Protecting Yourself During eBay Transactions

We have been getting a lot of questions — “how safe is it to buy from unauthorized dealers?”. In short, we think it’s quite safe if you rely on platforms like eBay when buying from an unauthorized dealer as they have some of the best buyer protection around.

This post recaps some of the protection available via eBay and gives some tips on how to protect yourself.

Note: Purchases at unauthorized dealers may not have Canon USA warranty, depending on if it’s US model or Grey Market — you can read our article about that separate topic.

Many buyers don’t realize a seller is responsible for every detail in their listing. This includes the table of information in the “Item specifics” at the top of the listing, as well as any information the seller has added to the listing description.

That means that if the seller lists a certain accessory, states that their camera is US model or grey market, that their camera is brand new, or that it includes a warranty card, it becomes part of the seller’s obligation. Should the seller fail to deliver on this obligation, you will easily win an “Item Not As Described” case.

In addition to tangibles about the product, the obligation also includes any shipping or handling times mentioned on the listing. If they fail to deliver on time, you can always cancel and/or return for a full refund as part of an “Item Not As Described” case.

If your item doesn’t arrive exactly as described, document it and contact the seller immediately. Most sellers are eager to avoid disputes and cases and will likely offer a full refund if you return your purchase. Many sellers will also offer a pre-paid shipping return label, if you ask. For small issues that you can live with, some sellers may offer a credit or other incentive for keeping the purchase as-is.

Don’t forget to open a dispute. You must open a dispute case through the eBay Resolution Center within 45 days of sending payment. Even if you’re already working with the seller over messages, be sure to open a dispute case before your 45 days are up. If you provide proof that the item was truly not as described, eBay will very likely decide in your favor.

How about those “restock fees” on the listing? If you are returning via an “Item Not As Described” dispute, you are entitled to a full refund of your purchase price and shipping. In other cases, please ensure the store acknowledges (in writing) that they are giving you a full refund with no restock fees charged.

Be sure to fund your PayPal payment with a credit card. Although opening a dispute with your credit card provider should be a last resort (as it will likely suspend your PayPal and/or eBay account), we recommend always funding a purchase with a credit card as a final line of defense.

Don’t forget to use common sense. Even though you will likely get your money back in the unlikely event of a scam, save yourself the hassle and be sure to check the seller’s reputation first. A T-shirt seller suddenly selling $3000 cameras is likely a hacked account. Similarly, never work with a seller who invites you to contact them outside the eBay system, as this bypasses your buyer protection.

Don’t be afraid to leave feedback. Most sellers try very hard to maintain their positive ratings, so negative feedback will often get your issue escalated and/or resolved.

If any part of this still scares you… perhaps buying from an unauthorized dealer is not for you. Some readers are happy to save a few hundred dollars by buying from an unauthorized dealer, but others may want the safety and security of buying from an Canon authorized dealer. For those readers we do have a street prices program to help with getting good prices from Canon authorized dealers, even with Canon strictly enforcing their MAP.

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11 comments on “Protecting Yourself During eBay Transactions

  1. Sammy
    June 5, 2014 at 12:00 am EDT

    I have been on ebay since 1998 from the no scam days of sending money order and cash by mail. Purchased and sold a lot of items.
    Never lost money on any transaction. Ebay and paypal always protected me. Use your credit card so you have an additional later of charge back protection from your credit card company.

    I have had buyers and sellers offing me to purchase out of eBay to save on final value fees. Did transaction out of eBay via PayPal and never had any problem.

    The only time I have seen buyers loosing a not as described case is if they purposely look for scam listings to get external Cashback like Mr rebates and ebates back in the ebay Cashback days (love bing).
    After 6 not as described cases ebay determined that he was working with the seller and suspended all his ebay and paypal accounts. He has never used ebay or paypal since.
    It was fun back then, I have actually made over $60k just from rebates from eBay using Mr rebates, ebates, ebay bucks and bing cashback.
    Best time ever…

    Back to topic, ebay is the best market place I have ever come across in terms of discounted products and making money. Ebay actually made it possible for me to buy a house in socal.

  2. June 5, 2014 at 10:23 pm EDT

    I have bought from unauthorized dealers and never a problem. Some – and CPW will call them out by name – are extra good at customer relations. I recently bought a 5D mk III from allnewshop and their communication / transaction was first rate. The price was incredibly good.

    1. kooliebwoy
      June 9, 2014 at 8:06 pm EDT

      I must agree with this one..i recently purchased a 5d mkIII from them also and their communication was excellent in getting my order processed despite a hiccup from my end

  3. Beefer
    June 8, 2014 at 1:46 pm EDT

    I too have been an eBay member for a long time (1999), and have bought and sold tons. One thing I would add to the section about not being afraid to leave feedback is that if you are in a dispute, NEVER mention anything about feedback in the emails to the seller or buyer, especially something about negative feedback. If you even bring feedback into the dispute discussions, eBay will look at it as a threat, and if you later do leave negative feedback, the seller can, and most likely will, have it removed. If you want to leave appropriate negative feedback, wait until everything is completed, then leave feedback (good or bad) that is warranted.

    Otherwise, very good article.

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