How to choose a face mask on eBay and Amazon
Cut through the clutter and get delivery fast with these key tips.
Face masks are in high demand as rules around their use multiply, and many retailers are running short on stock. One of the best online options for masks is buying through eBay or Amazon. Both retail giants act as hubs for numerous other stores and sellers, meaning you've got a better chance of finding an in-stock mask.
But how can you sort through the thousands of results that show up and find the best deal? Follow these tips to make the process a little easier.
1. Make your initial search specific, then filter
There are a lot of mask sellers out there. My search for "face masks" on eBay just now found more than 94,000 results. On Amazon, the number was 40,000. Part of the problem is that the search term includes not only protective face masks, but also cosmetic ones (the kind you slather on your face to improve your skin).
So start searching with a more specific term. Know you want reusable cloth masks? Search for those. After disposable face masks instead? Make sure the word "disposable" is in there.
You can also filter your initial set of results. On eBay, look in the left-hand column on your computer screen or tap "Filter" at the top right on your mobile phone. You'll see options that let you filter by country of manufacture, gender, colour, price and location among others.
On Amazon, you can similarly filter by store, brand, seller, department and review rating. On your computer, the options appear in the left-hand column. On your mobile, they appear as drop-down icons at the top of the screen; scroll left and right to see all the choices.
2. Check your list by availability
One of the more useful filters on both sites is item availability. Need something in a hurry? Just look for listings with one-day or two-day delivery. On eBay, you select this under "Guaranteed Delivery". On Amazon, it's under "Delivery Day".
Given the huge demand right now, this won't always produce many results. At that point, you'll need to switch that filter back off and start checking individual listings for when they predict delivery. Both eBay and Amazon will quote an expected delivery date, though this will often be a range (such as 31 July-5 August).
Filtering by location can also be helpful here. If you're in Melbourne, for instance, a seller in Melbourne will generally be able to send goods to you faster than one in another state and may offer pick-up options. On eBay, you can use the "Item location" filter to search for goods within a set distance from a given postcode. (Amazon doesn't have a similar option, alas.)
3. Take advantage of free shipping options
Finder analysis shows that shipping costs are a big proportion of total mask costs. So any options that offer free shipping are worth considering, though you'll always want to consider the total cost. Paying $50 but getting "free shipping" isn't as good as paying $30 with $10 extra for shipping.
On eBay, you can filter for free postage under "Delivery options". You can also filter for listings that offer free click and collect or local pick-up.
On Amazon, you can filter for "Free Delivery by Amazon".
If you're a member of eBay Plus or Amazon Prime, you'll be eligible for free shipping from some sellers who might not offer it otherwise. Both schemes offer free trials, so that's an option to consider.
On Amazon, you can choose Amazon Prime options for "Ships from Australia" or "Imports into Australia". Free shipping on imported Prime goods usually requires you to spend over $49 and isn't available for everything, so check the "Ships from Australia" options first.
On eBay, you can filter by "eBay Plus" to see goods that qualify for free delivery.
4. Check out seller ratings
Got a shortlist to consider but want to be sure your seller will deliver as expected? Look to the seller ratings and reviews, and focus on sellers with high ratings.
On eBay, click on the seller name to see reviews and other details, including total feedback (both positive and negative) and feedback ratings for item quality, postage time and postage cost.
On Amazon, click on the store name (listed next to the text "Ships from and sold by"). You can view feedback from previous customers.
Want more help with masks? Check out our overview of face masks, what doctors recommend when using them, the rules that apply in Australia and our regularly-updated guide on where to buy reusable masks.