Ebay Buying tips & flags

So I figured I would create this thread to start a discussion about tips and flags when attempting to purchase on eBay (and other marketplaces) for cards. Wasn’t sure if they should be in guides, figured it was more for discussion. Efour has been growing with newer users and members who haven’t been around the block so to speak, and I figured sharing some information could only help everyone(old and new users alike).

  • Random Pokemon Lots with pictures of amazing cards…will not net you a single good card. This is a way certain sellers (imo, scummy) get rid of bulk and cheap EX/Holo cards. You really think for $15, you are getting a 1st edition Charizard? They are making profit, not running a raffle.
  • Binder lots showing cheaper cards - Found a listing with tons of WOTC series cards in binders? Pictures just showing trainers, energies and common/uncommons? Maybe a holo or 2? That is probably all there is. You can always ask for more pictures and information, but chances are they stripped out the valuable cards and are essentially selling bulk c/uc. Kind of odd how the first page is Charmander - Charmeleon - BACK OF CARD, 2nd row is bulbasaur - Ivysaur - BACK OF CARD. Or even replaced the base set with a cheaper version from a newer set.
  • Don’t know what they have - If this is in the description, believe me, they do. Sellers do their research 90% of the time, its either a scam or fishy, usually stay away.
  • Too good to be true - the saying goes, “if its too good to be true, it probably is”. There are exceptions and it does happen, but I would say 98% of the time its not going to work out.
  • NM/Mint - This has an insane range on eBay, always look at the pictures front and back. Condition varies based upon person to person, but everyone is listing cards as nm/mint these days even when they aren’t. Don’t expect to buy a NM/Mint card and get it graded as a 10, most would be 8-9 tops. PICTURES ARE IMPORTANT!
  • Population Reports for Graded Cards - We have all seen listings with POP4! We need to remember that a population of 4, while impressive, means absolutely nothing on a random holo from furious fists. Population of 10s matter on difficult to grade cards with low % 10s (something like a 1st edition Typhlosion 17/111 Genesis) or insanely limited cards.
  • Possible PSA 9? 10?! Shadowless?! - If they actually thought the card would be a 10, they would grade it. The shadowless part is somewhat tricky, but if they are aware of the possibility, they PROBABLY have done the underlying checks. Check their other sales, see if they have any PSA cards for sale/sold. Chances are they know the card isn’t going to get a 10 and attempting to pass it off on someone else. Again, always an exception, but the chances are low.
  • Seller doesn’t want to attempt to help answer questions - Sure they might be busy or just don’t respond, but if you have a reasonable request they should have no problem answering questions. Now, simple requests for more pictures or any obvious damage should have no problem getting an answer. If they refuse, just leave the listing alone because they probably have something to hide. If they don’t want to check the date, hour and second the card was produced by looking at some random algorithm and solve the puzzle, then your request isn’t reasonable. I remember asking sellers to slightly squeeze the box of 2 player starter decks back in the day, some did and some didn’t (and I never expected them too).
  • Very Cheap lots of newer cards - Are they from China? Are they in odd looking wrappers/packaging? They are fake.
  • Feedback - Feedback is a great tool, but try not to see every negative as a huge red flag. Sometimes buyers have ridiculous expectations and even after getting their problem solved, leave negative feedback. Hell, sometimes they do it for no real reason. Always take it with a grain of salt!
  • Need a value of a card? - eBay SOLD listings are the answer. 90% of the time you can find a similar condition card sold recently and the price it went for. They aren’t always solid values, as outliers exist, BUT it is usually the best resource. Websites that “track” card prices are usually wrong and consolidate prices of the card, not taking into account graded, unsold & condition. A $5,000 krabby will really skew the price if a majority are sold at $.50.
  • Sellers do research - Always remember, ALWAYS that most large volume sellers do their research. Whether they buy out stores, storage lockers, estate sales etc, they do this to make money or as a living. They will check values and almost always know about what it is worth, so understand that!

Hopefully this helps out some of you, and share any of your tips/flags down below!


be wary of newly created accounts

I think the eBay garbage thread should also be every newbie’s best friend. There are 192 pages worth of real-life examples of the tips and red flags stated here. Although only the most recent links are visible, the discussion/humor surrounding old posts can still be helpful to gauge what bad listings look and sound like.

1 Like

Sweet guide to help the noobies!

I bought a guys collection.Turns out he was a re seller who failed and decided to sell up.
All playable cards and trainers were gona and I was left with the junk…plus I was missing hundreds of cards!

I’d add that it’s important to be aware of people who weight packs to get the holos and sell the rest of the pack. And of people who try to cheat on auctions by bidding on their own auctions with different accounts, or things like that…

I’ve started collecting quite recently and I didn’t know about those things :confused:

This is the biggest red flag IMO. People who don’t make what they’re selling crystal clear are trying to pass off their unwanted junk. Taking pics of cards on white backgrounds, taking deliberately weird pictures at odd angles, making ‘scans’ of a card instead of taking real life photos with actual lighting, are just some of the many ways people attempt to hide flaws. We live in the age of smartphones. I get that a few people are still using flip phones with trashy cameras, but the number of sellers taking blurry pictures is inexcusable.

And it’s stupid really: the customer is just going to receive the card, see what they actually got vs what the seller said it was, and initiate an INAD dispute. The seller who posted low quality pictures in the first place is now going to get shafted by eBay’s buyer protection. Which is why I don’t really get why some sellers try to play these underhanded games in the first place: they’re setting themselves up for disputes.

Weighing and shill bidding :slightly_frowning_face: its gutting when it happens to you! If you need help, advice and tips have a good read of the forums.If theres anything else you need, post a question.The guys and gals here are really helpful and have a whole myriad of pokemon knowledge.