Ebay and computers

18 Aug

I was surfing Ebay, looking for a computer bargain.  Yeah, I know it isn’t likely, Ebay isn’t what it used to be…but, it MIGHT happen.  Of course, an airplane flying overhead might drop a bag of money too.  It MIGHT happen…isn’t likely, but it just MIGHT happen.

Anyhow, after reading one graphic heavy page after another (what is up with that? Why is all the text done like photos?)  I discovered a trend.  Used netbooks are rarely sold with a power cord/adaptor, at least by the type of seller that is selling many used laptops/netbooks from within the USA.  What is up with that? I suddenly began having a vision of some professional pickpocket/netbook thief sneaking around and swiping one netbook after another to sell on Ebay.  And…what good is a laptop or netbook without a power cord?  I mean seriously…sooner or later, they ALL have to be recharged! 

Most of Ebay seemed populated with overpriced computers.  I know what I paid for the one I’m writing on right now, and it’s not a week old yet.  I was stupid…I should have bought two and sold one, which would have paid for both.  Not quite, but nearly.  This is a computer that was marketed primarily at Walmarts across the country as their cheapest model, and while they are fully functional, they ARE a stripped down one.  On Ebay, I found one after another…all considerably higher priced than if I bought it from Walmart.  In addition, I’m not sure about warranties, reliability, shipping, etc. when I make a purchase via Ebay. 

Okay, I’m suspicious.  I have bought computers off of Ebay and been perfectly happy with the purchase.  I have bought a lot of stuff off of Ebay over the past decade or more.  I’ve had some less-than-wonderful experiences with sellers, but I’ve never had a serious problem other than a piece of amber jewelry I bought that was supposedly “natural” and had been dyed in fact, but it wasn’t an expensive purchase, and it was cosmetically ok…just not exactly what I thought I was going to get.  I’ve had some really crappy packing and was fortunate enough to receive the item unscathed too.  Like the camera I bought and it was sent in a bubble envelope…that was just plain DUMB on the seller’s part.  Still, it made it…and it worked when it arrived, despite the odds. 

But I am a serious bargain shopper–I have to be.  I want to know exactly what I’m buying, and I want to get the best possible price.  I regard Ebay shopping as containing an element of risk, and the fewer ratings a seller has, as well as the percentage of negative or neutral feedback he/she has, affects the level of risk.  I’m not going to be willing to pay as much for an item purchased from someone without many ratings, and it drops even further when the seller’s rating is 0 too.  One of my most nerve wracking purchases came when I bought a heavy item from a seller with a 0 rating, and he discovered that his money was going to be held by PayPal for 6 weeks or some such thing.  He didn’t want me to give him a negative rating, but he did want me to wait until PayPal released his money.  Now I could sympathize with the guy, the shipping was a hefty chunk of the payment, but from my end of the deal, it wasn’t my fault that he had to wait to get his money–PayPal already had MY money.  It was a case of refund it or ship the item as far as I was concerned.  Inexperience had him ill prepared for the selling experience, and that made the purchase stressful for me.

So, there is only so much I’m going to pay for an item.  If I want to pay full retail, I can buy it through a company with experience and reputation for customer service.  I don’t understand how sellers on Ebay can consistently sell things that are being listed at higher than retail unless their goal is to sell to people who are clueless. 

If I can buy the item new at a local store, Amazon, or Overstock…why on earth would I pay the same price for a used one that’s missing a part on Ebay?  Or even a new one from a seller that may or may not send the actual item to me?  I surely would not pay MORE for the same item on Ebay!  And the shipping…getting bit by shipping once has me always watching that…I am convinced that some sellers use the shipping in lieu of setting a reserve price.  I’ve seen some ridiculous shipping fees on many listings, ranging from costume jewelry to electronics.  What good is getting the item for $.99 if you pay $9.99 for shipping and handling?   Or getting it for $10, only to pay $49.99 for s&h?  I’ve seen shipping as high as $79.99 for an item weighing under a pound.  I have a hard time believing that shipping and handling is worth that much, especially when the arrival is to be 10-14 business days after payment is received.

Ahhh the joys of shopping…I guess women in ancient Egypt were no different, trying to find good prices on garlic and goat cheese, right?  At least I don’t pay in pounds of salt!

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