Based in San Francisco, California, iOffer is an auction site. It was founded in 2002 by Steven Nerayoff and has become a global online marketplace with over 100 million items for sale and thousands of users.
How Does It Work?
The focus of iOffer is to provide buyers and sellers with a commercial negotiation system rather than traditional bidding. It prides itself on being a place to “buy, sell, and trade.” The site is open to registration by both buyers and sellers, which is free for both. The description boasts an open marketplace.
It acts as a platform for independent sellers, who are individually in charge of managing the sales and shipping process. The buyers and sellers are largely responsible for their transactions. Customer service is also largely up to the individuals involved in the sales rather than the auction site itself.
Buyers can choose to make an offer to a seller or to purchase at the listing price. Sellers can list items for free and are charged fees based on the value of the items they sell.
Buying on the Site
Buyers use a search tool to browse items. They are directed at checkout to a payment processor provided by the seller, or alternatively, they will be invoiced. Payment is required within 48 hours or a “Non-Paying Buyer” rating will be assigned. This can be avoided by canceling the order before the 48-hour window expires.
To make a purchase, buyers click “Buy Now” or “Make an Offer” and are then guided through the seller’s payment process. Sellers are in charge of the shipping process, including selecting a carrier. Therefore, buyers must abide by the individual seller’s processes and policies.
Whether or not the buyer’s experience is positive, it will largely depend on the seller with whom he or she is dealing as iOffer does not manage the buying or shipping process. The site encourages buyers to beware of fraud and pay attention to sellers’ listings for legitimacy. While iOffer has policies against fraud, it does not have robust safeguards against it. The responsibility is largely on the buyer to properly vet sellers.
Selling on the Site
The site offers many free services to sellers, but there are also some fee options. The storefront is free, there is a gallery slideshow for no charge, listing photos are no cost, and there are no listing fees. There is a schedule of final value fees that increase proportionately with the price of the sold item.
There are special increased fees for several categories of items. They start at $0.50 for items up to $4.99 ($1.00 fee for items in the special categories, such as clothing). For items from $25.00-$99.99, the fee is 5 percent of the sale price. For items over $100.00, there is a flat fee as well as a percentage of the sale price. These are all higher for the special categories.
For payments processed by Stripe, there is a flat 8.5 percent fee on all sales. For sellers that are commercial suppliers, there is an additional $7.50 fee per transaction, but that does not apply to the average user. These fees are not charged unless an item sells. There are also optional premium listing service fees to increase the chance your items will be seen.
These range from $3.00 to $19.95, and the listing enhancements last 30 days. After receiving an invoice for fees, the seller has seven days to pay it. If a buyer does not pay the seller, the seller can assign a Non-Paying Buyer rating to get final value fees automatically credited to the account.
What’s So Good About iOffer?
Problems with orders are handled by the buyer directly communicating with the seller. The site recommends concurrently filing a dispute with the payment processor to request a refund, which can later be canceled if the problem is resolved. The site is not known for quality customer service because it considers itself solely a marketplace. The responsibility of customer service is mostly placed on the individual vendors.
As mentioned earlier, the quality of vendors varies, as does the quality of customer service a buyer can expect. Their customer service page is mostly dedicated to directing users to frequently asked questions. There is a link to email them about suspected fraudulent emails and a mailing address to send letters, but there does not appear to be a contact number or chat option with a live person.
The overall public perception of iOffer is not positive for buyers. While some customers report finding good deals, these are overshadowed by the frequency with which it turns out deals were too good to be true. The issue resides not with the website itself but with the low-quality sellers who are allowed to operate on the site.
Customers report issues with getting products that are different than what was ordered, not getting any product at all, difficulty getting refunds, and prolonged delays. Sellers do not appear to have as many issues, and this may in fact be a good auction site from the seller’s perspective. So long as the seller has some retail experience and his or her own policies in place, this may be a good site to sell one’s wares.
However, this sort of setup can leave some risk to buyers. As outlined in the site’s user agreement, iOffer does not verify authenticity of the products sold there. However, the public tends to expect that sort of oversight by an auction site. Therefore, the public perception from the buyer’s perspective leaves room for improvement.
While iOffer allows a lot of flexibility for sellers to set up shop for a low price and for buyers to make offers and browse a wide array of products, this flexibility comes with a high cost. The marketplace iOffer provides is vulnerable to misuse by less-than-reputable vendors. While there may be opportunity to get a good deal there, buyers are urged to use the utmost caution.
The site offers helpful advice to buyers for avoiding fraud in their “How to Buy” section of the Help Desk. This site is best for experienced buyers who are willing to put some extra effort into researching the individual vendors before buying from them. Sellers need to already have established their own policies, payment systems, shipping methods, etc., because this will not be handled by the platform.
In other words, both parties need to be prepared to take control of their own experiences and be willing to put in quite a bit of communication with each other. It’s recommended anyone wanting to purchase from this site review the Help Desk beforehand. It’s also a good idea to review the user agreement, which specifically outlines the responsibilities of all parties.
Pay attention to the final value fees. There are several categories of products that entail higher fees than the standard chart. It’s important to ensure the correct fees are being figured in when selling items.