I’ve recently been burned by half.com and ebay, and while I don’t think they’re dangerous, you need to take a few precautions to protect yourself:
Upon winning a bid or purchasing an item, send an email to the seller to make sure they’re sending you exactly what you want.
For example, even though the product description said the DVD was widescreen, the seller didn’t check it, and sent full frame. Granted, full frame DVDs should all be destroyed on principle, which is why they’re often cheaper. So always make sure you’re getting exactly what you expect, ’cause darn it, only the director’s cut of Kangaroo Jack will do.
Ask for a shipping confirmation email with tracking number.
The ship times afforded to sellers are, in my opinion, overly generous. Sometimes 3 weeks. I’m sorry, but when we’re talking about that mediocre movie where that ingenue I’m in love with is topless for 6 seconds, I don’t have that kind of time. If you have a tracking number, you can be reasonably sure it’s not arriving via asthmatic pack mule.
Lose your patience.
Hey, I’m not telling you to be a jerk about it. Be polite, but understand that you’ve got a limited window (60 days, maybe) to get a refund. I was very patient with a seller, as there was some communication between us. Next thing I know, they’re no longer registered, their feedback dropped like a rock, and half.com is telling me it’s too late to file a claim. Another time, I waited until the last day it had to arrive (the aforementioned 3 weeks), and the seller’s response was, “Sorry, I never got the order.” While probably a lie, since I received both the “order received” and “order confirmed” emails, he did give me an immediate refund. Still a big waste of time. Better to yell early, then give good feedback.