On used platforms, it is difficult to secure exchanges

(AFP) – Items that have been paid for but never shipped, defects have not been reported, counterfeit… There are many scams and sources of contention on used selling sites among individuals such as Vinted, Le Bon Coin or eBay, who They are trying to arm themselves to satisfy the demand of the most demanding consumers and a larger number.

“It’s a nest of tricks!” , disgruntled Mireille Bogerd, retired living in Besançon, is around Vinted’s stand. In January, she bought a virtual reality headset from the site for 250 euros but it did not arrive at her home.

When I consulted parcel tracking, I understood the scam. “I saw it had already been delivered, but four days before the sale and to another address. The seller gave me a fake dispatch notice,” she explains.

In fact, her salesperson took a photo of a parcel coupon that had already been sent and edited the photo to show Mirai’s name and address.

Mirai’s case is not isolated: testimonials like her proliferate on social networks with the development of the second-hand shopping habit.

According to Médiamétrie, one in two online buyers bought refurbished or used products in France in 2021.

To avoid scams, most platforms have adopted secure payment systems in recent years, which withhold funds until a buyer confirms receipt of their package. This allowed Mireille to be reimbursed two weeks later, after two weeks of discussions with Vinted customer service.

But even with this system, scams continue to develop. At Le Bon Coin, for example, sellers received fake payment confirmations via email from rapists, to take delivery of the item without paying for it, UFC-Que Choisir revealed in April.

– Bad faith arbitrators –

“Creativity knows no bounds in these scams,” Sarah El-Tayeb, sales director at eBay, told AFP. For the auction platform, which has launched second-hand sales among individuals online nearly 25 years ago, securing purchases and managing disputes remains a “daily challenge”.

“The greatest difficulty often lies in understanding which side there is bad faith,” explains Ms. Al-Tayeb.

So the platforms implement algorithms to detect fraudulent or poorly described articles and monitor messages exchanged, in addition to traditional customer service over the phone.

Faced with the multitude of disputes, some are also inviting third-party companies, such as the startup Triparty, that offer solutions to automate their management.

“Historically platforms only connected sellers and buyers, and they weren’t committed to product quality,” says Victorien de Doncker, President of Tripartie. “But now that they’re responsible for insuring payment, they’re obligated to deal with dissatisfaction.”

Ensuring a certain level of service on purchases also allows platforms to earn commissions, such as Vinted’s “Buyer Protection” set up in 2016.

To avoid problems or justify commissions, other platforms are choosing to get more involved in the sale.

For example, Campsider, which connects sellers and buyers of used sports equipment, screens each ad “manually”. “So we reject about 15% of ads,” founder Thomas Junot notes to AFP.

The site also offers the option to physically check items before sending them to a buyer, as does luxury used clothing site Vestiaire Collective.

“Our view is that the customer expects a level of service roughly comparable to that of newer ‘classic’ e-commerce sites, while second-hand products are likely to pose more risks,” says Mr. Juno.

The quality of service has become even more important with the intensification of competition in the flea market: in addition to specialized platforms, new traditional players such as Zalando, La Redoute, Kiabi and Cdiscount have recently been launched in this sector.

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