Lots of people around the world use eBay to buy and sell bike components. They are all stolen or damaged right ? Wrong. Lots of people are genuinely selling items that they no longer need or have spare after upgrades or they having a clearout etc. the list goes on.
You should exercise some caution though when buying or selling any major components on eBay. I have been buying and selling bikes and components on eBay for almost 10 years now and bar one minor incident, I have never really had any real problems. Over this time I have saved 1,000’s of pounds, and also managed to recycle a lot of my own gear.
It is easy to fall into the trap of online auctions, you see something you want and can easily get carried away on how much you spend. Early on during the auction, ask yourself what is the item worth to you, how much do you want to spend, will there be another opportunity ?
Other than the obvious things to look out for such as sellers with either poor ratings or a low number of transactions, there are some other things to watch out for on Ebay:
> Item has incorrect title or pictures. Eg title says “gt frame” and the picture is a specialized. Avoid this like the plague ! Its very dubious and I always assume they are stolen.
> Item has a vague title or description. Eg title says “full suspension bike” and description does not give much more detail. If the picture is of a high end bike and the owner could be either too thick or lazy to write any more, however if you had paid money for the bike new, chances are the owner would know a lot more about it. Avoid !
> Item is a high end custom bike but not much detail re components. Eg. Seller describes bike in one sentence but yet the bike is£2000 and has lots of custom components. If they had built it personally, they would know precisely what they were selling and would make the effort to describe. Similarly sellers sometimes do the opposite and cut and paste a generic bike description from the manufacturer. In this case I normally ask a number of questions about the item to gauge the seller’s knowledge of the bike.
> Item is being sold for a friend. This is almost an excuse used as the seller claims they know nothing about the bike. Ebay accounts are not too hard to set up, why would the owner want to sell via someone else ?. Avoid !
Questions to ask seller could be more details, ask for more photographs (particularly if there is any damage described), serial number including a photograph – this often stops people dead in their tracks. If it all goes quiet after this question you have just avoided buying a potentially stolen bike.
In the UK the MET police are threatening to open up the database of stolen bikes to the other police forces in the UK. I cannot believe they don’t do this already in this modern age of the interweb !!
This is a good site in the UK for further advise and checking your frame numbers against.
Receiving something that is damaged
When your item has damage that is not described or dimensions or something else that is not precisely as described you have a right to get this sorted. Most sellers want to keep their reputation, and the power in eBay disputes is heavily on the side of the buyer. I have had money given back after making a fuss about dented wheels, steerer tubes that were described with different dimensions etc. Basically the description should be 100% accurate
The most important thing to remember is be honest. If the item has a scratch, mention it. If it could do with a service, mention it. Spell out every single detail, colour, size, used for….., etc. This will avoid the dumb questions and hopefully give the buyer some faith that you are honest and know what you are doing.
Happy eBaying 🙂