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Orange and green should never be seen...
Member Name: ryanando
Date: 20/12/12, updated on 20/12/12 (154 review reads)
Advantages: gets items sold
Disadvantages: junkies in your house, bad design, overpriced
===Let's get busy===
At the time of writing this, the last few weeks had been hectic. Between packing two houses, arranging finances and getting butt naked on stage for charity, I'd realised that myself and my partner have a lot of furniture that wouldn't be able to fit into the new place all at the same time. Short of rotating the furniture out into the garden on a weekly or monthly basis, we decided it would be best to get rid of all the duplicate shi...stuff... ahem... that we have accumulated.
===A visit to the Gum===
My grandfather will hold onto anything. Bits of wood, packaging, any materials or objects that someone might wish to use at some point. My mother is slightly better in that she will hold onto anything she thinks might sell for some money at a later date. Carrying on that tradition, I have a slight issue with binning perfectly good items. I'd rather sell them or give them away. Given the situation we found ourselves in this month (each separately having to pay rent on our old flats and the new flat we are moving into) I thought selling would be a much better option. I decided since I'd recently found my new flat on it, I'd give Gumtree another shot from a sellers side.
Gumtree, for those who are not aware, is basically a "free" advertising site. I use the inverted commas as it is only free if you are careful. You can advertise anything for sale or rent such as cars, flats, furniture, appliances, kittens etc and you can also post wanted ads.
===How I became infected===
Gumtree and I have a very colourful history. Years and years ago I needed to find a replacement flatmate in a hurry after I came home one day to find my current flatmate had taken all his stuff and left. He was a bit of an idiot at the best of times. So off I went and set up a Googlemail account to get the emails sent to. Gumtree which was founded in 2000 was still a bit of a toddler (2005) at this point and I ended up getting roughly ten billion junk emails from roughly ten billion scam artists after I put my advert online. It seemed at the time that even the genuine users were a touch dodgy, with more than a few of the prospective new tenants being completely unsuitable. As it turns out we ended up getting stuck with a gentleman who constantly tried to get me and my other flatmate Michelle to attend church every evening with him so we could repent our sinner's lifestyle. Something to do with us both preferring same sex partnerships I think.
After moving out soon after the missionary man moved in, I tried to put Gumtree to the back of my mind. It was fairly easy since I never used my Googlemail account for anything. Then came a smart phone that demanded Googlemail. The only account I had was full of spam. I was not a happy bunny. But I digress.
===Best Use Protection===
Back to Gumtree I went, this time knowing in advance that I would be best to set up an email I'll never need again. A few clicks later and I was ready to go. Gumtree.com is possibly the messiest website I know. Its layout makes me want to smash my head in with a brick. Thankfully this tends not to be necessary as long as you don't look below the first navigation bar. All the important stuff (Post an ad, My Gumtree and Search) is at the top of the page. An endless stream of bumf is below it. Throw in the interesting green and orange colour scheme it really is a total headache of a site visually. At least to start with. I'll run through the important functions now.
===Have a look===
The search box is located just beneath the first large green swathe. You have two boxes to play with: "find a" where you type what it is you are looking for (for example "2 bedroom flat") and the "in or near" where you type the area or post code you are looking for it. If you are a bit weird (and I am) you won't like the fact it may leave you typing sentences like "find a elf" or "find a apple". It would freak me out a little to use a vowel without an "an" before it. Funny considering I'm quite happy to otherwise rape and pillage the English language!
Once you hit enter, assuming there is an advert for what you want, it will present you with a list of matching results. The layout becomes a bit better at this point with a small picture (if the advertiser has included one) and the title of the advert displayed. The price will appear at the side too. The downside of this list is that Gumtree will only allow you to order the list by the date the advert was added. You can either have most recent to oldest or vice versa. This means that there might be quite a few items popping up at an unsuitable price. Throw in the blocks of sponsored ads that appear and the fact that they list all the wanted ads in with your search and it can become quite a trawl to find something decent. Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not. As I mentioned earlier, I recently found our new flat on there, but this was after a day or two of trawling the depths. At least it's neater than the homepage.
When you click into the ad, you are presented with a much neater page. If you are logged in you have the option to save an ad so you can come back later, or you can simply hit reply to ad to send a quick email or make a phone call.
===Getting your goods out===
If you are selling rather than buying then there is a rather large orange button on the homepage on the top left hand "Post an Ad". Click this and you will be taken instantly to the page where you select the category of what you are advertising. Firstly you select your country and region and then you decide what best fits your item. After hitting continue you will be met with a very simple form to fill out which will shape your advertisement. You'll be asked for a title for your ad, a price and a description. You will also have an option to add a red URGENT sticker to your ad to draw more attention to it in the listings. This however will cost you £3.95 if you want to do it.
If you wish to add pictures there is a button about half way down that will take you to a separate page to upload up to 9 photos and all for free. If you are so inclined you can even link a YouTube video to your advert. I've never done that myself.
One thing I found slightly frustrating is that if you have typed your description and then go to add photos, occasionally I found that the description box had lost some information when you are taken back to it after your photos are done. A bit annoying, especially if you are selling a lot of items. 30 adverts later and it was a nightmare.
===Give me your number?===
After you have entered all your product information you will be met with a few boxes asking for your details and a password to set you up an account. This is so that you can manage your ads later. It will also ask how you want to be contacted for your ads responses. You have two options: Phone and Email. You can even choose both so that people can have a bit more choice.
You may remember I mentioned earlier about spam? Well, Gumtree must have cottoned onto this and have fixed the issue with spam emails. I've not had one since I set this new account up. They re-route any responses through a generic Gumtree email so that the Robots can't get your email and harass you. Yay for that.
However, all is not as fantastic as it seems. Dramatic pause. I gave my phone number on one advert and the next day started getting phone calls from a very long very strange looking number. Knowing it wasn't a local number I ignored it and popped it into Google. Two minutes later and I had a stream of people saying they had received marketing calls from a scam company offering to advertise for you rather than you using Gumtree. People were harassed daily till their adverts with phone numbers were removed. I instantly took the advert down and haven't had another call. The moral of this tale is that putting your phone number down isn't secure, don't do it.
===Paying for your kicks===
Lastly on your form you will come to some options at the bottom. This is where Gumtree make their money (if you let them). As everything is arranged in date order, your adverts will slowly sink into the depths and are therefore less likely to sell. Gumtree offer a service to cheat the sinking. You can select an option to feature your advert which means it stays at the top of the listings for however long you select. 3 days of being at the top will cost you £3.95, 7 days will cost £5.95 and 14 days will cost £7.95.
The next option is to have your ad featured on the homepage for a week. This could potentially mean thousands more hits on your adverts but will also cost you a hefty £19.95. Depending on your item that cost will increase considerably; my sofa would cost £29.95 to put on the front page. I think not, Gumtree. I'll include a quick guide to advertise your stuff without having to pay near the end of the review.
===Members Private Area===
Now that you have set up an account with them, you can log in and out of Gumtree. At the very top of every page there is a little link saying "My Gumtree". Click on this and you will get a dropdown box with four simple options: My saved ads, Manage my ads, Edit account and Log out. "My saved ads" is where you will find any adverts you have been interested in enough to select them for later perusal.
Edit account and Log out are quite self explanatory so I'll skip those and go straight for the important stuff. "Manage my ads" is, as you may have guessed, where you can see all of the ads you have put up. It lists them in order that you have put them up, unless you later edit your ads in which case it lists it in order of most recently edited.
This page will be full of little tick boxes after each add so that you can select all those costly options for advertising and a new box appears for "bumping" your item, around about £2-£3 will allow you to shove your item back to the top of the list. I ignore all of these extortionate boxes. If you edit your ad's you will be met with a screen asking if you want to bump it for a minimal fee or keep it where it is. Ignored again.
===Getting the all clear===
Once you have sold your items you can "delete" the adverts which removes them from the listings. It does, however, keep the advert on your manage ads screen for about two weeks in case, I assume, you wish to put the ad back on if someone messes you around. This can get a little annoying once you start selling off items as you are always first presented with the full list of everything you've put up. There are options at the top to only view live or deleted items which are handy, but you can't set it to a default view, so as soon as you navigate away from the page you'll have to reselect how you want to view things.
Overall the website is quite basic. I'm not its biggest fan but it does serve its purpose. Once you get over the colour scheme and the slightly messy look, it's fairly easy to navigate for both sellers and buyers. The mobile version of the site is much the same but slightly neater and quicker to use.
So what happens once someone has contacted you?
Potentially the biggest drawback of buying and selling on Gumtree is the fact that you essentially are inviting complete strangers into your home, or walking right into their front room. This can be a very scary experience at the best of times. I'm not the biggest people person and I hated every part of having strangers come round.
Some will be lovely like the woman who bought my exercise bike. I would happily be her friend! She was polite, didn't haggle, had the money with her and even gave me a text the next day to thank me as it worked great. Some will be the lovely young man who took my T.V. off our hands. Very polite, showed up with his mum just so she could approve his purchase.
Others however will be like the junkie who first wanted to buy my T.V. His voice scraped on my ears, I actually had nightmares about him coming round to the point I asked my friend to borrow a stab vest and he ended up not showing. He called the next day to say he'd slept in (till 3pm?!?) and then didn't show again. Poor Allan (my partner) was so put off by a guy who had tried to convince Allan to let him leave with his fridge-freezer saying he would come back later with the money that I've had to deal with every single person we've had round since. Some will haggle even when you've been clear about the price which can lead to some uncomfortable moments if you don't like doing it. You really need to weigh up how willing and able you are to deal with these people before you advertise.
***Tips for Beginners: A quick guide to being cheap and safe***
*Post your links on Facebook. Seriously. Hassle your friends and family with a list of your items for sale. There are groups for nearly every city on Facebook called "FaceBay" where you can also put your links so a wider audience will see them. This will circumnavigate having to pay for hits. Don't get suckered in by Gumtree. You don't need to pay through the nose to make sure you get hits; you just need to be sensible.
*Don't panic. Even if your item sinks to the bottom of the listings page, you will still get some hits. I had five emails about an item eight days after I had posted it. It's now sold. Just be patient!
*Repost. If you want to bump your object, don't pay £3.95 for it. Simply make a new advert for the same item then delete the old one. Walla, you are back up at the top of the page and £3.95 better off for it.
*Always make sure if you are buying or selling that you have someone with you when you are meeting strangers. It's not safe to do this sort of thing on your own. You never know what is waiting for you.
*If you can, move things you are selling somewhere in the house where strangers can't see what you've got. Allan and I had all our items set up in the empty spare room or in the hallway with all the doors closed. That way if people are a bit dodgy they won't have a clue what you've got that's worth stealing.
===Was it worth it?===
I'd rather not have done it, if I'm being honest. Due to circumstance, however, I didn't really have much choice. I have made about £535 in a couple of weeks which will thankfully cover a months rent of the new place and ease our way into our new adventure living together. I still have a few items left to sell but all of the bigger items are gone which will also make moving a lot easier for us. If I hadn't used Gumtree, probably about £100 of that would have went in fees to Ebay. Even more than that would have been paid out if I'd been bumping items and featuring them etc. It does what it is supposed to but that doesn't mean I have to like it. One star off for being a messy eyesore, one star off for the fraudster's phone calls and one star off for the prices they want to charge you. I want to take a star off for the horrible people that have came into my household but will begrudgingly admit that isn't their fault and let the nicer people that have also bought stuff from me cancel out the horror stories. That leaves Gumtree with just 2 stars. My verdict? It's ok if you don't have any other avenues to go down but I still won't be singing its praises.
Summary: A horrible site