The internet is slowly becoming the preferred way to conduct many services. OLX is used in over 105 countries in 40 languages. The company was founded in March 2006 and is privately held. OLX has really grown its presence in Kenya. I can say it is well advertised and it actually offers people free advertising. It’s an amazing service. However everything good, has its down fall. Read on to know whether OLX is safe for you to use or not.
I will narrate my experience while using OLX . I have used OLX for both selling items, and buying items, and I must say I have encountered some interesting ordeals. This article applies not only to OLX but also to other online advertising or classified services out there.
One time I was thoroughly looking for a place to stay for my 2nd year in School. I school in University of Nairobi, Chiromo Campus. I even employed the services of my aunt who is quite good at house hunting, and knows the right way to go about searching for a house. In preparation for house hunting, the previous night, I spent hours on OLX and was able to gather a few listings of where I could stay. I bookmarked all of them on my Phone, thanks to the amazing OLX application. We embarked on our journey to finding a house.
We started in the early morning, and what would have seemed to be an easy task, ended up being the hardest task I could have ever undertaken. Several hours into the day, we ended up with nothing. It was lunchtime, we had walked almost throughout Riverside drive, and our hands came up empty. We made phone calls here and there but nothing. I then resulted to my final weapon, OLX. I quickly went to the OLX application on my phone and scrolled through the listings I had saved. The listing that caught my eye was one where there was this one bedroom, with a lovely compound and was going for 10,000 Shillings. It was well advertised, and offered a paradise for a student looking to leave a lone. I quickly called the number and this was what happened next…
The interesting ordeal
On calling the number, I spoke to a man. The man identified himself and told me he was an agent and he needs to confirm from the land lady if the house was available. The man had good English, and his articulation was on point. If someone speaks good English, with good articulation it tends to make them seem trust worthy. In a few minutes he called back, and gave me the good news that the house was available. Indeed I was quite happy. So he gave me the number of the Landlady and quickly without wasting time dialed the number.
The phone rang a few times. For a while there was no answer, and it made me worried with anxiety that I was going to suffer the same fate and come out empty handed again. Then the lady answered, and this rekindled the huge smile that was almost fading away from my face. Unlike the man, the lady had some accent to her voice, and although her English was good, she just did not have the proper articulation to accompany her English. All the same, I was happy to finally get in contact with her.
So the lady tells me that she had just received a small payment from a similar student going to the same University as I am. She then tells me that this student has not paid the full amount, as one is supposed to pay at least 10,000 Ksh which was the deposit. The other student had just paid only 5,000 Ksh. She tells me that if I pay the full deposit, she will use part of that money to refund that boy and then the house would be mine. I had no problem with that, however….
So I then tell her, I would like to view the place. You shouldn’t buy anything before viewing. For all you know you could be buying into empty promises. She then says that she is in Thika and she is not around. She then goes ahead to tell me that I can send her the money via mpesa, to secure my bid for the house. I incessantly tell her that she should come, I view the house then pay her directly. She tries to convince me to just pay her via mpesa, however I do not budge. She then insists that if I cannot send her the money then I should just forget about the house. I resulted to desperation. I really pleaded my case and tried to connect with the Mother Nature women have, but my efforts proved futile. She then later agrees that she is sending someone to meet me to see the house. I waited for over an hour, no one showed up. I tried calling her, she was not picking my calls.
Finally! What a relief
Eventually that lady and the man I talked to at first were not picking my calls. My aunt tried to call them using her phone but as soon as we identified ourselves they quickly hang up. I Thanked God that I did not fall prey into their mischievous scrupulous acts and I did not get coned. I did not get a house that day but at least I did not lose my money. However I was fortunate enough to get a place the next day, at an even nearer location and I did not have to go through the hard ordeal I went through the previous day.
The first encounter I was a willing buyer. This second encounter I was now trying to sell my used iPhone through OLX. If you thought that only buyers are prone to being coned, well shock on you; as even sellers can just be easily coned. Keep on reading to Find out how.
So I posted my ad on OLX , that I was selling my iPhone. I cannot remember after how long I got a phone call but I did get one from someone who seemed like a willing buyer. So the buyer tells me his location, and since he said he cannot leave his work place, I agree to visit his work place. He worked in some building on Luthuli Avenue, just after Accra Road. The building was public and had people streaming in and out, so I it seemed okay going there. So on reaching there I met the man.
The interesting ordeal
On meeting the man, he views the iPhone and he is happy with it. We negotiate and we come to an agreed price. In a bid to remove all doubt from him, I willingly agree to give him a photocopy of my id. We had to look for a photocopy place, and we found one not far from the point where we met. On reaching the photocopy he removes 50 Ksh from his pocket and tells me to go make a copy. Meanwhile he still has the iPhone in his hand. For all those already saying that was crazy of me, keep reading to know what happened next.
I go to make a copy of my ID while this “potential buyer” stands a few meters away from the photocopy place, but in sight’s distance. I give my id to be photocopied and then look back to look at the buyer, but to my astonishment, he had disappeared. Fortunate enough, I was able to catch a glimpse of the direction he went and I quickly ran up after him. I left my ID there, since I knew to replace an ID if it got lost would definitely not cost me the price of an iPhone. With luck on my side I spot the man walking towards the stall he had claimed he worked at. I walked up to him, and i could see disappointment on his face. He though he had succeeded; that he won himself a free iPhone. On seeing his fishy behavior, I then tell him that he should give me the phone while he does what he need to do to organize the money. He then leaves the building saying he is going to meet someone to give him the money, as I quickly head back to where I left my ID. At least this time I had my iPhone in my possession, my heart could now resume SINUS RHYTHM.
Finally! What a relief
I was fortunate to find my ID still at the photocopy place in one piece, and they had even already made a copy. I used the 50 Ksh the “buyer” gave me for the photocopy.
I waited for the buyer and after thirty minutes I gave up. He stopped answering my phone calls, and so I decided to leave. I narrowly escaped what would have been a tragic event of how I could have lost my iPhone. I ended up benefiting more than the conman as I got to keep his 50 Ksh. How interesting, the conman cons himself.
What I learnt
Those two occurrences and many more have made me to be extra carefully and more vigilant. If you are a buyer looking to buy something online or a seller selling something online, you need to be very carefully on how you do your dealings. Not many people out there have your best interest at heart.
Be vigilant and Extra Carefull
When you are conducting business online, my advice is that we follow this guidelines
- Make sure that you are meeting the person in a public place. If they chose a destination that is not public, do not bother showing up.
- If possible do not go alone to make a purchase. As they say they is always safety in numbers.
- If there is that one time that you need to be extra carefully is from the moment you meet the person you are supposed to close the deal with. Be extra careful and do not put your guard down.
- If you are the one selling an item, note the behavior of the buyer. If someone seems like they are keeping a wide distance away from you, do not let them stay with your merchandise for a long time.
- Never let the person you are selling an item to get away from your site. If they do, you might never see them again.
- If you are a buyer or seller try as much as possible to have an extensive conversation with the person over the phone before finally meeting them.
- Be smart. You can use some tricks such inquiring their names, where they work or school over the phone, while taking keen note in the information. Then when you meet them, make the same inquiry. If you notice any discrepancies in the information given, from the previous information, that is a clear red flag that the person you are dealing with might not be genuine.
- Never accept to make payment for an item before viewing the item, or meeting up the person. If you have to make payment first hand, make sure it’s someone you have probably done business with before or do your due diligence on them, even just by doing a simple google search about them or their service.
- As a buyer do not sound too desperate to the seller as that can make it easy for the scrupulous seller to take advantage of you. As a seller the same applies.
- All in all if the deal sounds too good to be true, then it’s definitely not true.
I believe Online advertising/classified services such as OLX and the likes are good. They offer free advertising or classifieds with an easy platform to shop for what you want. You just need to be carefully and smart and you will not have an ordeal that gives you the chills and pains every time you remember it.
If there are more ways to be extra careful or you just want to share your experience or leave a comment, kindly feel free to comment below.
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