Is it Safe to Buy and Sell on OfferUp?

I have been a reseller for as long as I can remember.

Growing up in the early days of the Internet, the concept of being able to sell something sitting around the house to an eager stranger on the web was the coolest thing to me. OfferUp serves a unique niche, so let’s learn more about it.

OfferUp vs. Ebay/Mercari

Ebay and Mercari are excellent sites to sell things that are easy to ship from your own home, but what about the bigger items? Who wants to figure out how to ship a bicycle, dresser, bookshelf or electric guitar? Also, one of the most difficult parts of selling larger items on Ebay is the item getting damaged in transit and then having to file a claim with USPS, FedEx or UPS.

These scenarios make OfferUp a valuable alternative. Although OfferUp now does offer a shipping service, it’s more commonly considered to be an in person transaction service.

What is OfferUp?

OfferUp is a smart phone app where sellers can list items for sale, and buyers can browse items available by allowing the app to check their location or by typing in a zipcode. The app is very user friendly and makes it easy for a buyer to search for an item or merely browse. If you are interested in an item, you can send the seller a message making an offer or further inquiring about the item.

You can find just about anything on OfferUp: bicycles, music equipment, home decor, sporting gear, and even automobiles. From the seller’s perspective, it takes minutes if not seconds to list an item.

My Experiences as an OfferUp Seller

I have been an OfferUp user for roughly five years, but prior to that, I’ve done quite a few sales on Craigslist. I’ve even sold a broken down car for cash. Much to the chagrin of our news media that tries to scare us to death of everything, most people in this world are good people. I have never had a bad experience. I’ve sold items to people of almost every demographic in existence, even delivering items to what some would call “bad neighborhoods” and never had a problem. However, that isn’t always the case. Let me offer some tips and reflections on my OfferUp experiences.

For Sellers: Be Honest About Your Item

When you are the seller, make sure you offer as many details as possible about the item. Be honest about any deformities on the item. Sometimes it feels silly to give details, but I’ve found that being as honest as possible is always the best policy. There’s truly nothing worse than when someone shows up to purchase an item and they back out because they notice a defect on the item.

Here are two real life examples:

  • A former roommate of mine left behind a television, it worked fine but did not have a remote. I made it very clear in the description that it was not my television and that I had not used it often, but tried it out and it appeared to work and that my roommate said it did. I also made it clear I did not have the remote. Getting facts like this out of the way makes sure you aren’t wasting your time and the buyer’s time.
  • I had an old bicycle, it was a good brand, but the tires were flat, likely needed new tubes and the chain was really rusty. I wasn’t super clear about it on the initial description. A buyer showed up, took a look and said I overpriced it. I lowered the price and beefed up my item description. A new buyer came along and the sale went very smoothly.

Not only is being honest the right thing to do, but also in being very descriptive about the item in messages with the potential buyer it helps build a sense of trust and rapport. This will help the transaction go more smoothly.

For Buyers: Ask a lot of Questions

The same can be said for being the buyer. Make sure you know what you are buying. There’s nothing worse than showing up to see an item and finding out there’s flaw and defects that make it a deal breaker. Additionally, this too helps build the rapport between you and the seller.

Here are some question ideas:

  • Are there any defects or problems with this item that you know of?
  • If it is larger item, will it fit in my vehicle?
  • Is the item in full working condition?

It is always good to know what to expect and not make an awkward unnecessary trip where you have to ultimately back down from the deal.

Check the Buyer or Seller’s Ratings

Ratings can also help determine the reliability of the buyer or seller. Once a transaction is completed on OfferUp, you can choose to give 1-5 stars to the buyer or seller. Obviously, like any other rating system, the higher and more ratings they have will help you determine the chance of success for the transaction.

Other Verification Methods by OfferUp

OfferUp has a feature called TruYou where a user can apply to be TruYou verified by uploading a state issue ID such as a driver’s license, your cell phone number, and a selfie photo. Users can also confirm their phone number, e-mail, and Facebook account. OfferUp also has profile badges for being verified to take and send payments on the app and if you have a strong reply rate. These indicators can help determine the legitimacy of the buyer or seller as well.

OfferUp profile badges

Bottom line

The bottom line, my personal experience with OfferUp has been almost universally positive. It’s not an app I use with significant frequency, but enough that, if you use these tips and common sense, it is more than likely your transaction will be smooth and safe.

Leave a Reply