What is Facebook Marketplace?

At the moment, Facebook Marketplace is only available on the Facebook phone and tablet apps.

It uses what it knows about you, your likes, interests and location, to let you browse a relevant feed of things to buy from people who live near you. It also lets you list your own stuff for sale.

You can easily scroll through a list of things for sale and make an offer, or snap a photo of your item, add a description, set an asking price, and publish your listing. All using your existing Facebook profile.

But there isn’t an in-built payment feature, so it’s down to you to arrange to pay or meet up in person.

Avoid potentially unsafe and counterfeit goods

Facebook doesn’t verify the products for sale. If you can, it’s a good idea to check anything you want to buy in person before handing over your cash.

As always with online sales and as a general rule, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

It's best practice to check independent reviews of anything you want to buy online. It’s also a good idea to check if the product has been subject to a product recall, or if a safety notice has been issued

A person’s profile information, or lack of, could also give you a clue as to whether you want to meet them in person.

Buying on Facebook Marketplace

Because Facebook doesn’t facilitate the payment or delivery of items you will have to work out the details with the seller. We recommend:

Avoid advance payment Try to avoid paying for anything in advance without having seen it.

Take a screenshot It's a good idea to take a screenshot of the listing to keep a record of how the product was described when you purchased it. That way you have evidence should there be a dispute.

Buy for the right price Check other sites, such as Amazon, Ebay, Gumtree and other online auction alternatives, to find out about other prices, and make sure you compare the difference in cost of buying new versus second hand.

Check the profile of the person you’re buying from Consider causes for concern, such as:  

  • The profile has been set up very recently
  • There are lots of grammatical and spelling errors
  • They’ve not been tagged in any photos - a real person usually will have been
  • None of their Facebook friends are in their local area. The more global their friendship list, with very few or no local friends, the more suspicious.

What are my rights if I buy something faulty?

At present, Facebook Marketplace is only open to individuals, not businesses. So you're likely to be buying from a private seller in the same way as if you were buying from a classified advert in a local paper, and the principle of 'buyer beware' applies.

When you buy from an individual (as opposed to a retailer), the Consumer Rights Act says that the goods you get must be as they were described to you by the seller.

For example, something second-hand should not be described as new. If it is, the seller will be in breach of contract.

If a seller takes your money but doesn’t send you anything, or if a buyer takes your item without paying, this will also be a clear breach of contract.

But putting things right can be tricky. If you can’t reach an agreement between yourselves you’ll have to try alternative dispute resolution or the small claims court.

Report sellers not 'acting in good faith'

Facebook says buyers also have the option of reporting sellers who 'aren't acting in good faith'.

The company says it will 'quickly review and take the appropriate action, which could range from removing a post to banning someone from Facebook altogether'.

However, the company neither facilitates the payment nor delivery of items posted in the marketplace, and also isn’t able to verify whether a buyer or seller received what was agreed upon between them.

Other online marketplaces such as Ebay offer their own buyer and seller protection schemes. You can read our guide for more information on your protections when buying and selling on Ebay.

Look out for scams on Facebook Marketplace

Before Facebook launched Marketplace, selling things on the site was already hugely popular – with 450 different million buying and selling groups.

According to the government’s annual Intellectual Property Crime Report, social media has overtaken auction sites as the criminal channel of choice for selling counterfeit and pirated products.

Because Facebook doesn't offer an in-built payment feature, it’s down to you to arrange to pay or meet up in person. This could pose a risk as it’s sometimes tricky to tell whether the seller is genuine or fake.

It’s tough for scammers with fake accounts and fake friends to build up much interaction on their profile, so if someone has plenty going on with a filled-out profile, it’s much more likely that they’re legitimate.

Selling on Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace makes it easier than ever for you to snap a photo of your item, add a description, set an asking price and publish your listing.

But there are a few crucial tips to remember:

  • Ensure any photographs and description are honest and fair. If not, you could be on the receiving end of a claim for a refund
  • Keep a record of all correspondence with the buyer
  • Sell for the right price. Check other sites, such Amazon, Ebay Gumtree and other online auction alternatives, to find out about other prices.
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