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The do's and don’ts of selling things online


If your spring-cleaning has turned up a whole bunch of things you don’t want to throw out, but don’t want to keep, the solution might just be a few short keystrokes away. Tech expert Avery Swartz shares some simple tips on how to sell your belongings online safely and effectively, plus what apps you should use.

Say goodbye to Craigslist and Kijiji
Craigslist and eBay-owned Kijiji are the most popular online classifieds, but the’ve been around for a while and are outdated; both sites are desktop-based, so they won’t work great on your smart phone. From a safety standpoint, there’s no way to verify someone’s identity, and there are a lot of scammers.

Instead, try these newer apps:

VarageSale
This website and app is free and it’s a Canadian company started by a mom looking to buy and sell gently-used baby gear. This is how it works: you request to join a community/neighbourhood group near you and you have to be approved by the local community/neighbourhood admin. Once approved, you can look at people’s profiles and their ratings.

LetGo
This is another free app and website and it’s really fast and easy to create a listing. Just take a photo with your phone and then use the automatic listing feature (that used artificial intelligence to analyze the item in the photo), and the app will automatically tag, describe and price it. You can add more details if you want to. This app allows you to look at the buyer or seller’s profile and see their ratings from past transactions. People can also be verified for higher trust.

Bunz
This app is free and it’s more for trading your belongings (you can sell stuff, but it’s mostly for swapping). It’s very popular with young people in urban areas.

Take a proper photo of what you’re trying to sell
Take multiple photos from different angles, ideally on a white background. If the item has any identifying characteristics (i.e. logos, expiry date, etc…), be sure to get a photo of that, too.

Be specific in your description
Don’t forget to include important details like size, colour, brand, and age of the item. Be honest! If the item is used, or a little scuffed up, don’t say it’s brand new or in perfect condition.

Don’t pay in advance
…even if someone requests a fund transfer. Pay and exchange the item at the same time. Avoid cashiers cheques and money orders.

Meet in a public space
Coffee shops are a great example of a safe, public space to meet.

Trust your gut
If the app allows it, check the buyer or seller’s profile and ratings, and see if they’re verified. If anything seems odd about the transaction, or if the deal seems too good to be true, trust your gut and find another seller or buyer.