People selling stuff online share their horror stories, what has been your experience?

Leonard Sengere Avatar

One of the great things about the internet is how it gives ordinary, not-connected and not-rich individuals like us access to customers for our home businesses and side hustles.

Now, many people in Zimbabwe use platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp to push their products. Visit Facebook Marketplace and you will get a glimpse of what we are talking about. The internet has allowed for this.

Selling online has its drawbacks though. The documented ones are the fraud problem where people will try to scam you by posing as buyers and the difficulty in building trust with complete strangers.

We talked to a few sellers to find out their experience. The Zimbabwean-selling-stuff-online experience. We had been told a few horror stories and so we decided to let the sellers speak through us. We changed the names, obviously.

Jane, the baker

On the whole, Jane has not had too many negative experiences. That may be, but the few horrible experiences she had shaped how she views the whole game.

Jane once got an order for a $60 cake from a Zimbo based in the U.K., to be delivered to the guy’s parents in Harare. It was to be a surprise, a celebration of some anniversary. The buyer paid 80% upfront and would pay the remaining 20% on delivery.

Jane baked the cake, grabbed a cab and set off to deliver the cake. The cab peeled away as she knocked on the gate, excited at the prospect of making some elderly couple’s day. She was in for a surprise, she wasn’t going to make anyone’s day.

Cut to Jane fleeing the scene, sprinting with cake in hand and dodging stones being pelted her way.

There indeed was an elderly couple at that address but they said they did not have a child in the U.K. and thought she was trying to scam them in some way. So, they chased her away with stones, like a dog.

Wrong details

While Jane’s story may be extreme. We got a few stories about customers giving out the wrong address information.

Not everyone was showered with pebbles, in fact only Jane got that treatment, but in many cases, it led to heated discussions about reimbursements for transport to the wrong addresses. In the case of perishables, there were even more losses.

That’s because, for most sellers, customers only accept a cash-on-delivery deal. So, if you’re sent out to the wrong address, it will be hard to recover the resources you used to go to the wrong place.

For those already wary of buying stuff online, trying to show them that they are the ones that gave out the wrong address is an exercise in futility. They get defensive, thinking the seller is obviously running some kind of scam. They didn’t get the goods after all.


I won’t even go into the experience of any single woman on this. Most women have had to deal with unwanted advances from men. Some of these advances are downright abuse considering that in most of these cases, the women explicitly express that they are not interested. We, men, can be pigs sometimes.

I understand shooting your shot but is a Facebook Marketplace ad the best place to pick out women? I don’t think so.

One lady talked about how she had to stop selling via Facebook when the messages she received from strange men caused her husband to start wondering if it really was as simple as she was saying it was.

I think women have learnt to expect this kind of thing as a woman. It is what it is, I guess.

Amy the solar equipment reseller

Amy got an order for a solar panel and battery. She would meet the buyer while he was doing his rounds and they would do the deed.

They met at some car park of some shopping complex and Amy was relieved of the solar panel and battery, some other equipment she had in the boot of her Honda Fit and her handbag which contained a phone and some money.

She had some money hidden somewhere in the car that the thieves did not find. Regardless, the theft set her back.

Before you ask, Amy did not report the theft to the police. Suffice it to say, her equipment never crossed the country’s borders as far as the government knew. So, how could it be stolen.

Another woman, Mandy, did not end up getting robbed but pulled away when a buyer kept changing addresses. At first, it was this building, then it was another. Each new address taking her deeper into the jungle that is downtown Harare.

It could have been nothing but she decided to take the L and lose that sale.

We only talked to a few sellers. Most said getting outright robbed is not a fear they have but they still operate as if it could happen.

E-commerce player

We also talked to some organisations. Their experience mirrored the ones that most male sellers had. They were generally not objected to abuse or anything negative.

Where many women, including those that have never been robbed or anything like that express some reservations, the gents had no such worries.

To them, the biggest challenge remains that of lack of trust by buyers, some of whom fear that they would be robbed.

One story mentioned how the seller suggested meeting at a police station to complete the sale, to assuage the buyer’s fears but the buyer still declined. He was afraid he would be robbed. All this despite the fact that he had interacted with the brand for years.

What has been your experience?

We only looked at a few stories from a few sellers but I imagine some of you have stories for days.

From the stories above it looks like women’s experiences are vastly different from men’s. Women generally have to be on their toes, careful not to get into tricky situations. The men on the other hand mostly strut about, with no care in the world.

It is also telling that for men, the negative experiences mostly have to do with buyers pulling out whilst some women have actually been robbed.

The dilemma for these women is that asking to meet in a public place might work against them when the male sellers promise to deliver to any address, even to backroom offices in downtown Harare. So, it becomes, ‘offer that kind of service or miss out on sales.’

If you have sold on the interwebs, please share what kind of experience you have had in the comments section below.

Also read:

The state of eCommerce in Zimbabwe: Why we need our own version of Instacart

Without proper local payments API, Zim’s eCommerce & Fintech companies resort to workarounds


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  1. Pixel Peeper

    “She would meet the buyer while he was doing his rounds and they would do the deed”
    I don’t know who needs to know this but “doing the deed” is a euphemism for having sex, not carrying out a deal. Otherwise in the above context you would be suggesting our lady friend was meeting to have sex with the buyer, which I’m 100% sure was not what you intended.
    Maybe just use “deal” next time, Techzim?👀

    1. Reader

      I agree

    2. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      That confused me too. I thought she was using “solar panels” as a prostitution marketing

      1. Kuku

        🤣🤣😅 “doing the deep” is very inappropriate! This implication is clear!

    3. Tiger

      You guys suck s*** always so formal , “oh look at me I have a desktop and Adobe Photoshop”, “oh look at me I am Jesus’s younger brother ooo” , meee , I am so clean and boring”I am the best christian even though I fornicate daily”

  2. Recovered Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys Junkie

    I tried it once when I was younger and stupider😂. I was trying to sell my PC and was too embarrassed to arrange a meet at my humble abode, so I set it up for my workplace on the weekend. It didn’t even cross my mind I’d be alone and vulnerable, just thought I’d ‘address to impress’. If those kids had been the wrong kind of people, I would’ve not only lost my PC, but an entire agency’s worth of gear and possibly have gone through ‘enhanced questioning’ for good measure! Dodged a bullet on that one! If you are gonna do this online selling thing, better have your ducks in a row. Sort out payment, meet-up venues, security, KYC to the limit of your resources and maybe grab family monya 1 and 2 in advance of these things. And even if the deal goes like butter, sometimes the goal might be to follow you to the ‘source’, so don’t let your guard down on the way back.

  3. X

    There are basic rules if safety eg places for meeting in public eg inside a mall, under video surveillance which are patrolled by security guards etc would have eliminated all the problems in the article. In Zimbabwe why would one risk meeting at q customer’s place or your place. There are a number of sellers on Harare Facebook Marketplace who lists hundreds of items and they only deliver at designated shipping centres. provide safety tips for meet-ups but Facebook doesn’t. If you get an unwelcome experience on Facebook it’s best to report the account to Facebook and get it deleted. Even an account with thousands of friends can turn out to belong to a thief or worse a murderer.

    1. Z

      * shopping centres

    2. Y

      As of unwanted advances, the profile picture of the seller must have excited some peverts out there or some folks are out to harass her. It can be wise to set out A fake Facebook profile with no mention of gender and pictures of objects eg objects one is marketing only. The Facebook account will be like one for a business. She can list her items and no person would send unwanted advances to such a profile. If a buyer after meeting the seller sends unwanted advances she can block the person and report the sexual harassment to Facebook.

    3. Another Simpleton

      “Even an account with thousands of friends can turn out to belong to a thief or worse a murderer” – Thabo Bester, I am looking at you

  4. Handsome

    Not sure

  5. Victimized

    In the cutthroat competition scene, some competitors will try to force you out either by abusing you, harassment or making false allegations against you to Facebook. You can find your Marketplace function has been disabled by Facebook after someone makes fraudulent complaints. Some people can even resort to violence in order to eliminate the competition. That is why its not wise to trade from your actual Facebook profile as you can be harmed by your competitors.

  6. Prince Shumba

    Guy orders for delivery in CBD he is paying Ecocash and it’s urgent cos baby needs the formula milk He sends screenshot of successful Ecocash but no funds in my Ecocash and I refuse to deliver the goods He is pushy is in a tight spot urges me to deliver in the meantime etc I say I’ll wait until it’s done before delivering Following up later the phone is not reachable and never hear from him again It’s so simple a scam but some still fall for that

    1. Gullible Gulliver

      Manje what are soft touches like me supposed to do? The mari yekombi guys can spot me with one look! The tellers always give me the cello taped bills for change! My 6 month old niece has cracked the code on how to manipulate me! I would be eaten alive if I tried to hustle like this 🤣

      1. Why

        Some tellers at WorldRemit Western Union agents steal your money. Always count your USD right in front of them. Never assume good faith with any Zimbabweans. For those in diaspora your relatives will give invoices and receipts with figures of the choice of the person paying. The folks in Zimbabwe doing the transaction can pocket the difference and reward the sallers with a thank you amount for enabling the fraud. Even companies and NGOs are susceptible to these fraud schemes just like the fella at parliament of Zimbabwe who authorized laptops for USD9000 each! Even mothers no longer trust their sons and daughters. For those in diaspora with houses being rented through relatives in Zimbabwe, how many of those are declaring the honest rent to the owners. Check Facebook groups and marketplace for comparable houses in the same area and see how wide is your property fetching compared to similar properties. If the difference is too wide, there is a possibility of fraud!

  7. Joe Biden

    One Time ,I was selling stuff (herbs for down there )
    online and got gang raped by girls, didn’t report to the popo cause they threatened to kill me , they had guns , i got tested for STDs and luckily I have none , they were 3 of them , All light skinned

  8. Victim No. 2001

    I think everyone here have seen how competitive the business environment is long-distance bus operations is and what dirty tactics are used to musle out weaker operators. What most people don’t witness is the fierce competition in online marketing such as Facebook Marketplace. Some folks plunge in blindly and get badly beaten out! Read about how fierce competition on Amazon Marketplace and what dirty tactics are used to keep mult- million dollar businesses surviving the competition.

    One day you wake up to find Facebook or Amazon has banned your account due to competitors’ dirty tactics to drive you out of the competition! Even if you appeal the AI systems will deny your appeal and you have no recourse to have a human review your case!

  9. Inspector

    Another random test

    1. Inspector

      And another

      1. Inspector

        And one more

        1. Inspector

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