What far too many users fail to realize is that when something is purchased via an Internet auction, it is not bought from the auction house (say eBay or Amazon) but from an individual or company. The auction site - acting as a go-between - merely provides a forum where individuals can trade with one another, and it usually adopts - and prominently displays - a firm policy of washing their hands of legal responsibility for any loss suffered from using their service.
Once the bidding has concluded the payment for and delivery of the goods bought and sold is negotiated between the purchaser and seller. If the item is not delivered after it is paid for or is not what was represented on the auction site, the auction house will not refund any money. It is up to the buyer to approach the seller to negotiate a fair and proper settlement. And if the buyer and seller reside in different countries, then the game of cat and mouse begins where the buyer is running after the seller. In such cases, legal matters also can be interpreted differently as the jurisdiction area might differ.
Therefore, keep the following in mind when dealing with on-line auctions, or whenever you buy anything online:
Understand as much as possible about how the auction works.
Find out what actions the web site/company takes if a problem occurs.
Learn as much as possible about the seller apart from an e-mail address.
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Use Search Engines, ask references, clarify from partners of the seller, etc.
Examine the feedback on the seller. From previous customers or testimonials or from known sources.
Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from you and where he/she is asking to send the payment.
Make sure the online payment system is SSL certified.
Look out for the settlement conditions if a problem occurs with the auction transaction. Carefully read Conditions of Use and Privacy Notice.
Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and the warranty conditions.
Find out if shipping and delivery are included in the auction price.
Never give out your Social Security Number to the seller.
Internet has become the online shopping place for many. No doubt that it offers options in abundance, but one needs to be careful while dealing with online auctions to have a smooth and hassle free shopping experience.