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For Seniors: How to Know What to Look For in an eBay Item Description

All eBay listings include an item description, which lists details about the item being sold. If you know what to look for, the eBay item description gives you a clear idea about whether this is an item you want to buy.

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The eBay item description is the most critical item on the item page. Read it carefully; pay very close attention to what is, and isn’t, written. You can find clues in the item description about how the seller does business. You can often judge a seller by her item description:

  • Well-crafted, succinct, and grammatically correct descriptions generally mean a seller is someone who planned and executed the listing with care. Posting a good listing takes time and effort.

  • If the description has huge lapses in grammar, convoluted sentences, and misspellings, be careful. Some sellers aren’t serious about selling and may be out to sell junk for a quick buck. Before you deal with this seller, make sure that you feel comfortable that she is selling on eBay for the long term.

Read the item description carefully. A detailed item description should provide answers to general questions such as the following:

  • Is the item new or used? Is it a first edition or a reprint? An original or a reissue?

  • What condition is it in? Is it broken, scratched, flawed, or mint?

  • Is the item in its original packaging? Does it still have the original tags?

  • Is the item under warranty?

  • Are delays in delivery likely? If so, what sort and how long?

  • Does the seller guarantee you a refund if the item is broken or doesn’t work upon delivery?

  • Is this item the genuine article or a reproduction — and if it’s the real deal, does the seller have papers or labels certifying its authenticity?

  • Who pays the shipping costs — you or the seller? While some sellers provide free shipping, most expect the buyer to pay for shipping. Be sure you factor in the cost of shipping when you consider how much you’re willing to bid.

  • How large is the item and how much does it weigh? This information is important, not only because that life-size fiberglass whale may not fit in your garage, but because size affects shipping costs.

The best eBay sellers show several photos of their items. If additional pictures are available further down the page, take a good look. If a picture is available, is it clear enough that you can see any flaws? You can always ask the seller to e-mail you a picture taken from another angle.

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