This Week I Love …

eBay.

I’m the first to admit that eBay can be daunting. It can also be frustrating if you use it to track down an item you’ve wanted for ages, and then miss out at the last moment. And, as I’m sure you’ve heard, there are risks. Some vendors are sketchy and dishonest, some listings can be misleading, and you do need to shop and bid carefully. (See this older post on how to shop eBay for my tips.)

But eBay is the land of shopping second chances. Did you miss out on a skirt or handbag that’s now sold out everywhere? Chances are someone’s selling it (or something incredibly similar for less) on eBay. Are you searching for a an item that is a generation or two behind what’s in mall stores now? Check eBay – some seller might be trying to offload that very thing. Are you in love with a designer’s style but unable to afford full price? Always, always, scour eBay before ponying up. Current season, slightly used items can generally be found if a designer is well known.

Here are just a few items that I’ve nabbed off eBay over the years:

Kate Spade handbag – around $100

Pleated silk Banana Republic skirt – around $10

Faryl Robin Suzu silk pumps – around $100

Marc by Marc Jacobs Turnlock handbag – around $150

Cropped denim jacket – around $10

Most of my mind-blowing bargains were thrifted in person, but many of my most-used items were nabbed for a FRACTION of retail on eBay. Again, it’s important to read descriptions and terms carefully, avoid bidding on items that you cannot afford, and. But if you’re smart and cautious, eBay can be an amazing shopping resource.

Are you an eBayer? How long have you been shopping the site? Had any awful experiences, and/or have any tips to share on avoiding disappointment or danger?

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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  • Herbee

    I’ve been shopping on Ebay for 10 years and it’s always the first place I check for anything! I think the most important thing on Ebay is communicating with the seller- ask questions and be polite and you’ll have a successful transaction.
    Dress sizes vary so much from designer to designer and I always ask if the seller can provide measurements to ensure the item will fit me. If I don’t get a reply, I move on-it’s gonna show up on Ebay again, trust me!
    I’ve scored a pair of vintage Fluevogs for $5.00, a new-with-tags Talbots dress (retail $189) for $10 and several pairs of upscale mens dress pants for under $30 (retail $100 a pair).
    Searching on Ebay takes time and patience, but it can be so worth it!

    • Herbee

      I forgot to mention the “Save Search” option on Ebay. Once you’ve selected all your criteria for, say, a dress- size, length, sleeve length, colour, price, whatever- you can choose “save search”, and name your search (ex. “blue dress”), and then you won’t have to type all that in next time you log into Ebay…just click on the “blue dress” search and it’s all there! Choose “newly listed” from the pull down menu and start searching!
      : )

      • Anne

        Thanks for the tip. I kind of troll around Ebay (not in the mean sense) but so far I’ve never had the confidence to pull the trigger. I really like the idea of saving my searches.

  • GRL

    I LOVE eBay! I bought everything from oriental rugs to shoelaces. To minimize auction losses I often use Auction Sniper. Check it out- http://www.auctionsniper.com/?who=O574WbrcBWenUjWS80jYFwgQn1tuITH7qluRzzMhhmA%3d

    • Anonymous

      Stolen property on Ebay is an enormous problem.

      Ebay spokespeople will always claim that they fully comply with law enforcement, but that has not been my experience. Stolen property of mine once appeared on Ebay. Even though my property could be identified through serial numbers and the police presented Ebay with a warrant, Ebay did nothing to prevent the sale, and openly antagonized the police detective. I would not do business with Ebay again since their response time encourages the sale of stolen goods. That was just too traumatic.

      A massive amount of stolen merchandise goes through Ebay. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51741-2005Jan5.html There is often no way for the normal person to tell whether you’d be bidding on stolen merchandise.

      You need only google “ebay fence stolen goods” to see how incredibly common it is to sell stolen goods on ebay. And this is only the people who get caught, mind you.

      Just steer clear, folks. There are plenty of other places where you know you’ll be doing honest business.

  • Kelly

    I have recently rediscovered e-bay. I had a love affair with Amazon that took me away for awhile, but I am back and ebay still loves me. 🙂 I went looking for boots last week and found the most beautiful pair of short navy blue leather cowboys in exactly my size! They are perfect and exactly what I wanted. I usually stick to the sales with the Buy It Now option, though, because it hurts my feelings so much to lose an auction!

  • Cleo

    Amusingly, I JUST deleted my account after receiving their new conditions (increase the way they can use personal data, mostly for marketing purporses, and – my pet peeve – including phone information). But I found a couple nice pieces of clothing there in the past few years!

  • I must confess I’m a die-hard eBayer! In fact, I haven’t set foot in a mall in years! I sell vintage, and I’ve found some absolutely *amazing* vintage finds for my store that are rare and one-of-kind – the search function is vitally important, because one you’ve saved a search, you can check it as often as you wish! I do this several times a day.

    However, I don’t sell on eBay anymore because their listing fees took *half* of my profits, and the “neg” system is so unfair – buyers can neg you, but you can no longer neg them if they’ve been difficult/dishonest. For anyone selling on eBay, I would encourage them to send all of their packages Priority Mail with a tracking number, so that you’re covered if the buyer claims they never received their merchandise.

    Yes, there are some caveats – when buying shoes/clothing, know thy measurements and ask a lot of questions before buying! I don’t know about stolen merchandise as far as clothing goes, but I’ve heard that’s very common with electronics!

    Sal – all of those eBay outfits you posted are absolutely stunning!!

  • Sally, I love the collection of your outfits in this post! I’ve had good experiences in my few ebay transactions, but it’s big learning. This post and your previous “how-to” are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated.

  • Bunny

    I would just add to check out the seller’s feedback and see what other customers say about them.

  • Please always remind people to snipe! http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2008/04/snipe-dammit/
    Tired of people complaining to me that they lost at the “last second.”

    eBay used to be much better, but there’s still some good vintage there.

  • lindsay

    For me, I’m always wary about buying clothes or shoes that I haven’t tried on yet. I like to see how it looks on me, how it feels, if the shoes pinch or rub, etc. I’ve also significantly changed sizes in the last 1-2 years and want to make sure that it looks as great on me as it does in my head. And vice versa – an iffy item on the hanger can be a stunning piece once I’ve got it on.

    So I’ll go for eBay for my new-used iPod and accessories, but probably not my clothing.

  • SamiJ

    I’ve been recently using eBay to buy clothing. I can’t say that I find it easy, or fun. Of the last 6 items I purchased, 1 was the wrong size (sz2 instead of 10), one turned out to be a petite10 (not regular as stated, a bummer for 5’9 me), one was missing a belt, and one from a smoke-free home reeked of methol cigarettes. I would say that eBay is great for people who are not afraid to speak up, but for me I don’t want the hassle of having to pay to mail back the wrong skirt, then wait for the right one. I don’t want to have to choose between disputing/returning pants or rehemming them. For me, thrifting is by far better for clothing. eBay is for accessories, and items that don’t require trying on.

  • SamiJ

    But I have been looking clothes at Bonanza lately — have any of your readers had good/bad experience with them?

  • I love ebay for shoes. I love ebay for Buy-It-Nows. I hate selling and I hate the auctions. I have never had sniping to work, someone even outbids me there. I don’t low-ball my offers either when I really want something.

    I’ve had mixed luck. I don’t really enjoy selling unless it’s a name brand, in very good condition, and I refuse to sell outside my own country any more due to many non-paying buyers from random countries (most likely bots or trolls).

    If you’re a very educated person about ebay, it’s a great source for discounted goods, but when it goes wrong it can really really suck.

  • I do a lot of Ebay. Mostly it’s for vintage, since I look for older (30s and early 40s) and medium sized instead of tiny clothes, and larger (9) shoes. I know my measurements well, and I’m used to shopping strictly from garment measurements. My latest deal is an early 40s suit that fits almost perfectly! But I’ve gotten modern things there as well.

    What I find Ebay great for is additional items similar to things I already have. For example, bras. I wear 32D, and there is only one remotely affordable store in my area that carries that size. I will pick up one that works off the clearance rack, but often it’s either plain and dull, or so crazy that it shows through 75% of my clothing. By searching for the maker and style name/number on ebay, however, I will end up with another well-fitting bra or two in a prettier or more useable color, and often for cheaper than the original.

    Another example is my current handbag search. I picked up a bright berry/purple/pink bag two years ago from Kohl’s. I LOVE the design, but the color is limiting, and I’m someone who prefers to use the same bag for a few months without moving around all my stuff. I went to ebay finally and discovered no fewer than 3 different colors in the same style, all of which I can use more often than the current one. The only problem is figuring out which one(s) to get!

  • ThirtiesLady

    I love Ebay for lots of things: finding shoes from brands that aren’t sold locally, or are too expensive for me to buy at full price, for one. It requires wading through a lot of irrelevant results sometimes, but there are deals to be found. (The “Save Search” feature is incredibly useful, as are the e-mail alerts, especially if you’re hunting for items that will only rarely turn up.)

    I’m wary of buying new clothing items on Ebay, however, because of the problem Anonymous brought up: stolen goods. And counterfeit goods. If a seller has tons of name-brand designer goods being sold on the cheap – or even the not-so-cheap – chances are they’re either stolen or faked. I try to look for sellers who seem to be cleaning out their closets: most of the shoes/clothes are in the same size range, photos appear to be of the actual item and not stock photos, the seller doesn’t have a storefront that implies they sell discounted items full-time, the seller doesn’t have hundreds of listings (or feedback for hundreds of listings, all for the same items), etc.

  • Elizabeth

    Honestly, I have given up eBay both buying and selling.

    After running into counterfeit goods, dishonest sellers, and the like, I would just prefer not to deal with all. Amazon is a good source, discount retailers like 6pm.com and the like. For the few extra dollars it costs me, I avoid counterfeit and stolen merchandise.

    I also stopped selling there some time ago. Their fees got outrageous for normal transactions, which makes no sense when bandwidth and server space has gotten cheaper with time. Also, dealing with buyers can be awful, especially when you get payment issues, people not reading auctions etc. And then demanding refunds or you get negative feedback and there is nothing you can do about it.

  • I have also recently cancelled my account after nine years – the fees are too high as a seller, and the dramas of buying from unscrupulous sellers were doing my head in! I prefer facebook shops now – no fees, easy communication and instant interaction with sellers/buyers.

    The floral dress and pink jacket are EXQUISITE Sal!

    Sarah xxx