January 7, 2017 – Some of the best deals for vintage and modern Star Wars items can be found in the various Facebook Star Wars groups. While the groups are not a replacement for almighty Ebay, think of them as supplements and an additional way to obtain some hard-to-find vintage or modern Star Wars figures, vehicles, parts and other items.First, of course, you have to be granted permission to join the usually-closed groups. Second, be sure to read and follow the rules posted by the moderators, lest you get banned and booted off the group. Third, as with all things on the Internet, you have to be careful and do your homework before offering to buy an item.
Advantages of Using Facebook Groups
For the most part, Sellers will list lower prices than they would on Ebay. The reason is that they don’t have to factor in Ebay’s “final value fee” (usually 10% off the top) or Ebay’s listing fee.
In addition, some Sellers may be motivated to not charge as much either because they simply want to get rid of an item, are psychologically free of Ebay’s commission fees, or feel sympathetic toward selling to like-minded collectors. If you are selling to a “friend” or acquaintance, you are more likely to offer a lower price than you would if selling to the public.
● Less Competition:
The Facebook groups are not structured as auction sites. Many expressly forbid auction-type bidding, including listings that say “make an offer” or “PM (personal message) me for price”. Consequently, there is no upward-pressure on prices, which bidding would otherwise encourage.
Groups tend to be small or medium-sized, so there is far less competition compared to Ebay. (If you click on the “Members” tab, you can see exactly how many members are in the group. For the “Star Wars Toys (Vintage-Modern)” group, there are 5,977 members plus 3 administrators.)
● Instant Purchase = Less Anxiety:
Similar to Ebay’s “Buy It Now” option, you can make an instant purchase in a group so long as the Seller is online and accepts your offer. In both venues, the instant purchase means less anxiety. You no longer have to worry about last-minute sniper bidders or having to wait a week for the auction to close, which are weaknesses of Ebay.
● Instant Communication:
Facebook is far more dynamic than Ebay. If you have ever posted a question to an Ebay Seller, you know it may take a day or two for a response. By contrast, Facebook communications – whether in the public listing or via private messaging – is immediate if both parties are online. The Facebook messages are also permanent in case you ever need to review past dialogue or, heaven forbid, need to resolve a dispute.
● Community Feedback:
One of the joys of a Facebook group is reading all the comments, some ignorant, some snarky, but many more helpful and knowledgeable, about a listing. For example, if a newbie Seller lists a Star Wars figure at a ridiculously high price, you can be sure that other members will comment and challenge the price. Other times, a Seller will ask the group what a fair price is or for help in identifying an item.
The give-and-take of these discussions helps to keep everyone honest and informed. If the Seller seems too defensive, dodgy and shady, the red flags will advise you to take your business elsewhere.
If you turn on your Facebook group notifications, all new postings will be delivered to your smartphone or mobile device.
● A More Personal Experience:
Ebay is rather impersonal. The identity of Ebay users are, for the most part, hidden behind a wall. By contrast, you can – and should – research Facebook Sellers. Their profiles will tell you the date they joined Facebook and the group, some personal details, how many friends they have, and how active they are on Facebook.
If the purported Seller has just joined Facebook, has scant activity and few friends, these clues ought to be a red flag of a newly created and possibly false account. So proceed with caution.
● Lower Buyer-Confidence Level:
Unlike Ebay, the Facebook Buyer has no way of knowing whether the Facebook Seller has sold two items or 2,000 items in his lifetime and how dependable he is. In the absence of Ebay-type feedback comments and ratings, Facebook users have to be extra careful.
● No Ebay Buyer Protection:
Neither Facebook nor the Facebook group administrators offer a “buyer protection plan”. The transaction is solely between Seller and Buyer.
In the event the Buyer does not receive an item, or the item is not as described, her recourse is limited to: (A) Attempt to resolve the problem directly with the Seller; (B) Ask the administrators to intervene (which they are not required to do, though they might warn or suspend the Seller); and (C) file a dispute with Paypal.
● Poorer Quality Photos:
You will notice that the Facebook Group photos of items are, generally speaking, single shots and not of the highest quality. This makes it harder to inspect an item. By contrast, an experienced Ebay Seller will offer multiple photos from different angles, and Ebay allows you to magnify or zoom in on the object.
● No Uniformity of Information:
Facebook Sellers sometimes have to be reminded by other users in the group to provide additional details, including shipping prices, whether international shipping is offered, better quality photos or a better description. By contrast, Ebay offers a template so that routine information is almost always provided.
● No Search Option:
There is no search option in Facebook groups – other than clicking on the “Sales Posts” tab. Essentially, there are a lot of hit-and-miss opportunities in the groups – similar to a yard sale – and the early birds often walk away with the Star Wars worms. Blink and you might miss some great purchase opportunities.
Remember that a Facebook transaction is strictly between the Buyer and the Seller, so do your homework before you buy. And by all means, use Paypal (PayPal Goods and Services) or Google Wallet. If an item is not received or does not match what was described, Paypal offers some protection to the Buyer.
Be sure to type a full and accurate description of the item you are to receive before approving your Paypal payment. In addition, take a screenshot of the item and description. These two pieces of evidence will allow Paypal to review your claim as there is no Ebay page to look at and the Facebook Seller could alter his/her original post.
On balance, Facebook groups can be a great tool for the avid Star Wars collector if you know where to look and how to be a smart shopper.