Is Your Auction Instrument a Lemon?Buying on eBay is an extremely simple affair. Simply enter your credit card and other personal info and make a bid on anything from a band instrument to a full sized car. While millions of transactions have taken place over the years on eBay, the one caveat that has always remained is that you are often buying something based solely on photographs that may or may not show you the whole story. 


Take for example the story of a family buying a trumpet on eBay. They had looked in the local music stores and garage sales and thought they could do better by searching eBay and buying their son's new trumpet through a online seller. They made their bid, and about a week later the trumpet arrived. Delighted, the boy took the trumpet in to his band director for his next lesson. The band director listened to the boy play for a bit, then asked him to stop and allow him to examine the instrument. Something just didn't sound right.

Sure enough, the instrument bought via eBay turned out to be a lemon. The photos had not shown the fact that the instrument was suffering from severe red rot (a corrosion of the metal). The instrument literally had a hole eaten through the instrument from the inside out. There was no recourse for the family, and the wound up spending more on the cost of the instrument plus repairs than it would have cost to purchase the same instrument from the local music store in the first place.

How could this have been avoided?

If you are going to buy on eBay make sure to follow these rules:

  1. Buy from highly rated sellers. Perferably sellers with positive ratings above 100. Check their feedback and watch for comments from unsatisfied customers. Remember, no matter how good a seller is there will always be a few disgruntled customers. If the eBay feedback shows more than a few recent negative comments then stay away.

  2. Ask about using escrow. In escrow, your payment is left with a third party until you receive the item, check it, and verify that it is what you ordered and/or not broken or damaged beyond what the advertisement revealed.

  3. Pay with a credit card or through PayPal. NEVER send cash. Ebay has a buyer protection program , and most credit card companies provide some degree of protection as well.

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