Listia: for Free or Not for Free?

That is the question.

I’ve seen Listia pop up a bit in my Facebook feed lately. It’s a free smart phone app that works sort of like eBay, except you don’t have to pay for listings, (in some cases) shipping, or any other fees involved with putting your items up to sell. Because you’re not really selling your items – not for cash anyway. You’re trading them to other users for credits you can use to bid on more people’s unwanted stuff.

There are, in theory, lots of cool things about Listia. It’s fun, it’s interactive, and it’s designed to make you feel like you’re getting something for nothing. And there are lots of items listed on Listia – you can find anything from clothing, to craft supplies, to jewelry, to cell phones. I found lots of stuff I really liked, like this vintage-y sterling silver ring:

You get 500 credits for joining (don’t get too excited, yet – that’s about enough to bid on some Hello Kitty stickers that still have 8 hours left at auction), and there are a ton of other ways you can acquire credits, most, like filling out online surveys, which require lots of time. See here for all the ways you can get Listia credits.

Here’s the catch. You’re not winning things for free anymore than you would on more secure auction sites like eBay, which also has its own smart phone app. You’re simply working with different currency. And there isn’t really a solid conversion value for credits to dollar bills, so it’s more difficult to assess the value of the item on which you’re bidding and, thus, more difficult to get a good deal. If you’re going to use Listia, you really should take the concept to heart: only list items you’d be willing to give away for free. I might use Listia to get rid of some clothes I never wear, which might only sell for a few bucks on eBay. But then I’d still have to arrange shipping costs with the winning bidder and, because Listia’s buyer/seller rules aren’t as strict as more secure auction sites, I might cost myself more hassle than the original convenience was worth. I could use Listia’s “local meetup” option, which lets listers and winners arrange to exchange items in person, but, then again I’d probably rather use Craigslist to quickly get rid of my old stuff for actual cash (or, heck, whatever happened to donating to Goodwill?)

There do seem to be a lot of satisfied Listia users on the Internet. I’d absolutely love to hear that I’m totally wrong and it really is that easy to get tons of free stuff sent to your doorstep via Listia. Help a girl out! If you love Listia, email me at liz@snipsnap.it!