Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The "Joys" of Trade Me

Once a week I check out the Warhammer section of Trade Me to see what is up on offer. [For overseas readers, Trade Me is a local equivalent of eBay. The founder of the site, Sam Morgan, says he came up with the concept but in reality that is like me saying I came up with the concept of a wargaming blog i.e. I copied someone else. However, I digress.]

Typically there are 250-300  items listed in the Warhammer section - or discoverable by the inclusion of Warhammer somewhere in the description. Sometimes you'll miss the odd thing if you search "Warhammer", this is when the Einstein who is trying to sell his Warhammer figures/books, somehow manages to miss "Warhammer" out of the title or description AND uses insufficient descriptors that they can be identified as such.

The first thing that you have to realise with Warhammer on Trade Me is that 90%+ is either a person/shop pretending they have a web presence or crap. You must sift through the chaff to find any kernels of value. That takes time and you should factor the value of that time into any purchasing decision i.e. are you better to not "invest" that time and instead buy new.

The reason for this is because Trade Me as no listing fee - that means Timmy can take his crap and put it up at no financial cost.

The second thing to realise is that 95% of sellers have an unrealistic view of what their "precious" is worth. There are three factors at play here:
  1. What you paid for it is not relevant
  2. New Zealand RRP is irrelevant in a world where unpainted, unassembled figures are a commodity
  3. Once you break the seal, it diminishes in value. Once you clip it from the sprue it diminishes in value. Once you assemble it (usually badly) it diminishes further in value. And let's not talk about your paintjob.
There are some rare cases where the paintjob is good but at best this just reverses the other value diminishing steps.

Pro Tip #1: Always avoid any listing written in text speak or CAPITALS. You are dealing with somebody who has, at best, a limited grasp on the concept or reality - and in all reality is probably using his mum's Trade Me account (check out whether the other purchases/sales associated with the account are for stretch jeans/cross-sitching/CDs of questionable taste.

Pro Tip #2: Avoid listings which use the words "unique conversion" or "awsum paintjob" - you will be buying crap. Especially avoid them if there are no pictures.

And remember you are buying second hand. Bits will likely be broken if assembled.

I will rarely buy assembled plastic on Trade Me for the above reasons. If I have to spend time stripping paint etc it is not worth my while. Instead I'd urge you to buy new and support your local GW, other local game store, eBay retailer or offshore internet retailer. You might miss that 1-in-100 bargain but you'll have an overall better experience for far less time investment.

So what do I buy on Trade Me. Metal figures. Typically these can be bought painted without breakage and can be broken down (you won't find many pins in Trade Me products) and stripped back to metal (Simple Green). Never buy Finecast on Trade Me - you don't have the luxury of GW replacing any defects.

And never - and when I say never, I mean ever - bid against plaguelord!


  1. Like the $2000 tomb King army for sale at the moment. WTF.

    Everything is almost salvageable. Turps for stripping metal, Meths for stripping plastic. Never buy Finecast.

  2. Ha ha! This has to be your best psy-op piece yet! Contrary to this post (I do accept that this could be Pete's personal experience) there are heaps of fantastic gems on Trade Me and personally 95% of my purchases have been great experiences!
    I enjoy salvaging OOP mini's, it makes me feel like a pseudo-archeologist!
    In regards to bidding - may the individual with the most disposable income win!
    Great post though!

  3. Bet most of them were metals ....or specialist games.

    Little would be off the shelf plastics

  4. I mostly fund my hobby with trademe from mostly selling bits and also buying bulk lots of friends or overseas and selling them in bits after i spend a little bit of time cleaning them up.

    I can say being a seller it funds at least 80% of my army building. I would say most of the 40k people over NZ would i bought something from me at some point over i dont know almost 10 years on TM.

  5. yeah..... (sideways glance)..... they were all metals and specialist games....

  6. Time to rise to the bait and leap to the defence of Trade Me.

    Firstly, Sam Morgan has never claimed that he invented online auctions. Also he would never admit that he copied ebay. He established an ebay equivalent in NZ as at the time the ebay version was based out of Aussi, in USD currency. The vast majority of the listings where located in Aussi, and the few NZ based listings where in a foreign currency. About as useful as tits on a bull. By the time ebay created a NZ based version, in NZD it was too late, Trade Me already had the market.

    Secondly, you need to investigate how to use the search function within Trade Me. There is a separate category for Warhammer. Under Gaming / War Games / Warhammer. There is no need to have warhammer in the description of an item that is being sold as long as the seller places it in the warhammer category during the auction creation process.

    Also recommend that you learn how to set up a search that automatically emails you when a new listing for an item that you may be interested in is listed. For example, I have set one up that emails every two or three days with all the new listing with the key word beastmen. Works perfectly well and I no longer have to troll through every listing. Just quickly scan the email and follow the link if anything appeals.

    Yes there is crud listed, but also there are great bargins to be found if you know how to search as above. For example, I wanted to buy a chaos daemon army book. Searches showed a couple listed for $35, with buy now $40. Used the search function as above, got an email for a listing for the book and the recent WD update for $15 buy now. So got the the army book, WD, and update supplement for less than $20 with postage.

    Yes you have to be careful what you buy. Purchasing anything online always entails some "buyer beware" risk.

    Now fully admit I am biased, given that I worked for Trade Me for over 5 years as part of the mgmt team. But generally I find that the vast majority of people have positive things to say about their Trade Me experience.


    1. Thanks Stuart.....Yep, I think you might be a bit biased :-)

      Aware of the categories, aware of the search function.

      Sorry but Trade Me has never had the sophistication of eBay in its functionality HOWEVER it does I concede have local content. However that is a double edged sword as most users seem to assume they are entitled to NZ RRP on GW products.

      Sure eBay has crap but it doesn't have the NZ RRP reference point.

      If I'm looking to sell anything of value I sell on eBay given the greater pool of potential buyers. Again if I need rare stuff I look there and have to compete in that pool.

      With Trade Me I stand by the comment that most is overpriced badly assembled and painted crud....however metal can always be stripped if realistically priced.

    2. Interesting comments Pete.

      If you are aware of the search functions then as recommended use them. They are huge time savers, especially the automated email. Scanning all of the listings on a weekly basis is the least time efficient method possible. Do you do the same for eBay?

      I challenge you to find 3 commonly used functions on eBay that Trade Me does not have in some form or fashion. After all, one thing that Trade Me is good at is copying big brother.

      It is not surprising that the users of a NZ based online auction website base their price on the NZ RRP. Seems a valid starting point as long as a reasonable discount, to allow for 2nd hand items, is factored into the sellers expectations. As you have pointed out the Trade Me model being no listing fees does encourage sellers to have a go, testing the market in the hope that their greed will be satisfied and they sell at a high price. One could then argue that Trade Me should introduce a listing fee to ensure that sellers list their items at a more realistic price in the first place. Certainly that had been considered at a board level on many occasions during my time there. The main opponent against such a change was Sam Morgan. He founded Trade Me on the basic principle "no sale no fee" and he always believed that that principle should continue, even after the sale to Fairfax. Also, especially in the early days, the no listing fee policy had the added benefit that it increased the quantity of listings. Maybe it is time for Trade Me to change to a listing fee, and concentrate more on the quality of listings. However, imagine trying to sell that PR nightmare, trying to convince sellers that a listing fee is in their best interests when they have not had to pay anything before.

      So back to the NZ RRP. The prices that you see on Trade Me are reflective of the unbelievably stuffed pricing policy that GW has imposed on NZ. So no real surprises that it should flow on within a NZ based online auction website.

      I have used both Trade Me and eBay in the past and there a couple of issues that you haven't raised about eBay that should be factored in. Firstly, there is arguably more risk in purchasing items from an overseas seller off Ebay than there generally is purchasing from a seller based in the same country. Hopefully, those that use eBay have never had an issue, but damn hard to track down that overseas seller if required. Still hard to track down a NZ based seller, but easier than an overseas one, especially with the assistance of the Trade Me fruad team. Secondly, one of the most annoying things that I find about using eBay is that often you find just the item that you want at the right price only to find that they do not allow buyers from outside of their country to bid.

      Personally I think there are pro and cons for using either website. And in certain circumstances one is clearly better than the other. Also there is personal preference as to which one you use more often, sometimes determined by which site you used first and are most familair with.

      In the end, each to their own, and which ever one rocks your boat more use it.


    3. Thanks Stuart....appreciate your well reasoned comments.

      As to your challenge...I took it up and found you are correct that Trade Me did in fact do them - they just hadn't been immediately obvious. However delving through the Help function threw them up.

      The reason for going through it once a week is the haphazard way people list thing....e.g. a guy was selling Orcs recently and listed them as "Waagh". Another was selling Vamps last year and had put them under the title "Warhammer". So it is user rather than system deficient. Also the number that spell something wrong e.g. Tyrnaids

      Over 10 years I've bought 300+ items on eBay and had one problem. I eventually tracked him done and it got sorted - but I may have been lucky.

      As to content and price on Trade Me....yep, to me it is an issue and one I think a listing fee would solve. I've seen items listed continuously for a year. But I appreciate the PR nightmare. The sense of entitlement is enormous.

      The other thing I've noticed on Trade Me versus eBay is the behaviour of members is generally lower on the NZ site. Check through the comments in Feedback and I am surprised by the number that don't complete sales etc.

      However overall I take your point. Trade Me is not as bad as I necessarilly painted it. Sorry Sam.