BrickLink is one of the largest online marketplaces for buying and selling new, used, and vintage LEGO bricks, minifigures, and sets. With millions of registered users and hundreds of thousands of items for sale at any given time, BrickLink has become an invaluable resource for LEGO fans looking to expand their collections.
But is BrickLink a legitimate and trustworthy site for LEGO commerce? Or is it a scam that buyers should avoid? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine BrickLink reviews and feedback, buyer and seller protections, fees and pricing, and more to determine if BrickLink is legit or risky business.
Overview of BrickLink
BrickLink was founded in 2000 as an online database to track LEGO set inventories and check market prices. It quickly evolved into a fully-fledged peer-to-peer marketplace where “AFOLs” (Adult Fans of LEGO) could buy and sell LEGO products directly with each other.
Some key facts about BrickLink:
- Website: https://www.bricklink.com
- Headquarters: Elk Grove, CA
- Founded: 2000
- Company type: Subsidiary of The LEGO Group
- Registered users: Over 1 million
- Listings: Over 10 million currently for sale
- Seller locations: 70+ countries
- Buyer protections: Limited
BrickLink acts as a conduit between buyers and sellers by providing the marketplace technology and platform. Sellers list their LEGO inventory for sale, handle shipping and customer service, and pay sales commissions and fees to BrickLink.
This distributed, peer-to-peer model allows sellers of all sizes to use BrickLink. Major power sellers conduct LEGO commerce like a business, while smaller and hobbyist sellers clear out used and surplus bricks from their personal collections.
BrickLink Seller and Buyer Reviews
One of the best ways to evaluate if an online marketplace is legitimate is to look at buyer and seller reviews and feedback. Do most users have a positive experience on BrickLink, or are there rampant complaints of fraud and scams?
Overall, BrickLink reviews paint a very positive picture of marketplace transactions. The site has implemented a robust user feedback system to build trust and transparency.
After completing each order, buyers can leave ratings for each seller on a scale of 1 to 5 stars across four criteria:
- Item as Described
- Shipping Time
- Shipping and Handling Charges
Sellers also have public profile pages showcasing their average review score, detailed feedback, and the number of completed transactions.
The majority of sellers have near perfect review scores after hundreds or thousands of transactions. Sorting seller search results by review score is an easy way for buyers to identify reputable sellers with proven customer satisfaction.
In a random sampling of seller profiles, the average rating across over 6,400 reviews was 4.95 out of 5 stars. Most negative reviews stemmed from inaccurate item descriptions, shipping delays or damage, and order cancellation disputes.
Scam and Fraud Risks
While the overwhelmingly positive BrickLink reviews indicate that the vast majority of transactions are seamless, certain scam and fraud risks still exist for unwary shoppers.
Some common issues that buyers should watch out for include:
- Bait and switch: Sellers send an item that doesn’t match the listing description and pictures. This is more likely with loose bricks than sealed sets.
- Fake/counterfeit items: Scam sellers may try to pass off fake LEGO products manufactured by competitors.
- Non-delivery: Sellers take payment but never ship the order.
- Brick grading accuracy: Used loose bricks labeled as “new” or “like new”.
- Hidden shipping fees:Deceptively low shipping fees that spike after checkout.
- Seller closure: Sellers go inactive without warning, often due to being banned. Open orders may go unfulfilled.
While BrickLink has some buyer protection policies (detailed below), shoppers should still exercise caution when buying from sellers with limited reviews or ordering expensive, rare items. Using common sense goes a long way.
BrickLink Buyer Protection and Fraud Prevention
To mitigate the risks posed by potential scam sellers, BrickLink has implemented several buyer protection and fraud prevention measures:
- Feedback system: Extensive seller ratings and reviews from past transactions build transparency and trust.
- Sale limits: New sellers have restrictions on the value amount they can transact until establishing a positive history.
- ID verification: Sellers must provide tax information and proof of identity to BrickLink for security purposes.
- Payment processing: Secure payment processing through BrickLink Payments handles disputes and fraud prevention.
- Banned users: BrickLink aggressively bans sellers caught intentionally deceiving or defrauding buyers.
- Reporting system: Buyers can easily report problematic sellers to BrickLink for investigation.
- Refunds: BrickLink will refund payments if sellers fail to provide an item or service paid for. Refund eligibility based on claim review.
While these protections don’t guarantee a scam-free experience, they significantly improve integrity and security compared to private LEGO marketplaces with little-to-no buyer protections or seller vetting.
Common BrickLink Buyer Complaints
Even responsible sellers with perfect review scores will inevitably have the occasional disgruntled customer. But are there any patterns among negative BrickLink buyer reviews and complaints?
Some common grievances include:
- Missing pieces: Ordered lots or sets arrive with fewer pieces than described. Sellers may have miscounted inventory.
- Incorrect parts: Buyers receive the wrong elements, colors, or variants than listed. Often unintentional mistakes by sellers fulfilling many orders.
- Damage during shipping: Poor packing leads to loose bricks chipping, stress marks, or breaking in transit.
- Slow shipping: Some sellers take weeks to ship orders after payment is received. Can cause problems for buyers depending on reason for purchase.
- Order cancellation: Sellers cancel orders after checkout for being out of stock. Results in annoyed buyers who now have to source items elsewhere.
- Item not as described: This catch-all complaint refers to any other discrepancy between the listing description and actual item condition. Misleading photos and vague descriptions are problematic.
- Retaliation feedback: Sellers leave undeserved negative feedback in retaliation after a dispute or low rating from the buyer. Thankfully rare due to strict rules.
The vast majority of these complaints stem from honest mistakes rather than deliberate deception. But consistently sloppy sellers should still raise red flags for buyers expecting a smooth transaction.
Is BrickLink Safe for Sellers?
So far we’ve focused primarily on the buyer experience on BrickLink in assessing legitimacy and evaluating risks. But selling on BrickLink also involves some level of risk assumption.
Some key seller concerns include:
- Fraudulent buyers: Buyers issue chargebacks or force refunds for false item-not-received claims, stealing paid for merchandise.
- Vindictive buyers: Retaliation tactics like negative feedback extortion and malicious claims over tiny issues.
- BrickLink fees: Sales commissions, payment processing fees, and subscription costs eat into seller profits. Some fees prone to sudden increases.
- Scam claims: Unscrupulous buyers falsely reporting authentic items as fake/counterfeit to get refunds.
- Order mistakes: Burdensome costs to sellers resulting from their own inventory errors. Still penalized with fees and negative feedback.
- Account suspension/banning:Arbitrary or unfair moderation decisions with little seller recourse and no easy transition process after a ban.
- Tax complexity: Ever-changing sales tax laws create complicated filing and reporting requirements for high-volume sellers. Non-compliance risks.
To help protect sellers against issues like fraud and scam claims, BrickLink provides:
- Evidence-based claim investigations before forcing refunds
- An appeals process for banned accounts
- Detailed seller guidance on avoiding common order issues
BrickLink also acts as an intermediary for resolving technical problems with buyer payments. On the whole, the marketplace appears reasonably safe for reputable sellers willing to deliver a positive customer experience.
BrickLink Pricing and Fees
BrickLink aims to strike a balance between being affordable for small-scale buyers and sellers while generating sufficient revenue to maintain its online marketplace platform.
Let’s break down the various BrickLink fees and commissions that impact pricing:
Item price: Set solely by sellers based on market value, scarcity, and condition. BrickLink does not dictate pricing.
Shipping cost: Determined by seller based on order weight, packaging, and shipping carrier/service. Some sellers charge actual shipping cost while others charge flat fees.
Commission: BrickLink takes a 5% commission off the item price paid to the seller for each transaction. This is their primary revenue source.
Payment processing: BrickLink Payments charges 2.9% + 30 cents per order for handling payments. Reduced to 1% with premium subscriptions.
Subscriptions: Sellers can purchase monthly memberships with discounted fees and additional features:
- Basic: $6/month
- Premium: $12/month
- Supreme: $40/month
Inventory fees: Small fees for extra features like highlighted listings or inventory image hosting.
Currency conversion: BrickLink applies a 2.5% currency conversion fee for cross-currency transactions.
These costs generally align with competitor marketplaces. Sellers are known to inflate prices ~10% higher than other channels to account for BrickLink fees and maintain profit margins. But with BrickLink’s enormous buyer audience and high sales velocity, the added fees are usually worthwhile.
Comparison to Other LEGO Marketplaces
BrickLink is far from the only online option for buying and selling LEGO products. How does it compare against other major LEGO marketplaces?
|BrickLink||– Huge selection of inventory<br>- Low fees compared to eBay<br>- Excellent seller review system<br>- Large international buyer pool||– Potential for scams/fraud<br>- No buyer protection for “not as described” issues<br>- Difficult returns process|
|eBay||– Wide audience outside AFOLs<br>- Strong buyer protection<br>- Simple returns||– High selling fees eat into margins<br>- Less LEGO-focused than BrickLink<br>- More casual sellers with less inventory|
|Facebook Groups||– Very active enthusiast communities<br>- Groups for niche themes/interests<br>- No selling fees||– Completely insecure transactions <br>- No moderation or protections<br>- Hard to find items/sellers|
|– Active buying/selling subreddits<br>- Easy to list and browse<br>- Anonymity||– No moderation, oversight, or protections<br>- Need to trust unknown redditors<br>- Low transaction volume|
|LEGO.com||– 100% authentic, brand new sets<br>- Rewards program<br>- Excellent support||– Limited exclusives and unique items<br>- Retail pricing only<br>- Small secondary market selection|
BrickLink strikes the right balance for most LEGO collectors and investors between selection, protections, and costs. But more casual buyers may prefer the simplicity and buyer-friendly policies of general marketplaces like eBay. And deal seekers willing to shoulder more risk can sometimes score bargains in private buy/sell groups.
Is BrickLink Right for You?
With its long track record, extensive inventory, and robust policies in place to facilitate smooth transactions, BrickLink appears to offer a predominantly legitimate marketplace experience. Serious complaints of outright scams and fraud seem relatively rare compared to other platforms.
But is buying and selling on BrickLink right for you? Here are some key factors to consider:
BrickLink is a good fit if you:
- Are an AFOL interested in rare and specialized LEGO
- Don’t mind used and opened condition items
- Are comfortable participating in a peer-to-peer marketplace
- Willing to take time vetting seller reputations and reviews
- Understand LEGO item variants, conditions, and descriptors
BrickLink may not be ideal if you:
- Have zero tolerance for risk of issues or fraud
- Strongly prefer brand new, sealed LEGO sets
- Uncomfortable buying from individuals vs. retailers
- Looking for deep discounts below market value
- Not familiar with identifying authentic vs. counterfeit LEGO
Over 1 million satisfied BrickLink members can’t be wrong. For most LEGO enthusiasts, the immense selection and passionate seller community far outweigh the modest risks. Just remember to use common sense, review seller profiles, and place a premium on communication.
Tips for Safe Buying on BrickLink
While BrickLink has plenty of protections in place for buyers, there are still additional steps you can take to maximize safety when making purchases:
- Vet sellers carefully: Review all feedback scores, comments, and activity history. Watch for red flags.
- Start small: Place your first few orders with reputable sellers for inexpensive items before spending big.
- Check shipment tracking:Monitor delivery progress closely and follow up on any stalled packages.
- Inspect items upon arrival: Open boxes and verify that pieces match the descriptions from the order.
- Communicate issues promptly:Notify sellers about problems immediately and give them a chance to make things right before leaving negative feedback.
- Pay with a credit card: Payment with a credit card gives you additional fraud protection and the ability to dispute unauthorized charges. Some debit cards have similar protections.
- Only buy from business sellers:Avoid brand new sellers and those running BrickLink stores as a hobby side gig with little accountability.
Following these tips when shopping on BrickLink will help assure a smooth, scam-free buying experience in the vast majority of transactions.
Is BrickLink Legit? The Verdict
After digging into numerous BrickLink reviews, buyer feedback, policies, protections, and potential risks, we can decisively conclude that yes – BrickLink is legitimate and not a scam.
The marketplace might not be 100% perfect across every single transaction. But BrickLink works hard to maintain standards, vet sellers, and resolve issues when they arise. Serious fraud appears relatively uncommon compared to less regulated platforms.
For LEGO collectors looking to expand their stashes or pursue hard-to-find sets, BrickLink offers unparalleled selection and inventory compared to any other marketplace. The network effects of its massive user base create a vibrant community with competitive pricing.
BrickLink has withstood the test of time since 2000. Until a significantly superior LEGO marketplace comes along, it will likely remain the first stop for both casual and die-hard AFOLs alike.