Borrowing instead of buying is always a good choice, but for many it has been a problem finding people who would willingly let you borrow from them. What if there was an organization in your area where all the people listed the things that they had to lend out and you could borrow from them without any hesitation? That organization is in the development process at this very moment.
Most of you reading here have heard of FreeCycle.org where you can get rid of items you no longer need by giving it away for free or requesting items that you need. There is another interesting site that is currently in it’s prestage that looks quite promising and is attempting to address some of the major problems people have with FreeCycle. The site is called Borrow Me where you can form groups in your community to borrow and lend items amongst one another. Here is what they are working on for their launch according to their blog:
Here’s some of what is working at launch time:
Items: create/edit/delete items in your ‘Lend List’ to share with others Circle: create a group of friends to form a ‘Borrow Circle’ Search for items (by proximity, in your circle, in your city, etc) Browse for items (by category, in your circle, in your city, etc) Borrow transactions (requesting, suggesting, editing, and completing borrows) Email reminders Activity: a detailed summary of what is OUT (lent) and what is IN (borrowed) A simplified version of our feedback/reputation system Basic Help (How it Works, FAQ, Email support) Account: add/edit personal information including email, etc. Suggestion Box
These are some of the issues they are trying to improve over FreeCycle (of which many ring true to me in my experience with freecycle):
NO REPLIES TO REQUESTS: a queue for all borrow requests and the ability to respond to all or any of them at once. We should even have a reminder if people haven’t been replied to – and the request will stay open until dealt with. (it’s only polite, right!?!) NO SHOWS: I have had many people not show up to claim an item. Our feedback (aka reputation) system will report any no-shows as well as a generic transaction history – so you can see how many borrows or lends someone has done, and how responsible they have been in dealing with others. There won’t be anywhere to hide! OUTRAGEOUS OR FREQUENT REQUESTERS: Any user can block or filter communications with any user – and we report how many ‘blocks’ each user has on their feedback. We’ll also have security features to make it really hard to have more than 1 account – or apply for a new one if you’ve spoiled the first. BIG STORIES FROM ‘DESPERATE’ FOLKS: There are legitimate people in need – so we are creating a way to distinguish those who are sincerely in need, from those who use such stories to get preferential treatment. There will be a method to get a ‘family in need’ flag on a members account – through a sponsoring agency or certified professional (accountants, OT’s, doctors, etc). There will be preferential treatment shown these folks – and users can tell who has a story and who is in a tight spot. Some Freecycle groups have banned explanations for this reason, but I think it is very important to know why someone would like to borrow my baby crib, volleyball net or XBOX. Is it for single mom? children’s party? special occasion or unique event? Is the person genuinely in need of help, or just looking to exploit my goodwill for another few dollars? TOO MUCH INFORMATION: I’ve been quickly overwhelmed with Freecycle listings – so BorrowMe will allow significant control over how much email and outside communication you get. Only want your friends to see your Lend List? That’s ok. Want to save certain special items for certain people? That’s ok too. Wouldn’t it be great to target our generosity a wee bit better?
What this service will do is give you the opportunity to borrow items from others in your community and develop a circle of trustworthy borrowing and lending counterparts which can significantly reduce your costs each year. There won’t be a need to purchase a tool for a one time project (or to put off that project because you don’t want to purchase the tool needed so that it doesn’t get taken care of and cost more down the road). In addition, many of the items that you have that sit around your garage or stored in your attic or basement can help others save money. It’s a win-win situation all the way around.
The site is currently in the alpha stage of collecting interested members. To be part of the beta (trial) launch you need to sign up at the site by this Thursday (4/20/2006) – after that date they will not allow new members in until August when the officially launch for everyone. This will allow you to be part of the beta testing which includes “special offers” and more importantly, “A chance to shape the future of BorrowMe with your feedback and comments.” Best of all, the people that do the beta testing will likely be fairly serious and allow you to make a solid group of partners for borrowing and lending (swapping is also going to be allowed) in your area before the site becomes quite large.
By becoming a part of the group and getting in a position to borrow items you need instead of purchasing them, you will likely save hundreds of dollars a year over what you would have had to spend by yourself.