blog / article

The eBay Dollar Dilemma

by Leo Chan
8 Oct 2019

One thing has remained the same throughout human history. Is the value of something worth the price? How much are we willing to pay to get what we want? When we think of cost, we often gravitate towards money, but time and effort also have to be accounted for. What something is worth also depends on quality and the safety of the transaction.

Simple logic would dictate that we shouldn’t pay a dollar more for the same thing. It’s more complicated than that. It’s rather subjective and depends on a variety of factors.


Online shopping has created a simple way to peruse through products and services without having to get dressed and traveling to a destination. Most people take a tour through eBay to check out inventory that can be ordered, paid for and shipped to them. This is a great time saver for those who don’t need or want to view the product in person. Some people see this as a sacrifice since they can’t pay for what they want and take it home. Buyers have to wait for their purchases to be shipped to them. This is where the eBay dollar dilemma comes in. For example, a shopper has found a guitar for $189.99 but the same guitar is being sold for $190.99 by a seller who is closer, and they can offer express shipping. The answer seems rather simple. They should pay a dollar more. Other factors come into play, however. The seller offering express shipping might be charging much more for the faster shipping or better packaging. It’s possible that they are requiring payments through PayPal instead of accepting credit cards which means the buyer has to sign up for a PayPal account. It all comes down to what a person thinks their time is worth.


Say the buyer is still considering which guitar they are going to buy. The guitar that costs a dollar more is in perfect condition while the cheaper instrument has a couple of scratches on it. It seems the answer is obvious. Spending a dollar more is the best choice. The buyer may want to keep that dollar and a scratch isn’t that big of a deal. Replacement strings and tuning are other expenses to consider. Also, some people view a dollar as a vital expense and have no intention of spending it to obtain a perfectly polished Yamaha FG800. DIYers don’t see a need to spend extra money if they fix something themselves. A single dollar can have different values. It depends on the person spending it.


An important part of online shopping is safety. Forums abound across the world wide web with descriptions of scams, items that did not fit their description and items that were never received. It’s not rare for a seller to use eCommerce sites to grab bank account or PayPal information. These phishing scams don’t just prey on eBay users. One of the main complaints is about vendors who charge a dollar less and never delivering the item or ship an item that is unusable or expensive to repair. Thankfully, we can protect ourselves from shifty shysters. Checking the vendor’s ratings and feedback are good ways to gauge how honest they are. Reading the description and asking for additional photos can prevent a loss of funds and the headache of disputing a transaction. Researching items and sellers can save shoppers their life savings.
Buyers should use common sense and good judgment when deciding what to spend. Spending a dollar more can cost more in the end if these factors aren’t considered. The main idea behind eCommerce is to offer a convenient and safe environment to shop for quality goods. As buyers, we are accountable for our purchases and holding sellers responsible is a big part of that. Whether, we want to save or spend a dollar, it’s ultimately up to us to make sure that we do the research and get the best deal for our pocketbooks and our time.


Cardy Chung is the founder of StreetPricer. Read more articles by Cardy Chung.

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