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Is Mercari Legit and Safe: 15 Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Among the many e-commerce platforms online, Mercari is a popular option for finding items at cheaper prices than on other platforms. However, the “bargain” nature of purchases can lead some people to wonder whether Mercari is a legitimate selling platform and if they will be safe in buying and selling there.

Here are 15 tips to help you understand how to buy and sell successfully on Mercari.

1. Understand the inherent risks of buying and selling online.
First of all, you should understand the risk with any online activity, especially buying and selling products online. Anytime you browse online, you could potentially come across materials or websites that can download malware or other dangerous software to whatever device you are using (your phone, your computer, iPad, etc.).

There is also a chance that hackers or others who are online could access your personal information from the device you are using (again, your phone or whatever you are using), then use your personal information for fraudulent activity or identity theft.

Furthermore, when you enter your personal information into any website, such as on social media or an e-commerce platform, you increase the risk that others can steal your identity using your personally-identifiable information. Even posting your home or business address could lead to unwanted visitors at your home/business or other dangerous situations. You should always use caution when deciding whether or not to buy or sell online.

2. Keep your personal data secure.
Your personal data (including account credentials, financial data, sales records, banking and credit information, and more) are at risk in any online activity. However, there are many precautions you can take to keep your personal data secure.

Simple steps like setting up a password for your home or business wireless network, and requiring a password or other secure logins like facial recognition or fingerprint scanning, can help secure your data even before browsing the Internet. You should also create strong passwords for each account you set up. Try to create unique passwords for each website as well. Do not share this information with anyone unless they are authorized to use your account for its intended purpose.

3. Understand Mercari’s payment terms.
Every website has its own payment terms, which defines when and how the seller will receive payment for their goods. Whereas some will begin a payment transaction at the moment of purchase, Mercari does not release payment to the seller until the buyer confirms that they have received the order. In other words, let’s say you sold someone a coat. The buyer pays for your coat through Mercari. Mercari will hold that money until the buyer confirms they received your coat.

This benefits the buyer, as it ensures that they have received what they paid for. However, this can lead to problems for the seller if the buyer fails to acknowledge receipt through Mercari’s system.

4. Don’t make deals or talk outside the platform.
Most online platforms forbid you from connecting with people on the platform, then arranging to do your transaction off the platform. This restriction is commonly listed in each site’s terms and conditions. The company wants to make sure that all transactions related to their service are made on the platform itself. Why? Well, it will earn money from the transaction, which is how it stays in business. But also, this protects the company from liability for fraudulent activity and protects the buyer and seller as well by providing a secure channel for business.

Mercari also recommends against communicating outside their platform for any business or transactions made on the Mercari website. If a seller were to engage with a buyer on social media, an app, or through personal contact (telephone, email, etc.), Mercari releases itself from any liability for fraud or scams. Ultimately, this is a commonsense precaution that all websites make.

5. Keep thorough records of everything you sell.
Whether on Mercari itself or through your personal records, be sure that you save information on every buy/sell transaction. This is a good business practice and ensures that there is a backup record in case there are any problems with your account or with a transaction.

This includes taking multiple clear photographs of each item you sell, recording the tracking numbers for all shipments, capturing the order numbers for each item sold, and any other information that could help you justify your sales or expenses. If any question about an item arises, or if a buyer claims they never received a shipment, you can thoroughly explain the actions you’ve taken in your records to show that you did indeed ship the item.

6. Know what you’re allowed to sell.
As with other e-commerce websites, Mercari has a list of items sellers are prohibited from offering, including counterfeit items, weapons, alcohol and tobacco, drugs, digital items, living things, safety hazards, and more. Any user who is caught attempting to sell or purchase these items will be penalized. For example, your listings might be canceled or your account could be suspended.

Most of the prohibited items are typical of a legitimate platform, and will also be forbidden on others as well. A simple review of this list will help sellers understand what they may and may not offer on Mercari.

7. Easy is not always best.
Mercari prides itself on offering an easy user experience for sellers and buyers. Creating new item listings and shipping items to buyers are both easy processes, making it a simple task to populate your online storefront.

However, this ease of use can be made more complex by the other potential issues like seller payouts and scams. Remember, just because a website is easy to use does not mean that you are guaranteed a return on your investment or significant profit. You need to make sure that you are offering honest products and being responsive to your customers.

8. Look out for fake accounts.
Some buyers will create fake accounts to gather sensitive personal data or to create a fraudulent transaction. There are also fake accounts created by bots or other automated systems that can spam a seller or buyer through fraudulent activity. There are some tools online you can use to verify the identity of someone online, and you can report a buyer or seller to Mercari if you suspect that an account is fake. If a buyer or seller looks suspicious, go with your gut and do not communicate.

9. Beware of scammers.
There are people who pretend to be real buyers and then lie to get free stuff. For example, a buyer may claim they never received an item (when they did) and get their money refunded by Mercari, thus cheating the seller out of a profit. They may also claim that an item was arrived damaged (when it didn’t), or they may cause damage themselves and claim it arrived damaged, resulting in them getting a refund from Mercari. These types of scams result in the buyer getting their money back and cheating the seller out of their profit.

10. Know that the seller usually loses in a dispute.
Many of the terms, conditions, and protections on Mercari favor the buyer. This is important to understand if you have problems selling on the platform. When the rules are stacked against sellers, it can be difficult to defend yourself even if you are right. This makes it really critical to keep complete and organized records, offer only authorized products, provide prompt feedback and service, have your documentation ready if any issues do arise, and avoid dealing with potential buyers that are suspicious.

11. Before buying, do your homework.
As a buyer on Mercari, as with any e-commerce website, you should do your research before making a purchase. Carefully review the posted information about a product and compare that information, and then verify that information with a trusted third-party source.

For example, if you are looking at buying an Igloo MaxCold 100 Qt Cooler from a seller, you are going to want to compare the specs (such as how many days the cooler holds ice for) with what is on Igloo’s website. Study all the pictures of the item, and make sure there are enough pictures so you can see the item from all angles. Read the customer reviews on the seller to see if the seller is trustworthy and consistently offers a good buying experience.

12. Read reviews carefully.
Customer reviews are a tricky business. On the one hand, they can give you insight into the seller’s history with other customers. On the other hand, many buyers will only post reviews if they have problems or are dissatisfied with the product or some part of the transaction. There are also cases of fraudulent reviews that will paint an untruthfully positive picture in order to persuade people to buy from the seller. Reviews can be helpful, but keep an eye out for cues that the review or the product might be fake.

13. Check your order to make sure you got what you paid for.
After you receive your purchase, carefully look over every inch of it, and test it out. Make sure it looks like it did in the pictures. Make sure it works. Make sure you have all the pieces that you need to operate an item (such as needing a cord for a charger) and all the pieces that were advertised in the Mercari listing by the seller.

If the item is different than what was advertised or there are missing pieces, you will need to either have the problem corrected, if possible, or receive a refund. If it is simply a matter of a missing piece, first follow up with the seller and ask the seller to send the missing piece.

Remember that you will need to confirm on Mercari that you received your purchase so that the seller can be paid. This step is essential in the transaction process.

14. Honesty is the best policy.
In every case, whether buyer or seller, honesty is always the best policy. Do not falsely advertise the product you are selling, do not lie about the condition of the product when it is received, do not attempt any shady business practices, and do not illegitimately record or store anyone’s personal information. This is common decency and the best practice for all online activity. Just because some people are dishonest does not make it right.

15. Give (and request) positive feedback.
Both Mercari sellers and buyers thrive on positive feedback. Sellers want strong reviews that will encourage others to buy their goods, and buyers want to be seen as trustworthy customers that sellers want to continue to sell to.

Nobody wants a bad experience when buying or selling online, and following these simple tips will help you have a positive experience on Mercari or any other platform. If you do these things, Mercari can be a completely legitimate, safe, and profitable platform for you to sell your goods to others and buy goods at a discount.

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