Classified ads have been the easy way to buy and sell items and it’s no different for watches. As a seller, You can get more money and instantly get the cash. Buyers could also be saving a good amount of money by looking for people wanting to offload it quickly.
Forums, Facebook marketplace and Gumtree (Craiglist for the US) are now the main mediums, but it also comes with a risk. Sellers are getting robbed and buyers are sold with counterfeited watches. So how do we protect ourselves and minimise the risks?
- Do your due research! – Look at the picture properly and if doubt, ask for high-quality images. Some scratches can only be seen in direct light and some are very superficial.
- Ask questions – Some dealers would argue that the more questions you ask, the fewer chances you’re going to buy. However, this only applies to them as they expect the buyers to know what they’re buying. However, if you’re a first-time buyer or somebody who is just very particular with defects, then ask as much as you can.
- Avoid stupid questions – Yes you can ask questions, but avoid questions that are unnecessary. One such example of the question is asking how many owners have it had before. If the watch is vintage from 1960, it probably has seen plenty of wrists in its life.
- Respectable haggling – This is oxymoronic as some people find haggling to be rude. Don’t lowball especially if the ad states so. You can make a respectable offer and if the seller doesn’t want it, move on.
- Only inquire when you’re serious – This has been the usual gripe of most sellers where people waste time. Only inquire when you’re genuinely interested in the watch. This will avoid starting out on the wrong foot as well.
- Feedback – Frequent buyers and sellers would have had previous dealings with other members of the community. Ask for general feedback from the community.
- Cash is king – Classified ads are only face-to-face and cash on pick-up/delivery transactions. This has to be re-iterated several times. I have seen so many people lose money as they paid via bank transfer or PayPal Family and Friends. Unless you have previous dealings with the person or can guarantee that you can find the person, cash is king.
- Deal in a secured and safe location – Banks and police stations are the safest place to do the trade where there will almost certainly be a surveillance camera available. Malls would be alternative as well. I’ve heard stories of people getting robbed when they deal in a service station at 9 pm.