A recent, and terrifying story has hit the media in Regina this week. A young woman was kidnapped and assaulted after meeting someone regarding the sale of a phone. It’s terrifying, puzzling, and infuriating all at once.
Being the frugal mom I am, selling products in garage sales, consignment sales and online is something I’m fluent in so much so that when we do a bedroom or toy room purge the kids ask, “Can we sell this?” because they understand that even though we’re not using something, there’s still value in it. We also donate many items too, which are sorted into a donate pile as we clean (check out this post on Tips for Saving Money in 2015 which shares more details).
While the public doesn’t know all the details of the recent incident in Regina, it seems to me that for the most part the victim took precautions to keep herself safe, and in no way should she be blamed one bit for the horrific actions of the person charged. That’s the scary part, you can follow safety measures and yes, something can still go wrong.
My tips for buying/selling online are below, and I shared some of them this week with David Kirton on Saskatoon Afternoon (click to listen to the podcast):
1. Don’t give out personal information about yourself online. When listing your item, just the basics are needed. Don’t share, “I’m a single mom and am getting rid of a lot of stuff!” No one needs to know that you may be home alone a good portion of your day. Remember this tip when arranging the pick-up of the item, at no point mention that you’re single, your husband works long hours, or you have a dog but it’s a harmless poodle. The person buying the item isn’t your friend and you don’t owe them anything, beyond basic courtesy.
2. At all times, you the seller are in control of the transaction. If the person seems pushy about the price, holding the item for a time they can pick it up not allowing you to sell it to someone else, being aggressive about anything – cut the transaction short. If the person feels ‘off’ or you don’t like the way they’re talking to you, you probably won’t like them face to face either. There will be other buyers.
3. If selling from your home, always ensure someone is home with you when the item is picked up. Kids do not count. A husband, sister, friend or neighbour is essential to your safety and well-being. I’ve had people pick up items when my husband is out of town, so I’ll message my neighbour to let him know – he putters around in his yard and I know he’s nearby if needed. I’ve had girlfriends over when selling items out the door (great discussions happen later about the value in a snowsuit worn one season, an example from last weekend!)
4. If uncomfortable selling from your home or unable to have someone with you, arrange to meet in a public spot of your choosing. Inside a restaurant or other location with people present is best. Don’t get into the other person’s vehicle or allow that person into yours, regardless of the weather. A public place isn’t public anymore when you’re in the confined space of a vehicle. I know many people who arrange to meet at a mall food court or inside a coffee shop.
5. Finally, remember that the item you’re selling is yours. The price set is yours. You are in control of the situation. As women especially, I think we have these weird gene where we feel awful being rude, and being polite or nice seems to overwhelm our common sense sometimes (think about the last time someone was aggressive with you while purchasing a large ticket item; women often smile and try and politely excuse themselves from a situation rather than calling out bad behavior on a salesperson. I’m not that girl!) If the situation feels weird, if the person is giving your spidey senses a nudge, put an end to the transaction whether you’re chatting online (stop the email/text discussion and return back an hour later saying whoops, it’s sold) or in public (leave, make a phone call, or engage a business owner or manager, if at any point you’re not feeling OK).
An overwhelming majority of online transactions are flawless and profitable, and people can find a huge selection of second-hand or new items at a discount shopping online. Selling your unwanted items is a great way to put money back in your pocket, keep items out of the landfill, and claim back your household space.
If selling items yourself makes you nervous, or you don’t have the time to do so (listing, answering questions and arranging the transaction can take a significant amount of time if you’re selling more than a few items), consider a spring/fall consignment sale (local organizations typically hold these twice a year) or take your children’s clothing and items to a local consignment store. Stores typically take 60% of the profit leaving you with 40%, but it’s money in your pocket for very little time and effort. Seasonal consignment sale splits vary.