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How to practice safe PayPal?
April 19, 2011 6:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to purchase a $1500 camera from a fellow I met through an online photography forum. I'll be paying via PayPal (funded by my American Express). I've no reason to think the seller untrustworthy, but what can I do to protect myself just in case?
posted by aladfar to Shopping (10 answers total)
 
Use an online escrow service. They get paid only when you get your merchandise.
posted by inturnaround at 7:11 PM on April 19, 2011


If you've done your due diligence (checked out his post history to make sure he actually posts about photography, hasn't just registered, messaged other users to see if anyone knows his/her reputation) then I say go for it. You can always dispute the charge with both PayPal (if you don't mark the payment as a gift and pay the necessary fees) and AmEx.
posted by speedgraphic at 7:44 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


For what it is worth, I have been buying large-ticket items (in my terms, meaning $1500+) on the internet since 1994, sight unseen, no escrow, no local contacts or evaluation, no nothing, and I haven't been screwed yet, not even once.

I'm sure it will happen someday, but as long as you do the things speedgraphic recommends, my experience suggests that you will be fine far more often than you will get in trouble. I try and make sure to talk with the person on the phone at least once; if someone dodges me or won't talk I take that as an indication of something sketchy.
posted by Forktine at 8:30 PM on April 19, 2011


I've only been screwed once through a web forum purchase and it was because I liked the price and didn't take the time to talk to the guy.
It was for a $50 item he never shipped, he never posted on the forum again (had over 1000 posts) and paypal only refunded half.

Now, I always try to get the persons phone number, trade a few messages on the forum to make sure they don't respond like weirdos or flakes and check their posting\selling history. I've recently made some $400, $700, $1200 purchases and they all went smoother than an eBay auction.
posted by zephyr_words at 8:31 PM on April 19, 2011


For what it is worth, I have been buying large-ticket items (in my terms, meaning $1500+) on the internet since 1994, sight unseen, no escrow, no local contacts or evaluation, no nothing, and I haven't been screwed yet, not even once.

Just to offer the other side of the coin, I've only bought things through eBay maybe 4 or 5 times, but I did get scammed once (actually it was on a digital camera too...)
posted by mannequito at 8:32 PM on April 19, 2011


Just to offer the other side of the coin, I've only bought things through eBay maybe 4 or 5 times

I think a lot of the reason my track record is so good is that I've never bought something on eBay. It's a great way to check pricing, but not somewhere I want to risk my money. I see forums as being much more safe, because you can check someone's history and get a sense of their personality, which I trust a lot more than some easily gamed "seller rating" or whatever.
posted by Forktine at 8:47 PM on April 19, 2011


eBay has turned into a buyer's paradise, really. I hate it as a seller (as it's extremely easy to get screwed on a not-as-described case), but as a buyer it's saved my butt twice from people that swore they would fight to the grave to not have my money refunded (it was bank in my bank account in two days).
posted by speedgraphic at 8:50 PM on April 19, 2011


The golden rule is that if something seems fishy, just walk away. Almost every time someone has told me they were screwed in an online transaction, they had a funny feeling early on that something wasn't right.

Get a phone number and talk to the person on the phone. If they don't want to do that, walk away.

Don't use the gift option with paypal. If they try to screw you, paypal won't help.

Look to see if the seller has a decent history on the website you are buying from.

Lastly, if the seller has their own website (if they are a photographer they will definitely have one) ask for a link. If they are trying to scam you, they won't want to give you any more info than they have to, and most people are always glad to share their art with others, so if there is any weird hesitation here, than walk away.
posted by markblasco at 12:10 AM on April 20, 2011


They should have heatware feedback, check that.

I find it curious that "trusted" is the default for someone you dint know from Adam, as opposed to "not trusted".
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:02 AM on April 20, 2011


If the deal goes wrong, I'm 99% sure that PayPal will be no help. They screwed me once. Now I just dispute the charge with Amex.
So as long as you are using a credit card you MIGHT be all right.
posted by WizKid at 1:06 PM on April 20, 2011


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