Protect yourself when buying, selling online

As an avid classifieds, eBayer and Kijiji buyer/seller, I was disturbed this week when Beaumont RCMP sent out this press release:

As an avid classifieds, eBayer and Kijiji buyer/seller, I was disturbed this week when Beaumont RCMP sent out this press release:

“Robbery with violence: Beaumont, Alberta -On Monday Oct. 17 at approximately 8:45 p.m. Beaumont RCMP were dispatched to an assault that had just taken place. The male victim was attempting to sell items through a social media platform and made arrangements to meet the potential buyers at his residence. Two males arrived at the victim’s residence with the pretense to purchase his advertised items but assaulted the victim and took the merchandise without paying.”

RCMP had some good advice for online sellers: “Avoid meeting potential buyers while alone and to weigh the risks of having potential buyers coming to their homes. If possible, plan to meet in a neutral public area.”

It’s pretty sad when things in Alberta are getting this bad.

Some readers may not be aware of what eBay or Kijiji are. EBay is, in essence, an online auction and shopping mall where you can buy, sell or do both. You go to the eBay website, and search for items online. EBay can literally have over a million items for sale at once and virtually all transactions are handled through Paypal, credit card and the mail. EBay can be expensive to use because the site collects a 10 per cent fee on your sales, plus Paypal charges a fee too.

Kijiji is a “less than free” website that acts as an online flea market. “Less than free” means you can post an ad for free, but it’s instantly buried beneath dozens and dozens of other ads; for a fee, your ad can be bumped up to the top. Posters list their items for sale and buyers can inquire or agree to buy. Kijiji tends to be regional in nature; that is, to use it effectively, you must select “Edmonton Kijiji,” “Red Deer Kijiji” etc. Since the listings are regional, buyers and sellers tend to meet in person to conclude their transactions that way. So a buyer may tell you he’ll meet with you alone, but show up with five of his burly friends.

I use both of these sites to buy and sell and some words of warning are especially in need where Kijiji is involved. We aren’t in the Alberta anymore where you can leave your truck running with the doors open, leave your home unlocked all night or invite a stranger into your house to discuss money.

When using Kijiji, I’m very careful. When creating Kijiji listings I don’t use my real name, I use an online nickname so nobody except legitimate buyers know who I am. Second, my Kijiji profile doesn’t offer any personal information like home phone numbers . Kijiji offers a good quality messaging system that is capable of handling all communication needs.

Lastly, I do not meet with Kijiji buyers at my home or even tell them where I live; as illustrated above buyers may be more interested in robbing your home than doing business. Always agree to meet in a busy public place like a restaurant parking lot or municipal building and conduct the transaction there.

Oh, one more tip on listing in The Pipestone Flyer classifieds, Kijiji or buy and sell Facebook pages: stick to your guns when it comes to price. If you’re asking $200 for that rare hockey card, don’t cut your price because the first person gives you some sob story. Those people are called “lowballers.” For all you know, that lowballer could be making $100,000 a year salary.

Make those guys pay full price.

Stu Salkeld is the editor of The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

 

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