The story is all too common: I go onto Kijiji (a Canadian Craigslist clone) and find what I had been looking for: an iPad. I see the post’s price and presume it’s an “anchor” price, so I start off asking if the device is available and if they’d take a lower number. What follows is finding out the iPad posting was misrepresented as a “personal” sale, when in fact it was a business selling the product at a firm price, quoted without tax. Another asshole muddying what’s known as the “grey” market for the rest of us. Too many of these types of experiences, and you start to wonder if this can ever be improved past this level of failed experiment.
Back when I published my column about online buying and selling, I jokingly called them “Laws”. These posts drew a mix of interesting opinions, and even some hate. I really thought, at the time, that knowing some of the things I learned the hard way – might help you when facing the daunting task of online commerce. Today, we’re on the cusp of what seems like a revolutionary shift in this process. Soon, iOS7 will include a feature that blocks subsequent users from activation (if turned on), previously stolen devices are becoming easier than ever to track, and even Microsoft was interested in keeping users from reselling games (but they relented). It’s going to become harder than ever to resell your valuable stuff. So I ask, why is it that an independent body hasn’t been developed to verify online goods?
You might remember the recent articles called Laws of craigslist: Sellers and Laws of Craigslist: Buyers. Both articles were a great introduction to the idea of buying and selling online and were an incredible success here on the blog. Such an amazing success, that I thought I would add some more points to those two articles. If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to go check those out and come back for more Online buying and selling tips.
While the benefits of buying products on Craigslist or Kijiji are many, including a lower price, speed of getting product, and often a larger selection than most places – the dangers are also there. Buying and selling online can be a serious minefield – that’s why I created what I called “Laws” for Buyers and Sellers when navigating this complicated jungle. But, the more you do it, the more likely you’ll come across someone who does something so unbelievable and crazy that you just have to tell the story.
As you’ll see, the dangers of people that will sell and handle these sales unscrupulously are so very real. After this experience, I think I’ve learned that that buying a product that you can’t fully test (at the moment of purchase) is a dangerous undertaking.