Kalahari Marketplace. Safer than Gumtree?

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Have you ever tried selling anything on Gumtree? Whenever I always wondered why they kept putting little warnings in the sidebar.

Avoid fraud by meeting all sellers in-person to pay for items. Gumtree does not offer any transaction or payment services.

I didn’t think people would actually fall for blatant scams until it almost happened to me. We had this extra laptop computer that was just collecting dust and though we could use Gumtree to sell it quickly. It was a Friday afternoon and we were planning to go away for the weekend. We got a call from a man who wanted the laptop computer immediately and wanted to know where he could pick it up, he’d send his driver, and requested our bank details.

We gave him our bank details and said we’d arrange a place to collect the computer once proof of payment has been received. Minutes later a proof of payment was received via email. Only problem was that the proof of payment was an attached document from a non-bank email address. The document was called Doc1.doc and had the banks logo in it and followed the same formatting you’d expect. Being a Web AddiCT I didn’t fall for this con but later found out that many colleagues and friends’ families have lost thousands of rands worth of items in similar scams on Gumtree.

I though to myself then that we need an onlien marketplace to buy and sell goods that offer an escrow service. So what is an escrow service? This is where a third party, usually a law firm or title company, plays the middle entity by making sure a fair trade is made between interested parties. It’s been months since having that thought and nearly being ripped of on Gumtree but finally such a service is available in South Africa.

Say Hello to Kalahari.net Marketplace. The new and used platform was launched as part of the kalahari.net website in February this year. It already boasts more than 500 000 products for sale and the company expects this number to double by the end of the year. The launch categories include books, CDs, DVDs and games. They are planning to launch new categories later this year.

Why is Kalahari Marketplace safer than Gumtree?

kalahari.net has made the upload process really simple. Sellers register and their banking details are verified. Once this step is complete, they upload their products by entering the name of the book, DVD, CD or game or by entering the ISBN number on the product. The system searches for the product and once found, the seller nominates a price that he or she would like to sell the item for, as well as the delivery method (courier or postal service). Once uploaded, the item is automatically live on the kalahari.net website.

A buyer browsing kalahari.net has the option of buying a new item or a new or used item from registered sellers on kalahari.netโ€™s new marketplace. If the buyer selects the used item, the money paid by the buyer is held in kalahari.netโ€™s escrow account until the buyer confirms receipt of the purchase. Once this is done, the money is paid directly into the sellers bank account.

What makes kalahari.netโ€™s marketplace different is that it holds the buyers funds in an escrow account until the buyer received the product and confirms that it is in the condition that the seller advertised. Unlike other websites, once a product is purchased it is automatically removed from the website, which means that the only products that customers see are those which are actively available.

This service on Kalahari Marketplace is currently free and they are planning to change this in the near future. I hope it remains free as this will be a much safer alternative Gumtree. Will you pay for safety?

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