I had never heard of Mercari until recently, and after perusing the site extensively, I was unsure whether it was safe or not. Some of the prices seemed too good to be true!
So we decided to do some investigating and check whether or not Mercari is a scam or completely legit. This is what we found…
Is Mercari Legit?
Mercari Inc. is a legitimate online company, specifically a Japanese e-commerce company which was founded in 2013 – and now has offices in the United States. The Mercari marketplace app was launched in Japan in July 2013 and is now Japan’s largest community marketplace.
This article takes a look at Mercari: Your Marketplace: what it is, what it does, how to use it, and most importantly, how to keep your transactions private and safe.
Who Owns Mercari?
Mercari, Inc. was founded as Kouzoh, Inc in February 2013 by Shintaro Yamada (a Japanese entrepreneur). The Mercari marketplace app was launched soon after. Shintaro Yamada is currently the company’s CEO. The company has no ownership links with Amazon, eBay, or any other substantial online marketplace.
In 2014, the company expanded to the United States, and launched the Mercari Marketplace app to The United States in September of that same year. They next expanded to the United Kingdom in 2016.
The company is the first in Japan to reach unicorn status, which means that as a privately held startup company, it is valued at over US$1 billion. The term unicorn was coined by capitalist Aileen Lee to represent the statistical rarity of company earning this level of success.
What is Mercari Used For?
Shintaro Yamada’s dream was to “create value in a global marketplace where anyone can buy & sell”, and to “circulate limited resources to help society thrive.” Thus, Mercari is an online marketplace where buyers and sellers interact in mutually beneficial and respectful transactions.
Mercari see their main product as the Mercari marketplace app, which is free to download to any smart device. It allows users to buy and sell items quickly from their smartphones.
The format is simply and easy to use and includes a popular shipping system, which allows users to ship items anonymously from local convenience stores through agreements with Yamato Transport and Japan Post.
In the US, similar shipping agreements are arranged through agreements with FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
Is Mercari Better Than eBay?
Mercari is very similar to the older and more experienced eBay marketplace. However, when determining which platform is best, you need to consider closely your own buying (and selling) needs and habits.
Both platforms are global (although eBay has a far wider reach than Mercari). Both platforms can be accessed through mobile devices, and both marketplaces offer the usual range of payment options.
Interestingly, both buyers and sellers experience the same transaction frustrations on both platforms. These include the usual problems, such as items not arriving, items not as described, items damaged during transit, refunds and returns processed slowly or not at all, unauthorised transactions, account and support issues, and so on.
In general though, it seems to be simpler and quicker (and free) to list items on Mercari than on eBay, which asks you to pay per listing after using up your monthly free listings.
So, Mercari doesn’t charge any listing fees for items, but they keep 10% of each sale you make. eBay allows up to 250 listings for free and then charges 35c per listing, and then takes 12% of your sale (including the postage costs).
This is so you can’t set a very low price for your goods (and pay the low percentage of this to eBay) combined with an incredibly high postage cost. eBay simply ask 12% of your total charges. Mercari charges a fee to transfer money to your bank if you want your money immediately.
In terms of size, Mercari has over 15 million users worldwide, while eBay worldwide has over 182 million users.
Both Mercari and eBay have extensive help services, including live chat, email, and phone support. The Mercari customer service, however, is a little easier to find, follow, and use. Their buyer and seller policies, advice articles, and safety guidelines are also more accessible and easier to locate.
All sales are final with Mercari; however, you may be eligible for returns if your item was not as described. On eBay, buyers can return an item on eBay for any reason, but they must provide written and photographic evidence in the event of damage or wrong items.
Mercari allows you to ship three different ways: Mercari Prepaid, Mercari Pack & Ship, or your own shipping method. eBay, on the other hand, is not limited to domestic shipping only. Sellers can ship items to over 100 countries. However, you need to plan appropriately and make sure your quoted shipping rates are accurate.
What Payments Does Mercari Accept?
Mercari accepts all major credit cards, prepaid debit cards, Apple Pay, PayPal, and Zip. You can also pay for all or part of your purchase using Mercari credits or by applying your account balance to your purchases.
The credit card payment process requires the usual submittal of credit card number, expiration date, and card security code. Mercari may ask you to verify your card by making two temporary authorizations on it (up to $2 each). These authorizations will appear on your financial statement as “pending” and will automatically expire after 24 hours.
You can add or change payment information from your profile (or while you’re checking out). During checkout, simply tap “Card & Billing” and edit your payment option.
If you’re changing your payment info from your profile, go to settings and then to “My payment methods”. From here you can add, edit, or delete credit card options as well as set up PayPal or Apple Pay. You can add up to 5 credit or debit cards.
You can also set up Apple Pay or PayPal during checkout or at any time from your account settings. Simply tap “Connect to PayPal” or “Set up Apple Pay”, agree to the terms of service and follow the prompts.
The terms of service are important. Although we mostly skip these, they do contain the information you’ll need to pursue a tricky refund process through. For example, with PayPal, you have 45 days from purchase to lodge a refund request (with evidence). After 45 days, your ability to challenge any transaction is closed.
Is Mercari Safe For Credit Card?
Mercari is as safe as any other online marketplace platform for credit card transactions. Credit card issues usually occur when Mercari buyers agree to settle transactions with Mercari sellers off site, and off site can mean via another platform such as WhatsApp, for example.
If you agree to do this, your credit card details are not secure, and there is nothing Mercari can do about funds stolen in this way. Regarding the security of your credit card transactions, Mercari claim that:
All credit card transactions are processed by our partners, Adyen & Braintree. Adyen is fully Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) 3.2 compliant as a Level 1 Service Provider, which is the key security standard within the payments industry. In addition, Adyen is assessed for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards by Payment Software Company, a Qualified Security Assessor for the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council.
One of the most useful Mercari help articles is the Buyer Protection page – and definitely worth reading before you join up and make your first purchase.
Can You Get Scammed On Mercari?
There is a consistent amount of feedback concerning user frustration recorded for the Mercari marketplace, and it seems to be mostly around conflicts between buyers and sellers. This is a situation common to every seller buyer platform.
Most of this conflict and negative feedback concerns the resolution process and customer support services, something that all online Marketplaces (such as eBay and Amazon) are continually developing and refining. Here, we’ll look at potential marketplace scams for buyers.
As a buyer, it’s definitely best to look through the Mercari Help Center content before you make an account and begin using the site. Following the Help Center link will take you to the Mercari Help Page.
You’ll see a log in/ sign up (for personalized support) bar, a range of Help Articles (including the Buyer Protection page), information articles about the company and how to use it, and a Contact Us button at the bottom of the page.
The three most common online marketplace scams (for buyers) are scams which include:
- Agreeing to complete your transaction offline
- Purchasing items which turn out to be fake
- Purchasing items which turn out to be damaged
What you can do to keep yourself safe from marketplace scams as a buyer:
- Read through the Mercari Safety Guidelines – the listed online and financial safety guidelines here are worth following at all times
- Do your research online to ensure items you are considering are legitimate
- Read through all buyer feedback before committing to a sale with them
- Ask questions (and keep the message record) using the Mercari messaging system (don’t do this privately)
- Take photos/video footage of all items received as you unpack them. This provides evidence for when only one of multiple items from the same seller arrives (and the tracking shows as item received – but you only have the one item).
How Do You Get Help On Mercari?
If you’ve purchased an item on Mercari, and something’s gone wrong with the transaction, or there’s a problem with the item itself, you can request immediate assistance.
Mercari have a Contact Us page: here you’ll find that Help is divided into three clear sections:
- Orders – find out about current and completed order, shipping, returns, and cancellations
- Payments – find out about refunds, transfers, and unauthorized transactions
- Accounts – get assistance with your account, verifications, prohibited items, and tax forms
Note that there is phone help associated only with payment issues.
Once you’ve selected your help category, you’ll be prompted to select your way through precise issues until, if no solution arises, to fill out an email form to which Mercari say they will respond within four hours.
It’s best to have all the details on hand: the more information (including photos) you can upload here, the quicker a solution can be reached. However, under no circumstance will you ever be prompted to upload credit card details here.
How Do You Return Something On Mercari?
The Mercari Help Centre features a range of articles and information for buyers and sellers. These articles are important: if you read and understand the protocol around buyer protection, you can make the resolution processes simpler and easier.
One of the most important articles listed here (and probably the one you’re most likely to enquire into at some point) is the Refunds and Returns Policy. You’ll find this in the Returns section.
Basically you’re eligible for a return/refund if your item:
- Doesn’t match listing
- Possibly not authentic/ counterfeit
- Doesn’t work
- Is damaged
- Is incomplete
- Is the wrong item
However, here’s what you are responsible for:
- Initiate a refund and return request through the Mercari Oder Status page
- You must do this within 72 hours of delivery
- Provide complete, accurate answers to specific questions about the received item
- Provide photographic evidence
- Remember not to rate the transaction. Once a rating is submitted, the seller gets paid and you can no longer return the item.
- Never organize the returns process outside of Mercari. If you do, Mercari cannot ensure that your refund and returns will be processed correctly (if at all).
To make a return:
- Start your request from the Order Status page
- Tap “Get help” and then “This is about returning my purchase” and then “I want to return my purchase”
- Select a reason – this information will be shared with the seller
- Fill out the details – provide clear and precise details as to why you are requesting a return and attach photos as proof
- Be courteous and thorough
- Pack the return item carefully so that it arrives in the same condition as received. You have three days to do this. If the return item hasn’t received a tracking scan within 7 days of the return approval, it will be cancelled – and the seller will be paid.
Once you’ve submitted your request, the seller has 24 hours to give feedback, and then Mercari will review your request after the 24 hours has passed.
Once your item is delivered to the seller, they have 24 hours to review the return before Mercari issues you a refund.
What Do You Do If You Get Scammed On Mercari?
If you feel you’ve been scammed on Mercari, first note all the details of the transaction or issue, including the dates and times. Take screen shots if you can.
Mercari state that:
If you suspect that you may be a victim of fraud, please call us at [800-280-4904] or report your suspicions to law enforcement. For tips on preventing money transfer fraud, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov.
You can also follow the Contact Us process for scam concerns, but again, have your evidence ready.
Mercari Marketplace Guidelines provide a clear descriptions of prohibited conduct and how to keep things legal. If something doesn’t feel right, Mercari urges users to communicate immediately.
Again, take note of the Mercari Safety Guidelines. These are there to protect you and your family from fraud and scam.
How Do You Order And Buy From Mercari?
First of all, you’ll have to make an account. Just tap “Sign up” when you get to the Mercari homepage. After filling out your email, username, and password, you’ll be asked to verify your phone number.
You can only make one account, and Mercari cannot verify international numbers. You’ll need:
- An active email address
- A shipping address
- A phone number that can be verified with an SMS code or phone call (you won’t receive any other unauthorized communication from Mercari this way)
- Payment details
Once you have an account, you can edit personal information and opt to receive transaction notifications. You can add and update payment information at any time.
Once your account is secure, you can begin buying (or selling). Make sure to read through any policies and articles that apply to your activity. Mercari also advise all users to:
- Log out of your account when you’re done shopping
- Keep your account details up to date – especially shipping addresses
- Report any suspicious communications
- Use a secure password and change it frequently
- Never share personal information
- Only use the official Mercari app
- Monitor your children’s shopping activity and communications with sellers
- Report any questionable or prohibited items through the Report link in the item listing page
- Take note of and abide by all return/refund policies
- Routinely check your financial statements for questionable activity and contact Mercari immediately if you see any unauthorized transactions
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Mercari is taking its place among the online marketplace giants for its ease of use, range of items for sale, and simplicity of joining up.
It has attracted a fair share of negative reviews, mostly buyers and sellers frustrated with each other. You need to do your homework, and read through the reviews, the Mercari articles, and user policies.
Be prepared, and be cautious, and you should be in for some good buyer experiences.