You can use the Freelender website to see how satisfied others were with lending to the person who has requested an item from you. You can also see the number and value of items they have borrowed to date. We call these the "Trust Stats".
Having seen someone's Trust Stats, it is then up to you to decide whether you need any extra information before you are willing to lend to or borrow from them. As an example of this, one user of freelender.org only lends a company vehicle to someone who has 4 facebook friends in common with him. These extra conditions on the lending can be agreed separately between you and the borrower, e.g. via the Freelender messaging system. You can let people know in advance on freelender.org what you are looking for to be willing to trust. Some may choose to take a deposit. That's up to you.
If you are in any doubt, it is probably best not to lend to that person at that time.
When lending to anyone, it is a good idea to first get some contact details for them. (For security reasons, such details are not stored on the Freelender database.)
We hope this will never happen, and we have not yet heard of a case of an item not being returned. People who join Freelender are generous and reasonable people!
However, if this does happen, we suggest the following steps:
- Firstly, contact the borrower. This can be done via the Freelender messaging system. There is probably a simple explanation - maybe the borrower hasn't realised that the agreed return date has passed, maybe there was a misunderstanding about when the return date was, or maybe an emergency has arisen in their life.
- If you are able to contact the borrower and you discover that they are unable to return the item, for example if it has been lost or damaged, speak to them and try to reach a resolution which you are both happy with. This could be by them reimbursing you to the value of the item (as recorded on Freelender).
- If you are in contact with the borrower and not reaching agreement, you may wish to follow this problem resolution process, and encourage them to do the same.
- If you need help with the problem resolution process, we provide access to on-line dispute resolution services to help you with difficulties in clarifying what happened, what you need and how to get your needs met. This is provided by a group of freelenders who work in conflict transformation. You can read an invitation letter to the free service for freelenders here. [Word document]
- If you are unable to contact the borrower for an appreciable period despite your best efforts, contact us and we will endeavour to help.
We encourage self-responsibility on freelender.org. You will decide whether what you know about the other person, or choose to ask, is sufficient to take the risk of trusting them. While we will do our best to help, including providing access to problem resolution services (see above), the decision to lend is ultimately your responsibility and we cannot be held liable for any losses you incur.
We hope not. We're learning ways to reduce the likelihood of a misunderstanding. Whenever we try to co-operate, sooner or later a misunderstanding arises, or someone does something that triggers feelings we may wish we didn't have. Appreciating differences is part of building stronger communities.
Whilst it is not possible to eliminate all the risk, we are committed to supporting you to make choices that help you to be a freelender and to be confident of what you can do if things don't go according to plan.
We believe the risks of a dispute are reduced in Freelender because:
- Trust Stats are provided as a way to build confidence in other people.
- Lenders set their own value for each item (minimum £1) before any lending.
- Borrowers, before borrowing, accept the lender's value of the item.
- Access is provided to conflict resolution services.
- This free service is offered to all in dispute.
I would share my experience of people changing their willingness very quickly when they see what could be gained by a society which freelends abundantly.
Freelender.org can be used anywhere in the world.
If you live in the UK or one of its dependencies, you can use the first part of your postcode when using the site.
Other places where you can use Freelender include:
- New York (use postcode 'NY')
- The North Pole (postcode 'SAN TA1')
If you live anywhere else, contact us and we can create a 'postcode' you can use in your area.
See the Freelender Community page.
See About Freelender.