It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you all that I have recently parted with the most rare lens in my collection. My Canon 50mm f/0.95 Tv “Dream Lens” has found a new home. It has been up on Craigslist for a few weeks and during that time, I’ve had some suspicious inquiries and close-calls from people wanting to acquire my lens. Then, it occurred to me that there are a lot to not be scammed when buying things, but not as many on how to protect yourself when you are the seller.
Tips on How to Safely Sell Your Gear
I’ll skip over the more obvious things like: making sure (if doing the transaction in person) to do it in a safe and public place.
Cash is always king. Extremely obvious, but with the prevalence of electronic fund transfers and apps, cash is becoming less and less the norm. Unless you are getting cash or money order, there are always ways for the buyer of your product to default in their payment. A lot of the e-commerce and peer-to-peer selling sites can do a good job protecting your sale, but you have to be aware of certain steps and limitations.
Use trusted electronic fund transfer sites or apps. If cash or money order is not an option, or your buyer prefers to use a credit card for points or installment paying, might as well use the most trusted ones. PayPal and Venmo are the most used but you can also request for a Square dongle and sign up there so you can receive credit card payment. These sites and apps will also broaden the ways you can accept payment for your gear and future services.
Use official delivery tracking forms. Say are meeting in person, but you are getting paid via PayPal or or through an eBay account. The usual scam is after some time, the buy will request a refund citing that delivery was never done. The only way as a seller to prove that you delivered the item and transferred ownership is if you have an official tracking number via a major shipping company: USPS, UPS or FedEx. If you don’t have that, PayPal or eBay may take the money away from your account! If I were getting paid through PayPal during a face-to-face transaction, and I am not 100% sure the person is legit, I will show the item to the buyer at a FedEx or UPS office and have him/her with me while I have the item shipped to them just for the tracking purposes.
Politely request official forms of identification. This may be a little bit difficult, but if you are selling something really expensive we want to be sure of everything. People are paranoid about their identity being stolen, so this tip might be a little harder, but it won’t hurt to ask to see an official ID and maybe check a work badge to make sure you can come after them should things go wrong with the payment. Just be prepared to do the same thing.
Do a little research on the buyer. You are most likely corresponding through email and you might also have their full name. It’s easy enough to search the name and/or email in Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to see if they are a real person. You might even have friends in common that you can ask help from in case they do swindle you in any way. If you are corresponding through a fishy email and they have no online presence, that might not mean that they are scamming you, but it should indicate to be slightly more vigilant.
Don’t spend the money right away. I typically hold on to the money for 2 weeks before I start spending it just to make sure everything is kosher and I don’t lose money from the deal when all is said and done.
Be truthful in what you are selling. If you don’t want to scammed by people, don’t scam them as well. You may or may not believe in karma, but at the very least, don’t propagate cheating people from their hard earned money to encourage people not to do it to you. Make sure to communicate both the awesome features of your gear as well as the flaws it might have gotten through normal use.