By EMILIE BAXTER
Monash University students have become victims of theft and damage after renting out their clothing on Facebook trading groups.
Some clothes renting groups have no standardised policies or regulations in place for the renters, which has resulted in clothing being late or damaged on return.
Monash University student Lauren Zhang, who said she had a dress stolen after renting it out on the Girls Trade Melbourne site, said establishing trust with people who used the groups was difficult.
“After probably weeks of messaging the girl who rented a dress from me, she blocked me on basically everything,” Ms Zhang said.
“I had been renting clothes for about two years, but I stopped after this happened, because people are too unreliable.”
Ms Zhang said the Facebook trading groups could be dangerous to use.
“You don’t know the people personally and they’re basically just strangers.”
“There’s no way of really guaranteeing that the other person is going to do the right thing,” she added.
Commerce and Arts student Ellen Felberg explained how she had a terrible experience of renting clothes online. She had rented a dress on Girls Trade Melbourne, which she said was stained and ripped when she got it back.
“I thought that people would be treating my clothes in the same way that I would if I was wearing someone else’s, which obviously isn’t the case,” Ms Felberg said.
She had started renting out her clothes to make a bit of extra money, being on a tight student budget.
“The reason why I first invested in high end dresses was because I thought I’d make a lot of money, but it kind of backfired.”
“I think because it doesn’t belong to them and they’ve only paid a fraction of the price they don’t have the same care factor.”
Girls Trade Melbourne administrator Angus Cronin-Guss said Facebook limited the group's available security options.
“We have put in our own rules for the group and if a member breaks these rules they will be given a warning or a permanent ban,” Mr Cronin-Guss said.
The Girls Trade Melbourne founder said he didn’t think scamming was a big part of the group.
“I’m definitely not saying it doesn’t happen, but I think the majority of our 46,000 Facebook members are happy with the service and would use it time and time again,” he said.
Girls Trade Melbourne are designing an app to create a safer trading marketplace for users. “With the application we will be able to implement stronger security systems for our members,” he said.
Clothes hire group LendMyTrend CEO April Booij said she had seen scamming on unregulated Facebook trading groups and that was part of what inspired her to start her clothing rental business.
“I actually got ripped off a couple of times in those groups and I thought there has to be a better way to do this,” she said.
“I thought there needed to be a little bit of a third party intervention. We have set policies that both parties agree to and that’s how we make sure that lenders do not get scammed.”
Policies include a late and damage policy. “One of our biggest features on our site is our credit card authorisation," she said.
“Knowing we have your credit card details on file encourages renters to return the clothing,” she said.
Allied Market Research’s 2017 report estimated that the value of the online clothing rental market would reach $1856 million by 2023.