Survival tips for buying electronic parts on eBay

Buying electronic parts on eBay is not as simple as it seems. Most of the time you get what you ordered, sometimes not. Here is a list of my own survival rules I discovered over the past few years.

not so good ebay feedback numbers

Always search using “But It Now”. Bidding on some already cheap resistors is pointless, most of the time you end up paying more because there are other bidders and you want to have it anyway and bid too high.

Search “Worldwide”. Parts from your own country can be more pricey than searching Worldwide. However, sometimes the best deal comes from your own country.

Search on multiples of one part. Use keywords like 10, 25, 50, 100, 500 of 1000. Most of the time searching for 25, 50 or 100 yields the best deal.

Sort on “Price + shipping”. The cheapest deal is on top of the search results.

Getting too many unrelated cheap search results? Use the Price search function and put in an amount that is higher than all the unrelated stuff.

Chinese sellers often have the cheapest deal.

Finding cheap local deals? Check where the seller is situated. Most of the times it is a Chinese seller. Also check the feedback, other buyers will probably tell the same thing as you discovered.
Do not buy anything blindly from Chinese sellers. For most parts it is safe, but be very cautious about buying any popular semiconductors or cheap batteries. Buy these locally from you wholesaler.

Feedback, read it! Read all the negative feedback and some positive feedback. They indicate if you can trust the seller, however, not all negative feedback is true. Some buyers just want to whine and can be safely ignored.

Buying stuff from (Chinese) sellers with low amounts can be dangerous. Consider buying from another seller which has more than 10,000 feedback.

Bought a winner part and want to buy more? Expect another part. It will be somewhat different. It does not matter for resistors, but you can image the buying LEDs for the second time they can be just a little different in color and intensity. Buy the critical parts from major brands who can guarantee the quality.

Always use Paypal to pay for objects. If the seller does not deliver, you can open a case and get your money back. Only use this as a last resort! Sellers (excluding incidents) want to send you what you bought, contact them first. If after resending the object you also get the first one, be honest and pay for both.

Be a good eBayer and give constructive feedback to the seller. Other buyers will thank you.
Get feedback from the seller. It will make you more trustworthy. However, I never heard of a case the a buyer with no feedback was denied to buy an object.

Is the objects price to good to be true? It is! Don’t buy it.

Want to buy something you can only bid for? Think about a realistic maximum price and bid no higher than that.

You can win an auction by bidding the maximum price in the last 5 seconds.
Buy only new electronic parts. Consider not buying second hand parts.

Do not let auctions with 5 minutes left blind you by bidding without thinking. There will always be someone else with the same parts for just about the same price.

If something does not check out completely with the object description then do not buy it. You can ask for clarification from the seller, maybe the wrong description was put on the object.

But remember, just have fun buying parts and keeping your electronics hobby fun! It did for me.

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