Gumtree

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This article is about the Gumtree online community. For other uses, see Gumtree (disambiguation).
Gumtree
Gumtree logo
Web address http://www.gumtree.com
Slogan Your local noticeboard[citation needed]
Type of site Classifieds
Registration Optional
Owner eBay

Gumtree.com is an online classifieds and community website. Classified ads are either free or paid for depending on the product category and the geographical market. It is now the UK's largest website for local community classifieds and is one of the top 30 websites in the UK, receiving around 8 million monthly unique visitors and reaching 17.9% of the U.K.'s online audience. Gumtree was founded in March 2000 by Michael Pennington and Simon Crookall as a local London classified ads and community site, designed to connect Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans who were either planning to move, or had just arrived in the city, and needed help getting started with accommodation, employment and meeting new people. In May 2005, Gumtree was acquired by eBay’s classifieds group, for an undisclosed sum. At the time of the acquisition, Gumtree already was available in multiple cities in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Hong Kong. Gumtree has the #1 classifieds site in the UK, Australia, South Africa, and Singapore.

Key categories[edit]

Although Gumtree’s largest category of classifieds adverts is still goods for sale, with up to 2 million ads being posted every month, the site is also home to around 200,000 motors listings across the UK at any one time, and is also the second largest UK listings site for jobs and the third largest for property.

Social Media[edit]

Gumtree has an extensive social media presence, active on both Twitter and Facebook with 200,000 and 15,000 followers respectively. Gumtree uses its social media presence to communicate news and information about the brand as well as launching competitions and promotions.

Featured Adverts[edit]

Although predominantly a free listings website, Gumtree allows its users to promote their adverts by ‘featuring’ them on the site. Different types of featured advert can be bought for different prices. Users can place their advert at the top of the search page as a featured or urgent advert or on the homepage as a spotlight advert. They are also able to ‘bump up’ their adverts in the listings, boosting them in the site’s search rankings.

Gumtree Media[edit]

In more recent years, Gumtree has extended its service to business customers as well as the general public. The site began selling classified advertising packages to companies looking to post multiple job vacancies and properties with this contributing to the company’s growth of listings and revenue, in 2013 Gumtree extended their bulk classifieds listings accounts to car dealers. In 2010, Gumtree launched its Gumtree Media website to publicise its services to potential business clients. The site showcases paid classified listings options as well as display advertising on the Gumtree site. Gumtree allows advertisers to post display advertising in the form of banners, rich media and homepage takeovers.

The Gumtree Walrus[edit]

In June 2013 an advert was posted on Gumtree offering a rent-free accommodation to a lodger that would be prepared to dress and act like a walrus. The advert was shared around various sites such as Buzzfeed and Mashable and caught the eye of Hollywood director Kevin Smith. Smith will use this ad as his inspiration for his upcoming movie: Tusk which will tell the story of an evil scientist who plans to sew a human permanently into a walrus suit.

Fraud and scam using Gumtree[edit]

The Guardian newspaper reported that flat-hunters fall victim to costly rent deposit scam using Gumtree. A London landlord was ripping off prospective tenants by taking deposits and then charging a fortune to check references.[1]

In April 2008, The Journal reported that "Gumtree scams continue to target international students", where students continued to be targeted by fraudsters offering to rent nonexistent flats by using this site.[2]

On 2 October 2008, a BBC News Investigation claimed, "Prospective tenants are being conned out of thousands of pounds in an elaborate Internet scam using Gumtree".[3]

In 2008, Gumtree was featured on BBC Watchdog for being a medium of money transfer scam. The flat hunters are the victim of this scam. Gumtree claims that it is an "industry-wide problem that affects a small number of their users".[4]

On 9 November 2009, BBC news warned over bogus landlord scam using Gumtree.[5]

Actionfraud, a service run by the National Fraud Authority UK, issued a warning on 30 July 2010: "Scam targets potential tenants on Gumtree. A number of would-be tenants have lost money after replying to a new wave of bogus adverts for rental accommodation on the website, Gumtree."[6]

Expansion timeline[edit]

Significant developments in Gumtree’s international expansion beyond the UK include:

  • September 2004: Gumtree launches a site in Warsaw, Poland.[7]
  • May 2005: Gumtree launches a site in Berlin, Germany.[8]
  • June 2005: Gumtree expands into Italy, with sites in Rome and Milan, Italy, increasing its coverage across 31 cities.[8]
  • August 2007: Gumtree expands to the US, targeting expat communities in New York, Boston and Chicago. The company intends to pitch its service at the 2 million British, Australian and Polish expatriates in the US.[9]

Languages[edit]

The Gumtree service is available in English and Polish, and additional languages through its partner websites.

Controversy[edit]

In recent times there has been an extensive public outcry on consumer complaints websites such as MoneySavingExperts.com, UKconsumercomplaints.com and trustpilot.co.uk. Consumers are largely concerned in relation to the application of the Gumtree.com posting rules policy - 'reserving the right to remove ads without refund if we feel that our rules or terms & conditions are breached, whether directly or indirectly'.[10] Specific consumer complaints typically relate to the Gumtree.com refund policy, in the case that an advertisement is deleted or removed in accordance with the above policy. The policy also goes on to state that 'Under no circumstances do we refund any payments made on Pet ads or Massage ads'. This particular policy statement is where consumers are troubled, particularly in the way that the rules policy is applied to deletions and removals of Pet and Massage ads, stating that it is in no way near transparent enough.[11] Gumtree.com does not give consumers the chance to amend, update, or otherwise change their initial ad, before the deletion or removal (for pet and massage advertisements), and therefore no refund is offered - even if the premium features are paid for and the ad has never gone live. The discretionary way in which the policies are applied has caused many consumers to lodge complaints on the above websites, due to the perceived lack of support from Gumtree.com in helping to rectify Gumtree's initial concerns with the advertisement itself. Be it spelling, wording misinterpretations, or a general lack of understanding regarding the content subject of advertisements - consumers have no control on how Gumtree.com interpret the advertisement. The lack of understanding by consumers how the Gumtree.com 'terms of use' policies are applied to legitimate individual advertisements is primarily due to the inconsistency of application and the lack of transparency in the whole process.[12] Consumers are warned to read the fine print when posting advertisements relating to the legitimate sale of pets or massage services as their advertisement may be removed if it is 'perceived' to breach any number of rules or terms of use, in addition to the forfeit of any paid services relating to pets and massages. The solution some say is simple. Don't pay any money at all to a "free" ad posting web site. The use of Gumtree as a free use site was believed with much scepticism when eBay, the world's largest online auction website, bought out Gumtree as already discussed. The doubts of many were lauded far and wide on many internet forums at the time and many nay-sayers were prognosticating Gumtree being turned into nothing more than a bastardised eBay clone. To the credit of the eBay owners, Gumtree has become far more than a clone and has instead showed itself to be a broad based repository of business listings with a very large general customer base. The main complaint of those general individual users is the increasingly difficult user interface which makes ad placement for non-payers virtually a waste of time. For example, within a very short time of your free ad being placed a "bump-up" email is received. Checking the ad in question reveals it has been moved to another page and paid professional business ads are loaded in the place of all user's 'free' ads. With each subsequent day that passes the ad seems to be on an ever increasingly fast spiral until a search using Gumtree's data base reveals the ad has disappeared totally! It is still listed apparently, yet a search using the precise listed words describing the ad fails to bring it up. Even when the search area is narrowed down to the right suburb, the ad is not visible. A cynic would suspect the multi-billion dollar eBay of intentionally using software to cull the 'free' ads within days of posting. But then some still believe in Santa Claus!

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Flat-hunters fall victim to costly rent deposit scam", Guardian.co.uk
  2. ^ "Gumtree scams continue to target international students", Journal-Online.co.uk
  3. ^ Morris, Nigel. "Internet fraudsters in rent scam". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  4. ^ BBC Watchdog "Flat-hunter's transfer trap", BBC.co.uk
  5. ^ BBC News "Warning over bogus landlord scam", BBC.co.uk
  6. ^ Actionfraud "Warning – Scam targets potential tenants on Gumtree", Actionfraud.org.uk
  7. ^ "Gumtree plans pan-European roll-out of classified ad forum", NMA.co.uk, February 10, 2005.
  8. ^ a b Julian Mattocks "Gumtree.com to expand into three new cities", NewFox.com.
  9. ^ Jemima Kiss "Gumtree comes to America", Guardian.co.uk, August 14, 2007.
  10. ^ Gumtree Support "Am I entitled to a refund?", gumtree.com
  11. ^ Trustpilot Review "Gumtree Reviews", trustpilot.co.uk
  12. ^ Gumtree Terms of Use "Terms of Use", gumtree.com

External links[edit]