As well as the How to Sell on Depop post I wrote, I thought it would also be useful to have a guide on how to buy on Depop safely. A significant portion of Depop accounts don’t sell items, instead solely using the app to buy. This guide will focus on the safety aspect specifically so you won’t find any tips or tricks for negotiating prices.
What Should You Look For?
There are 3 main ways that I personally check a listing and seller. This includes looking over the listing that caught your eye, determining whether the seller is trustworthy or if you should stay clear of them. If they seem legit, other information can tell you what to expect from a transaction.
1. The Listing
The aim here is to find as much information about the item as possible. In the cases of more expensive items, you want to have confidence in the item and seller.
- check for correct logos
- if applicable, match item codes on labels (great for verifying Kanken rucksacks)
- check for scale – what is the actual size of the item?
- zoom in on the photos to see the overall condition of the item
- see how long ago the item was last updated
If the listing is a number of weeks old (and you see that the other listings on their page are old) then it is probably worth sending a quick message to check if they are active. Depop will automatically block off accounts that have been inactive for a certain number of weeks, but this is around 20 weeks. It might be the case that the seller has left the app, or gone on holiday, or doesn’t interact on the app very much, so if in doubt, message them.
If you’re not sure about any details, comment on the listing or private message the seller. A simple comment asking for dimensions or a private message asking for more or clearer photos will likely give you the information you are looking for.
Remember, the seller wants their item sold, so in a large proportion of cases they will provide answers to your questions ASAP. Also, the sellers on Depop are people just like you so if you’re polite then they probably will be too.
Reviews are the most important factor in selling on Depop. If a seller’s reviews don’t give me a good impression, I will stay clear of them entirely. Amazing item priced well but shady reviews? No go.
Skim through sold AND purchased reviews to find out:
- how they interact with other people on the app
- if their parcels take a long time to arrive
- if they communicate with their buyers past making the sale
- if their sold items match the description given in their listing for it
It will be quite obvious if a seller is untrustworthy if their review averages at 4 stars or less. This may seem like an oddly high threshold but bear with me – users will tend to give 5 stars if they get the item they expect within reasonable limits. So if something significant goes wrong, the highest review someone can expect is 4 stars.
I came across a user with an average review rating of 4 out of 5 stars. This seems quite reasonable at first glance, but the whole story became clearer once I clicked onto their reviews.
It turns out that they had only made one sale with a review, with the other 6 reviews coming from their purchases which increased their overall rating. As sellers leave their customers reviews, it is possible to attain a high average rating from making purchases while having awful sold reviews. Due to the effect of overall averaging, I double check reviews even if a seller has an average of 5 stars with 100 reviews.
That’s not to say that some buyers don’t exaggerate their issues or purposely give bad reviews to claim refunds and keep the items. But that is a whole other issue that deserves its own post.
So the seller you’re looking into seems to be fine based on their reviews. What else do you need to know? Take a look at their bio to see if they have:
- a holiday notice – there is no feature to pause listings so the only way you will know that someone cannot post items is if they tell you through their bio or listings
- a request that you message the seller before making a purchase
- terms and conditions such as no returns on their items
- the next posting date for parcels
- if they are open to offers on their items or if the prices are set
- if there are discounts for bundles
It’s always worth skimming over a seller’s bio if you find an item you like. You may be able to save yourself some trouble and money, or you might find some more items that you like on their page.
Some of this information may also be available in the description of their listing, so make sure you’re reading everything.
Things to Stay Clear of When Shopping
1. Buying through PayPal with Friends + Family
You might come across users that offer to sell their items at lower prices IF you pay them directly through PayPal instead of through the Depop app.
This means that you do not get buyer’s protection for the item that you purchase. If, for example:
- they never send the item
- the parcel gets lost
- the item doesn’t meet the description given
you cannot make a claim to get your money back. In a lot of cases, the seller may block you and then you cannot even message them to find out what happened.
I personally recommend that you do not buy directly through PayPal just in case something does go wrong.
2. What about Swaps?
A portion of Depop users will state in their bio that they do swaps. You may get messages or comments asking if you would swap for an item on your page.
It’s worth considering that in a significant number of cases, only one of the swappers will send the item. So it might be the case that you’re just sending somebody a free item. There are always cases where swaps work out, however, you also need to consider the next point.
Swapping is against Depop’s terms – there have been cases of some accounts being suspended after emailed warnings from staff. Is it worth risking your account to swap an item with someone?
This is all based on my experience with buying on Depop, and this is what has worked for me personally. Leave me a comment if you have other ways of buying safely, or tell me a story of what happened when a purchase went wrong.