Trust & Safety Blog

Are we on good terms?

In 2013, Parliament passed a whole bunch of changes as a result of the Consumer Law review, including some changes to the Fair Trading and Consumer Guarantees Acts. Some of these changes affected Trade Me members, so we’ve blogged about declaring your ‘in trade’ status, substantiating claims, layby sales and buying via online auction. More changes to the Fair Trading Act come into force next week, relating to contracts that consumers have with businesses like Trade Me, such as our terms and conditions and privacy policy.

The ‘unfair contract terms’ legislation covers contracts that businesses enter into with their members or customers. It covers where the member doesn’t have the opportunity to negotiate the terms, as they’re offered on a take it or leave it basis. You’ll see these all the time as a consumer – think of the contracts with your gym, internet provider, and phone or electricity company.

From 17 March 2015, businesses will be required to ensure terms in their consumer contracts aren’t unfair. Businesses also have to ensure that their terms are transparent, accessible and easy to read. For Trade Me members, terms can be considered unfair if they create an imbalance in the parties rights and obligations, creates detriment, or aren’t necessary to protect Trade Me’s business interests or it’s community.

Here at Trade Me, we think our terms and conditions are already pretty fair. We’ve made a couple of minor tweaks to clearly explain how any changes we make will be communicated to you, and also to clarify what kind of conduct we won’t tolerate from our members. Check out our newly updated Terms and Conditions.

Now is a great time to think about which businesses you have a contract with. Take a look at their terms to make sure you think they’re fair. For more information, you can check out the Commerce Commission’s guidelines. We’d love to hear your feedback on these changes, so feel free to drop us a line.

Car parts wanted category has closed

1970 Mustang Mach 1 -rusted -beatup

Today we said goodbye to our Car parts wanted category.

There were two deciding factors for this. Firstly the interest in listing under this category has declined significantly over the last few years. Secondly, compared to other categories on the site, we see an abnormally high trend of text scamming and non-delivery within this category. The latter was (and always will be) our primary concern. Combining these two factors, we made the call to close the category.

Your safety is our priority, and we sing about this frequently in our Trust & Safety blog.

Our advice remains the same: NEVER place contact details in listings or Q&A and only complete trades through Trade Me. This cuts down the opportunities for scammers to take advantage of our members and get hold of your details.

Keep in mind that you can still pick up rare car parts in our dedicated Car parts & accessories category. If you are looking for something in particular you can always save a Favourite search or category and we’ll email you if the item is listed for sale on the site.

Remember to keep these simple tips in mind when trading to keep yourself safe from scams:

  • Never place contact details in the Q&A
  • Never send money overseas
  • Only complete trades through Trade Me
  • Check the sellers account outto make sure they aren’t a lemon
  • For extra security, use Pay Now (credit or debit card payment for purchases).

While this may sound scary, Trade Me is a safe place to buy and sell. But knowledge is power, which is why we want to share this information with you.

Creative Commons image used courtesy Vetatur Fumare on Flickr. 

Our policy on recreational drugs and related goods

We’re all about community here at Trade and we like to keep it clean. Recreational drugs have great potential for abuse, even the legal ones, which is why we have chosen to put in place a blanket ban on listing them for sale on-site.

There are two parts to this policy: recreational drugs themselves and related goods.

Recreational drugs (the ones Cheech likes)

We have a blanket ban in place, so you won’t be able to list any kind of recreational drug (herbal or chemical). Obviously, this includes drugs like methamphetamine and cannabis, but it also includes party pills and synthetic cannabis, as well as NOS canisters.

Over-the-counter recreational drugs are also out. This is because while they might be legal, they are often age-restricted R-18 and we’ve made the call to not to allow them to be sold either.

You cannot sell datura or peyote based plants and the like. 

Cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol may not be listed, however some approved members may sell wine.

Related goods

Any items related to the cultivation or consumption of recreational drugs are considered ‘related goods’ and are banned on-site. This includes:

  • Bongs, hash pipes, roach clips, or any similar product used primarily for cannabis inhalation.
  • Pipes used for methamphetamine inhalation and the like.
  • Books that promote drug making. These are usually banned from sale by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. Sorry, Uncle Fester.
  • Hydroponic growing equipment. While there are plenty of legitimate uses for this kind of gear (and yes maybe Mum was indeed just using it to grow tomatoes) we don’t want to support cultivation. The definition of such gear is at Trade Me’s temperament.
  • E-cigarettes and batteries.These cannot be sold either as they are very difficult to manage on site.

Listings may not use wording which promote the use of drugs. For example you cannot say things like “awesome hookah, great for smoking pot!”.

There are a number of fringe items out there that do not necessarily promote recreational drug use. For example, 'collectible herb grinders'. For now, we are happy for these to continue to be listed as long as you do so in a way that does not encourage their use as a tool for drug consumption. Don't make us change our mind...

If you’ve got an unusual item that doesn’t feature here, just ask yourself, is this something that would be used for the consumption, promotion or cultivation of recreational drugs? If the answer is yes, or you’re not sure, then don’t list it.

We're not complete grinches. Here are some permitted goods

  • Tobacco pipes
  • Salvia plants and seeds.We’re happy for salvia plants and seeds to be listed, as many a gardener loves to grow these for their beauty. However don’t even think about selling the dried herb for recreational use.
  • Hookah pipes, also known as shisha or sheesha pipes. These are devices used to smoke fruit flavoured tobacco. They can be pretty ornate and cool looking, and the government has recently removed the prohibition of their sale.

Remember, we at all times reserve the right to remove any listings, for any reason.

Stay safe and happy trading!

Safer Internet Day 2015

Safer -internet -day

Oh, the internet’s choice. I love being able to spy on my cat when I am at work, I love being able to look up translations of latin maxims at a whim and I love the opportunities the internet provides to me to learn about the world we live in. 

But…. one of the things you learn pretty quickly spending time online is that for all the good, there is plenty of bad out there.

This year Trade Me is one of 15 organisations that work with children, young people and Kiwi internet users, to get behind Safer Internet Day. You’ll see that Kevin the Kiwi has changed his appearance for the day. 
Kevin -nest -trademe

Safer Internet Day is celebrated worldwide to encourage the safe and positive use of the internet and digital technologies, especially among children and young people.

The day is being coordinated through the good folk at Netsafe. They said this about the initiative:

“This global initiative highlights how creating a safer internet for children and young people is a shared responsibility.”

Here at Trade Me we agree and support the idea of shared responsibility for internet safety.

We work closely with agencies like Netsafe and the Police to make sure we are doing our bit to keep members safe. However, no matter how many measures we put in place to protect our community, the reality is that the community itself is still the best equipped to prevent harm.  That is where the responsibility becomes shared.

We get involved in initiatives like Safer Internet Day to help our community help itself through education and raised awareness. It’s important to remember that how we behave on the internet also influences the broader community of internet users. If we normalise risky or inappropriate behaviour, the community as a whole becomes more vulnerable especially if others, in particular younger members of the community, copy our behaviour.

Netsafe have pulled together some awesome information on the day for anyone interested in finding out more. Hop onto the Safer Internet Day page and get involved.

Have a safe day.

Trade Me's approach to animal welfare issues

Black -9month -kitten

Cat lovers may have noticed some recent concern regarding the sale of a kitten via a classified advertisement on Trade Me which proved to be quite sick.

We noticed there was a bit of confusion around what Trade Me’s processes are in such instances. We were worried that a few comments around Trade Me not taking any action to prevent animal welfare issues suggested that our community isn’t aware of what we do behind the scenes.

We most certainly care about the welfare of animals, and here’s a few points on what we do behind the scenes: 

  • Animal welfare is something we take extremely seriously on Trade Me – but we appreciate we are not animal welfare experts. To help us, we have established a fantastic working relationship with the SPCA and its team of Animal Welfare inspectors. This ensures that when issues arise they are dealt with quickly, fairly and with expert advice.
  • If we receive complaints supported by firm evidence about pet sellers, we’ll look into it, engage the SPCA as appropriate and if needed we will remove listings and we can choose to restrict sellers from listing animals for sale, or ban them from the site if appropriate.
  • Where complaints have merit and we can assist, we will provide evidence to support SPCA enforcement action against anyone using Trade Me in connection with the abuse or maltreatment of animals.
  • We do not allow companion animals to be auctioned. The rationale for this is that a sale by auction creates contractual obligations on the parties to the trade. We do not want buyers or sellers to be obliged to complete trades where there are concerns.
  • In contrast, a classified advertisement acts as a mechanism to introduce a buyer and a seller. This means that a buyer and seller can meet and if there are concerns such as the condition of the animal or the ability of the buyer to care for the animal, the parties can part ways without letting the sale go through. If either party had concerns following a meeting, they could contact Trade Me or the SPCA for further investigation.
  • Due to the fact Trade Me has over 2.6 million live listings on the site, we cannot not pre-vet listings or “authorise” pet sellers as a general rule. We are often approached about restricting companion animal listings to registered breeders. There are good arguments for and against this. It’s Trade Me’s view that restricting the ability of normal New Zealanders to list animals on Trade Me would eliminate a limited number of dodgy sellers but also scoop up all the genuine sellers who may not be able to care for an animal and need to either sell it or give it away to a good home. And that’s just not fair.
  • We had about 35,000 cat and dog listings on the site in 2014 (including animals for sale and animals free to a good home). Drilling into the nature of the contacts about them by our members, a small minority relates to welfare issues. It’s more likely that contact with Trade Me was due to  breeds being mis-described, or animals being offered for sale before the minimum age of 8 weeks.
  • In 2014 we worked with the SPCA on 10 cases.
  • In animal welfare cases emotions tend to run high, and while our primary concern is to ensure that no animals are maltreated, we need to be fair to all parties and act on reliable evidence, rather than rumours or incomplete facts. We expect all of Trade Me’s members to treat each other with respect both in their communications with each and on the message boards. Bullying behaviour will not be tolerated.

Here are some useful links:

Can you answer yes to these questions?

Things to think about when buying animals

Image credit: This cute fellow is Sebastian at 9 months, his human works in the Trust and Safety team.