Thousands of East Auckland residents are turning their backs on TradeMe in favour of social media sites like Facebook to buy, sell and trade. But there are pitfalls if sales go bad.
Pakuranga, Botany and Howick Buy and Sell is just one of many Facebook group pages that enable members to publicly post photographs and descriptions of items they wish to sell.
The page has nearly 4500 members selling everything from cars to furniture, toys, and clothing.
Charlotte Hurst of Pakuranga said she started using Facebook to trade nearly a year ago because it was less hassle than TradeMe.
"I don't use TradeMe because you have to pay for it. You also have to list things individually and put them into categories. But on Facebook you just whack it all up at once and it sells really quickly."
Originally she used Facebook to sell clothing that her son Lincoln had grown out of, but has since sold toys, maternity clothing and furniture.
She said users can even buy alcohol and cigarettes, but there is a level of risk for buyers.
"Sometimes people get abusive or don't follow through with the purchase. Or they sell faulty or stolen goods."
Hurst said she watched a public witch-hunt unfold on the Facebook page after a man was "ripped off" by a woman who sold him a faulty television.
"He had copy of her photo and then asked people on Facebook if they could help him find her. Basically, the photo was shared and it went viral until they caught her."
Counties Manukau East area commander Inspector Wendy Spiller said police are working closely with second-hand dealers in the district to curb the trade of stolen property.
That includes the use of the anonymous tip line Crimestoppers. Facebook is an international site, but anyone trading in New Zealand is subject to this country's trading regulations.
"It is illegal to sell alcohol online without a licence. People can be fined up to $10,000, and police are certainly interested in hearing about people illegally selling alcohol without a licence, whether it is on Facebook or otherwise."
Meanwhile, head of TradeMe's trust and safety team John Duffy said the site hasn't seen any dents in trading due to Facebook commerce. But it understands TradeMe sellers are supplementing sales with Facebook selling.
He said social networking sites are great at connecting people, but don't do much to regulate trading conduct.
"We understand it's generally small and fraught with risks around fraud and lack of support when things go bad. Our team works hard to make sure TradeMe is a safe, trusted place to buy and sell."
Phone 0800 555 111 to contact Crimestoppers.
- Eastern Courier