Tuesday, April 23, 2013

RULES for BUYING & SELLING on the Forum & Blog

This was a post I made on the Forum that also applies to the Blog so I am posting it here as well

There was a recent issue with 2 members on the Rep Lovers Forum who completed a private sale and afterwards the buyer filed a dispute because she felt the item was not as described. The seller posted her part of the story and so far I don't think the buyer has responded. But whatever the case I have no way of knowing what exactly happened since there are always 2 sides to a story so I decided to post a list of Rules for Buying and Selling on the forum which also applies to this blog.

First let me just say that neither the Forum or the Blog are meant to be a Selling Venue, they were intended to be a place where we could share information on mingle with like minded people. Being able to buy and sell our pre-loved items are a Wonderful Bonus but that is was never the purpose.

So with that said here are what you as a Buyer or a Seller MUST DO before completing a transaction with another member.

Step 1 for Sellers
If you are going to list an item for sale please provide as many pictures as possible from various angles and close-ups. Point out any flaws, imperfections and signs of wear that you notice and make sure to describe the condition of the product, whether it is NEW never used but has defects or if it has been used and show signs of wear. We are only human and mistakes can happen or you might miss something that's why I prefer to take detailed pictures because my vision is poor so I can't see very well. With pictures I can enlarge and zoom in on every single aspect of the item and be able to point out any flaws accurately.

I realize it is not always possible to provide clear pictures due to quality of camera, poor lighting etc. but even if you were to use a phone camera you can shoot your items in natural light which I feel is the best lighting. It shows the truest colors of the items. You can do this near a large window where there is the most light but preferably not in direct sunlight as that may cause sharp contrast and shadows. Pictures shot outdoors later during the evening like around 6-7 when the sun isn't so bright but it is light enough to see produces the best results. These are just suggestions so just do the best you can.

Step 1 for Buyers
Ask ALL Questions and request more pictures if you need them but do this PRIOR to making a purchase. If you are not satisfied with what you see DO NOT BUY it!

Step 2 for Seller

Make sure you let the buyer know your terms and conditions. Please list these terms in your original post preferably at the bottom right after your description.

For example would you accept returns, exchanges or issue refunds if the item is damaged, or if the buyer feels the item does not match your pictures and/or descriptions? Try to be thorough and let them know exactly what you are willing to do and make sure they understand and agree to those terms before you sell to them.

The best way to be thorough is to put yourself in the Buyer's shoes and think what would you want to know before you purchase from a stranger online? I recommend that any questions by the buyer and your answers in regards to TERMS be posted on the same thread so that there is a trail which can later be used to clear up possible issues. This is only a suggestion. If you chooses to communicate in Private than it will be your word against theirs and nothing for anyone to go by.

Personally I will now ask my Buyers to state in the thread that they HAVE READ AND ACCEPT MY TERMS before buying and I recommend all sellers do the same so there are no misunderstandings. However this is not a requirement, only a suggestion because it will show clearly that they saw and understood your conditions. But I will also add that I only require this of people I have never sold to previously or for those that I do not know well enough.

It is each seller's right to set their own Terms of Sale but as an example I will list mine which I have not had to provide previously but I will do so from now to avoid issues like the one that occurred on the forum. I think if both parties understands exactly what they are agreeing to in advance there are less chances of issues.

I accept PayPal for purchases only if I have to ship the item and Cash for local pick-ups. Buyers can PayPal me or I can send an invoice. I DO NOT ask for payments to be marked as a "Gift" although I have had buyers do that anyway on their own. You should mark them as "GOODS" to show it was for the purchase of a product which will require a tracking # from the seller. I know Kim (aka PurseLover23) requires payments marked as "Gift" and I understand her reasons for doing so but for me I want people to feel they have some protection because I do not expect people to just trust me especially when they only know me online. And like someone pointed out, if you send payments marked as "Gift" you may end up receiving an empty box from a dishonest seller and there's nothing you can do to get your $ back. Therefore if you send payment marked as a "Gift" you should only do so with members you trust.

And the reason I ask for Cash for local pick-ups is because I will not have any record of the sale. If someone PayPal's me the $ and picks the item up in person they can open a dispute and claim that I never shipped the product, which is essentially true, so they would get their $ back and I am out of $ and product but that is a risk I am willing to take for now. But I cannot accept checks which are risky for obvious reasons.

In regards to RETURNS, I consider ALL SALES FINAL however, I will make an exception for the following scenarios:

A) The product is damaged upon arrival. In this case I require pictures within 2 days of receipt/delivery to prove the damages. That means if you received it on Monday you must send pictures by midnight on Wednesday. And I may or may not require the item to be returned. If I ask for it to be returned I will issue a FULL REFUND including ALL Shipping charges. All returns should be postmarked on the 3rd day (excluding Sundays & Holidays) so in the above example your package should be postmarked by the postal service showing it was scanned on the 3rd day which would be Thursday based on the above example.

B) Buyers have 2 DAYS from the date of receipt/delivery to inspect the item carefully. If it falls apart within those 2 days than I will take it back. If it happens on the 3rd day regardless of whether you've used it or not, I am not responsible. I DID NOT make the product and as long as it was in good working condition when it was shipped and it was fine when the buyer received it for 2 days after receipt, what happens afterwards is no longer my responsibility.

Only damages or flaws that were not listed in the description or pointed out in the photos or videos will be acceptable for returns. If they were clearly noted on the original listing than you knew about them and bought it anyway which makes them acceptable.

I WILL NOT make Partial Refunds. I will issue a FULL Refund or None at all and here's why. There are dishonest buyers that will intentionally take things apart and send pictures claiming it broke and ask for the item to be discounted or a partial refund than afterwards put it back together (i.e. loose screws). I WILL NOT DO THIS. If something falls apart send me pictures by the 2nd day as noted above and ship it back on the 3rd day only if I ask that you do so and a Full Refund including shipping will be issued upon receipt.

In the scenario on the forum, where the buyer determines the item was NOT made of leather but the seller posted that it was leather, well if this were to happen to me I am sorry but I do my best to show clear and detailed pictures and sometimes videos along with written reviews but mistakes can still happen, we're only human. If my seller tells me the item was leather and I couldn't tell the difference when I received it I will assume he/she was honest and describe it the same way it was described to me. If later on it was found to be false, I DID NOT lie to you. I merely repeated what I was told and what I believed to be true. I am not going to perform any testing before I sell something, I don't have time for that therefore anything I sell is being sold AS IS. If the buyer can't accept these terms they are free to buy elsewhere it would not hurt my feelings one bit. However, the chances of this happening is not likely. There is a distinct difference between Leather and Plastic and I am fairly confident I can tell the difference.

If the buyer decides to BUY after they have accepted my terms and then file a chargeback or dispute thru PayPal than so be it. I might lose a little $ but I will never deal with that person again and they will be BANNED from the Forum. If you agree to accept the terms and change your mind after the fact than you are the one being dishonest.

Keep in mind that there are always risks involved when buying online whether through a private seller or a quantity seller. Some sellers will accept returns or offer refunds however I an individual who sells a very limited amount of items and usually at a loss so I cannot afford to offer generous return policies. But I feel I am being fair by at least allowing my buyer 2 DAYS from the date of delivery to inspect everything carefully and if flaws are found that were not pointed out in the listing/pictures/videos than you must report it to me with pictures by the 2nd DAY of receipt.

If the buyer claims they were not home at the time of delivery so they were not able to inspect it within those 2 days than I am sorry but 2 DAYS are all I will give regardless of whether you're home or not so if you know you'll be away than ask me to ship to you when you know you will be home. From here on out I will make this clear to all buyers before accepting their $.

Once an item is sold an Admin/Moderator will LOCK the thread so that changes to the terms originally set and the acceptance of the buyer cannot later be changed on the sly.

Step 2 for Buyers
If the seller does not give you his/her terms or some parts are not clear ASK QUESTIONS BEFORE purchasing NOT AFTERWARDS! If you DO NOT agree with any part of their terms or are not satisfied that they are clear than DON'T BUY. Go with your instincts, sometimes it is your best guide. Mine isn't so great but I hear people say this all the time lol.

Also please post all questions pertaining to TERMS on the original seller thread if that is where you are conducting the transaction. That way there is a clear trail of what was said before the sale. Once a sale has been completed the thread will be locked by an admin or moderator to prevent the terms or acceptance of terms be altered by a dishonest buyer/seller.

If the sale was conducted outside the forum then I wish you luck in resolving any issues. If the transaction occurred on this blog it will be considered a private sale because there is no way for me to moderate and as my disclaimer reads I DO NOT get involved with transactions that are not my own. I am only liable for myself period.

Step 3 for Both Buyer & Seller
Always give the other party a way to contact you. A private email is best but personally I don't mind also giving my phone number but that's just me, everyone else should do what they are comfortable with.

And if you made the transaction on the forum it does not mean you should only contact that person through the forum. And using someone's log in as a basis of whether they are ignoring your PM's or Emails is not right. For example I am set to ALWAYS be Logged On. In fact I am logged On permanently on 3 different computers. I don't know why it doesn't kick me off of one when I go to another but right now I am logged in on my home PC, my iPad and my work PC but that doesn't mean I am permanently glued to my monitor. I will sometimes take a few minutes to glance at the forum or blog but might not be able to respond right away or I may not even see your message. However, if the seller is fine with being contacted only through the forum than that's fine too.

Step 4 for Both Buyer & Seller
If you have an issue with another member on the forum you are welcome to post for advice or privately ask any member you are comfortable with. It doesn't have to be an Admin or Moderator. We are not Judges for this sort of thing and there are ALWAYS 2 sides to a story so there's no way we would know who is telling the truth and who isn't. However if a certain member is found to be dishonest or a scammer and it CAN and HAS been proven without a doubt than all we can do is BAN them from the Forum. We can't help you recover your $ so both Buyer & Seller should consider the risks involved and ask themselves are they willing to accept them and the conditions set by the other party. If the answer is NO or you aren't sure than you should NOT complete a transaction with that member.

Step 5 for Seller
Jen suggested a great idea of adding a Security Tag that if removed by the BUYER the item is NOT Returnable. This is to ensure that the buyer does not send you a different bag claiming damages or flaws that were not listed. I actually do the same thing for my Authentic Bags but probably will not do so on replicas. It just depends on how much I spent on it and how much I am selling the item for. This is not a requirement, only a suggestion.

I am sorry for the long post but I wanted to be thorough. If anyone else have suggestions please feel free to let me or one of the other Admins/Moderators know by either commenting on this thread or sending a PM/Email to any of the Admin/Moderator you feel most comfortable with. If the condition is fair it will be added to the list.

These Rules are Effective as of Wednesday, April 24th so please make sure you follow them. They are here to help you and hopefully prevent any issues.
For items listed prior to April 24th, the seller can go back and add their terms later on or the buyer can request them prior to purchasing but any NEW listings starting on the 24th MUST all have Terms Clearly Stated within the Listing.

Also these terms may be edited from time to time on an as needed basis. If there are changes made the admin/moderator responsible for the change must make a post announcing there has been a revision so that members have a chance to keep themselves updated.

Thank you for taking the time to read!

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