Ebay Lingerie How-To: Popular Misconceptions About Buying Lingerie on Ebay
This week we're taking a break from the normal roundups in favor of some ebay how-to's. I decided to approach the first part of this series through the three main misconceptions I hear when talking to people about shopping for lingerie on ebay. Let me know in the comments below if there are other major reasons why you don't like buying lingerie on ebay, or if you have any questions about the stuff I go over here. Enjoy : )
1) Finding great lingerie on ebay takes too long.
When I first started shopping for lingerie on ebay (it was right after I discovered, and then discovered I couldn't afford, Agent Provocateur), I spent a ton of time on the site, and it took me quite a while to figure out a way to get to the stuff I was interested in, and around all the stuff I was not. The system I've developed for putting together these posts, and doing it efficiently, is one that can be adapted for the casual shopper. The keys to this system are knowing the brands you like, bookmarks, and using (but knowing the limitations of) saved searches.
At this point, I could probably rattle off about 50 lingerie brands, and another 10 to 15 clothing brands that make lingerie, at the drop of a hat. However, a large portion of those lingerie brands only have pieces on ebay once in a blue moon (if ever), so those are what I use saved searches for. Of the remaining brands, there are about 15 major ebay presences, so those are where your personal preferences and bookmarks come in.
Seeing as you probably don't need to assemble a relatively neutral roundup of all different types of lingerie on ebay every week, you don't need to know all those brands. Make a list of the ones you really, really like, and add to it whenever you see a piece that makes your jaw drop. Search for each of those brands on ebay. If there's nothing on ebay, or very few things, save that search and ebay will email you when the occasional item pops up. Do not ever save a general search for a brand like La Perla, Felina or Agent Provocateur. It's not what the system is designed for.
If one of the brands you love has a ton of listings on ebay, you have a few options. You can save a search for something like (use quotes) "Agent Provocateur 34E green", or if your size is very rare, you can just go with "Agent Provocateur 30B"
While I do have saved searches like this, my preference is to use bookmarks. I have a bookmark in my browser that links to a general search for Agent Provocateur on ebay, with items sorted by 'Newly Listed.' Scroll through the new listings when you're bored, and you'll almost always see interesting things before they get emailed to you. For less die-hard shoppers though, saved searches are really the way to go.
2) Buying bras or suspenders is okay, buying underwear on ebay is gross.
First off, you should always wash new lingerie, especially from big brands, before wearing it. You don't know what kind of chemicals were used in the dying process, or what preservatives the piece had on it while it was in storage. When ordering from a store or brand online (or in person) you also don't know who tried it on before you because the item might be a return. There is always going to be a quality inspection when intimates are returned to these places; the difference with ebay is that you do it yourself.
That said, if washing someone else's dirty underwear is not something that appeals to you (...same here), there are a few easy ways to make sure that won't be an issue when buying on ebay.
If you're interested in an item designated as 'Pre-Owned', you can message the seller to make sure the item has been washed recently (this will often be in the description anyways), and if you're feeling particularly hygenic, you can even ask them to take a picture of the gusset (crotch lining).
A huge portion of bottoms on ebay are sold 'New with Tags' which should mean that the piece has its original tags, is in perfect condition and has never been worn. But yes, there is no way to know for certain whether someone did in fact try them on. This is where ebay buyer protection comes in. If the item you receive doesn't match the description or shows signs of wear, you get your money back, and the seller takes a major hit in credibility.
For bottoms under the 'New without Tags' category, the item should be in perfect condition, which is to say, never worn, so the same principles apply to items sold as 'New with Tags.' Gusset pictures are also an option here if desired.
Frequent ebay sellers, and companies that exist on ebay, live and die by their feedback ratings and reviews. Similarly, many sellers won't do business with buyers with very few feedback scores, or those with bad reviews. What this means for our purposes is while ebay essentially operates on an honor system, it's an honor system with a guarantee, and with consequences for people who try to take advantage of it.
So, in the freak event of buying a thong, ouvert, boyshort, teddy, or anything else intimate with a crotch on ebay and having it arrive in... a state of nature, rest assured that you're going to get your money back and the person who sent it to you is going to be in deep trouble.
For what it's worth, in all my ebay-ing, I've literally never had anything like that happen. But I still wash every piece of lingerie I buy before I wear it, period.
3) I don't want to buy bras on ebay because I can't try them on first.
There are a few components to this one.
First, I would say that this extends to buying any article of clothing online, not just bras (and not just on ebay). If you want it bad enough, and can afford it, this probably isn't going to stop you.
That said, as someone above a D-cup, sizing frustrations are extremely familiar territory. The first hurdle is knowing your size/range of sizes, but there are many fantastic articles already on this site about how to go about figuring that out, so I won't get into that. Suffice to say, you do need to do that part in person. Once you've got your range though, the next is coming to know what size you are in the brands you love.
This can be insanely tricky. Brand sizing differs widely; I'm a 32F/34E and my top drawer contains every standard size from a 34C to a 36G, all of which fit me (I think I took in the bands on two of them). And even then, there's wild inconsistency in sizes within major brands
...*Cough* Agent Provocateur.
Still. Unless you live in a city like New York, where you can run around trying on bras from AP, La Perla, Myla, Bordelle (insert your favorite brand here) in person, would you rather pay full price online to realize your size isn't what it should be for any given brand, or figure it out at 80% or more off?
While it depends on how common your size is, I will say that I also have an substantially wider selection of bras in my size on ebay than I would in most brick and mortar stores (...which is to say, three or four if I'm lucky). The selection for any size is also better than most online lingerie retailers because ebay isn't limited to the current season and last season's sale. You also get literally every price point, from $1 to $700+.
Finally, let's talk return policies.
I can't really give you a percentage for how many sellers accept returns, but while that would be a very low number for bottoms, it is substantially higher for bras. Most private sellers aren't big on accepting returns in general, but for companies that exist on ebay (look for feedback scores of over 300, some ranging into 30,000+), returns are borderline standard. The deals won't be quite as good through these sellers, but it does give you the chance to try on a bra you could never afford in person, and send it back for a full refund.
...I say full refund.
Read the fine print. If you see the words 'Restocking fee may apply,' that means that your return isn't for a full refund, it will be for the amount you paid, minus the aforementioned 'restocking fee,' which is usually 15% of your original order. Some sellers even go so far as to only offer credit to their ebay store. Also you many not be refunded the amount you paid for shipping.
Two more things. Please get, and keep track of, a tracking number for whatever you're sending back.
And most important of all, if you see that a seller's feedback score is below 98%, read their reviews. I personally won't buy anything from a seller with no feedback. To the extent that it's possible, know who you're doing business with.
That's it for now. Next week I'll be talking a bit more about what kinds of lingerie, and lingerie brands you can and cannot expect to find on ebay, and what you should watch for when making your purchases. I hope you found this article helpful though! Leave a comment below if you've got any questions or want some advice on cobbling together your own ebay system.
Happy bidding : )