Like many of you, I buy a lot of my designer goods on the resale market. While I’m certainly sad to miss out on the experience of leaving a store swinging a branded shopping bag, my location and budget force me to seek out alternatives to the big glamorous shopping districts found in major metro areas.

I know I’m not the only one; many of us turn to resellers for various reasons. It could be to save money or the environment or to give us peace of mind knowing we won’t be the first to cause the initial scuffs.

Whatever one’s reason might be, it’s become clear that this large shift towards pre-loved has created a resale marketplace with more competition and more incentives to cut corners in order to stay on top.

Recently, everything came to a head when The RealReal found itself in hot water for misleading its customers and investors.

Last month, I was surprised (and somehow not surprised) when I received a notice from my investment bank letting me know TRR was facing a class-action lawsuit from which I was entitled to compensation.

According to the notice, the company made false statements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, resulting in an artificially inflated stock price not long after its IPO in 2019.

I personally only held a few shares for a very brief period of time (don’t worry, this was play money I was willing to potentially lose, not my retirement funds). Still, the larger implication made me wonder what really went wrong. How did one of the former top dogs of resale become what it is today and what does it really take to make it as a successful reseller in a world flush with fakes and subpar business practices?

In my mind, there are three main things needed to gain consumer trust:

Full Transparency In The Listing

  • The photos for the listing are clear; The site uses high-quality photos to demonstrate the real quality of the item.
  • The seller is open and honest about any defects; They’re stated in the description and visible in the photos.
  • There is an accurate product description; The season or collection the bag was from is stated or at the very least it states the color name from the brand instead of just ‘pink.’ This listing on Farfetch for a Lady Dior is a great example.

Offer a Go-Between

The business has a go-between or middleman – There’s a step in the process the item goes through after purchase but before being shipped out to you. Light cleaning/restoration, real authentication, a prep step, something! Peer-to-peer sales are a risky business.

Provide A Fair Return Policy

They have a fair return policy – Most of your money should be refunded if returned by a certain date or 100% if something ever slipped through the cracks of authentification. I think Fashionphile’s return policy is one of the best in the business because it gives you 30 days to return an item instead of 14.

Interestingly enough, if you read the return policy for some of the peer-to-peer resellers, you’ll find that they don’t offer returns for swimwear, beauty products, and handbags! The most profitable and most counterfeited items aren’t returnable? That’s very telling.

The Road Forward

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but good intentions don’t ever justify defrauding others.

It’s important to remember that while many sites seem nice at first glance with claims of saving the planet and you some money by participating in the circular economy, those middlemen and slightly longer wait times are very necessary.

My goal here isn’t to slander TRR or companies like it; I’ve also used the site to sell and research items in the past. But keep in mind that the demand is growing faster than a lot of companies’ capabilities and it’s our job to hold their feet to the fire by only purchasing from resellers with strict oversight and fair policies that protect those giving over their hard-earned money.

I’ve never been the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company but I have been someone who’s spent years saving up cash to buy a bag on the resale market. So what do I think really makes a successful reseller? – one that doesn’t bite the hands that feed them.

What are your thoughts on the state of the resale market? Do you have a favorite site to get pre-loved goods?

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ILP
ILP
5 months ago

I wouldn’t buy from any reseller that doesn’t accept returns. If they stand by their authentication process, accurately describe the condition of items and provide details and photos, then there is no reason they shouldn’t accept returns.

Martyp
Martyp
5 months ago
Reply to  ILP

One thing that people never consider is that scammers are also among buyers. I’m not a reseller, but used Ebay a few times as a seller. Once I sold a used but liked new Hermès bag to someone who, after receiving it, said it was not as described. She sent it back… completely damaged! She got her money back, I got a bad bag. Another time, another bag, another buyer wanted to send it back, she got her money back from Ebay/Paypal… and I received a parcel with nothing inside!! I tried to complain, but how can you prove anything?!
So I think some resellers just try to protect their items and business by refusing returns. They’re not as protected as big companies.

Passerine
Passerine
5 months ago
Reply to  ILP

One of the things that really disappointed me with Ann’s Fabulous Finds was their increasing use of no returns/all sales final for certain highly desired items and also insisting those items must be paid for only by wire transfer or Bitcoin. No credit cards. Someone could (in theory) get stuck buying a very expensive superfake with no recourse.

Candee
Candee
5 months ago
Reply to  Passerine

I’ve seen that as well and with those restrictions I won’t purchase.

Admin
5 months ago
Reply to  ILP

Thought on that – what about people then taking the bag, using it for a bit, then returning it? It gets dicey when it comes to that, and I’ve read about that a lot on our forums.

Sheila
Sheila
5 months ago

Nope nope nope. These bags are expensive and I’d like to know that the bag I bought is new and unused by other people. It doesn’t have to be untouched, brand new and pristine, but it shouldn’t have been used for a few days then returned. This is why it’s so important to go to the store to try out the bag first before buying. The US has very loose return policies whereas other parts of world don’t. It just seems unfair to the next person who is buying a bag that has already been used.

Candee
Candee
5 months ago

I’ve bought and sold many bags from FP. You are probably familiar with their policy where they attach a tag that “if removed they won’t accept the bag back”. Also, they have a generous 30 day return policy, but they state the bag has to be returned in the condition purchased, However, I watched a video where a woman wore a Lady Dior, from FP with the tags attached, and didn’t like it so she returned it. I felt this was wrong, but people do crazy things I guess.

I no longer sell on eBay because I’ve had too many issues with buyers. I only sell to FP because it’s no hassle and peace of mind.

Kate Belot
Kate Belot
5 months ago
Reply to  Candee

This is a hard one. I can’t know for sure if the bag will work physically for me. It depends on the handles, the cut, and the weight distribution and you can know that ‘til you’ve used it.The Prada Saddle is a case in point (from SS02). Stunning bag for mine, perfection, but once on my body it kinda folded in the middle. Might be ‘cos I’m very tall, but it ruined the look. I couldn’t tell this without putting my stuff in and heading off for the day. It’s a really hard balance to strike. This is why I think 14 days’ window is better – what can’t you know within 14 days?

Passerine
Passerine
5 months ago

Labellov only accepts returns with the Labellov tags (which are not small or easily hidden) still attached. BTW, Labellov is a terrific reseller, it would be nice to see them spotlighted once in a while instead of the usual vendors over and over.

Kate Belot
Kate Belot
5 months ago
Reply to  Passerine

Thanks!

ILP
ILP
5 months ago

The number of days you have to return could be limited. And that scenario happens at retail stores as well so you have that risk anywhere.

OllieOllie
OllieOllie
5 months ago

Authentification?!
Also, slander is verbal defamation; for writing, it’s libel.

Kismet
Kismet
4 months ago

WGACA and TRR were both sued by Chanel. So was a local cobbler, Rago Brothers for restoring purchases from these sites. The courts are actually even pushing for the google analytics data. Bad faith actors can be on the seller or buyer side of the deal. Years ago when I was an undergrad I sold an Omega watch on eBay. The buyer said the box was empty and they got to keep the watch and the money. Lesson learned and I never did it again.
So far 1st Dibs is my go to resale site. I have been happy with everything I’ve bought there. I have not been a seller, but I do not envy the risks they take.

Alessandro
Alessandro
4 months ago
Reply to  Kismet

I thought Chanel was suing WGACA for using their logo and name for promotional use? When I looked into I didn’t find anything about authenticity. I’ve heard Chanel will go after any reseller/consignment company they can just to make a point.

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