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As readers know, I'm always on the lookout for selling and buying web sites. I've used eBay and Craig's List among others but have recently discovered a new "fix" — Facebook Marketplace. I've sold and purchased on this site (mostly sold) and, since many of us already peruse Facebook regularly, we may as well let it work for us in other ways. A much speedier method of communication than, say, Craig's List, it behooves us to join all relevant surrounding sites. (I belong to Hixson, Catoosa County, Hamilton County, and East Brainerd marketplaces.)

Let's check out the benefits of different categories:

 

Search by groupings and items

If you don't wish to be completely overwhelmed when searching for an antique pie safe, for instance, don't just request links to "antique furniture." Many pages could ensue with only one or none on your wish list so be specific with your requested search.

 

Visit the piece

If you find something you like and know you want it or even if you're only slightly interested in the but-what-a-great-price item, message the seller and set up an appointment or a time when you can go look at the piece. Check the quality of it. For example, if a sideboard, pull out drawers, make sure its wood isn't split, and so forth. Say the drawers are missing their (original) hardware or some other slight defect but you're still interested in purchasing, haggle. Most folks expect to negotiate anyway so by pointing out the damage, you can often end up paying less than the original posting price. A word of precaution, though — be sure you take someone with you; in fact, never meet a stranger by yourself!

 

Learn more on the art of negotiation

Most buyers want to get rid of their stuff and earlier than later. So besides pointing out defects, don't be afraid to bargain if the item only needs some TLC. Just as you'd do in a bricks-and-mortar store, be polite. Harassing or insulting language, raising your voice, offering unreasonably below the asking price — all pretty much guarantee you won't go home with that desired item, instead of the 10-20 percent you'd get otherwise by tempering your negotiating "skills.

 

Persistence works

Just because your offer is turned down the first (or third) time, assuming that pie safe isn't snatched up by another viewer, don't give up. Secondly, continue to search for another piece. Perhaps next week you'll sniff out another sale just as good if not better and for less money.

So keep in mind to: avoid advance payment without seeing/examining the item; take a screenshot of the listing to keep a record of how the product was described when you purchased it in case of a dispute; check other sites, such as Amazon, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, and other online auction alternatives to find out about additional prices; and make sure to compare the difference in cost of buying new versus second hand through these sites.

A few of the more popular marketplaces include Amazon, Bonanza, eBay, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, Newegg, Ruby Lane, Shopify and, of course, our own local marketplaces.

Enjoy a happy and safe Halloween, everyone!

Contact Ellen Phillips at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com.

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