Thursday, December 9, 2010

Buying things on eBay

My wife has suddenly discovered the thrill of shopping on eBay. Before anyone starts congratulating her on her new-found technological prowess, let me tell you that it is not quite as thrilling for me. She sees everything as a bargain. She gets attracted by the pictures and the product description. I have a hard time trying to explain to her that this is not how you buy things on eBay. So how do I buy things on eBay?

I am not an avid shopper on eBay, but I have bought a number of items there. I want to make a distinction between "shop" and "buy". To shop is to search for goods or services. To buy is to make the acquisition after you have decided what you want and how much you are willing to pay for it. I do my shopping in the physical world whenever possible. I go to the shops to see and touch the real thing. I make my buying decision after familiarizing with the product. Then I would turn to eBay to make the purchase if that is the best place to get it. Sometimes it is not worth the trouble or risk.

Would you look at a printed catalog and make a purchasing decision based on the pictures and the write-up there? Likewise, it is risky to shop on the internet. You won't know the product until you see it, touch it or try it on. You can't tell if a mattress will be comfortable. You won't know if a furniture will not creak, or a bed will not sag. You can't tell if a sound system is going to sound good just because it looks good. My point is, do all your shopping in the real world. Don't just browse the online catalog and make a buying decision there and then.

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