Sorry to hear of your troubles.
eBay can be a great place to save money....IF
....you can find an honest seller. Usually if they will talk to you, furnish their home phone number and home address you are fairly safe. Couple that with reading ALL of their reviews and you should be ok.
Talking with them on the phone and getting them to answer questions about their item gives me a good feel for how honest and trustworthy they really are. So far that has only failed me once and it ended up with the seller getting banned from eBay, so I got some redemption anyways.
Still it should always be "Buyers Beware" and trust your instincts.