policy. My policy is, if the item is not as described, the Buyer can return the item for a full refund, plus shipping both ways. If the Buyer wants to try an item on and it doesn’t fit, or they change their mind, I do not refund shipping. In almost all circumstances, you will have to front the cost of the return shipping, and if the Seller agrees, they can add that amount to their refund. Sellers do have the option to refund more than what you paid to include that additional cost.

What if an item is broken, or doesn’t arrive? Well, that’s going to be a disappointment to both the Buyer and the Seller, since a lot of items on these sites are unique or even one of a kind. First of all, if the Seller purchased shipping online, you should automatically be provided with a tracking number to monitor shipping. If they don’t purchase through Ebay, they can add that number when they mark the item as shipped. If the Seller did not package the item well, and the item broke, send them a photo and request your money and shipping back. A Seller shouldn’t have to ask for a photo, but sometimes Buyers aren’t trustworthy. I once had a Buyer claim an item was broken, and then turn around and put it up for sale on the same site! Sellers need to be cautious too, understand they are trying to make sure the complaint is legitimate. If it was packaged well, hopefully the Seller can file a claim with the delivery service they used, but Sellers are responsible until you have it in hand, so they should refund your money.

If an item is “lost in the mail” or shows delivered when it was not, this may be a problem with the delivery service, or a crime has been committed. These situations require patience, and hopefully with time, the situation will be resolved by the delivery service. If an item does not arrive, Seller should refund you fully. They will take it as a loss, so be understanding because the sale, item and time invested, is lost due to something that is out of a Sellers hands.

Feedback is a powerful tool, use it to keep the markets trusted, but don’t abuse it. Sellers future sales, rating status, and potential discounts on some sites, depend on fair feedback. When I was a new Seller on Amazon, I had a Buyer give me a two out of five-star rating, because they didn’t think the item was worth what they paid. I was never contacted, or asked to return the item. I had shipped quickly and packaged well. My rating went from 100% to 83% and sales decreased substantially. Was that warranted? To that Buyer, it was. Personally, when I receive an item, I note, did they ship quickly and package well, was the item as described, did I get a good deal. If a Seller falls short in an area, I will decrease my rating, but only in a complete failure, would I give an abominable rating. Also, try to understand the rating system, prior to utilizing it. I had a Seller tell me, after an item had been lost in the US mail system for a couple weeks, “I gave you a great rating but not the shipping.” Well, the shipping rating is only for me, so it actually reflected on my performance not the US Postal Service. Rate, just like you would, if you were face to face with the Seller. Using feedback fairly will keep the marketplace trusted.

If you are still hesitant to shop online, or you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me directly. I hope you find what you are looking for, online!