Online Scooter Bargain Hunt | FEATURE
Like everything in life, there are both pros and cons of trading on eBay and other online ‘secondhand’ sites. That’s not to say you should avoid online shopping like the plague, you just need to remember that your friendly local bricks and mortar scooter shop may well be a better place to spend your cash.
Whether you’re a seasoned eBayer, are nervously trawling Gumtree or mildly inquisitive about PreLoved, there are undoubtedly some genuine secondhand bargains to be had out there. The problem is, you need to sift through plenty of other distractions to find these, kind of like sorting out the wheat from the chaff if you will.
Whatever it is you are thinking of buying online, you need to make sure you’re actually getting the deal you think you are. Online auction sites are full of chancers and part-time ‘dealers’ as well as real scooter shops and of course genuine scooterists like yourself simply trying to raise a few quid for their next project. The trouble is, there is every chance that what you’re looking at can be bought cheaper elsewhere.
An extreme example maybe, but based around the actions of a scooterist a few years ago who wanted to prove a point about how gullible scooterists could be with regards to eBay, you can get royally ripped off if you are not careful. He purchased a load of oil-measuring jugs from his local dealer and proceeded to sell them for at least double the price on eBay. How? Because buyers didn’t do their research.
You can still fall for that today too if you want to. Beedspeed sell such jugs for £1.99 plus £2 p&p (free p&p for orders over £100). Scooter Restorations charge £1.95 per jug with up to 1kg of items posted for just £3 and free on orders over £100. So a quick online search says you can buy a jug alone from £4.95 delivered, or collect one in person from either place (or indeed your local scooter shop) for around two quid. Why therefore would you buy one via eBay for £7.95?
It doesn’t necessarily mean the seller is a rip-off merchant, but by the time they’ve added up their eBay and Paypal fees, the fact is that it costs more for scooter shops to trade this way than if you simply walked into their bricks and mortar premises and purchased one over the counter. The same goes for anything from a new barrel kit to a complete scooter: you must shop around and do your research first before committing to an online deal.
Finally, if you do choose to buy a scooter this way, always carry out a check to make sure it’s not stolen, a ringer, or in case there is any outstanding finance on it, however old or new. HPI offer such things, as do some online selling sites.
While those using online commercial sites to sell their wares are often the ones who pay any sellers fees, that’s not to say they won’t try to pass them off to you in the cost of your purchase. Then there is the added cost of the actual packaging and postage, let alone any extra commission an online auction site and payment company may take from those by way of charges too. It all adds up…
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, the global market has become a whole lot smaller. This has led to suppliers in Asia for example, offering their wares wholesale at what may seem like a bargain price to private individuals in the UK. These can be found touting their (slightly cheaper than a real shop’s) wares at Sunday parts fairs and via eBay to make a few quid outside their regular 9 to 5 jobs, as of course they don’t have to pay rent, rates, wages, stock depreciation, advertising and the rest. Unlike full time scooter shops, such sellers often don’t offer the same kind of customer service either, so you need to make sure what happens if you buy online and it all goes wrong. Who pays the return postage? Is there a restocking fee? Will the seller admit to unknowingly shipping a faulty product to save their reputation?
From personal experience, our experience of ‘hardly used’ and a seller’s can often differ, and if this is the case you need to somehow resolve this on something you may never have seen until it arrives in the post. Distance Selling Regulations were replaced in 2014 by Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Which? website offers plenty of advice and are well worth casting an eye over before you part with your cash.
Sadly, most people who fall victim to a scam do so because what is offered seems too good to be true. The fact is, if that is the case then there is often a catch. Modern day thieves are constantly coming up with new ways to scam you out of money, whether that be ‘stealing’ photographs of someone else’s scooter and pretending to sell it themselves, to simply advertising parts and never sending them. However, a bit of research, a few well chosen questions, and the application of some common sense, will go a long way. Is it too good to be true? Will the customer accept cash on collection? And is sending your payment via bank transfer to a Nigerian bank and sitting back to wait for an unknown courier to deliver your new £6000 scooter really going to happen?
Buying a scooter without actually seeing it in person – and paying for it in advance – may seem like madness to many, but people do fall for it. Take advice from whatever website you’re buying from, use a method of payment such as your credit card that offers protection if things do go wrong, and don’t pay any amount in advance that you cannot afford to lose in the worst case scenario. It’s always better to wait until the next time and buy whatever it is in person, even if it costs a few pounds more. We suggest your local scooter shop, friends, scooter rallies and shows, and of course a scooter parts fair are all good places to search for that illusive part.
It’s not just buyers who need to beware: those retailing online must also take care to make sure they get what they want out of a deal.
There is little in life for free, and that includes using online auction and selling sites to get rid of your unwanted secondhand parts. eBay for example charge 10% of the final selling price, including the postage charges you apply too. So to begin with, if you calculate an item costs £5 to post, you need to add 10% to that to cover eBay’s commission. eBay offer private sellers 20 free insertions per month for their basic auction selling format, but if you want any extras that costs more, as does selling more than 20 items. Selling motors and other items attract different charges. Then, if you accept payment via Paypal they’ll take from 3.4% plus 20p per transaction. So if you sell something for £55 on eBay including the £5 it will cost you to post it, then after postage and the above fees, you’ll end up with just £42.43, plus the cost of any packaging required and your time to get it actually posted. Suddenly selling secondhand stuff at a parts fair doesn’t seem so bad after all, does it?
Lost in the post
A few years ago Royal Mail adjusted their pricing structure to take into account the growing amount of parcels being sent following online sales. Combined with deregulation this has led to a number of alternative options when it comes to sending your secondhand scooter parts from St Ives to Inverness. However, as with our earlier warning, if it seems to good to be true, then check out the small print. What is the likelihood of it actually arriving? What exactly is covered if the courier loses or damages your parcel? How easy will it be to make a claim? If it goes wrong, then it will be up to you the seller to find out why, do the legwork, and refund the buyer if necessary. You can also get scammed too by unscrupulous buyers who are after a free lunch, so it’s probably best to send everything you sell via insured post that requires a signature upon delivery.
With the boot on the other foot, what if the buyer doesn’t like what you sold them and wants a refund? A lot of online selling is based on reputation, so you are now in a quandary about how best to protect that. If it’s genuinely been damaged in the post, then hopefully you can make an insurance claim and get your money back that way. If the buyer simply made a wrong choice, you could be in a sticky place, so like the buyers you should also familiarise yourself with the Consumer Contracts Regulations.
While advice to buyers is ‘never to buy a scooter from a man in a pub car park at night, but always to buy it from the home of the registered keeper’, as a seller you must also be aware that using a public site like eBay, Gumtree and the rest means that any Tom, Dick or Harry can contact you and arrange a viewing of your scooter. If you’re not happy about selling it from your home, then maybe use your work address. Alternatively, ask your local scooter shop if they’d be willing to sell it on your behalf – for a commission of course.
At the end of the day, yes there are some bargains to be had out there, but you really need to have done your research first, taken into account any extra costs, weighed up the pros and cons, and if after all that you’re still not sure, we suggest you simply visit your local scooter shop. Without your support, they won’t survive.
If it’s secondhand parts you’re after, then search out the specialist scooter shops that retail those, and don’t forget your local parts fair or other scooter event. See, feel, touch the part you want, negotiate with the seller, and buy something that you will be happy with.