Bonanzle Brings the ‘Human Element’ Back to Online Buying and Selling

I remember back (close to ten years ago now) to when I bought my first item online at eBay. It was a box of used Stephen King paperbacks. I got it for an awesome price and I paid with a money order. This seller and I exchanged e-mails back and forth, daily for a week. When I received the item I realized the seller underestimated the shipping charges to Canada. I paid $10 for the books (huge deal) and $5 for shipping. He actually spent $15 on the shipping alone, and didn’t mention it during our conversations.

When I asked him about it, the reply was that he only sold two things so far and didn’t really have an understanding of shipping yet. During that week we developed a friendly relationship and banter while we were waiting for my item to arrive and when I realized the guy made zero dollars and lost a huge box of books I felt bad.  I mailed him a second money order for $10.00, and, I did do so without his asking.

A few years later with both buying and selling experience under my belt, I listed a lot of gently used boy’s clothes. I had an inquiry from a mother about one specific shirt in the lot. I never heard from her again and the auction ended unsold.  Two months later I get an e-mail asking me about that box of clothes, and did I sell it.

Apparently, this woman had just had another child and had to spend quite some time in the hospital after giving birth.  Her new baby and second oldest children had a shirt that was the exact same (exception being the sizes of course) in the lot of clothes I listed. Her oldest son would have fit into the shirt that was in my lot and she wondered if I might still have it.  This woman spent time thinking about getting that ‘matching shirt’ and e-mailed me as soon as she got out of the hospital.

I did not reply to her e-mail. I went back through eBay, got her information; you used to be able to do that, you know (soon you won’t even be able to get a person’s real e-mail address). I wrapped the gently used shirt in gift wrap and put it in a padded envelope with a note congratulating her on her new arrival.  What a beautiful e-mail I received when she got the package.  It felt good to do something nice for a person in another country who I would never meet and never hear from again.

When you hear people talk of “the old eBay” and reminisce about “community”, this is what people miss.  But it’s not even about the giving, as in my experiences; it’s about connecting with the people.

Over the years, in its quest to become the number one marketplace, eBay has deployed so many services,  features, policies and automation that now feels like you are dealing with robots rather than a unique individual person.

There is very little human left in eBay despite the millions of people using it.

I started using Bonanzle because I wanted to write about it.  I loaded the URL and as soon as the page loaded I immediately thought “this place is different”.  Well, I wrote the article a couple months ago, and I’m still there.  Funny, because I have a username and password on roughly 20 online sites for buying and selling and I have not felt the desire to revisit many of them after my article was filed, that is, until Bonanzle.

My first transaction came about because of a ‘want ad’ for care Bears I placed in the forum.  Bonanzle member str8_2_u_from_me replied and we had a great discussion and chatted back and forth until the package arrived. We’ve even exchanged messages since then.  The forums over there are alive with totally uncensored conversations, and the site enables buyers and sellers to communicate in real time directly from a sellers’ booth (which is similar to an online storefront). 

Bonanzle, with its small development team has put together an amazing package. Have you heard of companies going around stamping Web 2.0 all over their site and in their PR? What I love about Bonanzle is that they are the very definition of Web 2.0; something others try to achieve but very few do, and not once have they actually used that phrase or anything like it.

The technology is there. Use Bonanzle for a week, and if you have spent time on eBay, Kijiji,  or any of the other eBay alternatives the first thing you’re going to notice is how sweet the technology is – and it’s all wrapped up in a convenient, easy-to-use package.

Then, you’re going to realize why so many people have joined Bonanzle in such a short period of time.

Because it is actually a humanized online marketplace. 

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2 responses to “Bonanzle Brings the ‘Human Element’ Back to Online Buying and Selling

  1. Ah, shucks! Experiences like yours are why the title of the home page was recently changed to “Buy and sell unique items with the friendliest community online.” I don’t know of any other site where you can leave a forum message saying “Hi, I’m new” and get 5-10 responses within a couple hours time welcoming you aboard. Certainly no other site of our size.

    Amongst all the technology and all the ease of use and all the extraordinary items and all the fun Bonanzas that happen on the site, my favorite part of it is the spirit. And that’s the part hasn’t been programmed. :)

  2. You hit the nail on the head. I’ve registered and listed some things on about 6 ebay alternatives. But going into Bonanzle was a deja vu difference. I, too, felt like it was the ebay old days.
    Add to that the founders who care, are THERE and are listening and DOING.
    I’m doing everything I can think of to promote traffic to the site and my booth there! This is the alternative site I want to take off!

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