Trust & Safety

Trade Me's blog on Trust and Safety issues.

A buyer’s guide to identifying lemon listings

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Lemon listing detection

When buying on Trade Me, there are a few things you can do to spot and avoid a lemon. Making a critical inspection of what’s on offer is very important.

Lemon listings can take various forms. Let’s look at the most common forms and how to spot them.

The lemon that isn’t what it appears to be

Lemon listings often look a little too good to be true. How you do spot them?

It seems obvious but LOOK at the listing before you bid. You’d be amazed at the number of people that don’t read the body of the listing and make bad purchasing decisions.

Compare the listing description with the title, pricing, images and the seller’s answers to questions.

Match this information against your own research and knowledge.

Does it stack up?

Check the images. Generally lemons don’t have their own images and they’ve probably copied them from somewhere else.

Look at the watermarks on the image, do they match the seller’s trade me name?

Are stock images being used?

The lemon that is deliberately attempting to fool you

These lemons are usually set up to rip you off. Combine the checks above with the following to help you spot them:

The Rusher; some lemons try to rush you through the trade. They may have under-priced their item to hook you in, or they may state they are going overseas and need a quick sale.

If the seller is in a rush, ask yourself do they have time to complete your trade?

The ‘contact details requester’; the lemon may place or request contact details in the listing body or in the Q&A section.

These lemons are attempting to bypass the auction process. Going off-site is an easy route to disaster as there is often no record of what actually happened (it’s also harder for Trade Me to take action on your behalf).

The lemon that has already been sold

A listing for a single item is sold but then offered to multiple buyers.  This could be the sign of a lemon. How do you spot it?

Check that the original trade was not completed by checking seller’s feedback for indications that the trade fell through.

Keep a lookout for Trade Me success fee refund feedback  which indicates that the trade did not go ahead.

Check out our guide on how to identify Lemon Listers. It focuses on certain traits of sellers that you would be wise to watch out for.

If a trade has turned sour, here's how to remedy it.