The internet is a great thing; connecting people with similar interests together in a meaningful way that allows for more collaboration and idea sharing as well as the buying and selling of goods. In some cases, second hand websites are the only way you can get hold of older equipment that isn't available through retail channels and there's a great number of them to check out that I have covered before.
The problem I have is over the bad rap that certain sites get when targeted by the criminal element in society who use these sites to lure victims into situations where they get robbed...or worse. In fact the impetus for these articles was a story about a court case where a 28 year old university graduate was stabbed trying to sell his Apple laptop via Gumtree (luckily he made a recovery, but I digress!)
So, I want to share some best practice tips for meeting up to do a swap or purchase. It makes a lot of sense for sellers to do face to face
Do your research
While I have no problem going all over London and beyond to pick stuff up on Gumtree, my girlfriend is put off by the idea of going round to someone’s house with a fistful of notes to buy something. This is something I don't tend to consider when it comes to Gumtree because I have done my best to suss out the seller before I bother stepping out the door, but I get the whole stranger-danger thing. Know where you're going and if you don't feel confident in meeting them at their house, offer to go to a local cafe where you can at least plug in the synth and try it out if not in their own place.
Get a phone number from the seller, a full name and a decent street address so that you can Google to figure out a swift entry / exit to the area. Otherwise, keep communicating with the seller: you're doing them a solid by keeping them up to date, though just because they don't reply doesn't necessarily mean that they are up to no good. Musicians are an okay bunch on the whole but can be a bit slow are replying.
Bring a Friend
If you are not sure about going round to some random person's house, just get a friend to come round with you. There are sometimes situations where two heads are better than one and if you are going to a sketchy neighbourhood or just one you aren't used to, this is invaluable.
For example, I have a friend who is not used to doing Gumtree pickups so if they are convenient I tag along to give him some support. When the opportunity arises, why not pay the favour forward once you are confident on your own?
Obviously this can inadvertently make your seller nervous, especially is there only one of him and two of you. In this case, I find it's always best to introduce whoever is playing the support role, in the interests of being open, and to remain friendly and keep out of any of the negotiations if you aren't buying the item. Everyone I have met with have been fine with it.
Leave a note
If you can't bring a friend along with you, at least tell someone where you are going. You never know, it might be helpful if you are picking up something particularly heavy or bulky and you need a car later down the line. But for obvious reasons at least someone can track you down later if you need an extra pair of hands or
Bring as much cash as you need
All deals I have done, whether buying or selling, are done with cash only. So bring what you need, plus a little extra in case you can work out a deal for buying more than one item or some additional leads. Of course, it might mean that you have a bit more liability when it comes to muggings etc but do your pickups during the daytime and you are bound to do okay.
Reduce your expectations
A seller is only looking to sell his item; don't be surprised if you find s/he has already sold the deal of your dreams to someone faster or more desperate than you. Mileage may vary of course, but as long as you react quickly and don't mess the seller around, they are usually able to work with you - unless you get an idiot who refuses to deal with you for no decent reason.