Buying scrap gold on eBay is a roll of the dice. eBay shoppers have to make their choice without actually seeing and holding the merchandise. With diligence, luck and honest sellers, you can find some terrific bargains, or at least get your money's worth. However, the list of things that sour the eBay experience is long. Sellers just may be ignorant about what they have listed--or downright unscrupulous. Take a few steps before bidding or completing a "Buy It Now" scrap gold purchase to make sure you end up with what you think you're buying. (See References 1)
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Don't buy on impulse. What seems like a terrific price at first glance may not be. Read all the way through the auction listing. Look specifically for carat mark descriptions in the listing or in photos of the scrap gold offered. The larger the number, the greater the purity. Twenty-four carats is pure gold, while anything less than 10 carats cannot legally be sold as gold jewellery in the United States. (See References 2)
Do your "due diligence" on sellers. Start by checking their feedback profiles. eBay's feedback system allows buyers and sellers to share ratings and brief notes about their experiences with each other. Buyers can also submit "detailed seller ratings" to evaluate whether the item was accurately described, whether there was good communication with the seller, and reasonable shipping time and shipping charges. Feedback is subjective, but sellers whose "positive" rating is below 95 per cent probably deserve extra scrutiny. (See References 3)
Know how to search correctly for your items. Most scrap gold appears in eBay's "Jewelry & Watches" or "Coins & Paper Money" categories. Limit yourself to those and you can miss some real bargains. Use eBay's vigorous search engine to go through all categories at once. Click on "include title and description" to conduct a more thorough search.
Pay with a credit card. Most eBay transactions take place through PayPal, and many PayPal payments are transfers of cash from a buyer's PayPal or bank account. Credit card companies offer extra protection to buyers, which can be invaluable in getting your money back if you don't get the item you paid the seller to send you.
Check out your merchandise soon after it arrives. Examine the scrap gold you have purchased to make sure it is worth what you paid. Weigh it, verify carat marks and shoot photos of any problems with the purchase. If there is a problem, contact the seller immediately and begin the process of seeking a refund.
Know your post-sale options. Sellers operate through eBay, but they are not eBay employees and their reactions to complaints can be unpredictable. If they misrepresent items, either through ignorance or malice, and refuse refunds, buyers can file complaints through eBay, PayPal and their credit card companies to get their money back. Begin the complaint process immediately if the seller refuses to cooperate or simply does not respond to messages.
Tips and warnings
- The market value of scrap gold changes frequently. A simple Internet search for scrap gold price calculators will produce tools that help you calculate a fair price. (See References 4)
- If you read the auction description and do not find important answers, click on the link to ask the seller a question and send a message. If sellers do not answer, consider that a red flag.
- Beware dealing with sellers who have recently registered with eBay. It is unfair to say that "newbie" sellers are suspect, but it is true that dishonest sellers often re-register with eBay soon after being kicked off under another ID.
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