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About Freecycle ************************
If you ever enjoy visiting Ebay to convert someone's junk into a treasure of your own then you may find Freecycle.org very useful to you. The obvious difference with freecycle is that items are posted and offered for free. So if someone has an old washing machine they no longer require for example, they can post an advert on the site and offer interested members to take it off their hands for free. To make matters easier for everyone registered on the site, you sign up for your local area group so that you know only people in your area will be offering stuff to you. What's more is that it is completely free to sign up and it won't cost you a penny.
It is important to note that Freecycle is part of Yahoo groups, so when you sign up you have to have a valid Yahoo ID.
The Site ******************
The Freecycle site has surprisingly only been running since April 2005, which may be why not a lot of people know about the site. Once you have logged into the site with your valid Yahoo ID, you will be presented with your local member page which gives you access to links that include; new members, new messages and new photos. I have noticed that the number of members in my area has grown considerably in the last month or so and the 'new members' link will show you a list of these new registered users and also show you whether they are currently online or offline. The 'new messages' link will take you directly to newly posted messages form the last couple of days. The 'new photos' link is a rather pointless link in my opinion as not a lot of people post pictures. As a result, there is only a handful displayed and these are normally out of date as newer ones haven't been added to overwrite these. To make matters worse, the pictures are not even linked to an advert so you can see a nice picture of a bike for example but not know who is offering it!
Messages in general are very much like posts displayed in forums, so if you are familiar with this then you will find it very simple to read and reply to messages. Message responses however are not posted on the site for everyone to see, they are sent to the member who posted the offer in the form of an e-mail.
Towards the bottom of the member page there is a very useful 'message history' table with links to previous messages for each month that the site has been running.
How it works **********************
Basically, someone will post a message, similar to that of a forum stating that they are 'offering' an item they no longer require and leave a contact number so that you can arrange collection. If they don't leave a contact number you can reply to the message on the site to say you are interested. Naturally, you can't expect the person offering an item for free to deliver it to your house and this is one of the site rules. You arrange to collect and the person offering cannot attempt to charge anything for you taking it away. Anyone who does ask for money or try to 'sell' their item or any other item can be reported to the site and their membership will be removed.
Here is a good example of the type of messages you will see and the bargains you are likely to get:
"Bag of records, a few albums and around 50-100 singles, mostly 80s and early 90s. Most of them played perfectly when they went into storage 10 years ago; I don't know if they do now."
"Linksys wireless router 802.11b (11Mbps only). Model number BEFW11S4."
Other items that I've seen posted include tables, chairs, carpets, videos, CDs, computers, monitors, books and even cars! (All be it ones that need a little work).
It should be noted that adverts placed on the site are checked by freecycle prior to posting, so you won't get away with offloading illegal goods such as copied CDs and DVDs.
Wanted Ads ********************
In addition to offering items you can also place a wanted advertisement. If you are looking for something yourself then you can simply post a message to say you are looking for a particular item, maybe even a washing machine for example. I know I will be once I move house! If you are lucky then someone might respond to say they have the item and you can arrange to collect. The main idea is that it might not be of any use for the owner and they gain by not having to get rid of the item themselves. You gain by getting an item for free, which are usually fully functional.
If you do however, go to pick up an item only to discover that it is not as described and no longer wanted, then simply don't take the item and just tell the owner that it's not what you're looking for or as described. They can then re-advertise it and maybe put down a better description next time. Once items have been collected and taken away, they cannot be returned, which is another rule of the site. The person who posted the original message can then post a 'taken' message to inform other members of the site that the item that was offered has now been taken. This will also prevent people contacting them once it has already been given away. If your wanted advert has been fulfilled then you should post a 'received' message to say that the item you are looking for has now been received.
If you are interested in signing up for the site then spread the word, the more members that are present, the better chance of finding something you want for free. You will be surprised at what some people give away! This is the first site of its kind that I've seen on the Internet and it's been really useful, especially if you haven't got the money to just go out and spend hundreds of pounds on brand new items.
There aren't many bad things about the site, after all they are probably keeping tons and tons a day out of landfill sites as people who don't offer their items are most likely to dump it. However, you can get some people who don't turn up to collect items as agreed and you might get the odd person who isn't at home at the time they say they will be.
One last bit of advice, if you're after something someone is offering make sure you get there quick before everyone else, as leaving it too late usually means you will miss out! It's normally first come first serve, and people offering items are most likely to give them away to the first person that responds to them.