Vinted, Le Bon Coin, eBay: the difficult hunt for scams for second-hand sales sites



“It’s a nest of scams! “, indignant Mireille Bougeard, retired living in Besançon, about the Vinted platform. In January, she bought a virtual reality headset on the site for 250 euros but it never arrived at her home.

It was when she consulted the parcel tracking that she understood the scam. “I saw that it had already been delivered, but four days before the sale and to another address. The seller had given me a counterfeit packing slip,” she explains.

Her salesperson had in fact taken a photo of the slip of a package actually sent and modified the image to show Mireille’s name and address.

Mireille’s case is not isolated: testimonials like hers are multiplying on social networks as the habit of second-hand shopping develops. According to Médiamétrie, one in two online buyers bought refurbished or second-hand products in France in 2021. To avoid scams, most platforms have adopted secure payment systems in recent years, which block money until until the buyer confirms having received his package. This is what allowed Mireille to be reimbursed after two weeks, after two weeks of discussions with Vinted’s customer service.

“Creativity is limitless for these scams”

But even with this system, scams continue to develop. On Le Bon Coin, for example, sellers have received false payment confirmations by email from usurpers, so as to receive the item without paying for it, UFC-Que Choisir revealed in April. “Creativity is limitless for these scams,” said Sarah Tayeb, director of sales at eBay. For the auction platform, which launched second-hand sales between individuals on the internet almost 25 years ago, securing purchases and managing disputes remain a “daily challenge”.

“The great difficulty is often to understand on which side there is bad faith,” explains Ms. Tayeb.

The platforms therefore implement algorithms to detect fraudulent or poorly described articles and monitor the messages exchanged, in addition to their traditional customer service by telephone. Faced with the mass of disputes, some also call on external companies, such as the start-up Tripartie, which offers solutions to automate their management. “Historically, the platforms only connected sellers and buyers, they were not committed to the quality of the products. But now that they are responsible for securing payment, they are obliged to deal with dissatisfaction,” said Victorien de Doncker, president of Tripartie.

Platforms are now involved in sales

Guaranteeing a certain level of service on purchases also allows platforms to earn commissions, such as Vinted’s “buyer protection” implemented in 2016. To avoid problems or justify commissions, other platforms choose to to intervene even more in the sale. The Campsider site, for example, which connects sellers and buyers of used sports equipment, checks each ad “by hand”. “We thus refuse about 15% of the advertisements”, indicates its co-founder Thomas Gounot to AFP.

The site also offers the option of physically checking items before they are sent to the buyer, as does the luxury second-hand clothing site Vestiaire Collective.

“We see that the customer expects a level of service that is almost the same as for new classic e-commerce sites, while second-hand products potentially present more risks,” says Mr. Gounot.

The quality of service becomes all the more important as competition becomes fierce on the second-hand market: in addition to specialized platforms, traditional new players such as Zalando, La Redoute, Kiabi and Cdiscount have also recently launched into that sector.

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Vinted, Le Bon Coin, eBay: the difficult hunt for scams for second-hand sales sites


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