Buying second-hand LEGO can be a low-cost way to build up your collection and parts, and websites such as Gumtree make it easier than ever. But it’s not always smooth sailing. Here are some tips from Southern Bricks LEGO User Group (SBLUG) members on how to shop safely.
While there are many successful stories about the eBay-owned trading website, SBLUG member Andrew says simply, ‘Gumtree is buyer beware. Bargains and traps alike’. Other community members have echoed these concerns.
Thankfully, they’re here to share tips from their experiences so you don’t have to go through the same issues!
Inspect the LEGO sets and bricks
If you’re buying a bulk lot of LEGO parts, Geoff sums up every LEGO purist’s concerns, ‘check for Mega Blocks’. We’ve also heard stories of bulk lots containing other non-construction toys such as Barbie heads, GI Joe body parts and even clumps of hair!
It’s also worth keeping an eye out for any discolouration (especially old white and blue parts), teeth marks, sticker quality and other wear and tear (e.g., fading on printed parts).
If you’re buying from interstate, Bianca recommends asking for more photos so that you can be sure you’re getting what you pay for.
Make a safe transaction
‘Never pay anyone that you don’t know via an EFT deposit’, says Ben Tomlins. Unfortunately, you can’t trust everyone. Meeting in person and paying by cash means that you can ensure you get the goods right away. Narelle recommends, ‘If you have to buy from Gumtree then only buy local and only in person’.
If you need to transfer larger amounts or if you’re buying something from interstate, PayPal offers buyer protection that can help you resolve disputes. (UPDATE: Paypal does not cover Gumtree purchases as stated on their Help Desk)
Get in quick
Everyone’s out looking for a bargain and LEGO products are hot items right now, so you’ll need to be quick. Ben Smeaton says, ‘Be prepared to get in the car and drive there ASAP, because if you don’t, someone else will’.
Look for Gumtree alternatives
Gumtree’s a great service that lets you find sellers in your local area, but if you’re uncomfortable meeting complete strangers, Steve says LEGO buy/sell/swap types of Facebook Groups can be a better option, especially ones that hold face-to-face events. He explains that ‘…in these groups you get to know the regulars and many people come to the meetup’. You can also ask them for more information and use Facebook Messenger to get in contact with them rather than sharing your mobile phone number with them.
More information about buying on Gumtree
Gumtree has a Scam Security Centre with some additional tips on staying safe while buying products and interacting with others on the site and in person.
Overall, Gumtree is a good free service with some great LEGO bargains to be found. But always be careful and take care to ensure that you get the most out of the services it provides.