Yesterday, whilst clearing my loft ready for a conversion, I came across some bits and pieces that I needed to sell off to make space. Some old (but fantastic) speakers, some computer parts, golf clubs (I don’t play golf but had acquired some anyway), china, books etc, all the usual stuff we probably all have in our lofts — and that cupboard we never go near unless we’re forced to for fear it may explode on opening. It’s a cathartic experience and we’ve been brutal in what we’re keeping and what we’re getting rid of.
As usual, we put the stuff for sale on a combination of Ebay, the local Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. In every ad, as I have done so for some considerable time now, I put payment by Bitcoin and Litecoin as an option.
Within a few minutes my ads on Gumtree were removed. The website stated that my ads were removed for a ‘violation of policy’ and they would email me. They did, but the email was vague and generic, so it didn’t actually tell me what the issue was.
Intrigued, I followed the link in the email to the list of items ‘that are not allowed’ which consisted of all the usual suspects: porn, alcohol, fireworks, fakes, cigarettes, weapons and a couple of other minor items. Nothing about speakers though. A quick search revealed that people around the country were selling the same model. It wasn’t that then.
Contacting Gumtree, like any of these companies, isn’t easy because they like to hide the contact details as deeply as possible, but after some trawling, I found an email and got an auto response that promised a reply within 12 hours.
Exactly 23 hours later I received a reply from ‘James’ which read as follows:
I was rather surprised by this. Ebay — which is probably my least favourite sales platform ever, but because it’s pretty much a monopoly you have to play their game — allows mentions of cryptos and have done for ages, although interestingly they removed two of my listings just last month for mentioning ‘cash on collection’ which is apparently no longer allowed. I presume this is because the want to make more money from you by forcing you to use Paypal, but it seems odd that Bitcoin and Litecoin, the two currencies I mostly use, are perfectly acceptable.
Facebook, meanwhile, has banned any and all advertising mentioning cryptocurrency in the wake of numerous ICO scandals, but have no objection to advertising posts taking payment by that method. Amazon will or will not be accepting cryptos anytime soon depending on who you speak to, but their AWS division (Amazon Web Services) has quietly partnered with an altcoin known as Centrality last year, so we can be at least be certain they are not ‘anti’ it.
So, it just seems to be Gumtree. I’ve written to James and their press office to see if they’d like to make an official statement or even give me an interview, but no response as yet. When, and if, they ever do I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, I amended the ads to show ‘cash only’ on Gumtree and removed the ‘cash only’ element on the Ebay listings. This is getting complicated and I’m not sure that we consumers should be forced into one payment method over another just because the powers that be don’t like one (Bitcoin) or are in bed with another (Paypal).
And I did sell the items in the end. All for little pieces of folding paper which, apparently, people in shops — if you can still find any on the high street — will accept.
I am the Gumtree Cryptocurrency Felon (Part 2)
But wait, there’s more! After publishing my initial blog, Gumtree came back with even more muppetry.
Update: After writing this piece, I heard back from Gumtree again adding a new, unexpected twist to the story, read the follow up article here.