Is getting stuff for free worth the aggro?
Most people think of Facebook as merely a social/anti-social network full of Friends you never see. But for some people, Facebook is also a shopping site- more recently Facebook has become awash with local selling sites, as people realised they could avoid the crippling costs of both eBay/Paypal and Royal Mail, by selling their crap to someone who lived down the road.
However, as the economic squeeze has tightened, and persisted, there are a growing number of ‘free’ ‘thrift’ and ‘recycle’ pages springing up around the country. Again, these are mostly locally based, and the idea behind them is that, just because you don’t want something, someone else might be able to put it to good use, either as is, or they might upcycle (paint) it.
Sounds good in theory. Why not save serviceable items from landfill and help out a neighbour on the way?
Unfortunately, it seems is less simple in practice. Taking just a small sample of sites available, they are full of rules, arguments and (if admins are to be believed) threats of physical violence, all in pursuit of someone’s old toaster. The main issues can be split into the following categories:
First commenter. Some sites stipulate that the first person to comment should get the item. However, this invariably means that some slug somewhere with no job and nothing better to do than troll Facebook free sites ends up getting everything. All day.
Greed. See above. Some sites have bans on people getting more than a certain number of items per day. These are (we can only hope) only children who never learned to share.
Sob stories. The only alternative to the First Commenter to determine who gets the free item seems to be Worst Lifestory method. Here, would-be owners of whatever item compete to tell the most heart-wrenching stories in order to earn the favour of the person donating. Clearly it doesn’t matter if said stories are actually true.
Car booters. Free sites are full of disgruntled donators who have found their clock/shoes/tv stand for sale at a local car boot. It is irrelevant that they were going to chuck the item, and have given it away (ie relinquished any rights of ownership) over the item. If anyone’s making a profit on the item, they should be. Particularly if the enterprising car booter is also an inventive sob-story writer.
Wanted ads. Yes, I’d like a new 42” HD TV too, but I don’t expect someone to give me one for nothing. The requests on these sites can be increasingly bizarre, from equipment to start a plumbing business, a new coat, to a rug to cover the stain on the floor before the midwife comes. Still, if you don’t ask…
Many of these sites get hundreds of posts a day, allowing you to trawl through photos of other people’s crap to your heart’s content- just so long as you are also prepared to put up with the swearing, insults, threats, shocking spelling and whingeing that goes along with it*.
So do you use these sites? Are they worth the effort or is it just another excuse for people to moan at each other and do the charity shop out of a few bob?
* come to think of it, sounds a bit like our comments section