Monday, July 20, 2009

Buying Furniture on eBay

I have a story to tell. What you're about to read includes real events...not even the names or dates have been changed to protect the innocent. (However, I did omit the name of the mean dude.) This story will teach you how to purchase furniture on eBay.

Step 1: I went to

Step 2: I entered the item I was looking for into the search field. In this case, I entered "table."

Step 3: I selected "used." (But I have also purchased new furniture on ebay with great success!)

You can click on the images to enlarge them.

Step 4: I entered my zipcode and chose a distance of 50 miles from my location, so I could pick it up rather than pay for shipping (which can add a huge cost).

Step 5: I checked the seller ratings, the pickup options, and the details about the item ("approximately 45 x 45"--exactly the size I needed). Then it all went wrong. My mistake involved the seller rating. I normally only bid on items where the seller has higher than 97% positive feedback AND has at least a few hundred ratings. In this case, the seller had 100% positive, but only 33 ratings. I thought since he lived locally, it would be okay.

Step 6: So I placed a bid.

Step 7: Then I confirmed the bid.

Step 8: I won the auction, immediately payed through Paypal. (You need to register with both eBay and Paypal.) Then I contacted the seller about pickup.

Step 9: When I picked it up the next day, the table seemed small, but figured I was stuck with a table smaller than I had planned. However, when I got home, I checked the listing, and it DID say "45 x 45." The week following I spent emailing back and forth with the seller trying to resolve the issue. I did end up getting my money back, but the resolution didn't satisfy me. Furthermore, some of the communication from the seller's end included R-rated language, so I left negative feedback.
The moral of the story: Give seller rating PLENTY of weight.

  • My story shouldn't scare you away from eBay. This is my first bad experience on eBay (out of over 50), and some of my favorite furniture purchases came from eBay. The point is this: Give plenty of weight to the feedback score. I should never have bid on an item from a seller so few feedback scores.
  • Speak up! My second mistake happened when I didn't speak up immediately about the table size.
  • Use Paypal. They offer buyer protection. If the seller hadn't agreed to give me my money back, I could have gone to paypal for resolution.

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