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Lynn Answers Questions About eBay Payment Methods


I'm wondering what form of payment can be used by buyers of high-ticket items worth, say, $1,000+. I have read about escrowing the deal, but wonder how to protect myself. I am not a business and cannot accept credit cards myself.
- Laurin P., Los Angeles, California

My Response:

Hi Laurin,

Thanks for the question. It does get tricky when you are dealing with purchases over $1,000. Both the buyer and the seller will want to protect themselves.

As a seller, you will want to be working on getting a high feedback rating before you list an expensive item. A new seller with feedback under 10 will probably not have very good luck selling such an expensive item. To get your feedback rating over 10, start by selling smaller items or even buying things on eBay. I know of quite a few sellers who started out buying to build up positive feedback points before they began selling.

As a seller without a business, you CAN accept credit cards through PayPal. As a seller, we have had great luck with our few sales over $1,000. In our experience, all our buyers were very happy with their purchases, so there was not a problem.

As a buyer, if you are spending over $1,000, you will want to be very diligent in your research. You will want to check the seller's feedback rating and make sure that he or she is reputable. It will be even better if the seller you are buying from is a Power Seller.

Try to pay with a credit card and always buy through an actual auction site like eBay. This way, you will be protected by both eBay and your credit card company.

As an example of a purchase gone wrong, my mom bought a set of Eames era chairs off auction. The auction had ended without the item meeting reserve so it was not an actual auction. The seller contacted my mom off eBay and asked if she would like to buy them for $600. She did buy them for $600 even though he was a new seller with only 6 feedback points. She checked his few feedback points and they were all positive, however he didn't have very many. He was a college student and only accepted money orders or cashiers checks. She paid with a money order.

The chairs arrived, but 2 were broken. The seller had insured them with UPS but when he went to file the claim, UPS said they were not packed correctly and they would not pay. The seller did not refund any money to my mom and she was stuck with 2 broken chairs and 2 good ones for $600. She had no recourse through eBay because it was all done off-auction and she had no recourse through a credit card company.

It was a good lesson learned the hard way.

Escrow is another great option. It was used quite a bit in the early days of eBay but hasn't been used as much recently. Escrow works this way. The buyer sends off the money to the escrow company, using a money order, credit card etc. Once the seller has been notified that payment has been received and verified, the seller is instructed to ship the item. Once the buyer receives the item and is satisfied, the buyer notifies the escrow company and they release the funds to the seller.

I only used escrow once and it worked out just fine. Escrow used to be an option on the eBay selling/listing form but it isn't anymore. eBay recommends and the option is still a viable one. We recommend it for expensive items to protect both the buyer and the seller!

Good luck, Laurin, and thanks for the Q!!!

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