Trust & Safety

Trade Me's blog on Trust and Safety issues.

Turning lemon trades into lemonade (wrangling lemon listers)

turn lemon trades into lemonade

A buyers guide to turning lemon trades into lemonade (wrangling lemon listers)

This is the third post in our Lemon Series.

A lemon trade is one that’s left you dissatisfied with the goods or service you’ve received, or the manner in which a trade progressed.

We’ve covered spotting lemon listings and lemon listers, now we’re looking at what do to if you actually receive a lemon.

The most common factor resulting in a lemon trade is a communication breakdown.

We find that if buyers conduct their communications with sellers confidently and politely, sellers will reciprocate. 

So how do you accomplish this?

  • Add the seller's email address to your safe email list to prevent spam filters hijacking their emails.
  • Respond to and address their queries promptly.
  • Send your delivery address.
  • Send confirmation that you’ve made payment.
  • Request notification and tracking details when your goods are sent.

If you’ve taken steps to promote good communication but are not getting a response, there are a few things you can do:

  • Be polite. It may be tempting to let rip on a non-responsive seller. Feel free to write an outraged draft to let off some steam. But, before you place feedback or send that email/comment, remove the threatening or offensive parts of your message. Take a break away from the keyboard then come back and ask yourself would you like to receive what you are about to send. People are less likely to refuse to respond or resolve an issue if you’re polite.
  • Set a time frame. This lets the seller know when you expect a response or resolution. Set yourself a deadline to take action if they do not follow through e.g. seeking assistance from Trade Me. 
  • Be specific and clear. Walls of text or wishy-washy correspondence generally results in the subject being lost. Get to the point and let them know what you want. It’s easy to do something if you know what is wanted from you.
  • Talk it over. Actually talking can quickly lead to a positive outcome. If you are comfortable with exchanging phone numbers, it is a great way to nut the situation out.

Payment problems

Sometimes the problem is with the payment.  The best way to avoid this lemon is to:

  • confirm the correct amount to be paid
  • confirm the correct bank account number
  • use the reference information on the payment
  • if using Pay Now, check your emails as we may be holding the payment.

Goods or service are not as described

Sometimes what you think you’ve purchased is not what you actually receive.

These lemons require good communication and patience. Most sellers will try and resolve any issues. They may offer you a refund, repair or replacement item.

If you are dealing with a lemon, here are a few wrangling tips:

  • Record the listing. Take screen shots, save or print the description, images and thequestion and answers on the listing, if this is available. Trade Me archives expired listings after 45 days so it’s prudent to grab the details while they’re available.
  • Record the item or service you received. Take photos of the goods or results, if you feel you will need to get qualified, expert eyes over the item or service results. If documentation is on offer you should take it (e.g. a CIN Notice for motor vehicles). 
  • Approach the seller with all of the evidence you have available on the issue. Attempt to come to an agreement with them. If you are unable to reach an agreement you may wish to file a claim with the Disputes Tribunal or contact a solicitor for more information on your rights and obligations. 

What if my goods simply don’t turn up?

Have a look at this page on what to do when your item does not arrive for some tips if this situation arises.

Want to know more about these issues? Check out other pages in our lemon series: