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You be the judge: should my wife stop giving secondhand presents to my family?

<span>Illustration: Igor Bastidas/The Guardian</span>
Illustration: Igor Bastidas/The Guardian

The prosecution: Arjun

My wife’s obsession with secondhand shopping apps is getting out of control

My wife, Deepika, can’t stop online shopping on secondhand sites. She’s always been thrifty, but in the last few years our daughter has shown her how to use secondhand shopping apps and she’s become obsessed.

Deepika’s favourite app is Vinted, but before that it was Facebook Marketplace and eBay. She wants everything secondhand. All her clothes and hair products – even some underwear.

It started when she wanted to have a clear-out of her wardrobe a few years ago.

She sold old outfits and stuff in our garage. I didn’t mind at first as it meant we got rid of a lot of clutter. But she also tried to sell my old garden tools and a pair of work shoes, and I had to stop her. Deepika then started buying everything on secondhand sites. We needed a new sofa, and she said, “Oh, let’s get it off eBay!” One time we needed a new bedroom mirror for our spare room and she said, “Oh, let’s find it on Gumtree.”

Deepika wants everything second-hand. All her clothes and hair products – even some underwear

Sometimes she finds a bargain, but other times she’ll spend weeks negotiating with the seller over a quid or two. We didn’t have a bedroom mirror for ages because the one she bought was scratched. She sent it back and then had to fight for a refund. Her addiction to finding bargains costs us time, and I don’t like to see her going back and forth messaging strangers over rubbish. I find it stressful.

When it comes to presents for our wedding anniversary or Christmas, Deepika wants to buy everything secondhand. We’ve been married for 40 years, so I don’t really need any gifts from my wife, but I draw the line at buying secondhand presents for other people, like my sister and our family friends.

Deepika wants to buy things like soaps and unopened gift sets from online marketplaces. There are a lot of fakes on these sites so I don’t want her giving something to my cousin that’s not the real thing. That would be embarrassing. I once saw a programme about how legitimate-looking makeup and perfumes sold on secondhand websites, which claim the product is “unopened” or “brand new”, are actually fakes and full of chemicals.

Deepika mustn’t sell my things, or give my family bad presents.

The defence: Deepika

People throw out so much good stuff that’s nearly new – why not recycle it and save some money?

Arjun has always loved how resourceful and thrifty I am – that’s why he married me. I don’t know why he’s complaining when really, my secondhand shopping habit means that we save a lot of money and find some really beautiful, unique things.

Our daughter got me into this a couple of years ago. She’s like me, very savvy. I used to think it was all really complicated but then she installed the apps on my phone and it was easy to get going. I started clearing out all our unworn clothes, which were gathering dust under the bed. Arjun joked I was running around taking photos of everything to sell, but within a month I’d made £400 from our old clutter.

I’m retired now and Arjun works part-time in accounting to keep busy and get out of the house. I guess this is my part-time job. But recently, I’ve been selling less and buying more, which is probably why he doesn’t like it as much. I’ve got very into buying everyone’s presents off eBay or Vinted. And when we need to get some bits for the house, I turn to secondhand online shopping. It just makes sense.

I don’t know why he’s complaining when really, my second-hand online shopping means that we save a lot of money

People throw out so many things that are as good as new, so why not upcycle or recycle, and save some money in the process? I have got into a few disagreements with buyers when they haven’t labelled things properly, or have been misleading about the condition of an item. Arjun sees me getting flustered and says “it’s not worth it” but I always win in the end.

I am not sure why he thinks secondhand gifts will all be fakes. I once gifted his sister a gorgeous poncho I found online. Yes, it had been previously worn, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell. And she loved it.

Also, I don’t find secondhand shopping embarrassing. Arjun secretly thinks that getting secondhand things online means you can’t afford better quality things. He’s always been a bit flashier than me, and maybe a bit more self-conscious too. But I don’t care what people think – and at his age, he shouldn’t either. If I can get away with gifting him or his family secondhand items this Christmas, then I will. They don’t actually need to know.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Deepika stop buying secondhand gifts?

Saving money while reducing waste surely makes a virtue of Deepika’s secondhand habit. But she should consider being more transparent about gifting secondhand items – Arjun’s family will appreciate her thoughtful gifts regardless of their provenance.
Alex, 29

Decluttering, a bit of extra income and buying secondhand are all great, but there is a limit! Who buys used underwear? Arjun is right about the secondhand makeup and toiletries – his family won’t be overjoyed by Deepika’s secondhand Christmas presents; they will just think she is tight-fisted.
Harry, 54

Deepika could be obsessed with worse things than secondhand sites and it sounds like she only gifts items after careful consideration of their condition; they can be unique and cheaper than new. Arjun seems to have something against secondhand items.
Emma, 31

I also hate receiving secondhand presents. Except for hard-to-obtain or vintage items, it’s time for Deepika to stop gifting secondhand items. She’s prioritising “pre-loved” over the right gift. Having now decluttered, maybe Deepika needs to stop buying.
Lesh, 67

Online shopping and bartering can be a hobby and if the gifts aren’t hurting anyone, why shouldn’t you both save a bit of cash in the process? It does become a problem, though, when you spend more than you have.
Sidney, 18

Now you be the judge

In our online poll below, tell us: is it time for Deepika to stop buying secondhand items online?

The poll closes at 10am GMT on Thursday 14 December

Last week’s result

We asked if Abena should lay off making lists of chores for her flatmates.

64% of you said yes – Abena is guilty

36% of you said no – Abena is innocent