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Caveat e-mptor: There are risks

August 09, 2008|Janet Eastman

THE INTERNET has made it easier to find antiques, compare prices and talk with sellers worldwide, but antiquing online has drawbacks. Some shoppers underestimate shipping and insurance fees, which can be exorbitant. Other considerations:

Unscrupulous sellers: Some websites have feedback ratings and list the number of transactions that dealers have completed. But are they qualified to assess antiques? Can you direct complaints to a retail store? Will they buy back a piece if you're unsatisfied?

Verification: Are you buying true period furniture, made when that style was new and popular? Or are you paying for a modern reproduction? What proof do you have?

Condition: Photos don't always reveal history. Have all repairs been divulged?

Fine print: "A friend bought a chair that he fell in love with on EBay. He was perplexed when weeks later he got a very small box in the mail," says Shawn Henderson, EBay design director. "It turned out to be dollhouse furniture." Turns out, he hadn't read the description of the piece.

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