The Disadvantages of eBay

by Brian Hooper, studioD

Ebay describes itself as being the world’s largest virtual bazaar, but such a title comes with its fair share of disadvantages. A number of those drawbacks are illustrated in great detail on entire websites dedicated to people with eBay gripes that they want to get off their chest. But you don’t have to look outside the site to hear from people -- buyers and sellers -- who aren’t too pleased with eBay, since the site has discussion boards where members air out their grievances.

Bidding Process

You can’t just buy an item on eBay; you have to bid on the item. This can mean competing with countless other people in order to buy it. Whether you’re the sole bidder or one of many, you must wait until the auction closes. While the wait itself can be unnerving, it’s made worse when someone tops your bid right before the auction ends. Another factor is that sellers can prematurely end their auctions, even if you have a pending bid, thus making your anticipation of receiving the item short-lived.


You have to look out for people selling fakes on eBay. Such counterfeit goods may even be stolen. Sellers will claim that the item they’re selling is the real thing, completely authentic, when it’s not. In fact, in 2008, LVMH, owner of Louis Vuitton, sued eBay because the luxury goods company said more than 90 percent of the Louis Vuitton merchandise and other LVMH products sold on the auction site were fakes. LVMH won, and eBay was ordered to pay it $61 million, according to a 2008 article in The New York Times.

Hands-on Experience

EBay can’t provide the tactile sensation that shopping in the "real" world provides. As explained in James and Jim Pooler's book “Why We Shop: Emotional Rewards and Retail Strategies,” you can’t touch and feel fabrics, smell fragrances or hear how products sound. If you wanted to buy a new stereo, you wouldn’t be able to compare the sound quality of different models, for instance. Moreover, you can’t look up close at an item to really see its details and if there are any flaws that would be deal breakers.

Wait for Delivery

If you buy an item in person, you take it home immediately, as opposed to waiting for it to be shipped to you, like with eBay purchases. Moreover, you may not have a say in how it’s shipped; sellers may not indicate up front which carrier they’ll use to ship it. There are some instances in which you can pick up the item if you live near the seller, but that’s not the case for the majority of auctions.

About the Author

Brian Hooper has more than 10 years of editorial experience. Hooper has provided editorial services for New York publishing houses and currently writes for Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley. He holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration.

Photo Credits

  • Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images