Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How to Avoid Trouble When Buying and Selling Online

Recently on Facebook in one of the groups, someone did not honor a transaction.  I posted a cautionary note on Facebook, explaining how to be careful.  I want to expand on it here.

1.  Do not mail items before you receive payment unless you know the other person quite well and know they can be trusted.

2.  Do not trade items with another person unless you know that person quite well and know they can be trusted.  If you offer items for trade and someone you don't know well responds, the person who responds to your offer should mail their items first.  You should wait to receive the items from the other person before you mail anything.

3.  Be very cautious about sending people free items.  Some people have a habit of asking many people for free items, and they get more free items than any of us can imagine.

4.  Conduct all negotiations in such a manner that the other person cannot delete record of the negotiations.  On Facebook, the negotiations should be through private messages, because neither person can delete the messages.  If you negotiate through a message thread in a group, the person who started the thread can delete everything so as to remove all record of what transpired.  This is also true for comments.   If you respond to a comment in a Facebook group and negotiate there, the person who made the original comment can delete the comment and your responses.  That's apparently what happened on Facebook.

5.  If someone sounds a bit desperate or is rather bold in how they contact you, be very careful.  I find that people who come across as desperate tend to fall victim to temptation much more easily than others.  In other words, desperate people are willing to do anything to get what they want.

On eBay, desperate buyers contact sellers of valuable items asking them to end the auction early.  They will tell the seller that they need the item quickly, because they have a sick relative who is about to die and would just love to have that item before death.  What they don't tell the seller is how valuable the item is and that they want the auction ended so that they can purchase it for a low price.  Never close an auction early at a buyer's request.

6.  Be wary of anybody who comes across as overly friendly.  These are the people who send private messages giving you wonderful compliments.  They act like you are their new best friend during the very first exchange of messages.  If you have a transaction with one of these people on eBay, they might tell you that they will leave you "glowing feedback." 

I have had several people who were overly friendly with me at first who later turned on me, attacked me, or tried to take advantage of me in some fashion.

7.  Be wary of anybody who reveals too much information.  If somebody tells you about their life story, their disabilities, or other revealing information, you should be careful.  That information is irrelevant in a business transaction.

8.  Do not reveal your insecurities.  If you are a new seller or do not feel knowledgeable about what you are selling, don't reveal that information to your buyers.  This is because dishonest buyers will use that against you.  They look for inexperienced sellers to target with their schemes.

9.  Be wary of sellers who declare how honest they are in their descriptions.  I have encountered a few sellers who made a point of stating that they were "honest sellers" and then proved later by their actions that they weren't honest at all.  It's a red flag.

Since I'm sure some of you are already getting upset, I must state that I am well aware that some honest people volunteer that information in their listings.  However, telling people you are honest is not necessary and sounds strange.  Think about it:  Would you walk into a store, approach management, and declare that you are an honest customer?  Don't you think they would wonder about you?  That's why sellers should not make that kind of statement; it sounds odd.

If you follow these guidelines, you can avoid most trouble in your online transactions.

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