Shopping for furniture and don’t want to pay full retail price? Recommerce can be tempting, but it doesn’t come without risks. Read on to learn more about the dangers of buying secondhand furniture from a recommerce marketplace—and how to find better options.
What is Recommerce?
Reverse commerce, or “recommerce” for short, is the practice of buying and selling used items for someone else to reuse or repurpose. This trend started out with media and electronic items, but it has rapidly expanded over the last few years to include clothing, furniture, home decor, and just about anything else you can think of.
When it comes to used furniture for sale by owner, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are two particularly popular platforms to buy and sell items. And while both can offer you some of the benefits of recommerce—like lower-than-retail pricing on large items and unique pieces you won’t find in a store—they carry some serious risks, too. Before you dive into shopping, read on for Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist safety tips and red flags.
Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace Safety: Things to Look Out For
1. Stranger danger
This one isn’t limited to just online buying and selling — it applies to pretty much any activity on the internet. You never truly know who you’re talking to from the other side of a screen, and yes, there are predators and potentially violent criminals out there who use online commerce platforms to find their next victim.
Always bring a friend to pick up items you buy from an online seller. And if possible, meet in a public place during daylight hours (restaurant or store parking lots are great for this!) instead of going to someone’s home address to pick up an item. It’s best not to have an item delivered unless you know the seller in real life, as giving out your own address isn’t safe, either.
2. Unclean furniture
Stains and smells
Bringing stained or smelly furniture into your home is, well, kind of gross. Besides the ick factor, stains can carry germs into your home, and unpleasant odors can signify a bigger problem that may not be obvious at first glance.
If you think only your shower can get moldy, think again. Upholstered furniture and even wood furniture can harbor mold. Bringing a moldy piece into your home can take a toll on your health and the health of those you live with—and that hazard isn’t worth even the coolest treasure you might find on Craigslist.
Pests and dust mites
Bedbug or termite infestations are real risks of buying secondhand furniture, and furniture that’s been sitting in storage for a long time may be full of dust mites. Not to mention, these things can often go undetected, so you may not know they’re a problem until long after it’s too late.
3. Dishonest sellers and items that aren’t as advertised
When you shop at used furniture stores, you can usually see and touch what you’re buying. With used furniture for sale by owner on Craigslist or another recommerce platform, you might not get that luxury.
Many online sellers are honest about the condition and quality of the furniture they sell. But unfortunately, just as many (if not more) aren’t. Some sellers may outright lie, and some may not even be aware that their piece isn’t what they think it is. Always thoroughly inspect a piece of furniture in person before sending payment, and if the seller won’t allow you to do this, move on.
4. Subpar quality
Photos can’t always tell the whole story! You might purchase a table that’s advertised as “wood,” but end up with a low-quality particleboard piece from a big box store. Or, you might not see major dents, structural issues, stains, or tears in photos, but they could be glaringly obvious in person. There’s no way to tell the difference between a truly high-quality item and a cheap knockoff from photos, and that can come back to bite you.
Sadly, financial fraudsters have some sophisticated tricks up their sleeves. If you provide them with your personal email (which is never a good idea!), scammers posing as sellers can fabricate and send faked emails that appear to be from your bank or a payment processor. Clicking on these emails can have consequences ranging from malware on your computer to stolen funds, and they can spiral out of control quickly. No matter what payment method you use, you should never have to have a credit check or provide credit card or bank account information to purchase something from an online recommerce marketplace. Always be wary of anyone who requests ANY financial information beyond a username for peer-to-peer payment platforms (more on those below in tip 5!).
Personal information scams
Spam calls to your phone might be a minor annoyance, but a stolen identity is a whole different league of hassle. Unfortunately, scammers can often access loads of personal information about you or open fake accounts in your name. Don’t provide your phone number or email to anyone you don’t know. Definitely don’t share any verification codes you might receive via email or text, as a scammer could use this to change your password and access your money or personal data in the blink of an eye.
5. Payment fraud
Some scams aim to access your bank account, but some just aim to steal money from you in a one-time transaction. Fraudsters can put up a great front as a real seller with a real item—and then disappear as soon as they have your money. Unfortunately, fake postings and scammers aren’t always easy to spot, but here are a few red flags:
- A hot-ticket or high-demand item that is priced suspiciously low: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
- A seller that won’t meet you in person: Shipping scams are prevalent, too, even for larger items.
- A seller that insists on using the phone or another platform to communicate: Facebook and Craigslist both provide channels of communication for buyers and sellers to use when transacting online, and anyone who asks to use a different platform may be trying to steal your information or lead you into a scam.
- A seller who is unreasonably firm about using an obscure payment app. Most people use more than one app to receive payments, so be wary of demands to use a payment platform you haven’t heard of or don’t already use.
Some online recommerce platforms offer protection against these types of scams that can help you get your money back, but those protection policies are often extremely limited. Does Facebook Marketplace have buyer protection? Not always. Facebook has very specific parameters around the types of protected transactions (even if you use their integrated Facebook Pay system), and local pickup transactions aren’t covered.
Is it safe to use PayPal for Facebook Marketplace instead? Is Venmo safe for Facebook Marketplace purchases? Unfortunately, purchase protection can be hit or miss in most peer-to-peer payment apps (like Venmo or PayPal), too, so do your research before using them. When in doubt, assume your online and social media purchases won’t be protected. With that in mind, it’s best to physically inspect an item and be absolutely certain you want it before you send a payment for it.
Skip Shady Used Furniture Sellers: Turn to CORT Furniture Outlet
When it comes to investing in furniture, you want to be sure that you’re getting what you pay for! At CORT Furniture Outlet, you’ll find a wide inventory of gently used, professional-grade furniture that’s up to 70% off new retail prices. You won’t have to deal with unreliable online sellers or worry about not loving your purchase.
When you choose to shop at CORT Furniture Outlet, you’ll know what to expect. We maintain high standards regarding cleanliness — our gently-used items undergo a thorough, professional cleaning process before being included in our inventory. You can also expect transparency when you shop with CORT Outlet. Each of our items is graded and priced based on wear, allowing you to know exactly what you’re getting. Not to mention, our pieces are all protected and eligible for a return up to 14 days after purchase. Online marketplaces aren’t in your corner — shop from a brand that IS. Stop by your local CORT Furniture Outlet today!