What happens if the the item isn't what I say it is? Can the buyer get their money back? What if the item is perfect but the buyer claims there's something wrong with it and issues a chargeback?
The reason I don't sell electronics on eBay is because there are a crazy number of scam artists who know how to exploit the safeguards. In my last eBay sale (for all time), a guy bought my old cell phone, claimed it was broken, and then mailed me back a different broken phone of the same model. That is a difficult threat to guard against. Based on their site, I'm not convinced they've spent nearly enough time thinking about this... they are not just connecting buyers and sellers; they are going to be on the hook for any chargebacks.
> Payment: As a buyer, your credit card is charged immediately when an auction ends for the full offer amount.
> Item acceptance: Once both parties agree that the sale is complete, the seller may request payment from FOBO, prompting confirmation from the buyer that the item has been received and accepted, as-is. Buyers must inspect the condition of the item and ONLY accept the item if it is as described in the item listing. Once an item has been accepted, the item may not be returned to the seller and is not eligible for refund.
> If an item has already been accepted, only with the seller's express consent will a refund be granted.
> FOBO reserves the right to recoup funds associated with Buyer chargebacks in accordance with Section 5 of this Agreement.
That said, if they did that it would certainly suppress the number of buyers. As is, I would only buy on a site like that because I know I'm ultimately protected on all returns by American Express. Hell, it's nothing personal, i feel the same way about shopping at a Department store or Amazon.com or whatever. My Amex lets me return anything (up to a $$ amount) for 90 days regardless of whatever anti-consumer BS return policy the store might dream up.
I'd be very likely to use it.
Maybe for electronics there should be a way to record the serial number and require the buyer and seller to confirm that the serial number matches the one on record for the transaction at the time of delivery. That would at least reduce the chance that someone would try to return a different item.
(How do I know? The sticker was off-center and poorly attached + the phone was missing some memorable scuff marks. Also, my phone worked.)
I'm not sure if this service is hitting what I see as one of the major pain points of selling your used electronics on cragislist or eBay: You have to list each item separately if you want to get any kind of reasonable price. Who else has one of those "big piles of old computer junk" stuffed in their closet? I do. There are probably a few items in there I could still get $40 or $50 for individually, but if I just photo the whole pile and sell it, I won't get more than $50 for everything.
Not sure, however, it will help build trust in the brand :)
- Ebay prices. Is it just me or ebay average price is really not a good indicator ? Yes ebay has cheap auctions but at the same time, there are a lot of "buy it now stuff" that is sometimes overpriced. How does it compensate for that ?
- "No shipping". That is a little misleading because even though there is no shipping, a physical meeting is necessary at the seller's preferred time/place according to them. So how does that make it any better than no shipping in terms of convenience ? Unless I am missing the point.
- One personal thing. It is 2014 and yes apps are the thing but there is no web version at all ? What if I want to browse through the listings and sitting on my computer? I guess i understand the point that the mobile part makes it fast/easy but personally, I would prefer a web version as well (unless it is in works)
This would deal with certain problem cases like 'buyer tries to haggle', 'item not as described', 'buyer paid online but seller doesn't show up', 'buyer robs seller of item', 'seller robs buyer of money' and so on.
If you need a smartphone to be able to use the service, it would be logical to make the app first. I agree a website for browsing would be nice.
As for electronics, the simple answer is most consumer devices have a well-established price on other markets, making it easy to guarantee prices without significant risk.
Fobo's initial price is also iffy if you're selling a customized item...
Carrier and Apple blocks for stolen items can make your purchase worthless. I wish Apple could implement a "safe transfer" process for items, using your Apple ID, to verify the seller is legitimate and transfer title irrevocably to the buyer.
I met one of the Apple security guys at 30c3 and this kind of thing seems to fit with how they view customers , too.
Third party sale sites should be allowed to participate, especially as innovation like fobo wouldn't come freon a big company, but the transfer of "title" really needs to be solved by phone manufacturers and/or carriers.
I have an idea list of anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred projects, depending on what your cutoff is for viability. To preserve my sanity, I've had to divide it in half between things I would like to invent and work on, and things that I just want to exist in the world so I can use them. Once FOBO scales I suppose it will be in the second and I will just use it.
Now that the cat's out of the bag, here was my original checklist to make a tool like this:
1. Find a domain (anything related to yardsale is all taken). EASY
2. Write a mobile app that lets the user take hundreds of pictures and use image recognition or crowd sourcing to recognize the picture, find it in the database and show the bid/ask price for the item. EASY
3. Tally the total with a button to print QR stickers for all the items with names and prices. EASY
4. Have a button so the user can order the shipping boxes from the site with packing materials and shipping labels. HARD (shipping/labor)
5. Box arrives, user packs everything up, stuff gets scanned at the city's warehouse and user gets the total deposited in their paypal or bitcoin. HARD (shipping/labor/financials)
6. When buyers purchase an item, it comes in the box from the warehouse, possibly allowing a small fee for courier service, otherwise by the next day. HARD (shipping/labor)
7. In the event of fraud, seller would receive a hold against their account for the price of the item they lied about, and couldn't sell again until they paid it. Same thing if buyer disputes a good item and it turns out they were lying. In any event, if you are selling 100 items for $1 and a few don't work out, it wouldn't tend to matter all that much and most people would write off the losses as a cost of doing business and cancel their sale or order a replacement. HARD (labor)
Could I have gotten into ycombinator with a plan like this? The hard part is handling shipping, warehouse/dispute labor and financials. I could have written all of the software myself or with a small team, the only thing holding me back (as always) was capital. I think fraud could be handled by trends in a user's sales/purchases. I would get rid of the notion of positive/negative ratings the way Craigslist did, since it's a commodities market. My original plan was to start local and just write the app and have the business be employee-owned and just hire more people as it began scaling. Looking at it now, I can see that's the real execution of the business and that the app's just the idea. It may have been an if-you-build-it-they-will-come idea that could have gone viral though, which makes me sad because now it's in someone else's hands.
Anymore, when I think of something, I generally have between about 2 weeks and 2 years before it gets invented. I've been struggling with this because it's a bit like the sci fi concept of faster starships coming along, so no matter which ship you send to a star, it will be passed by a better ship, so there's no point in sending one in the first place. I've even come to the conclusion that rewarding invention eventually will make no sense, because things will be being invented so quickly that only rewarding the first to market will hang the vast majority of inventors out to dry. All that will matter is capital and the ability to gain access to it, as we're seeing with incubators and kickstarter.
How many other people reading this feel the duality of their everyday life and what their life could be? Spending their days struggling to make enough money to survive and knowing that every day pushes the prospect of bringing their ideas to fruition further and further from possibility? Doing what other people want instead of the things in their nature that could potentially change the world? To me, this is the problem of our time, at least for makers. One of my favorite quotes is "failure is not the only punishment for laziness; there is also the success of others" by Jules Renard. I suppose I shouldn't post this but what the hell, it doesn't matter anymore for this idea. One down, one hundred to go..
I personally think this idea will be over-run by broken/stolen products.
On broken stuff, one of the benefits of a local marketplace like FOBO is that you get to see the items before the seller is paid. On eBay, the quality varies widely, and sellers seem to take advantage of that often. Hopefully FOBO is a big step forward.
Sorry, what am I missing that is stopping Ebay being an alternative for selling stuff? Fobo sounds great and everything, but no alternative to Craiglist for selling stuff?
However, I'm sticking with CL because I mostly buy/sell long tail items (vintage cameras) and CL works just fine for me.