Saturday, January 26, 2008


Another swap site that I looked into as an Exit Strategy for my CDs and DVDs was SwapSimple. At SwapSimple you can trade books, DVDs and video games, but not music CDs (go figure!). Setting up an account was easy enough. I provided an email address, made up a password and I was in like Flynn. I then received an email confirming my registration which included a clickable link leading to a few other questions to answer, such as how I'd heard of the site, my age (you must be 18 years or older), and stuff like that.

However, for me, that's about where the "simple" part of SwapSimple hit the road, and what I will mostly be discussing in this post.

  1. Shipping

    SwapSimple members can print a free shipping label, which to me was very appealing. 'Nuf said!

  2. Avoiding the Post-office

    Of course the pre-paid shipping label also removes the need to go to the post office, so long as your item weighs less than one pound. Another plus!

  3. Liner notes, artwork & case

    SwapSimple, members are expected to send all accompanying material, rather than just the disk alone, so that suited me as well.

  4. Simplicity

    Now, here's where things started to fall apart.

    Although, I initially listed three items, I only actually ended up trading one of them. And while I was able to send out that one item without incident, I found the actual process of doing that to be so exacting, that shortly thereafter, I delisted the other two items.

    • Pop-up Panic!

      For one thing, to even list an item for trade, in addition to my name I had to provide my gender and telephone number, something I wasn't too wild about, and wondered why that was necessary. Then, some pretty specific and rather stern pop-up instructions appeared about using the site and what needed to happen when, in order to effect a successful trade.

      There were other, similarly dire, warning pop-ups at just about every subsequent step of the transaction, through finally printing the shipping label once someone requested one of my items.

      Don't Get Me Wrong! In and of themselves, none of the stipulations were at all unreasonable. I definitely understand that some people need to have such things spelled out as explicitly as possible, because left to their own devices they simply won't follow through. Still, as a fairly reliable sort, myself, I was left feeling vaguely anxious. Even with the best of intentions, we all can slip up at one time or another. I tend to pursue several Exit Strategies at a time in order to maximize the chances of actually getting rid of something! As far as I'm concerned, all bets are on until that item is out of my house and into the hot little hands of someone else. So, I was terrified that I might fail to remove a no longer available item from my SwapSimple inventory quick enough! Consequences for such a failure included possible penalty charges or the suspension of my account.

    • Point System

      SwapSimple says that their point system is straightforward, but it seemed a little complicated to me. The site figures out and assigns a "market" value to the items you post. You receive a fraction of that value immediately upon listing the item (aka Instant Trade Credits) and the rest of it upon successfully completing your trade. From this standpoint you begin accumulating points and can request items right away. Also, as long as you have points, you can trade for any category of item. For example if you trade a book, you are not limited to requesting another book. You can request a DVD or a video game of whatever value, so long as you have accumulated the necessary points.

      However, when I went back to check on my account after the one trade I completed, I was surprised to find out that I hadn't earned any credits! I contacted Customer Service about it and to their credit , they got back to me pretty promptly. They explained that my trade item had a "market value" worth less than $0.50 and that they only award credits in whole numbers. Unfortunately for me, they round down instead of up. So my traded item ended up being worth zero points instead of one. They further advised that there were many 0-credit items that could be requested. I checked this out this category, but there weren't all that many things available, at least on the date I looked. But, in honor of completing my first swap, SwapSimple credited my account five points. Still, if I had not contacted them, I probably would never have received these points.

      Also, swapping is not actually free, unless you are:

      • swapping within a personal swap network of friends, their friends, etc. or . . .
      • . . .swapping items worth 10 credits or less

      otherwise, trading items worth more than 10 credits with people outside of your network will cost you $1.00 (items worth 11-20 credits) or $2.00 (items worth 21 credits or more) per swap.

      While not completely inscrutable, I would not exactly call this system straightforward either.

    • Site Feel and Navigability

      Finally, swapping via the Internet is probably an inherently social activity, however I would say that this social networking aspect is very much accentuated at SwapSimple. Just to say, that this may not be everyone's cup of tea.

      Also, I am probably one of the few people left in the universe with a dial-up connection, so it took a bit of time for some of the site's graphics and doo-hickey's to load as I navigated through the site. This became a particular issue while I tried to figure out how to display my inventory. Me and my dial up connection spent more than a few frustrating minutes clicking various links and then waiting for the screens to load while I tried to figure it out what I was doing wrong.

Obligatory Disclaimer: Anyway, as I stated in last week in the SwapaCD post, this review reflects the criteria that are important to me and how this impacted my particular experience ONLY! You're mileage may vary and SwapSimple may suit your needs perfectly.

Next up: Title Trader: The CD/DVD swap site, I finally settled on.

No comments: