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8 Tips for Identifying Good Opportunities in Classified Ads

27/01/2017 Tips

The internet has completely changed the state of advertising in Tanzania. Since nearly 8 million Tanzanians are online, many merchants promote their goods and services on classified ad sites like Kupatana.

 

This has created many new opportunities for online consumers, such as:

 

  •  Being able to order from merchants in other parts of the country
  •  Getting better deals, since online merchants have less overhead
  •  Having access to rare goods that were previously unavailable

 

You can find a number of great opportunities on Kupatana. Unfortunately, some are better than others.

 

It’s always a good idea to review all ads carefully. Here are some tips to make sure that you get the best deal.

1. Know Your Requirements Upfront

 

Let’s pretend that you are browsing new car listings on Kupatana. You come across an ad that reads:

 

“2003 Toyota Harrier for sale in Dar es Salaam. Mileage: 69,000. Current asking price is 30,500,000 TZS or best reasonable offer.”

 

Is this a good offer? It’s impossible to say without knowing your requirements in advance.

Before looking at any classified ad listings, it’s important to:

 

  •  Know what you need
  •  Have a clear budget in mind
  •  Know what features you’re looking for
  •  Decide how far you’re willing to travel

 

Keep your requirements in mind while reviewing classified ads.

2. Look for Listings With Plenty of Details

 

Many advertisers don’t provide many details in their ads. This makes it very difficult for potential customers to determine whether it’s a good opportunity.

 

At a minimum, the listing should provide the following information:

 

  •  Where the product is being sold (so you know how far you need to travel or whether you’ll need to pay for shipping)
  •  The general condition of the product, including any defects
  •  The price (and whether the advertiser is flexible on it)
  •  The quantity of products available (unless it’s obvious there is only one)

 

You want to know as much as possible about the offer, so you can tell whether or not it’s a good deal. The more detail the advertiser provides, the easier it’ll be to tell.

3. Benchmark Against Other Listings

 

Let’s assume that you live in Magomeni and are looking for a new smartphone. You may find an ad on Kupatana that reads:

 

“Samsung Edge available for 800,000 TZS in Dar es Salaam. This is 75,000 TZS under the book price. This phone has barely been used and is in great condition.”

 

At first glance, this may seem like a great deal. However, if you look at other classified ads, you may find even better ones. You may browse a little bit further and see one that reads:

 

“Samsung Edge available for 725,000 TZS. I am located in Magomeni. The phone has never been opened. I am selling it because I received two from different relatives for the holidays and don’t need them both.”

 

Assuming the sellers are being honest with you, the second offer is the best one. Both phones are in great condition, but the second one is cheaper and brand new, and the seller is also closer so you won’t need to drive as far.

 

You’ll probably miss the best deals if you just choose the first one that looks good. In fact, you may find that the first “good” listing is actually worse than most of the others. You won’t know until you can compare it to other ads.

 

Browse through as many related classified ads as possible. The more research you do, the easier it is to tell whether or not you are getting a good deal.

4. Look for Ads with Pictures

 

An advertiser can say anything in an ad, but if you want to have a better idea of the quality of the product that they are listing, then you should look for advertisements with pictures.

 

When looking at posts with pictures, make sure the picture looks original. If it looks like a stock image, then the advertiser may be lying to you. This is more common with merchants that ship products to customers, because they often try to take their customers’ money and refuse refunds.

 

See if the picture is used in any other ads. Unscrupulous advertisers may “borrow” images from other advertisers to dupe their customers.

 

Look for images that provide plenty of detail. It’s a good idea to look for an image that is taken close up, so you can see any unusual defects.

 

Look for listings with multiple images. This is particularly important if you are looking to purchase a house, since there are many different rooms that you need to look at.

 

Pictures are especially important if you plan to purchase something expensive. If you’re going to spend a lot of money, it’s important to make sure you are getting something that is in good condition.

5. Avoid Anything that Seems Too Good to Be True

 

While the majority of advertisers are honest and reasonable, some will take advantage of their customers. The administrators that run classified ad sites can’t monitor every advertisement, so it’s up to you to do your due diligence.

 

Make sure you read every ad carefully, while remembering the old adage, “If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

 

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology Prof Patrick Makungu and other experts warn that cybercrime is a growing concern in Tanzania.

 

“Cybercrime, theft and online piracy are a big problem in Tanzania nowadays. I believe we can reduce these problems through science, technology and innovation as they are best solutions to those challenges,” Makungu told All Africa.

 

Dr. Aicha Bammoun from ISESCO stated that the government is collaborating with IT experts in 

the private sector to address these problems.

 

"Training in Internet Security can encourage the preparation and adoption of a harmonised framework of cyber security and legal and regulatory environment so as to reduce threats in cyber security in Tanzania," Bammoun said.

 

While the progress in fighting cybercrime is encouraging, there is only so much that authorities can do. As a consumer, you must be cautious to avoid being scammed before buying anything online.

 

Here are some red flags to look out for:

 

  • The price is far below the typical selling price. It’s great to get a good deal, but nobody will sell something for less than 60% of its fair market price unless they stole it, they don’t intend to deliver, or there are some serious defects.
  • The advertiser is very vague on important details. If they keep emphasizing the price but don’t discuss the quality of the product, then that is a serious red flag.
  • They ask you to pay for the product in advance. Never send money online or wire money to the seller’s bank without meeting them first. This is a common sign of a scam.

 

 You must be on guard whenever you make any purchases online.

6. Look for the Seller’s Contact Information

 

Getting in touch with the seller is obviously very important. Kupatana provides a messaging feature, so you can always reach out to them.

 

However, it’s a good idea to look for other contact information on the listing. Here are some reasons that’s important:

 

  • It’s a sign that the advertiser is willing to be transparent.
  • You can usually verify if the contact information is false, which helps you identify fraudulent advertisers.
  • You can talk to the advertiser in person, which makes it easier to identify any red flags.
  • You can identify commercial sellers, which tend to offer warranties, better service, and may recommend other products.

 

Look for sellers who list multiple forms of contact.

7. Prioritize Sellers in Your Area

 

There are a couple of reasons that you probably don’t want to buy anything from an advertiser who is in another city:

 

  • Traveling long distances can be very inconvenient.
  • Fuel prices have been rising about 4.5% a year. Many Tanzanians feel petrol is already too expensive, so it isn’t feasible to take long trips if you don’t need to.
  • If the seller is located too far away, then you would have to ask them to ship the product. You would be more likely to fall victim to a scam this way. Even if the seller isn’t trying to defraud you, you won’t be able to look at the product in person to see if it works properly.

 

Decide how far you are willing to travel. If you don’t have a car, you should try to find a seller in your own city. Of course, that isn’t always feasible. If you can’t find anyone local and need to have the product shipped, then you should work with a commercial seller with a good reputation.

8. The Seller Doesn’t Expect You to Commit to Anything

 

Never commit to buying anything until you have had a chance to inspect it and are comfortable with the price. You may find that the product isn’t as good as it sounded in the advertisement, so you want to have some room to negotiate.

 

Never work with a seller who asks you to sign a contract or commit to anything beforehand.

 

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