How to Shop on TikTok Without Overpaying

When it comes to selling used items online, there is no shortage of options. From Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor to classics like Craigslist and eBay , if there’s something you want to buy (or sell), there are plenty of ways to find it.

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of vintage and other second-hand sellers (and regular people) selling their wares on Instagram , so it makes sense that this is happening on TikTok as well.

But along with jewelry that once belonged to someone’s grandmother and a side table that no longer matches your decor, both apps are also full of influencers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if they sell stuff, you might end up paying more for the item than it’s worth. Here’s how to avoid it when shopping on TikTok.

How to shop on TikTok without overpaying

Influencers or not, there are deals on TikTok. But like any online selling platform, there are also overpriced items, dishonest sellers, and outright scammers. Here are some tips on how to avoid them:

Do your homework

This is not the case with TikTok, but as a general rule, always do at least a few minutes of research before buying anything from people selling their wares online. Use any information you can find in the product description and photos, such as manufacturer, designer, year, model number, template name, etc., and do a quick online search for the product (or at least something similar). You can also try searching directly on eBay.

Failed? Insert one of the photos into Google Lens . The results obtained depend on things like the rarity of the item and the quality of the photo, but overall it can be a really useful tool for finding other specimens of the item.

The idea behind the research is first and foremost to find out how much an item costs elsewhere, and in turn, whether the one you’re eyeing on TikTok is actually a good deal. But it can also tell you more about it, such as whether the one you’re interested in is in relatively good condition, if everything is original, and so on.

To ask questions

If, after doing your own research, you still have questions about the product, you can ask the seller (politely) in the message. We’re talking about things that anyone can answer, like the size of an item of clothing, whether the chair is black or navy blue (because the photos aren’t clear), or whether there are stains on the back of the chair.

Keep in mind that not every seller is a designer or vintage dealer or has experience with what they sell. In fact, they may not even know what they are selling and just want to get it from their home. Again, the idea is to learn more about an item to help you determine if it’s worth the asking price. Just remember to respect the seller’s time.

act fast

The market for vintage and other used items is more competitive in some areas than others, but as a general rule, if you see something that you are definitely interested in buying at a specified price, the faster you act, the better.

Yes, this means an immediate message to the seller to express interest, as well as letting him know that you are ready and willing to take it out of his hands and pay for it on the same day (if available), especially if it is furniture or another bulky item that takes up space.

Payment

In the latest episode of the Antiques Freaks podcast, co-hosts Kenneth Henry and Dee Leger discussed buying antique and vintage items on Craigslist (though the tips apply here as well) in the safest way and touched on the actual exchange of an item for Money.

L├ęger recommends using Venmo or CashApp for any purchases over $20 and doing the actual transfer (through the app) in front of the merchant, right before they hand over the item (which you can see in front of you, with your own eyes).

Meanwhile, Clinton Tharp , who restores and sells vintage furniture and posts how-to videos on TikTok, is taking a different approach. He suggests texting the seller and offering to pay for the item via Venmo or PayPal before you meet him to pick it up.

In a 2021 interview , he said that paying for items that are not visible (other than the images on the list) allowed him to beat other eager buyers in the competitive market and get what he wanted at a low price.

However, it goes without saying that a lot of things can go wrong with this approach, including losing your money because the item doesn’t exist or has already been sold. We ourselves would not use this strategy, obviously, this is what people do. But no matter how the exchange goes, always prioritize your safety.

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