Trust & Safety Blog

The week of the phony Trade Me survey

The scammers have been at it again with a new take on an old story.

Phishing emails traditionally lure in the unsuspecting, pretending to be a trusted brand (your bank, the IRD, Trade Me, etc.)

A recent emailed addition to this is addressing our members by name, and has come in a few variations:

Trademe -survey -scam

And even more recently, this rather nice one celebrating a Trade Me birthday we weren’t even aware of:

Birthday -scam -trademe

Realistically, who doesn’t want a free gift?

We’ve had trusting Trade Me members click on these links, and go straight to a faked ‘survey’ website, where they are asked to answer six basic questions, before being directed to their prizes. 

Here‘s the kicker: as part of their prize, our members are then asked to enter their credit card details for things like trial magazine subscriptions, perfumes, or a $1 LG smart phone.

The trend seems to be that our members are then charged substantially more than they bargained for, and their credit card details are now in the hands of some unscrupulous third party.

Please do NOT click on the links contained in the email. They may look like Trade Me, but they are not our URLs. Simply delete the email and commend yourself for being cyber safe.

We are working to have this site removed as soon as we can.

Action points:

If you have provided your credit card details via the fake site you MUST CALL YOUR BANK RIGHT NOW. Explain the situation and they will cancel the card immediately.

  • If you believe you entered your Trade Me log in details into a phishing website, you will need to reset your Trade Me password immediately via your My Trade Me page. If you need help call please call us immediately on 0800 334 332. This number is only for emergency situations and not general enquiries.

  • As a security precaution, we recommend you run a full virus scan on your computer immediately. In case you don't already have security software to assist with this, you might like to check out this free tool.

  • If you use the same password elsewhere, it’s possible that your other online accounts may also be accessed. We strongly urge you secure these accounts by updating your password and any security questions as soon as possible (but call your bank first!).

  • If you'd like to know more about phishing, read our guide on how to protect yourself online from scams.

Top ten ways to keep yourself safe on Trade Me


Trade Me is a great place to buy and sell but it pays for you to be cyber smart.

Here’s some tips and hints to keep you safe on the internet and our site.

These tips are just a taste of the things that you should bear in mind as you travel the online path.

Again, if you ever come across a dodgy listing, please let us know via Community Watch and we'll get an eyeball across it. 

If you want some more advice, Netsafe is a great resource about using the internet and Consumer NZ also has some handy online safety tips.

If you're reading this post, chances are you love Sci Fi so why not check out our Star Wars Guide to safe trading on the site.

Toothpick crossbows can NOT be sold on Trade Me

Tooth -pick -cross -bow

If your kids have been through the fidget spinner craze, they might be looking for the next big thing, which for some, might be toothpick crossbows.

These mini-weapons might seem like a good idea to a ten year old but it's all fun and games until someone gets one in the eye and that's that.

A bit of parental control required then.

But should they be banned from Trade Me?

Trade Me has been advised by the Commerce Commission that these items are subject to an Unsafe Goods Notice under the Fair Trading Act and so cannot be sold in New Zealand. 

This is due to the lack of a safety feature on the items. 

This is a good opportunity to remind members of our policies around the sale of weapons on site.

You may not list weapons intended for attack purposes or any weapon, the possession of which would constitute a criminal offence under current New Zealand legislation.

Listings may not promote or imply violence. This includes describing (or implying) that an item can be used in fighting, security, military or combat scenarios, or that using it in self-defence may cause injury (for example a 'self-defence knife').

Trade Me reserves the right to remove any listing which it deems to be for an offensive weapon.

Read the full weapons policy.

Our take on the meaning of 'new'


Ever heard the saying ‘good as new’?

It’s something your Dad might say after he’s fixed that leak under your sink with a piece of sticky tape.


And sure, the pipe might not leak anymore, but can you really call it brand spanking, cellophane wrapped, fresh from the factory new? We don’t reckon.

While we celebrate Kiwi ingenuity, and the repurposing of used items, if you are a seller of recycled or refurbished goods you shouldn’t be advertising them as new goods.

Mate, when I make something good as new, it’s good as new.

We don’t doubt it! The problem is, new is widely understood to mean brand new. So if you’re calling a refurbished item new, it’s potentially misleading for buyers.

Our view is that new means new, not refurbished. Imagine buying a new iPhone, believing it's brand new, only to find out that it's a refurbished phone made up of parts from several previous owners – you’d be gutted! 

Generally speaking, a new product is one that has never been used and is in its original packaging. Whereas, a refurbished product is a product with prior history that has been restored to working order.

Aren’t you being a bit picky here?

It might seem like a small thing, but 100% accurate descriptions are extremely important when you’re trading on the site.

Buyers will make decisions on whether or not they buy a product based on the information provided by sellers in product listings. When that information is accurate, they are able to make informed decisions resulting in positive experiences.

Inaccurate or false information has an adverse effect and can often leave the buyer feeling hard done by. This is a poor outcome for anyone involved in the trade.

Not only that, calling a refurbished product new is potentially misleading and may raise issues under the Fair Trading Act 1986, which is enforced by the Commerce Commission.

OK, so what is Trade Me doing about it?

Recently we conducted a review of listings where refurbished products were listed as ‘new’.

We then went about contacting each member using this description incorrectly, providing each with some friendly advice and requesting they make the required changes without delay.

We encourage you to keep listing these items on the site. We just ask that when you’re listing refurbished goods on Trade Me, you don’t describe them as new.

Not to be a one-hit wonder, we will continue to keep a lookout for any problematic listings. If you come across anyone describing refurbished goods as new yourselves, please use the Community Watch at the bottom of the listing page to bring them to the attention of our Trust & Safety team.

Image Gonzalo Baeza as per Creative Commons on Flickr

A ‘how to’ for discount pricing on Trade Me

Was -now -pricing

Everybody loves a good bargain, and we’re no exception.  

It’s for just this reason that the Commerce Commission (or ComCom for short) are around, keeping an eye on the way retailers use discount pricing.

Amongst other things, ComCom are tasked with enforcing the Fair Trading Act, which prohibits traders from making misleading representations with respect to price.

So what’s misleading?

There are a bunch of behaviours that could be considered misleading, but the main theme is that the discounts you advertise need to be genuine. This means that if you want to advertise a discount, this needs to be done based on an ordinary price that you regularly use.

For example, you can’t just list a product with a 50% off label for the purpose of attracting buyers. This is misleading behaviour if not based on real, commonly used prices.

If you don’t use discount pricing appropriately, chances are you’ll get a letter from ComCom with a big please explain attached, and it’s not uncommon for this kind of thing to lead to some pretty hefty fines.

How does Trade Me deal with discount pricing?

We’re all about the sales at Trade Me, and we love to see our members getting great value on the site.

We also make it easy for members to advertise by providing a feature that sellers can use to display what the price used to be, alongside the new, discounted price.

But, like ComCom, we don’t want people using discount pricing inappropriately.

So, off the back of some recent media around the subject, we’ve chosen to implement some clear rules for advertising discount pricing on Trade Me.

The rules around using was/now pricing on Trade Me

  1. The ‘was’ price must have previously been offered on Trade Me by the member advertising the discount. It cannot be an RRP or valuation, unless the member has previously offered the goods on Trade Me at that price.
  2. The ‘was’ price must have been offered on Trade Me for a minimum of 28 days before a discounted ‘now’ price can be advertised.
  3. Discount prices should only be offered for a short period of time. Sellers must be reasonable when setting their sales periods, and we suggest that these be no more than 28 days.  
  4. Members can only offer consecutive discounts on the same item if they are further discounting the price. The previous "now" or sale price must be used as the new "was" or original price. Members can't regularly offer the same discount on an item.
  5. New members may not have ‘was/now’ pricing enabled until at least 28 days have passed since their registration.
  6. An allowance of 3% will be permitted for international marketplace sellers using ‘was/now’ pricing to account for currency fluctuation.

Sounds serious?

Yeah, it can be – but it’s an easy fix!

If you haven’t updated your pricing in the last month, it’s worth going through your listings to make sure that the discounts you’re offering follow these new guidelines. Our Trust & Safety team look after this kind of thing too, so don’t be surprised if you are contacted by them directly to let you know if your pricing is out of date.

Just remember, at the end of the day all we want to see is our members offering, and receiving genuinely good value.

For more information on pricing, check out ComCom’s pricing fact sheet, or drop us a line. We keep the lights on 24/7.

Image Consumerist Dot Com as per Creative Commons on Flikr