The question, "Is Mercari legit?" may have crossed every seller's mind when the Japan-originated online marketplace first started creating a buzz in the US. Now, there's no doubt, Mercari is indeed a legit reseller platform. The question, though, has evolved to: "Are there buyer scammers on Mercari?" And the answer to that is consistent with other platforms – from old-time players like eBay and Amazon to currently popular ones like Poshmark – YES.
We've listed below three typical scams on this platform. With this, we hope that you'll be more mindful of your transactions and not end up a victim of any Mercari scam.
Buyer Scam: The "Let's take this somewhere else…."
A seemingly nice potential buyer expresses a strong interest in purchasing a bunch of items from your closet. She's a sure buyer, she says. Her only request is to continue your conversation on Whatsapp or somewhere else, for one reason or another (wonky Mercari account, preferred payment method not accepted, etc.). What could go wrong, right? You exchange information, and the next thing you know, your credit card company is calling you for unusual activity. That may be extreme, but definitely, a lot could go wrong, and you wouldn't want to risk it.
Though sellers, in general, know better than to agree to conduct a business outside of the platform, some may get tempted by the thought of not having to pay the seller's fees. After all, Mercari won't be able to make a cut from a purchase that didn't happen on their grounds. But it is precisely for this reason that you should be careful! Mercari won't be able to protect you for something that didn't happen on their grounds, either.
Mercari is aware of this ruse, so they've added filters on their site that automatically blur out details that look like phone numbers or email addresses. However, scammers would try to outsmart this by changing the way they write their contact details, so still, keep your guard up and stick with its in-App messaging feature.
Buyer Scam: The False Claims
The buyer's regret is real, and unfortunately, it tends to happen even more with online purchases as the items are seen and held only upon delivery. Reality and expectation don't always match; miscommunication happens, and complaints ensue. It could be either the seller's or the buyer's fault, but since this article focuses on buyer scams, let's talk about why buyers go out of their way to find fault in something so they can have it sent back and get refunded for it.
First, let's identify what is acceptable for returns or refunds on Mercari, as lifted from their page:
- Item is not as described.
- There is undisclosed damage to the item.
- The seller has not shipped the item.
- Incorrect/missing item.
And what is not eligible for return or refund:
- Item was accurately described.
- Item does not fit.
- Changed mind.
- Return request made more than three days after received.
- Return request made after item rated.
- Transaction conducted offline.
Almost all above points allowed for return/refund – item not as described, undisclosed damage, incorrect/missing item – could easily be prevented by the seller through complete, honest product descriptions. A scammer would think twice about messing up with a seller with carefully crafted listings because they would be hard-pressed for hard evidence that you shipped a misrepresented item. Also, having carefully crafted listings show your professionalism as a seller – someone who won't leave a loophole behind and is always on top of things.
Always be upfront with your listings. Disclose even the minutest flaws. If you've maxed out the word count limit on product descriptions, include clear, well-lit photos to illustrate your point. Actual color could be tricky, so include a disclaimer that says a slight variation to the actual product is due to differences in device screen colors. Discrepancies in sizes are also common. Aside from the size printed on the label (which you can also take a photo of), include the actual dimensions as much as possible.
While there are inconsiderate buyers who have made a habit out of returning/refunding, there are those who are simply having a bad case of buyer's guilt and are just looking for a little assurance that what they've got is worth keeping. If the latter type reaches out, be professional and refrain from being defensive. Providing great after-sales customer service prevents the case from escalating and reaching the Mercari team.
Buyer Scam: The Switcheroo
This is the Level 2 or double whammy of the previous type of scam. Some buyers don't simply nitpick on or make up a story about an item to be refunded for it. They make matters worse for sellers by returning your item in an altered/ruined/soiled condition or sending a different, inferior (or gasp, a counterfeit!) item. This tends to happen with high-value purchases like jewelry or designer handbag. Not getting paid for the purchase and also not getting back your item is a total bummer, especially if you're relying on your reselling gig for extra cash as one of your side hustles.
If this unfortunate case happens to you, make sure to let Mercari know about it within 24 hours (as soon as possible is best, and don't forget to enclose clear photographic evidence). Mercari collects photos of the item for return from the buyers, too, so they will compare the pieces of evidence from both parties in investigating. A friendly note, though: Mercari will not honor your claim if your item or account isn't qualified for Seller's Protection (more on this below).
What to do if you got scammed
As a rule of thumb, act fast. Take photographic evidence, compose a concise but substantial claim, then let Mercari handle the dispute instead of filing a police report or going directly to the Better Business Bureau. Mercari's decision will be based on a lot of considerations and will not automatically side with a seller or a buyer. If you happen to lose over a claim, chalk it up to e-commerce seller experience and have the resolve to protect yourself better next time.
How to protect yourself from scams
Keep scammers at buy with these smart moves:
Strive to establish and maintain an excellent seller reputation on the platform. Abide by the marketplace guidelines. Create a seller profile with sterling ratings and feedback from happy customers who've had great experiences shopping your closet – this would intimidate potential scammers. At the same time, being an upstanding seller who never sells prohibited items, ships items on time, and always provides complete and accurate photos and photos make you eligible for Mercari Seller Protection.
Carefully package your items with the right box size and shipping label to avoid any buyer's claim of the returned item being damaged on the way back to you. For your peace of mind, you may want to avail yourself of the Shipping Protection offered by Mercari. It provides insurance of $200 in case of loss or damage to the item while in transit. If shipping yourself, consider availing of courier's insurance, and don't forget to enter the valid tracking number into the Mercari system for shipment visibility.
Keep communication lines open and respond promptly. Your timely response to an inquiry or a notification could not just make or break a sale but also win or lose a return claim. Sometimes, buyer scammers get away with their mischief, not because of a lack of strong evidence against them, but because of a seller not responding to the case within a certain period that she's supposed to. So, as a seller and owner of your online business, always check your messages and order status page at regular intervals to ensure you're not overlooking any requests, cancellations, or everything in between.
We get it, and the last point may come across as a tall order. Not all online retailers and resellers have the time in the world to be checking their Mercari accounts all the time. Letting OneShop handle the automatable tasks would help. It works with Poshmark, too! Super helpful if you intend to cross-list across online marketplaces. Experience the difference with our free trial today.