Online Sellers: How to Deal With Buyers Asking Personal Questions

Online Sellers: How to Deal With Buyers Asking Personal Questions

Posted by Big Brand on 14th Sep 2021

I love browsing Reddit to find topics to blog about because in the past 16+ years of selling online I have so much experience dealing with just about every issue imaginable. So when I came across this thread about a Mercari seller feeling freaked out by a buyer question that felt a little too personal I thought this is the perfect topic to discuss.

Heres the screenshot the Mercari seller posted:

As you can see the buyer is asking for personal details over a $9 pokemon plush and I have to agree with this seller that this is indeed a little weird. Here’s a couple pointers I would like to make:

Fact: Some people use (often “abuse”) eCommerce marketplaces and websites because they are looking for a friend to chat with and they know any decent seller is going to reply fast whereas the same lonely individual also using a dating website or social media might never get a reply. While not all people sending messages of this nature are lonely or abusing eCommerce, you should never forget that the majority that quickly steer the conversation in this direction do fit the profile. With that in mind:

If you are a female seller and someone is asking for your name, most likely it is a man. If you want to be polite you can reply “Dave” or “Mike” or pick any name that is clearly male. Avoid names that are more unisex, such as Pat, Angel or Jamie. If the man was intending to troll eCommerce sites with the goal of meeting a woman, this will shut him down while not ruining the sale because two things can be true at the same time. It can be true that the man does like the Pokemon plush and it can also be true that he is also seeking companionship of some form. However it can also be true that once you let him know your name is John you will never hear from him again if he never intended to buy the item in the first place. If you truly don’t want to “white lie”, respond with your username, however this just opens the door to even more questions.

If the item you are selling is expensive / rare / large / live animal it is common for a person to want to know who they are buying from because they want to know if everything is legitimate. If the item is supposedly real gold the buyer has a genuine concern regarding not being ripped off. They really do have the right to research you a bit before investing with you. This is normal. BUT if the item is a $9 pokemon toy, a $20 dress, a $30 baby bouncer… come on now, all signs point to the fact mentioned above.

Ask yourself if the question is relevant to the sale. Here’s some examples of irrelevant questions:

Can you model it? The buyer can easily Google Image Search the same, or similar, items to see it modeled. They DO NOT need a photo of your feet in the $18 used high heels.

Are you the original owner? This ONLY applies to rare things or serious things, such as an autographed copy of a piece of art, a Louis Vuitton handbag or a used vehicle. This is 100% irrelevant when the item is a Betsey Johnson sleep shirt, let alone a bra.

Where does this ship from? IF they are simply asking if the item is located in the USA or China, no problem! BUT if they are asking what city / state it ships from… whoa. Let me tell you 3 absolutely INSANE stories about people driving to our warehouse because this will hopefully make you think:

A dude drove from Wisconsin to Michigan to pick up an order. It took him 14 hours, one way. When he showed up he was in a little tiny car that we had to literally force his order in. It wouldn’t all fit so we had to ship 25% of it to him. Weird, eh?

A man once claimed to have WALKED 3.5 hours to show up at our warehouse. He didnt even order anything. He knocked on our locked door and asked to “come in and look around a little”. We told him he is welcome to order online and we will have his pickup ready within 2 hours. He then flipped out, had a total meltdown and let us know how far he walked….”7 HOURS ROUND TRIP!”

And the icing on the cake… two men drove from MEXICO to our warehouse… ALMOST 50 HOURS, ONE WAY. They purchased over $7,000 in inventory, so at least these men had a purpose for driving this insane amount of distance.

The reason I am telling you this is to let you know that people ARE willing to drive to you, even if you don't invite them (we did invite the men from Mexico but we truly thought theres no way they’re ever going to show up. We genuinely thought within 12 hours of driving they would email us and ask us to just mail it, but nope! They actually drove all that way!) My point is, if you are getting weird questions about location, be exceptionally cautious and NEVER make these 5 shipping label mistakes.

In closing, if you start getting a creepy vibe, continue reading How to Deal with Creepy Buyer Questions

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