eBay Leaves A Lot to be Desired


I just completed several eBay transactions as a buyer and I have yet to be completely satisfied with any of the transactions that have been completed. In the majority of the cases, the problems were minor such as scratches or writing in the manuals which were not anticipated. In a couple of cases, I received calculators with dents and scratches even though I asked specifically if there were any visible defects to the calculators. It seems that the onus is on the buyer to make sure to ask enough questions to determine the quality of the product rather than the seller providing a reasonable description. I see this as a major problem because it is much easier for the seller to notice defects and report them than it is for the bidder to ask a lot of questions in the hope of confirming the quality or uncovering a problem. But by advertising anything negative about the product, the seller detracts potential bidders so the descriptions are positive and vague in nature.

Unfortunately, in the case where I questioned the seller about the apparent defects, the response was that the item was previously owned by someone else and that the seller did not know much about the product. (This did not answer my question.)

I have also noticed sellers using words like "unused", "like new," or "mint" inappropriately or do these words have a different meaning on eBay than common english usage. There is an ad on eBay for a mint calculator but there is a picture of the front of the calculator with dents visible on the plate below the display.

It's buyer beware when doing business on eBay. Unfortunately, eBay is the only readily available source of HP calculators at high prices.


Nick I too have been disappointed in a couple of my purchases on ebay!


Well, you should definitely be very careful when you see words like MINT. In fact, you could split hairs and say that "mint" and "MINT" have different suggestions. While "mint" might be just an oversight, when it is bolded or all caps, it's being emphasized.

But aside from that, you will almost always be disappointed when buying something mint, if you really expect it to be mint. Most will probably be nice but most will also not be mint.

Calculator buying tips

Quite a lot of people see one auction go for a lot and since they have the same model assume theirs is worth the same. I have even seen them point to the better auction and say stuff like, "goes for $xxx.xx" when theirs is not at all the same.


Thanks for the reference to your "Tips" page.

I thought my situation should have been more obvious than your "mint" example. Are dents or scratches on the calculator that are visible considered defects? Evidently, some sellers would not consider them defects and would not include them in their response. I would guess that in most instances, unless the dents impaired the functionality of the calculator, the seller would be able to get away with this kind of response.


If there are dents or significant scratches, they are flaws. But defect implies defective.

Just be careful that you are specific in your questions. Cosmetic and functionality are two important considerations. Ask about both the cosmetic as well as functional condition.

And you need to be specific about functionality. That is why I always specify things like "all segments in every LED work." Some people might think (or try to alibi) that a missing segment or so means functional. If it's not 100%, it should be disclosed.

Lying by omission is still a lie, if the seller knows and just expects to fall back on "you didn't ask."


the biggest problem with ebay is that there is always someone willing to pay way too much for something, and when you win - you're him.


That is a problem of the buyer. The buyer decides whether to bid or not. I was referring to the seller either not providing an accurate description of the quality of the merchandise or misrepresenting the quality of the merchandise.

In my original post, I said that the seller may not want to advertise negative aspects of the merchandise that they are selling. However, I have seen winning bids for poor quality calculators or no manuals higher than better quality with manual calculators so given the bidding behaviour of buyers, I don't think having negative aspects advertised would make much difference.


What else do you expect when buying shit on eBay?!?

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