Provides an easy-to-use platform where you’ll find items you typically wouldn’t see for rent and can make money renting out items you use only occasionally. Facilitates the transactions. Provides PayPal deposits to insure your items. A calendar shows when items are available.
Too small a community to be useful right now. The service will stop being free come 2008.
We all have a ton of stuff we barely use that’s just gathering dust in the garage or closet. You could justify your purchase of that cordless drill or ski set by inventing new ways to use them between uses, but why not put them to work making money for you? Zilok.com gives you an online place where you can easily do just that and also easily find items you’ll only need for a short time. The creators hope to make their site the one-stop online shop for locating anything you need on a temporary basis.
The site is like a Craigslist for rentals, showing available items in your area, but it also assists in the rental process, giving you the tools needed to set up terms and facilitate the transaction online. For instance, using Zilok search I found someone in the New York City area offering a Nikon D80 Digital-SLR camera and a 2GB memory card at a daily rate of $12 for 1 to 15 days. If that met my needs and budget, I’d send in a rent request, wait for an acceptance from the lender, and then set up a time and place to meet and pay for the item. It’s that simple.
You can sign up for the service as a business (if you’re a professional rental service) or an individual. As a lender, you can give potential customers peace of mind by becoming a verified member. To do so, you supply Zilok with your cell phone number, and in return, you’ll receive a text message confirming your information. Verification links an account to something concrete, giving potential renters more reason to trust you. Member profiles include ratings and customer feedback, which give you a good feel for who it is you’re renting from.
The stipulations you place on items you’re willing to loan out—the per-day price and length of rental—display online on that item’s page. A Zilok-provided rental agreement template for users to sign covers everything that happens in case of damage or lost of rented items. You can also set up a PayPal deposit as insurance on your goods.
To find items for rent, you search by keyword or category, then look at Zilok’s Google Maps mashup, which shows what’s available in your area. You can click on the image of the item to view the terms of rental and the lender’s profile. The item’s specs, supplied by the lender, appear below the map and the rental terms. A helpful calendar on the items page shows when the item is available. When you find something you like, clicking on the rent item button sends you to the booking page where you propose a start and end date for your rental and how long you’re willing to wait for an acceptance reply from the lender.
Once the rental request is accepted things move from the virtual to the actual. The lender and renter set up a meeting location by e-mail, where they meet and hash out the final details, such asmethod, and complete the transaction. After that, Zilok is no longer part of the process. The site doesn’t handle the actual exchange of the item and payment. The rental agreement, which according to Zilok ensures that “the consequences of an incident are governed by this contract and of course by any legislation that is in effect,” confirms the deal and conditions, helping to safeguard both sides.
As of this writing, the service is free, but that may change in less than two months. Starting January 2008, you might have to pay to put items up for rent. Site reps told me they’ll evaluate the site density, and if there are enough users to support it they’ll implement a charging scheme similar to what newspapers charge for classified ads. If there aren’t enough users, the site will remain free until later in 2008.
You can already find places to rent specific items, like cars, tuxedos, power tools—whatever—on- and off-line. But Zilok will create a marketplace where you’ll find not only those items, but others you don’t typically see—all in one place. The site is still too small to be tremendously useful right now. As of this writing there are only about 180 items up for rent in the U.S. I’m also not sure that imposing fees is the best way to promote growth. I doubt craigslist would’ve achieve such massive popularity if it charged a fee, no matter how minimal, to post ads. Regardless, Zilok sounds like a fantastic idea, and I’ll be interested to see if it will work.