Second hand online buying and selling has seen a boom since the beginning of the pandemic. And it still shows no signs of slowing down. It's a great way to reduce the environmental aspect of buying new, and an opportunity to make some serious savings.
There are a multitude of different marketplaces you can choose from, however, and some are more suited to some types of purchasing than others. Here are some of things to consider before hitting ‘buy’.
To find out more about how marketplaces such as Amazon, Preloved, Shpock and Vinted, as well as more locally-focused sites such as Facebook Marketplace, the Freecycle Network and Nextdoor compared in our customer survey, visit the .
In January 2022, we asked 4,000 people about their experiences of using second hand marketplaces. Overall they painted a very positive picture. Two thirds of the 4,000 we asked had used a second-hand marketplace to buy or acquire something for free online.
81% of those buyers were largely happy with their experience and would recommend the platform they used to others.
The most popular items bought using second hand marketplaces were books (33%), clothes, accessories or shoes (27%) and games and toys (19%).
Respondents commented on the environmental benefits, saying: ‘it saves having to clog up our planet with items that can be reused’ and ‘helps people and the environment’. Other positive benefits included the choice and quality of the items available and the ease of using the sites.
However, 10% of people did have to raise an issue concerning their purchase with the platform they used. Of those people, 15% were unhappy with the outcome.
So while there are plenty of positives to online bargain hunting, it’s wise to arm yourself with some information to ensure your quest for treasure doesn’t leave you with fool’s gold.
Buyer protection will normally cover you if:
But the terms and conditions that different marketplaces offer can vary significantly. For example, PayPal Buyer Protection gives you up to 180 days to raise a dispute, eBay gives you 30 and Vinted only 2 days from delivery.
Amazon Marketplace, Depop, Ebay and Vinted offer buyer protection as standard (with some exceptions).
Facebook has recently introduced Facebook Pay for some products you can buy on Facebook Marketplace – a 2% fee is charged to the seller and gives the buyer purchase protection. But this only applies to items shipped using Facebook’s delivery services.
Shpock offers the option of buyer protection if you press the ‘buy now’ button. You can arrange to collect yourself or arrange your own payment and then it won’t apply.
Preloved doesn’t have buyer protection as such but does offer an independent transaction platform called Trustap which is available for some product categories, but only if the buyer and seller both agree to use it.
It holds the payment by the buyer for an item securely until the package is delivered, and then the buyer has 24 hours to raise a complaint, before the money is released.
Freecycle (where everything must be free – there’s no buying), Gumtree and Nextdoor don’t offer any buyer protection.
While most products can be bought second hand, there are some it’s best to steer clear of for safety reasons.
We advise that you buy a new cot mattress for your baby if you can, and always buy new car seats for your babies and children.
The , the charity that raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), advises that it’s safest to use a new mattress for each baby that you have. There is some evidence that using a second hand mattress might increase the risk of SIDS very slightly.
We always recommend you buy a new child car seat over pre-owned. It’s impossible to know its full history and while outwardly it might look completely fine, there could be hairline cracks or fractures that could weaken its structural integrity meaning it doesn’t protect your child in a crash.
Similar advice applies for second hand bike or motorbike helmets.
You should also be wary of expensive tech and appliances that aren’t officially refurbished. Genuinely refurbished tech will usually come with a year’s retailer warranty. If you buy second-hand tech from a private seller you may be lucky and get a great deal but you should also be aware your consumer rights if the product is faulty are going to be very limited.
There are plenty of great options for getting hold of items without any money changing hands. The Freecycle Network and Freegle are two of the bigger examples. Some other marketplaces have free sections on their sites.
If you want something on offer try to make sure the person giving it away has earmarked specifically for you before you go to pick it up, sometimes people can offer goods on a first come, first served basis although the platforms tend to discourage this.