Friday, August 31, 2007

Ebay for the Cheap & Nervous

Ah, Ebay! I love it, but I'm scared to use it.

So I browse.

But over the years, I've never bought anything that cost me more than $20. Somehow, I just can't get used to the idea of trusting some stranger to send me quality merchandise. Maybe it's the distances involved, because I do use Craigslist on a regular basis. (I especially love their free listings--check them out on Sundays to find all the stuff that didn't sell at the Saturday garage sales. I've gotten bookcases, dressers, and prom dresses, all for free.)

Back to Ebay--what I buy most often are magazine subscriptions and phone cards.

I subscribe to Oprah, Vanity Fair and Money. If I could find Real Simple (which could more accurately be titled Real Expensive) at my price, I would get that one, too. My price for any subscription, however, is $10 max.

In the five years or so that I've been purchasing magazine subscriptions from Ebay, I've been burned twice. It's easy enough for a seller to do since it usually takes around 60 days for the subscription to begin--and 60 days is too long to get any money back even if you pay through Paypal, which I do. In both cases, I used sellers with strong reputations and positive feedback. In both cases, I was one of many people scammed and it happened at Christmas time, apparently one of the more dangerous times to buy in terms of potential fraud.

Since we're talking about a total of $20 lost in five years, the risk hasn't been all that bad. Right now, I have a three year subscription to Money that I bought for $28 on Ebay as well as a 1 year subscription to Oprah that cost me $10 and a 1 year subscription to Vanity Fair I got for $6.50.

The other item I purchase regularly on Ebay is prepaid minutes for my Tracfone. (I'll post later why I use Tracfone as opposed to all the cheaper plans out there.) In the meantime, Tracfone minutes, purchased at retail, cost 34 cents a minute. If there is a bonus code, it is usually for an additional 30 minutes, which drives the price down to 22 cents a minute--still not a bargain.

On Ebay, I can purchase 60 minute cards with 60 to 90 minute bonuses from $12.50 to $17.00. Depending on how lucky I am, I then pay 8 to 14 cents a minute. I've never had a problem buying Tracfone minutes from Ebay sellers.

Another nice thing about both magazine subscriptions and prepaid cell phone cards is that there is no shipping charge.


Louise said...

Oh I love buying on ebay, such bargains! I have never had any problems but I am staying away from the 'buy' button so I can stick to the budget.

If you check out the seller ratings and stick to sellers who have sold a fair bit you should be OK

Anonymous said...

Why not get rid of the magazine and newspaper subscriptions as an unnecessary expense? There is a lot of content you can read for free online, and there's always the library. As an added benefile, much less paper to recycle, and no newsprint on your hands.

Grace. said...

When it comes to newspapers, I'm a tactile person. I want the paper in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, and a big ole chair to sit in. Plus the librarians get so irritated when you do the crossword puzzle!

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