If you’re an astute shopper, you probably have no problem turning to eBay when there are no other options on the table. Heck, you probably don’t mind turning to eBay first so you can find bargains on used and new items before you ever try to find an item available on retail.
But is there any merchandise that you will always want to buy new – like musical instruments?
The prospect of buying a used musical instrument isn’t always an attractive one – particularly if you play an instrument that requires contact with your lips. But if you put in some time to research buying a used musical instrument of your specific variety, you should arrive at one particular conclusion: to buy used or not to buy used.
If you do decide that you can buy a used instrument on eBay, here are some tips to guide you along the way.
1. Check seller feedback religiously. The first major indicator of whether or not you’ll have a successful interaction on eBay is simple: seller feedback. When someone is selling a product, they are forced to display their seller feedback – which is like checking a particular seller’s recommendation. You’ll see references, recommendations, and negative views in many cases: one good rule of thumb is to stick to someone who has a very high feedback rating, somewhere in the upper 90%.
The reason to check for this is because each seller can only earn good feedback with a relatively solid interaction with a buyer. Remember one more thing: it’s important to check the amount of feedback this seller has received, as well. It’s not exactly impressive to have 100% positive feedback when there’s only one review. But if a seller has 1,000 reviews with a 98% positive feedback rating, then you know you’re working with someone with a solid reputation.
2. Place items on your watch list before you buy them. Buying on eBay can mean great prices, but it’s easy to post a “bid” for your desired object up front and forget about the rest. But if you set the item to your “watch” list instead, you might not inspire anyone else to compete with you – you may actually find that there are only a few bids by the time the product is nearing its sale deadline. This is a great time to place a bid because you give your fellow bidders less time to beat your price. Many times, you can win an auction by being the only one to bid.
3. Consider the instrument you’re buying. There are a lot of questions to ask (see tip #4), but most of them center around the type of instrument you’re buying. If you’re buying an electronic keyboard, for example, you’ll probably ask very different questions than if you’re only buying a bass kick.
4. Ask the seller a lot of questions. Before you ask questions, be sure to read the description of the instrument – you don’t want to ask the seller something that they’ve already worked to answer. But if you still can’t find an answer to your question, then it’s a good idea to go ahead and ask the seller your question directly. Don’t be afraid to ask about the condition of the product, either. It’s your money that’s on the line here.
5. Bid low. Remember: you came to eBay to get a low price on your musical instrument. You might think that this one product is once-in-a-lifetime, but you never know when a similar deal might show up. So don’t be willing to go past a certain (low) price for what you’re buying.
If you want more tips on buying instruments on eBay, check out this eBay Forum Post that covers the topic in greater detail.