Back in an October post I mentioned that I was using eBay to purchase used games for speech therapy sessions. I began to use eBay because it was the easiest way to find my favourite "go-to" games that are no longer being produced. I have now used eBay to purchase 5 games: 2 single games and a lot auction of 3 games.
The first game I ordered was a Fisher-Price game called Tic Tac Tony and this was the game that spurred my little eBay shopping spree. As I understand it, this game is quite rare. When I found it for auction on eBay I decided that, as long as I could get it for a somewhat reasonable price, I had to have it. Although I had purchased several things on eBay over the last 10 years, this was the first time that I actually bid on something. It was a bit stressful, deciding on a maximum bid. It was also pretty exciting, watching the bids go up. I was thrilled when I learned that I had won the auction.
There was, however, one little snag: this particular seller only ships within the US. Thankfully my husband has subscribed to a service called MyUS.com. This service provides people outside of the US with a US mailing address. You can have one, or more, things shipped there and then when you are ready, they will send all of your items to you at once.
I was starting to worry that the Tic Tac Tony game would never arrive. After sharing my concerns with my husband we realized that he had missed the notice from MyUS.com that they had received it and, as such, he had not given them the go-ahead to send it to our house.
Discounting that little mishap on my end, the experience with Tic Tac Tony was great. The item, apparently, shipped quickly to the US address and, once it arrived to me, it was exactly as promised. The game itself, which is completely plastic, was in pretty much perfect condition and all the pieces were included (the two games that I have used at work are missing discs). The cardboard box was a little beat up, but not too bad considering the game may be nearly 19 years old.
Spurred on by my success in finding and securing Tic Tac Tony, I decided to search for Barnyard Bingo, also by Fisher-Price. This game is actually back in production; therefore, I could have ordered it new, but for some reason I decided to look for it on eBay (I think because I wondered if it would be less expensive than buying it new). Instead I found the original Barnyard Bingo in a lot auction with 2 other Fisher-Price games that I had never heard of before (Adopt a Dog and Animal 2x2). Since I really love the other Fisher-Price games that I use at work, including Tic Tac Tony and Barnyard Bingo, I decided to try to win this auction too. I set my maximum bid and hoped for the best as I headed to work one day. I was once again delighted to learn that I had won the auction and this purchase was even easier, as this seller shipped direct to Canada.
The three games arrived quickly and, again, exactly as described, including all the pieces and instructions. Interestingly, they came in plastic cases instead of cardboard boxes. If it weren't for the fact that they have "Fisher-Price" and the names of the games printed on the cases, I might have thought it was just something that had been used after the original boxes wore out. I am wondering if maybe this was how they were sold to school or clinic settings.
The third, and most recent, game that I have purchased through eBay was Cranium’s Cariboo Island. This is a more recent game, in fact it came out only a few years ago, but for some reason they no longer make it. I had seen it on Amazon for over $100 and one day, after telling a friend about how much I enjoy using it, I decided to look it up on eBay. As I had seen on Amazon, many were priced really high but there was one that was priced under $25 and it was available to “Buy it Now”, rather than bid on auction. Even more exciting was the fact that it was described as “new”. On eBay, "new" is defined as:
“A brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging (where packaging is applicable). Packaging should be the same as what is found in a retail store, unless the item is handmade or was packaged by the manufacturer in non-retail packaging, such as an unprinted box or plastic bag. See the seller's listing for full details.”
I placed my order and, since this seller also only shipped to US addresses, had it shipped through MyUS.com. The item arrived quickly to the MyUS address and soon it had arrived at my home. I excitedly tore open the packaging in anticipation of my “new” game - imagine my disappointment to realize that it was not “new” it definitely met the criteria for “used”.
“An item that has been used previously. The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully operational and functions as intended. This item may be a floor model or store return that has been used. See the seller's listing for full details and description of any imperfections.”
To make matters worse, one of the pieces, a two-sided card that fits inside the doors, appeared to be missing!
I began taking photos to document the wear on the cards and that one door-card was missing. As I moved it around to photograph it I heard something inside - it was the missing door-card. I was relieved. As I looked at it closer I began to appreciate that while it was in “used” condition, it was relatively gently used, especially in comparison to the copy of the game that I have at work. I had to consider how rare it would be to find a brand new copy of the game at such a reasonable price. I also felt that given it’s gently used condition, I was still happy with the price that I had paid.
In the end I was very happy with all of my purchases and I gave all of the sellers excellent feedback, with the exception that I made it clear that the seller of the Cariboo Island game misrepresented the condition. I think I was probably lucky with some of these purchases in that I happened to search for them at the right time that they were available. If you don’t want to be checking eBay everyday for the items you are looking for, then check out the first tip below - this is what I will be doing next time I am on the lookout for a specific toy or game.
If you are considering purchasing an item from eBay, keep these tips in mind:
Make a “Followed Searches” list on eBay.com (or “Save search” on eBay.ca) for items that you want to keep an eye out for. To do this: enter the keywords to search for the item. If nothing of interest to you comes up, look for the green “+ Follow this search” on eBay.com (or a star beside “Save search” on eBay.ca). Click on it and then you can arrange to receive email alerts for new listings matching your search.
Make sure you know what it is worth by checking/comparing prices on other sites.
If the item is rare (other prices are not available), make sure you know what it is worth to you and set that as your maximum bid, if it is up for auction.
If you are outside of the US, make sure the seller will ship to your location (or subscribe to a service like MyUs.com).
While it is definitely important to check the sellers ratings, it doesn't tell the whole story (the seller of Cariboo Island had 99.8% positive feedback). Make sure to click on their profile and read the comments that previous buyers have left about them.
Keep an eye out for “Buy it Now” auctions. If the price is right, and the seller’s feedback looks good, you could find what you’re looking for without getting into a bidding war.
Have you ever purchased something from eBay? What was your experience like? Do you have any other tips to add?