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How to bypass Mercadolibre

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    Mercadolibre (ML) is now the defacto price thermometer here as well as being a useful source for those hard to find widgets. However, it pays to use some detective skills so that you can go direct to the advertiser, thus saving some money.

    For example, I was after an RGB splitter cable which I found advertised on ML for $469 and even though advertisers shouldn't indicate who they are, this one put LOGG Computer at the end of the description and it wasn't difficult tracking them down.

    I contacted them on Facebook and they gave me a price of $375 which would be further discounted to $260 if I paid in cash. Que loco, no? Half the price.

    There is good reasoning behind this, since ML charge the seller 11% commission and often force them to give free delivery, hence the higher price. Still, double the price is taking the piss.

    It pays to keep your radar switched on at all times when dealing in ML, both as a seller and a buyer. For example, yesterday I bought some PC fans directly from a bloke in Quilmes because he had been savvy enough to add a .jpg with some text hardcoded in it (proper text will be picked up by the ML police as trying to let people know who you are), so I went straight to his Facebook page and took it from there.

    When I sell on ML, I usually give a clue as to how people can get hold of me, so that I can avoid the commission, but algorithms are very clever today, often picking up numbers hard coded into an image, so we have to be imaginative - just like the Argentines who spend most of their time screwing each other anyway.


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    We are selling some furniture and people want to come see it before buying (understandably), however ML doesn't let you exchange freely this kind of information, so my husband is using all sort of tricks to get ahold of prospect buyers.

    Some tricks:

    1) setting your ML username as an address (for example, username MOTHERGOOSEELECTRONICA.FB) suggests the user they should look you up on Facebook as MOTHERGOOSEELECTRONICA or MOTHER GOOSE ELECTRONICA

    2) Writing in the comments numbers spelled out with characters or typos (contacto onse 22dos 1no quarent4cuatro = 11 222 1444)

    3) Writing phone numbers as sizes (mide 11x221x4444)

    4) Writing in the description 'Somos MOTHERGOOSEELECTRONICA de Belgrano' (you can then google MOTHERGOOSEELECTRONICA Belgrano)

    We were interested in an expensive piece of furniture, about 20k ARS and we wanted to look at it before committing, but with ML we have first to PAY, and then we can go see the item, and the seller has to mark it as NOT SOLD for the money to be given back (in case we don't like it) otherwise we will lose the money if the seller marks it as DELIVERED. Also, the money is given back many days later, so suppose that today I am converting 350 USD to get 20k pesos in my mercadopago account. I buy this furniture on ML, go to the seller's house to look at it and don't like it. I need to ask the seller ON THE SPOT to mark it as 'NOT DELIVERED' so that I can get a refund.

    The refund comes in after 1-2 weeks, when my 20k, converted back to USD, could be much less than 350 USD.

    I remember reading an article on La Nación describing something similar happening over the PASO weekend.

    The poor guy (buyer) had converted about 400 USD to buy a $18,000 notebook on ML on Friday, before the PASO.

    On Monday, the seller no longer wanted to sell the notebook for the price in pesos published the week before, and cancelled the purchase. Of course, the seller didn't say that it was because of the PASO, but because 'the product was not available' or some other bullshit.

    A week after the PASO the buyer received his refund, $18,000, that he had to convert back to USD with the new exchange rate, 327 USD.

    Of course, an exchange rate variation of this magnitude is not ordinary, but it shows how life in Argentina has always a curveball coming at you.