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As I recently had a piece of very good fortune I found myself with a car to dispose of - a car which still has an MOT, and one which I fully intended to run myself for a couple of years yet so what to do?
I'm tight fisted (sorry frugal as it should be known now) so I didnt want to go paying for listings on things like autotrader or the local paper, and I'm not a fan of ebay so for me at least ebay motors was out of the question. It didn't leave many options which I felt would be successful so while pondering I went off in search of my mums birthday pressie - a fishtank - which lead me to the gumtree site, it didn't have the pressie I was looking for but it did advertise itself as having free listings.
I figured why not, if its free I wouldnt be losing anything so I placed my listing.
The layout of the site is pretty easy to deal with, the UK version has London as the default city setting so you have to find the most apt city location for you, in my case Manchester. From there placing a listing is a simple step by step process, choose a category, in this case cars, choose the price range - up to £500. Then fill in the basic fields, ad title, asking price, and the ad text itself. An option with the car listings allows you to add the Reg number of the car and show the cars details that way too, though it won't show the actual reg on the ad.
Once done you have to set a password and your contact options - email or text, I preferred to use email and added a 'throwaway account' for the purposes of hearing from prospective buyers. Once you have filled in the fields and you are happy with your ad you can then choose to add photos - I didn't bother though I did intend to - I simply never had the chance, and if you want to make it a priority listing you can pay for a more promenant position on the page, again I didn't bother with this. Anyone getting in contact through the site will not see your email which is good though obviously once you have replied to them they will see the email, though there is an option to allow your contact details to be viewed if you are happy to do so.
You can also add your postcode details and allow the ad to show a google map showing the location of the item you have on offer - again not something I would be happy to reveal but is commonly done.
Once happy and the ad is posted its a case of sitting and waiting for hear if anyone is interested.
In my case I posted the ad before going to a wedding reception and when I next logged on to the email a little over 24 hours later I had recieved two emails, both of which I replied to giving a little more information and setting out times I would be avaliable if they wished to view the car.
Obviously from this point the site itself became irrelevant - but suffice to say the first viewer purchased the car in cash - collected from the cashpoint when test driving it, and handed over directly.
I will admit I believe my experience to have been a lucky one, prehaps my old car was of no interest to potential scammers or that the ad was on such a short time as for con artists or scammers to believe it wasn't worth their while yet - some older ads have edits which do start to read in a slightly desperate tone! Either way I didn't get any contacts which I felt were in any way dogey.
Once the car was sold removing the ad was also a simple process, log back in to the ad listing and at the bottom alongside the 'post ad' button is a 'close listing' link. Simple (just like me some would say).
From a buyers point of view the site allows to you find virtually anything from jobs and rentals, to dating, or social events, all broken down in to pretty simple to navigate sections. Each add when you view tells you how long ago it was posted and how many times it has been viewed. There are ads which are obviously scams, but these are prevalent anywhere that free listings are allowed, and no amount of moderation would clear them up completely, as always you should remember if it seems too good to be true it probably is!
Of course things to remember as a buyer or seller always ensure that you don't go in 'blind' do your research first, make sure if going to meet or having someone come to view an item that you either have someone with you or have ensured that someone knows where you are and how long you expect to be.
When selling the usual rules apply, bank transfers are best for security, cash drawn from a cash point in your presence is also good, cheque payment should be taken with caution - certainly for many things you would have little recourse should the cheque bounce but I felt that for a car I would be able to take cheque reasonably confidently as I would need the address of the potential new owner for the log book should anything go wrong. If you don't feel comfortable in a situation then walk away, that bargain isn't so good if you feel endangered!
Overall my experience of the site as a seller and potential buyer have been good, my one listing was sold within 48 hours of posting, and though as yet the 'right' pressie hasnt been seen I have no doubt that it would do if I was able to keep checking back within my ideal timeframe or not. In many ways gumtree feels alot like a version of freecycle though unlike freecycle items aren't just to be given away and is definitely a site to keep an eye on when looking for things which can be bought second hand or nearly new - but if anyone has a 90 - 150 ltr aquarium for sale in the North west be sure to let me know (before I go and do something silly like get a huge one which currently has me salivating)!!