Don’t Let Thrill Of Bargain Hunt Cloud Your Judgement

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, eBay, garage sales and even swap meets can be brimming with a treasure trove of bargains. However, a bargain you buy today could cost you tomorrow.

Buying items through private sellers requires caution to avoid potential issues that may not be covered by Australian Consumer Law (ACL). When you buy goods privately there is a risk they may not work as they should or may not match the advert or description. You won’t be protected by the law.

While you may forgo many of your rights protected under the ACL for items purchased privately, you are entitled to undisturbed possession and an item free from debt, unless you are clearly told otherwise. If there is money owing on the item, you could become liable for this debt.

If you are buying a vehicle, caravan, camper trailer or boat it is advisable to spend $2 and complete a Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) check if see if there are outstanding debts.

When it comes to privately purchased used vehicles, you are not protected by a statutory warranty or consumer guarantees. However, the car may still be covered by a manufacturer’s or extended warranty. In this case, ask the seller to transfer any remaining warranty into your name.

So how about that vintage dress you want to buy off eBay or the latest iPhone you’ve seen on Facebook Marketplace at a steal?

Consumer Protection advises checking the profile of the seller to see what previous buyers have said and watch out for a too-good-to-be-true price for a high ticket item. Would someone really be selling the latest iPhone for $300?

There are also safety issues to consider. If you are planning a face-to-face purchase, we advise you meet in a public place to view the item if possible. It’s also a good idea to bring along another person.

If something is wrong with the item after you’ve paid for it, the first step should be to contact the seller to negotiate a solution. Buyer beware – they are under no obligation to negotiate with you.

If the seller won’t negotiate, there are a couple of options left. For PayPal payments, file a dispute with their resolution centre within 180 days. For cash or bank transfer payments, it can be very difficult to track down your money.

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