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Safer Dealing


I'll Lock Up
Cleveland, OH
In the wake of recent discussions about buying and selling, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips on how to avoid disappointment and getting ripped off.

I'm posting this as a working draft, and if others have suggested edits, I'm soliciting all advice in order to make this a better document. When it's ready, perhaps the Bartenders may see fit to move it to the Classified forum and pin it.

Advice for Selling:
  1. The higher the value, the more care and caution you should exercise.
  2. Be as detailed as possible in your listing. Know the definition of words that you're using, and use them correctly. If you don't know or aren't sure, be honest about that. If someone offers a correction for your listing, accept it graciously, seek confirmation, correct the record, and give credit/thanks where due.
  3. At a minimum, you should include the following information in your listing: Maker, model number or name, size, color, measurements, condition, price, terms of sale.
  4. Additional information is always appreciated: age of the item, how long you've had it, any repairs or modifications you're aware of, who they were performed by if you know, whether you're the original owner or not, any interesting trivia about the maker, model, previous owner (for example, if they were famous, or used the item professionally, like a racing or police jacket).
  5. Take good, clear photos, in good light, with good focus. If you can take good photos with your phone's camera, great, but if not, consider using a "proper" camera. If you have things like tripods, backdrops, lighting, etc., use it. Often it's not necessary, but good photos help sell your stuff more than anything, and investing a little time into doing it right will help you sell faster, and get the full value out of your stuff.
  6. Camera and screen technologies both replicate colors imperfectly. If the color of your item is difficult to capture in photos, mention this, and try to describe in words how it's different.
  7. Take accurate measurements. Offer to take additional measurements if a prospective buyer asks, but try to provide all the usual measurements up front. Know how to take the measurements correctly. Take photos showing how the measurement was obtained, to avoid misunderstandings and disputes.
  8. Strive for accuracy in your descriptions. Do your homework and research what you have if you're not sure what it is. If you don't know and can't find information any other way, you can ask questions on the appropriate forum and someone who knows more likely than not will tell you.
  9. Be complete and honest in your assessment of the item's condition. Document the condition of your item, using good photos, close ups as necessary. Use video if you need to.
  10. I recommend to use "Upload a file" and host the images directly on the forum, rather than use an external host like photobucket. Images on external hosts tend to disappear with time.
  11. You set the price. How you do this is up to you. Price the item at a value that you're happy to sell it at. Everything has its price, and the value of a thing is what someone is willing to pay for it. For any item, there's a range of values that are reasonable. Pick a reasonable price. If you want or need to sell quickly, price it lower. If you want to get all the value out of the item, price it higher and be prepared to wait. If you are willing to negotiate, pad your asking price a bit, and know what your bottom price is. If your prices are firm, say so up front. If you're willing to negotiate, you can say "reasonable offers considered". If you're open to trades, say what you're looking for. Basically, help your buyer get to closing with less questions and negotiations.
  12. Deal with prospective buyers on a first-come, first-served basis. This avoids putting pressure on buyers to close a deal on a desirable item before the terms of sale can be fully ironed out and agreed to. Removing this time pressure helps to enable both buyer and seller to feel comfortable with their agreement. Respond to all buyers, answering any questions they may have, and let them know if you're already in negotiations with someone else. If you don't close the sale with the first buyer, follow up with the next buyer.
  13. Know who you're dealing with. Our reputations as forum members can go a long way toward building trust. But anything can happen. You are always assuming some risk. Even if your buyer is totally honest, things can get damaged or lost in shipping. This is why shipping insurance exists. Shipping insurance doesn't cover theft after delivery. Theft after delivery claims are all but impossible to verify, unless the recipient has security cameras. Even then, I suppose someone could fake video of a thief stealing a package who is actually a trusted accomplice, or the buyer themselves, masked or disguised.
  14. Terms. How are you willing to accept payment? Where are you willing to ship? How quickly is payment due? How quickly do you promise to ship once payment is received? How will you package it? Will you accept a return and under what conditions? State this up front in your listing, and/or discuss it during negotiations. Make sure your buyer understands and agrees.
  15. Payments. Understand how the payment system you agree to works. Most of us use PayPal, but there are other methods. PayPal friends/family avoids fees and once the money is sent, the sender has no recourse to Buyer Protection claims. This advantages the seller. PayPal Goods & Services incurs fees and makes Buyer Protection claims possible. For this reason most sellers prefer Friends/Family transactions, and often ask the buyer to cover the transaction fee, if needed. As a seller, I've always allowed the Buyer to choose the method they're comfortable with, and most buyers have opted to save the fees and forego the Buyer Protection. I haven't had a problem to date. In part, because I try to follow the advice I've given above, but also because I've always been fortunate to get to deal with good people.
  16. Packaging. Package the item well. A sturdy box protects better than a poly bag. A plastic barrier will protect the item inside the box against moisture. Use adequate padding if the item is delicate. Fill void space in the box to avoid the item jostling around and getting marred or broken. Don't cram an item into a too-small box in order to try to save on shipping. Seal the box properly with adequate packaging tape.
  17. Shipping. Affix the shipping label properly with adequate packaging tape or other appropriate adhesive. Double check the address is correct, legible, and printed in non-soluable ink. (Inkjet printers use water-based ink that will smear and blur if exposed to water. Cover it with tape to protect it, or use a laserjet printer. If hand-writing the address use an indelible ink pen and write very clearly.) Double check the weight is accurate. Buy adequate postage. Buy adequate insurance, or accept the risk of not doing so. Once you have payment, shipping insurance is really protecting the buyer, so offer them the opportunity to decline it, and make sure they understand the risk. Require a signature for delivery acceptance.
  18. Treat the buyer as you would wish to be treated, and you'll have far fewer problems. But also act in such a way that if the buyer turns out to have bad motive, you are minimizing your risk at each step. Mostly this means not shipping until you have secured your payment, and if you are exposed to a potential buyer protection claim, documenting everything pre-sale as much as possible, to the point of paranoia.
  19. Post sale, if you had a good experience, mention it publicly on the site. This helps the buyer establish a reputation and enjoy smooth transactions with other sellers.


I'll Lock Up
Cleveland, OH
I exceeded the 10000 character limit, so here's part two for Buyers.

Advice for Buying:

  1. The higher the price, the more care and caution you should exercise.
  2. Be more careful about international sales. Not because foreigners are less trustworthy, but because the laws are more complicated and reaching someone in another country who ripped you off is far more difficult.
  3. Prefer to deal with known members who have a good reputation as much as possible.
  4. Message the seller privately to indicate interest, rather than comment below the post. It's OK to comment "PM inbound" to let them and others know of your interest, but negotiations should be handled privately.
  5. In your message, if you're serious about buying, planning to make an offer, or to pay the full price, contingent on whatever questions you have being answered to your satisfaction, let them know this up front -- a good seller should consider the first buyer they talk to to have "claim" to the right of refusal, and deal with that person exclusively before turning to someone else, but it helps to know that the buyer intends to make an offer to buy once their questions are answered. Ask any questions you have in one go, if possible, and follow up quickly if you have any lingering questions. If you decide you're not interested, let the seller know as quickly as possible, so they can move on and deal with the next potential buyer.
  6. Ask all questions (and get all answers) before sending money.
  7. Ask your questions in a way that encourages/forces the seller to answer honestly.

    Eg, Don't hint at what answer you want to hear. "Can you double-check the pit-pit measurement? I know you said it's 22", and that's close for me, but I really am hoping it's more like 23," this tips them off that if they want to sell you the jacket, they need to lay the tape in such a way and shoot from such an angle that they can convincingly say it's a 23" pit-pit, whether it really is or not. Rather, ask for the measurements to be verified and shown in a photo; then you can see for yourself what it is, and decide what to do accordingly.
  8. Spell out the terms of the sale to your mutual satisfaction before agreeing to them and before sending money.
  9. Understand that until an offer is accepted, there are no agreements. The seller could sell to someone else, or they could delist the item. The seller can also refuse to sell to you for any reason. They have that right. Good sellers should try not to abuse this right.
  10. If you trust the seller, you may be willing to use Friends/Family payments. It's up to you to decide whether to do this, as you're the one assuming risk by doing so. If you've dealt with them before, or have exchanged enough correspondence that you feel confident in them, it's probably OK. If you don't, be willing to cover the transaction fees. It's only about 3%, so it's pretty cheap insurance against a bad seller.
  11. Don't abuse Buyer Protection. Wait a reasonable amount of time to hear back from someone if there's a legitimate issue under normal circumstances. If the terms that were agreed to are clearly broken, then you should have a case. If it's debatable, discuss it with the seller first, and see if you can't come to a reasonable agreement about it. If it's a very minor issue, consider whether it's worth raising.
  12. When you receive the item, secure it as quickly as possible if the courier leaves it in a location where it could be intercepted or stolen.
  13. Inspect the packaging before opening, and document any issues you see, if there are any. If it looks damaged, or wet, or like it may have been opened, take photos or video of this before proceeding.
  14. Open the package carefully. If using a knife to cut the package open, be cautious not to damage the contents.
  15. Inspect the item carefully, documenting with a still camera or video any discrepancies in condition or description.
  16. Try the item on and verify fit. Most people selling here do not guarantee fit, as it is far too subjective and variable. At best, sellers will guarantee their measurements, and this is usually done by providing photos showing how the measurement was obtained. If you can verify the measurement by taking it the same way it is shown in the photo, the seller has done their part in representing the item honestly.
  17. If there's a problem, try to work it out with the seller privately, before going public with it.
  18. If there's no problem, most sellers will appreciate hearing from you, just to know that all is well, to give them peace of mind.
  19. If the seller did their part, but the item just doesn't work for you, typically it's common to re-list it under the same terms you bought it under, as a "catch and release" sale. Some buyers even relist on the same Classified thread the item was originally listed on. This is useful as it creates continuity and builds history for the item.

    It's less common to offer the item for more money, and some in the community may look down on that. We generally do not try to profit from each other here. But it's fine to profit from a sale if you happened to score a great deal on something purchased from the outside. Occasionally a buyer may try to re-sell for less money, in the event they paid too much and need to sell at a more reasonable price. I mention this because it's possible, but I can't think of a time I've seen it, other than when the re-seller is being one helluva guy (or wants a quick sale). Typically leather jackets don't depreciate all that much just from being shipped and tried on, so don't expect a re-listed jacket to be cheaper, necessarily, is what I'm saying. In all cases, the seller decides what price they will offer to sell for, and it's up to the buyer to say whether they're willing to pay it or not.
  20. If the purchase went well, publicly mention it on the sale listing afterward, so that the rest of the community knows. This will help build the seller's reputation.
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Great list, @Guppy and if I man, I'll just add one more tip to the Advice for Buyers list...

21. The moment you decide to contact the seller, please psyche yourself into believing that you already paid for the item - Even if you are not sure yet about certain technicalities, like size, etc.

This is extremely important because even though you may initially be absolutely determined to buy the item, your conviction might and oftentimes will change and all the early indications that the item might be not be for you, signs that you chose to ignore, will only become more & more apparent as the transaction progresses.

This happened to all of us but experienced buyers pick up on these cues early on and know how not to succumb to the temptation of showing active interest.

And if it comes to worst and you decided to back out of the deal, messaging the seller with a simple "I'm sorry but I’ll pass" is sufficient and better than simply leaving them on ignore.
Remember; if you showed interest, the seller undoubtedly has a lot of other people waiting in line, which they put on hold, while waiting for you.
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I'll Lock Up
Cleveland, OH
Further thoughts...

  1. Sellers often list their items on ebay (or sites like Grailed, etc.) in addition to posting about them here. If you trust the seller, you may arrange to buy from them outside of these services, in order to avoid the fees associated with those services. Doing so puts more risk on both the seller and the buyer, but it often works out to their mutual advantage since removing these fees can enable a more favorable price to be negotiated. However, if you are dealing with someone who does not have enough reputation for trust to have been earned, you can always conduct the sale through the ebay (or whatever) listing, which should provide a bit of additional protection for both parties.
  2. If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the photos: Scammers often use photos taken from Google image search (often photos originally posted to this very site) to sell a non-existent item (or at least, an item not in their possession). You can use reverse image searches to find whether a photo has been posted somewhere on the internet before, which can indicate that it is a "stolen" image. But sometimes this is legitimate (a buyer re-selling a jacket might re-use the original photos the previous owner took of it, for example). A simple way to avoid problem sellers is to ask the seller for more photos. The seller should have no problem doing this and should easily be able to comply. Asking for a time stamp or hand written note showing the date the photo was taken, and was taken by the seller, can alleviate doubts.
  3. As part of the sale negotiations, both parties should exchange each others' full contact information: name, address, phone number, email address. Be cautious if the person you're dealing with uses a PO Box rather than a home address.
What to do if you find yourself a victim of a scam
  1. Document everything. Make sure you have copies of any correspondence, photos, etc. that are under your control, eg saved to your hard drive, or otherwise able to be accessed when you need them. If you do end up going public with your story, you're going to need this information.
  2. Try to settle disputes privately first. Give the other person every opportunity to make things right first.
  3. Publish. If the above fails, go public with your negative experience. This helps the community by spreading awareness so that others can avoid falling victim to the same scammer or the same ploy.
  4. Be prepared for counter-claims. This is the most common tactic when you make a public accusation against anyone; they defend themselves and make charges against you. It often becomes difficult to know who to trust at that point.
  5. Don't be petty. If it's a minor issue, or a case where benefit of the doubt might be given, think twice about publishing a scam report. Ask yourself is it really worth it? False or petty scam reports can backfire, hurting your reputation and make it harder for others to trust you. It's not that we don't want to hear about real problems.
  6. Don't get into a "war" over it. If/when the other party responds, try to avoid a protracted back-and-forth over the issue. State your claim, present all evidence, then rest your case. Try to respond to the other party as little as possible after that. Remember, you already tried to settle it with them privately first, right?
  7. "Just the facts." Be factual and do not sensationalize your claims. Be as fair as possible in your account of what happened, acknowledging any possibility that what happened may not have been the other person's fault, or where you could be wrong about what you know. Don't slander, and resist temptation to show you're emotionally upset. We know it's upsetting. But focus on what's helpful.
  8. Use the means at your disposal to seek remedy. If you have any kind of buyer protection, whether through PayPal, or your credit card, invoke it. You may also refer cases to local authorities, who may or may not have resources to intervene. Filing a police report may be helpful. You may also contact the postal service, who have some resources to investigate mail fraud. If the dollar value of the item is below a certain point, it may not be worth the time, but for high dollar items, it can be. Even if the authorities can (or won't) do anything, a police report can be necessary in order to file an insurance claim.
  9. Live and learn. If you can't get your money (or your item) back, look at what happened and try to learn from it. How could you avoid getting taken in the same way next time? Also try to keep your eyes/ears open and learn from the unfortunate experiences of others.

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