Did you know that more than three quarters of what is on eBay is actually brand new and not sold in an auction? I certainly didn't. Well, not until the team at eBay got in touch after reading my latest Bargain Hunter column in The Metro.
While I have written about eBay outlets in the past working at The Telegraph, but it seems that in the last few years, the market has exploded. Now shops such as Debenhams, Argos, Tesco and Dyson are flogging leftover stock on eBay – and discounts can be huge, so long as you know where to look.
What's on offer?
Instead of taking part in an auction and bidding on an item, shoppers must instead pay the price set by the retailer.
Products could be leftover or end of line stock, last season’s merchandise that no one is buying from the in-store sales, ex-display models or even items that have been refurbished. Many are in perfect working order, whereas others may have been repaired before they are repackaged for resale.
For instance, at the Dyson Outlet, you'll find a refurbed V7 Animal Cordless model for just £179.99 while the same product on the brand’s own website for £329.99 – or at a cost of a whopping 83% more.
While a quick look at the Lakeland eBay outlet shows that the Lakeland Dry-Soon Electric 3 Tier Heated Indoor Clothes Airer – adored by all Mumsnetters it seems – is selling for £54.99 with free delivery, 50% less than can be found on the brand’s own website where the identical product is listed at selling for £109.99
Your consumer rights
While buying a second-hand gadget through an online marketplace, even when it is described as "refurbished", is inadvisable due to the lack of consumer protection you'll have. It is very different when you buy the items direct from the manufacturer. This is because refurbished gadgets sold by the manufacturer come with a warranty which provides valuable protection should something go wrong – and eBay outlets are included here.
If you make a purchase online, thanks to the Consumer Contracts Regulations, you are entitled to a "cooling-off" period of 14 days from the day your goods arrive, during which you can change your mind and ask for a refund, no questions asked.
If a retailer neglects to inform you of these rights, the cooling-off period is extended to 12 months and 14 days. Consumers who pay with a credit card have added security on their purchases, but only if the items cost more than £100 and less than £30,000.
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, the credit card company is 'jointly and severally' liable with the retailer if something you buy is faulty, not as described, or fails to be delivered. This means that should something go wrong, shoppers can make a claim against the credit card provider rather than the retailer.
What's more, using your card to pay a small part of the total bill gives you protection, which is worth remembering if you do not want to put the whole of the bill on your card.
Bear in mind that if you pay with Visa debit card you have similar rights to those with a credit card. The ‘'chargeback' system means that whenever there is a problem with an item, the bank can do a claim on behalf of a customer through the payment provider.
Unlike the credit card protection scheme there is no minimum or maximum limit on the purchase. However, you must apply for compensation within 120 days of the date the goods were due to arrive.
What's the catch?
Bear in mind that they are run separately from the high street stores so you can't buy online and take returns to the branches if you change your mind.
However, remember that when you buy goods on the internet you still have the same rights as if you were shopping on the high street – and you are entitled to a 14-day cooling off period.