During the last few years, the sharing economy has been on the rise – today, it's estimated to have cumulatively raised over $8 billion in funding. One of the key issues the sharing economy will face in 2015 is safety. Even if trust and safety are at the very core of ventures that participate in the sharing economy models, both users and providers often face loose regulations and security measures. Here are some tips on how to stay safe when using services in the sharing economy.
1. Choose recognised marketplace platforms
Using online marketplaces that were created ad-hoc and without proper care opens users up to potentially negative experiences or dangerous situations. That's why using a reputable platform, with all the necessary legal terms and regulations in force, is essential. In case of a problem, you'll always have the support of the marketplace admins who will make sure law is on your side.
2. Ratings and reviews matter
Reputation is key in the sharing economy, so make sure you always check ratings and comments left by other users before you make a deal. If you see low ratings and negative comments, avoid taking up the opportunity – even if the price is tempting.
Look for people who have impeccable reviews. Don't brush aside even a few negative reviews, and if users tend to complain about similar things there's probably something to it. If a person has no reviews at all, try to lower the risk by contacting them personally.
3. Ask questions
If you have any doubts about the service, ask questions – upfront communication can often save you a lot of trouble. If the other party isn't willing to answer your questions or doesn't seem eager to engage, treat it as a warning sign.
There's always an element of risk inherent to the sharing economy, but for the time being, its benefits significantly outweigh the risks. Choose your services carefully and you'll be sure to have a positive experience.
Monique Craig is a passionate blogger and marketing specialist who works for Oneflare, an online marketplace which connects customers with local service providers.