Tips For Navigating eBay


Unfortunately for you and me both, today was overcast at best so I didn't have an opportunity to take any pictures. I don't want to leave you hanging, especially since it's a long weekend here in the US! So I'll leave you with a quick list of tips for searching for and purchasing charms on eBay. Most of us have resorted to the evil auction empire at least once or twice in pursuit of an impossible find, so I wouldn't be shocked at all if most of you guys already know these things. In case you don't, though, I hope these help you to weed out the real deals from the duds.

1. Search keywords are essential. If you simply type in Juicy Couture charm you'll get back 1,500+ hits. I don't know about you but I don't have that kind of time! To trim down your results, try this string: "Juicy Couture" charm -fit -fits -like -italian. You'll still have quite a few results, but we're cutting them down slowly. You can also add -silver to the string if you have no desire to search for silver charms; this might reduce it by 100+. Unfortunately, adding -gold to your search won't do much of anything, as sellers rarely put GOLD in the title since that's what a majority of Juicy's charms have been.

2. The category on the left hand side is super handy. Selecting the "jewelry & watches" category will toss out 300+ items. Select "designer brands" and you've eliminated 200+ more.

3. Get picky. Don't want a necklace, bracelet, or earrings? Just add the minus symbol (-) before each of those words and add them to your search query. I don't usually do this because you run the risk of missing charms that have weird titles (such as "BRAND NEW JUICY COUTURE ____ CHARM FITS BRACELET/NECKLACE" and what have you), or missing charm lots that people are selling in addition to a bracelet or a necklace. However, the more you narrow your search results the faster you may find what you're looking for.

4. Be specific. If you know the charm you're after put the name of it in the search box. Some older charms that came without names on the label can be tricky - the fawn is sometimes listed as a deer, snowglobe and waterglobe are interchangeable, and then you have the problem of when two or more versions of one charm exist (the cupcake, the nesting doll, shoe charms, t-shirt charms, bag charms, etc).

Once you have found an auction that you're interested in, you should do a few things before placing a bid.

1. Location is everything. I'm not saying that there are no honest sellers in Asia, but this is the number one red flag for any Juicy Couture charm auction. A high volume of fake items also come out of the UK. Having said that, this does not mean that all U.S. sellers are on the up and up; you should always use other sources of information to determine if a charm is legit or not. But I personally feel it's best to avoid overseas transactions all together, especially since returning an item to get a PayPal refund could be an expensive nightmare.

2. Feedback is there for a reason! It deserves more than a quick glance - you can look up completed auctions this way, as well. If a seller has ridiculous quantities of feedback and you're only interested in the negative ones, bookmark and use, which will display only the negative and neutral feedbacks that a seller receives.

3. "BRAND NEW!" doesn't always mean brand new. Several of the well-known Juicy resellers on eBay bid on Juicy auctions themselves and then relist the item for a greater price than they paid. This can mean all sorts of trouble for you; the item could be fake, damaged, or not in the pristine condition that you were expecting. Use eBay's Advanced Search feature (and search for items by bidder) to see what your potential seller has been bidding on.

4. "RARE!" rarely means rare. There are absolutely HTF charms out there, but almost every listing you'll come across has RARE in the title, whether it is or not. I think there's a misconception that this will draw in more watchers or bidders and while that could be true I am fairly certain that most of us are wise enough not to fall for the RARE! ploy. Charms become rare when they're past season (think all of the black/blue boxed ones and charms that are 1+ years old), or when they inexplicably disappear in a heartbeat from stores (like the whale). And this is super important: sellers out of HK love to list the not-yet-released charms as RARE! and you might think they are, because there's only one or two on eBay or because you've never seen it before. Don't fall for this. More often than not the real thing is just a few months away from hitting reputable store shelves.

5. If one is good then two must be better? Wrong! One seller with multiples of any charm is a red flag. I'm not saying you should automatically rule them out, but I am telling you to check their completed listings and feedback extra carefully. They definitely could have picked up a handful on sale or from the outlet but if you're seeing someone with 3 or more of the same charm consistently selling then I'd be inclined to ask for more pictures - perhaps of the actual charm you'd be receiving. Don't be afraid to ask where the charms came from, either. It seems rude but it isn't - you have every right to know as much as possible about your purchase.

So you've bid and you've won - congraulations! Let's wrap this up with a few more suggestions.

1. Your credit card is your only real recourse. PayPal does provide protection for most purchases, up to a certain dollar amount. Should you receive a fake and successfully win a SNAD claim, PayPal will reimburse you -- but ONLY if the seller still has funds in their account. If they don't? Well, you're plum out of luck. So always pay with a credit card and don't fear filing a chargeback in the instance that PayPal can't refund your $.

2. Reject off eBay requests. If your seller contacts you and offers to give you a discount in exchange for an off-eBay transaction (or if they offer you a second chance to buy an item you didn't win outside of eBay), deny deny deny. There are plenty of honest people out there who just want to save a little on ridiculous fees, but it's hard to know who they are. If you do complete a transaction outside of eBay and something goes wrong, PayPal will only cover you if the item was never delivered. Everything else is to be handled at the seller's mercy.

3. Don't pay in installments. Plain and simple -- you, the buyer, will not be covered with PayPal's protection guarantee if you split up the amount you owe into more than one payment.

4. Thoroughly check your item before leaving feedback! Bait-and-switch scams are still alive and kicking, so make sure you really look over your charm before you leave any sort of feedback. I think our thread at tPF is pretty good at helping people to authenticate when they need it, so don't be afraid to ask.

I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend, and I hope all of my American girls enjoy Memorial Day!


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