What is Mercari? And is Mercari legit? What are common Mercari scams to watch out for? These are all great questions, and if you have them you're in the right place. Mercari is a great way to get the things you need or to make extra cash by selling items you don't want anymore. With just a few clicks, you can search through thousands of items from other users nationally or locally and find something to your liking. If you happen to own something people are looking for, why not list it quickly and make a quick buck?
Mercari makes it incredibly easy with their simple setup - take plenty of pictures, describe your item accurately, and put it up in less than five minutes. After I returned from my reselling hiatus in 2016, Mercari was the only platform I set up shop because their app is more user-friendly than Poshmark.
A Fast-Growing Resale Platform
Mercari US is a subsidiary of Mercari Inc., a Japanese e-commerce company founded in 2013. The online marketplace app became so popular in Japan that it became the first pre-IPO startup unicorn, in Japan, with a valuation of over $1 billion. The company later expanded to the United States in 2014 and United Kingdom in 2016. Unfortunately, Mercari announced that it would cease operations in the UK at the end of 2020. The company cited the high labor and advertising costs as the primary reasons for its decision. Despite some difficulty in the UK market, the app has experienced growth in the US and Japan markets. Not only that, but they won best app of Google Play Best of 2019.
(Photo source: Mercan)
Also, Mercari is the only selling platform in the United States that offers local delivery; this service was launched in 2021. They partnered with Uber, FedEx SameDay, City, Dolly, and DoorDash, where a driver picks up the item from the seller and deliver it to the buyer either the same day or the next day. This is an excellent shipping option for bulky items such as coffee machines and printers, and select cities also have the option to deliver furniture!
How Mercari Makes Their Money
Like Poshmark, Mercari makes its money when a transaction (a sale) is successful. This means it's in their best interest to prevent scammers since they don't benefit from it. There are measures that both buyers and sellers can take to keep themselves safe while using the platform. Although scammers will always exist on any platform - heck, you can even get scammed making an in-person sale, but let's save that for another blog - these simple steps may help you stay safe online when using sites like Mercari.
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How To Protect Yourself As A Buyer
The platform offers strong buyer protection where Mercari does not release payment (to the seller) until the item is delivered and the buyer (you) confirm the item received is as described.
"If an item received is not as described in the listing, the buyer may request a full refund within 3 days of receipt of the item"
Here is the list of qualifying conditions that warrant a return or refund:
Undisclosed damage to the item
The seller did not ship the item*
And here is the list of conditions that Mercari will deny your request for a return:
Buyer's remorse aka I changed my mind
Item does not fit or has an odor
Item was accurately described in the listing
It is past the 3 days after the item was received
The item was rated
The Seller Did Not Ship The Item:
Mercari's guideline for shipping timeframe is three (3) business days of purchase. However, unlike eBay, this is not enforced, where a late shipment can negatively impact your account.
The good news is: if the tracking number updates for seven (7) days or more, a buyer can request a cancellation and refund.
Screen Your Seller
Finding a steal on Mercari can be so exciting! You eagerly click the buy button to make your purchase, only to realize that the seller has no ratings, and you need to figure out the quality of their items or if the item will even arrive. Although it may feel daunting, buying from sellers with no ratings doesn't have to be scary. After all, everybody has to start from somewhere. But there are a few things that you should not compromise, regardless if the seller has zero reviews or a thousand.
Although sellers are not required to get their profile verified, it is in their best interest to do so. To earn the profile verification badge, a seller must verify their email, SMS, and government ID.
(Photo source: Mercari)
Of course, this badge does not stop fraud, but it does help to reduce it. Let's imagine we are a scammer: to make this operation worthwhile, we would require a bunch of "fake" Mercari accounts because Mercari will flag and ban those accounts once it has been reported. Do you think it would be wise for the scammer to upload their government ID on every "fake" account?
Mercari offers their seller five badges, but there are three (3) badges that you should look for in a seller's profile:
Fast Responder badge: this seller responds to messages in an average of 12 hours.
Quick Shipper badge: this seller ships off items within 24 hours, not including weekends or holidays. This metric is based on when a carrier scans the shipping label.
Reliable badge: this seller rarely cancels a transaction.
Again, these badges do not stop fraud, but it does help to reduce it. Let's go back to our scammer scenario with our fake accounts. Do you honestly think a scammer would put a lot of time and effort into earning these badges with accounts that can easily be shut down?
Certain luxury items qualify for Mercari Authentication, such as wallets, eyewear, handbags, jewelry, and watches. The seller pays for the item to get the item authenticated by an independent third party that will carefully inspect photos of the items. You will know an item has passed the authentication process when it has a diamond logo on the listing. Should we go back to our scammer scenario, or is this self-explanatory?
Common Sense & Due Diligence
I've read way too many angry Facebook group complaints from buyers who got scammed on Mercari. But in all honesty, some of these unfortunate events were self-inflicted; here are some examples:
Conducting Transactions Outside Mercari
One surefire way to get banned from Mercari is by trying to conduct a sale outside of Mercari. Even if it's into another selling platform, for example, doing a transaction on Poshmark to take advantage of the USPS Priority Mail shipping fee, which is relatively cheaper than what Mercari is offering. Not only are you risking your account, but you are also eliminating the possibility of returning the item if it's different from what is described.
Reading Is Fundamental
When the Playstation 5 was initially released in November 2020, many buyers were victims of the "empty box" scam. At this time, the PS5 was sold out everywhere, and the only place you could purchase it was from resellers... and best believe, resellers were selling it at 3x its retail price. To take advantage of the hot market, sellers would post a photo of the PS5 box, and on the title or description, it would say empty box -- and to sweeten the pot, they would price it at 70% off its market price. Without taking the time to read the item's full description, many buyers would impulsively purchase it. Unfortunately, since the item is as described, many buyers could not return the item and get a refund.
Vague Description & Photos
If the item you want to purchase is listed as new but only stock photos are listed, then I recommend contacting the seller to post a few photos of the actual item. Back to our Playstation 5 scenario, I would ask the seller to write down a short phrase (ex., chapstick) on a piece of paper and take a photo with the PS5. This ensures the seller has the item on hand and does not use fake photos. Don't hesitate to message the seller and ask questions! Trust your gut!
How To Protect Yourself As A Seller
Mercari offers seller protection which I believe is generous compared to other platforms because of their $200 shipping protection program. In my six years of selling on Mercari, I've only had two bad transactions- both of which were resolved by Mercari.
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Detailed Description & Photos
The more information you can provide, the better. Not only does this give your buyer confidence that you're not a scammer, but it also covers you if the buyer is a scammer. One of the bad transactions I mentioned earlier was for a wrong return claim. A buyer wanted to return a used gaming headset; he claimed it didn't work, although it was tested and in an open box condition. When I received the headset back, it was missing the wireless receiver. I reached out to Mercari ASAP and referred to the photos I have in the listing that shows the wireless receiver (the missing piece). Mercari released my funds within a few days, and they most likely banned that user account.
Pro tip: take pictures of any special markings or serial numbers of the item and include that in your listing. This helps prevent people from doing a "switch-a-roo" with your item.
Use Mercari's Prepaid Label or Purchase Insurance
This will depend on the value of your item and, maybe, your risk tolerance. Mercari offers up to $200 shipping insurance if you purchase a prepaid shipping label through them. This includes USPS First Class (packages that weigh less than a pound) which normally, you'll have to purchase separate insurance via the post office or other third-party vendors. The other bad transaction I experienced during my six years as a seller on Mercari was when a 15-pound package went cross-country (thanks, FedEx!) when it was only destined to go from Maryland to Pennsylvania. I was lucky to have a patient buyer, and after a month of going back and forth with Mercari, the buyer and I got our refund. Of course, it would only make sense for you to purchase shipping through Mercari if the item's value is within the $200 insurance.
Pro tip #1: If the value does not exceed the $200 limit, use Mercari's prepaid shipping label during the holidays. This is the time of the year when many packages get lost, and you want to ensure you cover yourself for any potential losses.
Pro tip #2: For valuable items, purchase insurance and the adult signature. Make sure you mention in your listing that an adult signature is required. This will help prevent any "the package was not delivered" scam. Make sure to get your package scanned by the carrier and grab a receipt from them.
Have A Good Seller Reputation
This advice applies to any selling platform (eBay, Poshmark, etc.); strive to get as many positive reviews, 5 stars, and try to resolve the issue with the buyer before escalating it to Mercari. Although this is unconfirmed by Mercari, I have noticed that they treat sellers based on their status. Now, it could be certain customer reps or how you approach them with your problem, but people who work in customer service would agree that being nice is often more effective than being unpleasant. And when I used to work for a big-chain hotel, we were trained to give Platinum members priority versus Gold members. When a Mercari representative has to choose who to respond to an inquiry first, they're more likely to choose the seller with 1000 reviews over the one with 400. Or when there is a return claim, should they believe the seller with 2 stars or the buyer?
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So, is Mercari legit? The answer is: yes.
An online platform that has been operating for eight years in the US market, with over 50 million downloads and generating 350,000 listings per day... It is safe to say, Mercari is a legitimate online selling platform. However, for any selling platform, there will always be drawbacks. The existence of scammers is one of the most significant problems for any online marketplace. We hope you feel confident about avoiding Mercari scams after reading this article.
Have any questions or want to share your own experiences with Mercari? Let us know in the comments below!