'One man's trash is another man's treasure': People seek bargains for flood-damaged goods

7:13 pm on 8 February 2023

Furniture stores in Auckland are amongst those selling flood-damaged goods to people looking for a good deal.

And people are not just looking in stores, they are searching online too.

Trade Me said flood-damaged items were allowed to be sold online, but people should be cautious.

A large number of flood-damaged items have been listed on Trade Me and online marketplaces, despite the possibility of contamination.

The emergency response to the flooding in Tāmaki Makaurau was well into its second week and the focus remained on collecting flood damaged items from households.

Trade Me website

Flood-damaged items have been listed on Trade Me. Photo: RNZ

Policy and compliance manager James Ryan said anything damaged could be sold online - as long as the seller was upfront about its condition.

He said buyers of flood-damaged items should do their due diligence like any trade.

"Our terms and conditions clearly state that all listings on our site must be accurate, current, complete and include all relevant information," Ryan said.

An Auckland furniture store said people were taking advantage of flood-damaged products to get a deal.

Homage showrooms in Grey Lynn had been flooded on 27 January - leaving behind a number of damaged products.

Owner Dale Clothier said most of his customers were wanting to buy flood-damaged goods.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure," he said.

"The first thing people ask me is 'has that been in the flood', or hey - can we have a deal because you've been in the flood' type thing so people take advantage."

"Some of our stuff has been amazingly salvageable - we've had sofas and things that got wet but have been dried out.

"I was putting damaged products outside the store on Saturday night following the floods and it sadly caused a bit of hysteria - people were down here fighting over the product that was outside."

Clothier said one item worth $3500 was sold to a couple for just $500.

Neighbouring furniture store Bauhaus was also flooded last month.

Company spokesperson Chris Heard said it would be offering up to 70 percent discounts on flooded products.

"While many of our pieces have gone to the tip, some are just too good to be destroyed. We also can't bare to see them go to landfill.

"As a result, we have moved most affected items to the Grey Lynn showroom, and have priced them at 50-70 percent off."

Heard said the vast majority of these items showed little or no sign of water damage, but they could not be sold at retail price or carry normal warranties.

Auckland Council said it was aware there was still large amounts of flood-damaged items to be collected.

General manager of environmental services Rachel Kelleher said "Auckland Emergency Management is also advising people against purchasing flood damaged items unless they have been professionally assessed and repaired, as they are being disposed of for a reason and may pose a health or safety risk.

"Flood damaged non-food items that cannot be satisfactorily cleaned and sanitised (including mattresses, carpet, and children's soft toys) should not be offered for sale.

"Consumers are also advised to be cautious about purchasing flood damaged food. All unpackaged food (including fruit and vegetables) and food items packed in paper, cardboard, or non-waterproof material that have been damaged by floodwater should be thrown out and must not be offered for sale."

People should be avoiding doing some storm-waste recovery activities, she said.

The reason waste was out on curbs was because it had come into contact with floodwaters or was damaged in some way.

"Really strong advice there is that those things shouldn't be used or taken off the streets."

Some storm-waste items could be recovered at the transfer stations, she said.

"If there is the ability to reuse some of the items, we will do that at some of these transfer stations, but we will do it in a way that's safe and make sure people are not putting themselves at risk."

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