Buying on eBay?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by ErinGoBragh, Apr 14, 2005.

  1. ErinGoBragh macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2005
    Carrboro, NC
    Anyone ever bought a Mac on eBay? I'm looking at an iBook that's new in the box--does that mean the warranty is still good, or not necessarily?

    I'm a switcher, and not sure how the Mac warranty works, so hopefully someone here can help me out!

    Thanks so much,

  2. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    Well here in Australia the iBooks come with a one year warranty but this can be increased to three years with an Applecare purchase. Whether it is in the box or not is irrelevant though. What are the specs of the machine?
  3. ErinGoBragh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2005
    Carrboro, NC
    14", 1.33 Ghz, 768 MB, 60 GB, Combo drive, AE

    Allegedly in the box, never used.
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Two things to watch out for are grey market computers and scammers. The former means that you will get a computer, but for instance, it was bought in a foreign country and its warranty will not be honored in your country. I don't know if this is an issue with Apple, because Apple notebook warranties are supposedly international. But it can be an issue sometimes. For instance, there used to be a small industry importing used cars from Canada into the US, because of lower vehicle costs in Canada (if I have the direction right?), but most car companies do not currently honor the warranty on a car originally purchased in Canada for a US citizen owner in the US. So the same thing can happen with computer products....

    The latter means, of course, that the person doesn't intend to send you a computer at all. The big question is why someone would be selling a new, in box iBook on eBay....wherever they got it, it should be returnable unless it was built to order. And why would someone buy built-to-order and then decide they didn't want it before they even opened it?
  5. raddsigns macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2004
    I personally bought my PowerMac on eBay, as well as my wife's iBook. I won't even deal with a person if they have less than 100% feedback on at least 50 transactions, and I like them to be an eBay member for at least 2 years.

    For me it depends on their selling history and how they respond to personal messages about the item.

    Luckily I've not gotten burnt yet, but I've had a couple of really great sellers. Both items had AppleCare and before I even received the item from them they had transferred the AppleCare warranty to me and all was taken care of.

    I don't think there is an end all answer to your question, other than don't be afraid to be overly careful and sceptical about the seller - I do know that there are lots of scammers on eBay so be careful.
  6. JzzTrump22 macrumors 65816

    Apr 13, 2004
    New York
    Ebay is safe, you just have to be aware of who your buying from. Don't buy from people with less then 95% positive feedback. Also make sure your buying from somone with a decent abount of feedback, not someone who just started selling.
  7. ldburroughs macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2005
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I bought my iBook from a person through eBay. Here are a few things I learned during this process that may be helpful to you:

    1. Do not bother with ANY second chance offers. It's not worth being scammed and there are plenty of other legit items to bid on so be patient.
    2. Do not agree to pay via ANY wiring service no matter who you are dealing with. Once you wire the funds they are gone. You cannot reverse a wire transaction despite what others may tell you.
    3. Finally, if it looks too good to be true, it is! You will pay a reasonable price for a decent item. Communicate with the seller and do this only through eBay's system. Do not let them e-mail you directly and do not respond with your own e-mail address. This helps keep things on the up and up.

    It can be done and there are many honest sellers. All of the advice in the previous posts certainly applies as well. Good luck and best wishes. Just remember to be patient and fight the impulse urge that will rear its head while you are bidding.
  8. ErinGoBragh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2005
    Carrboro, NC
    Thanks, folks. Based on your advice, I let the particular machine I was looking at go. I think I'll keep an eye on eBay, but it might be hard to get anything that's worth the risk, especially since I get the educational discount!

    I'm so glad I found this community!

    Thanks again,

  9. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Further thoughts:

    Look at the seller's feedback history. If they have a three year, +50 rating selling needlework supplies, and all of a sudden they have three "new" computers, an LCD TV and a DV camcorder on auction, then this account has been hijacked.

    Here is my fraud checklist any three of the below, probably you don't want to take the chance, 6 or more, call the cops:

    Preapproved bidders only (so they can harvest emails and sell to multiple suckers off-ebay),
    "New", high end product,
    No reserve or "Buy it now" far below wholesale on high end product,
    Non-recoverable payment methods only (wire, certified, money order),
    Individual selling multiple "new" products,
    No history of selling this type (hijacked acct),
    Zero-feedback, cloaked or new account,
    No personal info, Copy and paste graphics and text (as in the only details were copied from Apple's site),
    Missing or absurd location,
    Free shipping (typical of "offshore supplier/Western Union" type scams)
    Country of product doesn't match account registration country of seller,
    Selling product that is not shipping yet,
    Selling new product only available from authorized dealers,
    Short auction (to sell before eBay responds to complaints),
    Solicits direct contact by email (to sell off-eBay - usually an anonymous, throwaway email account),
    Says not to use the eBay "ask Seller a Question" link because of some problem (sure sign of a hijacked account),
    Clone of another auction from a different seller (same text, graphics and/or offer)
  10. DavidLeblond macrumors 68020


    Jan 6, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    I've said this several times, but if you ever get to a point where you need to post a message on the forum asking if an auction is a scam or not, save your time and just assume its a scam. ;)
  11. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I would agree with most of the signs on your list but the above ones (less the "buy it now") may not necessarily be signs of fraud. Particularly the "no reserve" bit. I never put reserves on my auctions, and I tend not to bid on auctions that set reserves. (If you wanted a minimum amount, why not set that as the minimum bid? Why the pretense?) I've never regretted not having a reserve, if it's something people want, people will buy it and drive the price up to proper market value.

    As for wanting things like a certified cheque or money order, weil, wouldn't you? I would not trust PayPal for $2000 PowerMacs. Frankly, I simply wouldn't sell an item that big on eBay. I'd sell it locally using, meet the seller in person and accept a cert. cheque.

    My personal "trick" to being a good eBay seller is to be as descriptive as possible in my descriptions. I don't just copy specs (although I do copy specs), I also talk about my particular unit. Any problems, why I'm selling, what I've done with it, how great it was, etc. And I always take my own pictures, I don't use stock photos.* I figure the more I talk it up, the more confident my bidders are about the authenticity of the auction, as they know exactly what they're going to get. The uncertainty is far reduced since I probably covered it in my description. It works. I am always very satisfied with the bid prices I get for my stuff :)

    *Well, OK, I use stock photos for DVDs and video games and simple little things that people wouldn't care about. But big items, electronics, software, I take all my own pictures.
  12. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Yes, you're right, my point was auctions for specifically new, high end product where the starting bid was $1 and there was no reserve -- and in combination with 2 - 5 other of the indicators.

    Yup, that's your perogative as a seller. But PayPal does give a measure of protection to both the buyer and seller.

    If a seller posts an auction for an expensive item, and my only option is to send non-recoverable, non-traceable money in advance of shipping, I'm not gonna play. And in combination with other indicators, non-recoverable-payment-only is the clincher for a high-risk auction.

    Good plan on the "personalize the sale" policy. People want to deal with people.

    Once I sent a seller my name and address and phone for shipping purposes, and asked that he reciprocate with his name and address too, so I knew who I was dealing with. He got all huffy about it. Gotta wonder.

    A great feedback record really means little, too; I bought a bunch of CDs from a store in New York that had been there for 20 years or more and had, like, +1600 feedback. They closed down the next week, but cleaned out the Paypal account and kept all the money from their last three weeks of sales, without shipping any goods. Even if you know their name, phone and address, if the phone is a cellular, and the address is a mail drop, you're SOL.
  13. SDLSteve macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2004
    I have sold three computers on ebay in the past three years and bought one new one. The three (three weeks ago a G4 867) were all used and were based upon upgrading to a newer version. All three transactions have been wonderful and I continue to have a 100% positive feedback on ebay (187 with an equal mix of buying and selling.

    I agree that you have to do a lot of research and I would personally not buy a new apple on ebay. I have never been scammed and have prided myself on being an informed person on ebay but it changed when I purchased the G4 867 with 17 inch monitor in October of 2001. A company was selling the machines and had recent positive feedback on similar machines. I waited about a month to watch the feedback as they were selling package deals with powermac and monitors at some great prices and decided it was legitimate.

    The auction said it would take approximately 15 business days to ship and I waited patiently. Around Thanksgiving, I started to pitch a fuss and after my ultimatum was not met, I contacted both the credit card company and paypal and asked for my money back. I was issued a credit on my account.

    Somewhere around the first or second week of december, I received a 17 inch apple lcd monitor and the seller asked for the full payment in return. I declined as the monitor was worthless without the computer. I offered to ship it back as long as they provided for the cost of shipping. They said they would ship the computer the following week.

    The week before Christmas, I received the computer but not the extra RAM or software that was included in the auction. Again, the seller asked for full payment and I returned emails stating the auction was incomplete that I would be happy to pay a reduced price or wait until I had everything complete. I never heard for the seller again.

    Come to find out, the seller was arrested in early January for bilking people out of approximately 750,000 dollars for merchandise they never received. The seller is currently serving a prison term.

    I was fortunate to receive a computer from the seller but I contacted my attorney and inquired as to my legal obligations ( I basically recieved a free computer). I was told that as long as the auction had not been fulfilled I was under no obligations to pay. I still have all of the original emails sent back and forth as well as a copy of the auction in case something is ever said although three years later, I'm pretty sure it won't.

    Again, I was fortunate, most people lost thousands of dollars.

    If in doubt, don't do it.
  14. barthrh macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2005
    My eBay tale of woe

    Most people endorse eBay, and for some stupid reason, I still do SOMEWHAT.

    I purchased a 15" Powerbook from a Platinum Powerseller with 20,000 transactions, 99% positive. Platimum sellers do a minimum of $150k per month. She had all of the endorsements: id verified, trust-whatever, and so on.

    The deal is a "pre-order". You buy, they must ship within 30 days. You get a deal because they sell a block of them and then order in buld eBay rules state that they MUST ship in 30 days.

    After 30 days, I received an email saying that the order was not ready, but that I could hang in there or request a refund. I agreed to wait. The delay extended, and I did not press because new PBooks (the alum 15) were coming *soon* (aren't they always... lesson #2).

    I kept in close contact. The seller's home address was on the site, I spoke to her on a few occasions over the phone. Great person, it seemed. Then one day, I could not reach her. Her account on eBay was gone. eBay (hiding behind privacy) never told me what was happening. What happened ( I found on a message board) was that Indiana state troopers raided her home and siezed all equipment. From that moment on, I was doomed -- no one will ever talk to a customer after that!

    What happened? No one knows for sure. The FBI and Indiana state attorney general are both investigating. The latter has a summary judgement and the former says that one day restitution will be paid. My guess: She took an order for $150k of high end Canon digital video cams. The buyer is a bit of a squeaky wheel ("by the power of God I will have revenge" and other amusing quotes). I think that he got impatient and called the cops / attorney general on her. Once the siezure happened (even though she got it back eventually), it was all over.

    So, there are no guarantees. High feedback means zip. The ONLY safe recourse is Escrow. Of course, you have to use a real escrow like, because the phony escrow scam is all over the place. COD would work too, but you'd have to open the box and check it before paying.

    Unless you're willing to lose your money, don't pay unless you see it.
  15. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    I bought a PowerMac on Ebay. It was perfect. I usually say- make sure they have photos of the computer they took themselves, not one they pulled from the web.
  16. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    This is why I'm wary of making high-valued transactions on eBay. It's not just the buyer who worries that he will be scammed. You could be the most honest eBay seller in the world (i.e. me ;) ) and deal with an unscrupulous buyer and it'll all be over. I've had a few such incidents which were thankfully minor.

    You get the wierd ones, like the time I tried to buy a laptop and mailed him a cheque, twice... both letters got bounced back to me "addressee unknown". He, meanwhile, kept asking where the money was. Dude, maybe if you give me a REAL address...

    Then the guy who absolutely insisted that he had sent the money order to pay for the DVD he won, and was strangely never respondent to emails... until I threatened to report him to eBay, he responded to THAT email within about 10 minutes. Never did get the payment. I decided "to hell with this guy" and I mailed him his DVD anyway. I figured a $10 loss was better than the waste of time this was turning out to be.

    Then the guy who bid on some computer stuff but never responded to any of my emails for three weeks of trying. I got a vague phone call from his friend/coworker while I was busy driving downtown, and was told to give him a call later. I never did get a chance to call him back (maybe that was my bad) but after all those weeks of trying to reach him by email I gave up. That's how I got my first (and only) retaliatory negative feedback.

    Then the guy who bid on a video mixer I sold, and paid by PayPal. A week after I shipped it he sent me an email saying he received it, it worked great, thanks a lot, and left positive feedback. Two months later I got an email from PayPal saying they were trying to settle a dispute in which he was trying to get his money back. "Item not as described", he claimed. Luckily PayPal said that since it had been past their 45-day resolution period, I was under no obligation to return his money and they considered the case closed. Me being a nice guy I called him up and asked "what gives?" and he gave me this sob story of how it had never worked and it was broken from the day I sent it to him and he sent it to a repair shop in Texas that quoted him $400 in repairs and oh, if he had only known this would happen he would have bought a new one on the first place.... I gave him a $50 refund as a gesture of goodwill, and we left it at that. He may well have been telling the truth, but it seemed real suspicious to me.

    My nightmare scenario is selling an expensive item and getting scammed for the payment after it's been sent. All a buyer has to do is dispute something and PayPal seems very happy to give him his money back. And as a Canadian seller I am frequently and explicitly NOT eligible for their "seller protection services"...
  17. barthrh macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2005
    Well, in my case I don't think that this was the buyer's fault. The seller got greedy and by taking such a large order, bit off more than she could chew and screwed up. But I do think that the one buyer, by forcing the law into it, created a problem for everyone. I don't doubt that the day before the police got involved I could have had a refund. But now, I have to wait with everyone else for "restitution".
  18. ReanimationLP macrumors 68030


    Jan 8, 2005
    On the moon.
    Check out the seller first before dropping your money. You may wanna use so you can inspect it before payment. I've bought both my G3 and my G4 off of eBay with stellar results in both. ^-^

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