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UTLadiesMan 11-26-2002 04:49 AM

UTL's guide to avoid being burned.
So you've reached a deal. Now what? How can you be sure it's legit? I've noticed throughout the years that there are warning signs for being ripped off. I've also noticed that the scam or flim-flam artists on here are usually weaker at their craft than most professionals. Also, since the forums automatically record a user's full history, this is magnified. This being said, you can easily avoid most deception by just checking out the members history and character as well as judging the deal in question.

Obviously, the most secure way to trade over the Internet is to not trade over the Internet. You can't get screwed if you don't give them a chance. Of course there are many benefits to Internet trading as well, so you must ask yourself if the rewards justify the risks. By minimizing these risks, the answer is almost always a resounding 'YES'.

If you are not within travel distance of each other, the first thing you should consider is third party trading. There is very very very little risk involved if you choose the 3rd party carefully. Unfortunately, this is also the most costly choice. Safety costs money, that's why we have insurance. When picking a 3rd party, only trust established shops. Never trust an individual as a 3rd party unless you personally know them to be trustworthy or they are backed by a business you personally know to be trustworthy.

How to pick a shop:

If you are involved in a SALE, that is 'money for merchandise', pick a reliable shop close to the buyer. This way the buyer can evaluate the merchandise before making his final decision. This keeps you from buying a broken product. By having it at a shop close to the buyer, the buyer can show up, test the equipment (or hear the evaluation by a shop employee who has thoroughly tested the equipment) and exchange money (preferably MO) with the merchant right then. The buyer has the merchandise, and the seller will receive their payment soon. (It is up to the shop owner to verify address and payment amount and send letter, but be courteous and have an unsealed stamped addressed envelope ready.)

If you are involved in a TRADE, that is 'product for product', select a shop near either side. Courtesy is toward the one who RESPONDED to the post or F/T ad. (he takes the place of the buyer, and the customer's always right) This is trumped if either side is including a sizable amount of cash. (That way the more expensive item is tested more thoroughly by the other party before purchase. Cash can't be broken.) Once the shop receives the product through the mail, the other is brought in and both are tested. In this case, it's polite for the shop owner to e-mail a written evaluation of the product along with CURRENT pictures from all angels to the other party. When he/she gives the OK, the shop ships it out, and the nearby owner can stop by at his leisure.

If the shop is at the other person's home town, be sure to check it out. View a web page, call them, and check for reviews on here. If you aren't confident in the shop, request somewhere else! If both parties cannot agree on a 3rd party location near to one of them, there are several other options available. Palmer's Pursuit offers a 3rd party service that includes a checkup and testing. However, it's $35 per gun, but includes UPS insured ground.

The problem with picking a site out of town is usually shipping, not the shop charge. This can add up, as you should always ship INSURED. If you can't agree on one of the above options, you should rethink them.

UTLadiesMan 11-26-2002 04:54 AM

Better or cheaper?
There is a better option than 3rd party, and much cheaper. This is face to face trading. This is of course usually not an option, but if it is you should jump at the chance to trade with someone near you. Both of you get your stuff that day, and if you meet at a field, there is nothing better than testing your new gun for a day of real play first. Many regional boards have trader sections, and if you have this available to you, at least look there first as it is your safest option.

UTLadiesMan 11-26-2002 05:12 AM

OK, OK, what about the other person?
Characteristics of a flim-flam-man. If you see any of the following, halt all together or proceed with extreme caution.
  • As KK put it, a "fly-by-nighter". If the guy has been on here 2 days and has 20 F/S/T posts, avoid him like the plague.
  • Someone whose name appears in this forum with the words "BAD TRADER" anywhere in the same post. Note, having posts for being a GOOD TRADER doesn't necessarily make it so. He may have friends or other accounts posing as previous buyers to bump his ratings. (ask us for an IP check if you are unsure)
  • I hate to be cliche-y... but "If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is!" You see a guy who has an Angel for $100, it's either hot or fake. He MAY be telling the truth, but in this case the risks definitely outweigh the rewards.
  • If the guy has been banned from a few places before or is currently in trouble with us, it reflects poorly on his character. A person's character follows them through all of their actions.
  • If he insists on breaking the courtesy rules below, he's probably not on the level. The only case otherwise is if he's been ripped before and is overly-cautious. You should request a 3rd party near you, or near neither of you. Don't let him push you into a shop near his home.
  • His address is a PO box. This really isn't a big flashing neon sign like those above, but it can mean something. PO boxes are often for specific uses, and if that use is collecting money from online trading, something's wrong. (please note, you cannot ship large boxes to PO boxes)
  • Does not have a picture. I know many people don't have a digi-cam, but they could borrow one if they really tried. If they can't prove they have the product, ship 3rd party.
  • Has many many items up for sale at the same time.
  • Routinely "jumps" at first offer. If he has 5 things up for sale and his first post after the initial one is always an acceptance, something is wrong.

Things to look for in a good trader:
  • Been here for a long time.
  • Many many posts and is generally well respected by the other members.
  • Is a mod. ;)
  • Is an owner or employee of a paintball related business and can provide proof. (if employee, e-mail or call employer for verification if you need to. A 30 cent phone call is insurance money well spent.)
  • Is nice when you talk to him. So many times people cuss me out after asking them a question. I hit the block button in those cases.

UTLadiesMan 11-26-2002 05:40 AM

What is this courtesy I keep hearing about?
There is some general courtesy traders should follow. These usually stem from common ways to be cheated, so they should be followed. If the other party insists on "break them or there is no trade", then don't trade. (or do 3rd party)
  • Never EVER mail cash.
  • Only use a Personal check if all other options are unavailable. They take too long to cash. Seller gets money late, buyer gets product late.
  • If you receive a check, wait for it to clear before shipping. If you ship too soon, you may get nothing.
  • DO use a MONEY ORDER, CASHIER'S CHECK or CREDIT CARD. A MO and CC are as good as cash. When the seller gets it, he KNOWS he has the money right now. However, there are no risks like cash. Mail can get lost, it happens. Cash evaporates when lost. It's gone. Forever. (to you at least) A MO or CC leaves a paper trail. If absolutely necessary, the money is retrievable. All major credit cards also offer a guarantee with them. I bought something right before the Internet bubble burst and the company went bankrupt. It took 30 minutes to get my money back. They credited it right away, stopped payment to the company, and investigated it later. I got the benefit of the doubt though and received the full amount immediately. (I usually use a Post Office MO. It's cheap, you're there anyway, it's backed by a government agency, and if you get reamed they are more able to investigate mail fraud than anyone else)
  • When buying, ship money first. If you feel uncomfortable, use 3rd party.
  • Always ship insured. I usually ship 2 day post with insurance. Overnight is just too much, and 2-day is only like $1-2 more than standard parcel post, but gets there ~2 days faster.
  • Always empty tanks fully before shipping. Never ship a full tank or CO2 cartridges. This is not only stupid, it's a felony.
  • Always keep your MO or CC receipt and stub. You will need these for tracking. If the other party claims they never got the MO, you can either prove or disprove them with the stub. Either way, you can only stop payment on it if you have the original stub.

These are things I do for personal preference. It's a good list to follow as it makes both parties happier.
  • Keep in contact with each other. It makes the process smoother.
  • Keep in contact afterward. Make sure the other side is happy with the transaction.
  • When mailing payment, include an index card with your address clearly written in permanent black ink. (Sharpie works best) When the person receives it, the can just use some clear packing tape to put it on. Ta-da, no lost mail. Also, be sure to attach it firmly, and have every inch covered with tape. Water makes Sharpie run, keeping the package from being delivered.
  • Thank the other person, and ask if they want you to leave feedback.

I'll probably come back and edit some of these later, so check back. Also, if you do happen to get reamed, check for a later post of mine. It will describe the process. Good luck, and watch your back!

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