Giving stuff away on Freecycle is more trouble than tossing it in a landfill.

Taking it to an op shop isn’t trouble-free either.

I’m not happy chucking out usable hardware and other items with plenty of life left in them. In my case this is a mixture of greenery, plain old-fashioned protestant hatred of waste and memories of hard times.

One alternative is to list unwanted items on TradeMe with a $1 reserve – for overseas readers TradeMe is New Zealand’s home-grown eBay.

Free listing on Trademe

Listing items on TradeMe is free. If they sell, there’s a 6.9 percent commission fee. So if the item sells for $1, I’m 7 cents out-of-pocket. Or, more accurately, I’m 93 cents richer as it is something I’m ready to give away. These numbers are so small they are negligible. In effect, there’s no cost difference  between selling on TradeMe and giving things away on Freecycle.

Yet the cash element involved seems to oil away some of the friction associated with Freecycle.

As mentioned in Frustrating Freecycle, Freecycle transactions don’t always go smoothly. In my experience more than half fall through.

Freecycle pain

While many are  fine, some Freecycle people are a pain to deal with.

On the other hand, when someone pays for an item on TradeMe, no matter how small the price, the nature of the deal is different. People turn up as promised.

I suspect the reason for this is people don’t put a value on things they get free, so they don’t value my time and effort at the other end of a Freecycle transaction and feel comfortable stuffing me around. When they pay, the transaction has a value to them and they act accordingly.

Thanks to Parsley72 who pre-empted this post in a comment on Frustrating Freecycle.

Your view may differ.

Benefits of TradeMe over Freecycle:

  • Money oils away transaction friction
  • Feedback scores show good people to deal with
  • There’s a legitimacy with TradeMe
  • Questions and answers get dealt with in a single, visible place
  • Efficient, no need to deal with tons of emails after items are taken
  • Less email aggravation, less rudeness for disappointed recipients
  • TradeMe has wider reach

4 thoughts on “When TradeMe beats Freecycle

  1. Hi Bill,

    Trademe has a minimum charge of 50 cents, as can be seen here –

    so, if you sell something for $1 then the effective commission is 50%. on the otherhand has a 0% commission policy. We founded it just over a year ago and its going pretty well at the moment, 400,000 users, 160,000 items for sale, 125,000 members and growing by the day.



    • Thanks Shane, I haven’t seen the 50 cent fee because my auctions generally reach higher prices. Even so, 50 cents is a small price to pay compared to the hassles of Freecycle.

      What’s the business model for Sella?

  2. Sounds good Martin. I hate throwing stuff away, so I’d rather find a better way of giving it to others who can use it.

  3. A new site launched just last week called This site is similar to freecycle in that you can list free stuff and ask for stuff as well however it goes a step further in offering a forum for people to offer their services such as befriending, offering to help walk dogs or anything else. You can also ask for assistance maybe you need someone to help build a garden for you? The system is kept in balance by feedback. If someone is requesting some of your free goods you have listed you can check out their feedback, see if they have offered help/services/goods to others and then make an informed choice wheather or not to let your good go to them or someone else. This system would counter many of the problems that are listed in the above with Freecycle. Its also totally free……

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