Monthly Archives: October 2018

Facebook Marketplace experiences

My last post’s sobering view of ebay could be considered heavy reading so I’ll try and lighten the tone a little bit.  Today’s focus is on Facebook Marketplace and what it’s like as both a seller and as a buyer.  I’ve been using this platform to sell stuff (namely accumulated baby must-have items) for the past couple of years so I consider myself in a good place to comment.

 

What you quickly note when using Facebook Marketplace is that it’s a very rudimentary extension to the Facebook platform.  Very little is actually custom-built or bespoke for a buying experience.  How so?

  • When you set up a listing, it looks and feels like a Facebook status post.
  • When you contact a seller it begins a private message group, using the same functionality you use for instant messaging your friends.

Despite Facebook’s minimal investment in this they’ve thought it through a little and made it fairly quick and easy to sell something from your phone.  You open the app, choose market place, take a photo, put some text in, choose a group or groups to advertise it in and that’s it.  Granted the Android app has been a little buggy (it freezes after you submit the listing but the listing does actually go through behind the scenes).

There are no complexities around listings, nothing worth pointing out other than a feature to refresh your listing so it goes to the top of the group it’s advertised on (but bear in mind you can do this on a limited basis).

And no fees.  This is both a good and a bad thing.  I’ll get to this in the next section.

Who uses Facebook Marketplace?

You find all manner of different demographics, but strictly registered Facebook users.

The community is very diverse, and the only structure is that imposed by the Facebook Groups you submit your listing to, it is a bit of a free-for-all.  And remembering that there’s no fees, you then have people putting just about anything up there.

How can I tell a good buyer/seller from a bad one?

Simple. You can’t.   To keep peace of mind, you’re best placed just offering a collection-only model to your selling.  I’ve not had problems to date with legitimate buyers coming in and paying and collecting their item.  I’ve also been a buyer and snapped up a few things also.

However, I have noticed some negatives that stand apart.  Given you’re dealing with Joe Public, I’ve personally witnessed the following which appears more prevalent than the likes of ebay:

  • Time-wasters.  They’ll ask if an item is available and then not follow-up when you respond positively.
  • Unreliable types.  I’ve had prospective buyers arrange and then cancel pickup times on too many occasions to count.
  • Chancer bidders.  Asking for a 50% discount from the price you’re advertising at.
  • Aggressive language being used, as if you are on this earth to service the buyer in question.

There is a rating system, but it’s not sophisticated in any way.  When someone contacts you as a seller, you can rate them as a buyer.  And vice versa.  What this means is you can get and assign ratings to people that you may have had no dealings with other than a brief message.  Given my somewhat curt nature, if I notice someone fits into the aforementioned negative types I tend to shut down the conversation fairly abruptly.  To date I’ve just had negative reviews as they seem to be the only types motivated enough to leave feedback.  I just can’t bring myself to tell a satisfied buyer to not forget to leave me a positive rating – that would be lame.

Overall thoughts

Generally, it’s a good place to attempt to pass on your stuff and get something out of it.  It’s more hostile an environment than ebay, and you get a lot more bozos to deal with which is the downside.  Another downside is the significantly smaller market you can sell to, particularly since you’re likely to be offering a collection-only service.

There doesn’t appear to be any obvious way of getting Facebook intervention when things go wrong – you’re left to your own devices though.  This is a significant point to be aware of.

 

When things go wrong – Parcel2Go, Hermes, ebay

On this series of blog posts over the coming week I’m going to be talking about the support channels of the bigger online platforms and how well or badly they have done through my own personal experience. I’m covering the likes of ebay (this article), Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, airbnb and booking.com. The focus will be from the perspective of selling or buying services from the platform in question.

The spoiler

Here’s a spoiler for you: they mostly suck. I’ve had dealings with these online platforms for a very long time, in some cases over a decade.  A recurring theme appears to be a lack of investment in customer support  – it’s either deliberately limited or hard to get a hold of in the first place.

This article will be on ebay, touching Parcel2Go (a courier price aggregator) and finally Hermes (a courier company).

Here’s how the story goes

As a seller, I sold an old tablet on ebay for parts or not working. It was an Android tablet that kept restarting itself. The winning purchaser promptly provided payment for the tablet. The very next day I went to my usual go-to parcel company, Parcel2Go to get a good deal on a parcel delivery service. I chose Hermes since their drop-off was around the corner from my work and sent the parcel off.

What followed was a completely disproportionate and somewhat infurating response from the buyer. Read on..

You’ll never guess what happened next

Here’s the transcript:
Buyer Message 1: “Are u taking the piss there’ is a empty box been sent to me we’res the tablet I payed u for ?”
Buyer Message 2: “U need to refund my money back as this box u sent me is empty I know what your game is u are a thief”

My message response: Was the box completely empty?
Your accusations are very inappropriate at this stage.

Buyer Message 3: “U prick u did this on perpous low life bastard money hungry son of a bitch”

And on it went. So the buyer (according to him anyway), received a package that was opened and empty. And he presumed I would, wait for it, go through the hassle of sending him an empty parcel!?

What did I do?

By this stage I:

  • Raised case with Parcel2Go.  Note there is no support phone line or email address.  There is a webchat which is obscured, however on google investigations discovered it to be here: https://www.parcel2go.com/help-centre/livechat By the way, they take 7-14 working days to respond to these queries.
  • Raised a case with Hermes. Again no support phone line, or a web chat that works (the counter which tells you how long to wait for keeps on resetting itself).
  • Called out to ebay, in three different ways, the abuse I was receiving from this ebay member.
  • Registered this tablet as stolen with the CheckMEND database and obtained a criminal reference number for the theft with the police

While trying to resolve the matter, I was receiving a continual stream of abuse by the buyer in question! I reported the user’s abuse language with ebay in three different ways (through the feedback channel, through a webchat, and through a ‘case’) but clearly nothing occurred because there was no change.  He also left me negative feedback despite my continually chasing.  I asked ebay to step in and deal with him but got no response.

The buyer strikes back!

Before I heard back from the Parcel2Go or Hermes regarding the investigation, the user raised a case with ebay:

  • The case was opened on 22-Oct-18 12:36.
  • The case was promptly closed on 22-Oct-18 12:48

So it appears it took ebay a little less than 15 minutes and the resolution?  They determined the buyer was entitled to a full refund. So not only do I have to pay the buyer the amount I supposedly sold the tablet for, but I also have to incur the Paypal and seller fees too!  Objectively you could say I fulfilled all the expectations one could have as a seller, and yet I’m £100 out of pocket..

My conclusions

  • I can conclude ebay doesn’t make any effort in addressing rude and abusive behaviour.  I called it out three times and nothing appears to have happened, no actions or next steps were committed to.
  • If you’re selling on ebay, you’re best off buying postage from ebay directly – there is an option for you to do this.  Ensure there’s insurance for the full price of the winning bid.  If it’s a value higher than £20, then make sure you get packaging that is new and will be blatantly obvious if someone has tampered with it.  This also means the tracking is in the purchase history and you don’t have to do any chasing when things go wrong.  Another side note here is that ebay will rule in your favour, but that’s the topic of a later blog post.
  • Positive feedback doesn’t always reveal the true story.
  • Don’t use a parcel company or provider that has no quick method of speaking to a human.  This includes Parcel2Go  and Hermes1

Lastly, for reference, I have no reason to withhold this buyer’s ebay profile, it’s: moshabba75_2013. He appears to earn his living buying old tablets and supposedly refurbishing them.  If you’re on the lookout for buying a used tablet from this ebay user, bear in mind the kind of person you’re dealing with.  If you’re selling a used tablet, I’d block the user if you want piece of mind.

Next article?  I set my magnifying glass on Facebook Marketplace.

1Parcel2go still haven’t got back to me, 9 working days on. Hermes’ response to my request for them to open an investigation into a tampered package was a message 4 days later along the lines of ‘Your package appears to have been delivered. Let us know if we can help in any way’. When I repeated my request for an investigation into the tampered package delivered the response 3 days later on was ‘We will arrange a sweep of the depot to find your parcel’. Hooo boy..