Whether you're new to eBay or an old pro, here is a checklist on how to buy a ham radio on eBay.
1) Know the seller. Look at the seller's history including their feedback rating and length of time on eBay. Click on the feedback number and read some of the comments left by other eBayers. Negitive feedback can be a red flag. Also click on the feedback left for others. You might see a naughty or nice seller.
2) Look closely at photos. It is much easier to decide on buying an item if the seller includes one or more good photos. Look closely and if the item doesn't look quite right then email the seller for more photos or clarification on the condition.
3) Ask questions. If the listing omits information that is important to you, ask the seller through eBay's email system. If the seller responds soon that's good. If they don't, buyer beware!
4) What's the shipping cost? Are you willing to write a blank check to a stranger? That's what you are doing if you use the Buy-It-Now button or win an auction without knowing the shipping cost in advance. If the shipping cost is not posted or able to be calculated within the listing, ask the seller to commit on what your cost will be.
5) Beware of the AS-IS Listing. Many sellers of ham radio equipment use the silly and pervasive statement "as with all electronics sold on eBay this is being sold as-is" nonsense. Then they might use another useless phrase "it's guaranteed not to be DOA". First, I have never found any rule on eBay that states all electronics have to be sold as-is. Furthermore, just what does "Not DOA" mean? It could mean that only a dial light comes on! Does it work right or not? If the seller does not say so in the listing, ask him.
6) Can you return it? A return policy says a lot about a seller. Look for the seller's return policy in the listing. If it says there are no returns then expect to get stuck with it if it is not up to par.
7) How much should I pay? Do a search of the item you are looking for under active items. Check prices along with the exact items included in the auction. Also compare shipping costs and the condition of the item(s). Do a completed search and see what comparable items sold for. Condtion and return policy influence the value.
8) Who owned it, owns it now. Did the item come from the son of a dead ham whose brother-in-law gave it to a friend of a friend to sell? Does the listing say the ham took great care of all of his gear and there can't be anything wrong with it? Or another silly and worthless statement that it worked great the last time it was on! Or "It worked great but I have no way of testing it". If those listings don't have a return policy you should be careful what you pay for the item.
9) Don't get ripped-off. Is there a Buy-It-Now button with a price that is too good to be true? First, be very careful of paying too little. There is a higher chance that something is not right. Second, don't fall for those short time listings that offer a too-good-to be true price if you will just contact the seller via the email link in the body of the listing. Use the eBay message system so both you and eBay will have a record of the message sent. DON'T PAY VIA WESTERN UNION OR MONEYGRAM. You will never see your item or your money again.
10) Trust your gut feeling. Finally, trust your gut feeling on whether to buy the item or not.
Best Regards, Roger, N7YV.
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