It's Buyer Beware When It Comes To Online Auctions

by Stuart Burson

Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report saying on-line auction fraud was the most common internet scam last year. On-line auction sites like E-Bay and Yahoo Auctions are becoming big business. So big, many businesses like antique shops are relying on these sites to buy and sell their products.

But, how can you protect yourself when buying from someone across the country, you don't even know?

"You look for people who has feedback that has been given by fellow buyers who's bought from this individual before." says antique dealer Jerry Graham. Graham does a lot of internet transactions for his antique business. He suggests you don't buy from anyone who has negative feedback, or no feeback at all, listed on their profile.

"You can read the negative feedback and see what the problem was... whether it was items never delivered, or if the item was damaged, or it took them a while to ship. It tells you usually what the problem was."

Carolyn Price operates the Nacogdoches Antique Market. She's gotten stung before after buying items on E-Bay.

"I've experienced that on several occasions. I've bought things that wound up being something totally different, and a big disappointment." says Price.

Carolyn knows more and more dealers and customers are doing business online, so she's not planning to stop. But now, she's more careful.

"I'm very cautious now. I take time and I read and re-read the information on it and I go and check on their ratings as well now where I didn't do that in the past."

In fact, Carolyn says she can see the impact of the on-line auctions here at her store. With more people buying over the internet, the sites are cutting into her business.

If you have a problem with an on-line transaction, the Federal Trade Commission recommends complaining first to the website operators. If you can't find a solution there, turn to the Attorney General's Office, The Texas Consumer Protection Agency the Better Business Bureau or the FTC.