Buying over the internet

Shopping on the Internet is a convenient alternative and most sellers are reputable but there are some that aren't and you should check for the following:

  • the company name, a street address, telephone or email address;
  • a description of the goods;
  • an explanation on how financial information will be handled;
  • a price list - to compare prices;
  • delivery method, date and cost;
  • a clear explanation of how they handle privacy issues;
  • information on refunds and returns;
  • exchange rates, sales tax and import duties when dealing with overseas businesses;
  • if you can legally import certain goods from overseas.

eBay - a case study

Recently Brad bid for a set of cool mag wheels on eBay. At first he received an “out-bid” notice and thought he had not been successful.

A few days later, he received a “Second Chance Offer” through an email from the seller, who claimed he is now working in Britain and asked for Brad’s contact details in order for him to send the wheels.

Brad sent payment through Western Union and provided his contact details, but when he received an official ‘Second Chance Offer’ from eBay he became suspicious, his emails to the seller remained unanswered.

Brad then contacted eBay who confirmed the message he received from the “seller” was fraudulent and he was selling an item outside eBay.

Brad has never received his mag wheels.

Buyer beware

Buying and selling over the internet is a classic case of ‘buyer beware’. Although eBay is reasonably safe, if people do not make sure they are dealing through eBay, there are no guarantees the transactions will be safe. eBay buyers should ensure they are aware of the safeguards in place against fraud, including the ‘Meet the Seller’ feedback ratings.

eBay advice

eBay advises that buyers should ignore emails that ask to complete a transaction outside eBay. To verify that a transaction is “on eBay”, a buyer should open a new browser, go to, and confirm the item is in the Won section of the All Buying area of ‘My eBay’.


When you are buying over the Internet, it’s a good idea to use a ‘special’ credit card with a low limit. That way if there is a security breach with your card number, your losses can be kept to a minimum.

You can also use secure payment facilities such as ‘PayPal’.

Last Updated:
04 Jun 2019

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