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Author Topic:  selling etiquette
Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post Posted 29 Aug 2007 4:37 pm     Reply with quote

What I object to here is the insinuation that other protocols besides first-come first-served are unethical. They are not, and I already explained why.

Of course, I think it's best if the seller explains the terms up front, regardless of method used. That way, there are no surprises. But this requires that sellers understand how to write a clear ad.

The only way you can really be sure you're being "fair" in a FCFS protocol is to insist that everyone use the same method for communication. A forum post is the best way, because forum posting is pretty much time-synchronized and it puts everything out in the open. It was this entire synchronization issue that brought up this thread - it is not trivial. The ads that people jump on - for stuff that's priced too cheap - are precisely the ones that give rise to a whole bunch of offers to buy at about the same time. IMO, you're just kidding yourselves if you think you're going to fix this problem without dealing with the offer synchronization problem. Somebody's gonna get jacked if they think they offered first and the item goes to someone else.

So all you have to do is convince all sellers that they must always use FCFS arbitrated by the forum post time stamp. For a lot of reasons, I think you can be pretty sure this ain't gonna happen, but good luck. Wink
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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post Posted 29 Aug 2007 5:08 pm     Reply with quote

Dave Mudgett wrote:
A forum post is the best way,


Many of us would not use public posts, because we feel that what we buy and sell is private business.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post Posted 29 Aug 2007 5:39 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
Many of us would not use public posts, because we feel that what we buy and sell is private business.

Bingo! So much for that idea, which was my point.

Fellas - what you're trying to do is like trying to herd cats. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8
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James Cann


From:
Phoenix, AZ
Post Posted 31 Aug 2007 12:57 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
. . . for the good of the forum and bOb we should keep it all on the forum, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to buy an item and find out it was sold off forum days before, with no notice posted.

I agree. On-forum posts provide a clear documentation trail, and each sees his place on it. As for ambiguity of 'offer to sell' and 'agreement to buy,' within the forum we could easily adopt some standard text, but then, we all pretty well know how to make ourselves clear. Time/date issues will take care of themselves (viz. the forum posts per se).

As for privacy of personal selling and buying, forum use as optional is self-evident.
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Wayne Baker


From:
Bridgecreek Oklahoma
Post Posted 31 Aug 2007 3:27 pm     stuff Reply with quote

I would appreciate retailers putting "retailer" in the info block. And the guys that sell Stratocaster/strat wannabee guitars... put "MIM" or "Not A Fender." You could save a reader a lot of time...

Wayne Baker
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Chris LeDrew


From:
Canada
Post Posted 31 Aug 2007 4:59 pm     Reply with quote

Ha-ha..........I love the heading, "For Sale". Rolling Eyes I see it a lot here. Good way to get everyone to look at your ad, though.
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Jerry L Miller


From:
Sublette, Kansas, USA
Post Posted 12 Sep 2007 6:03 am     Reply with quote

Very Happy if i say i'll take it and then the seller backs out, i never respond to his adds again. if i'm selling its the first post on the forum. no confusion this way.......
jerry Very Happy
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 14 Sep 2007 8:34 am     Reply with quote

If I make a purchase , and I have, I pretty much don't really care to have others know my business.

If the seller leaves a phone number I will call, or I will PM and or send an EMAIL.

I don't ever expect to be the only one checking it out. This is just the way it is.

If I sell, and I have , I will offer a phone number.

I come from the place of $$$'s talk, each way, not talking about $$$'s..

It's a tuff call and I can see where there may be confusion or even stress.

When selling it is always up to the SELLER to set the terms and agenda, and that includes how you want prospects to respond.
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Bud Harger


From:
Temple / Belton, Texas
Post Posted 14 Sep 2007 8:56 am     Just my opinion... Reply with quote

...communication is very important.

When I sell something on the Forum, my practice has been that the earliest contact...either e-mail, phone call, answering machine message or Forum post would be order of consideration. Take them one at a time...before moving to the next. There's nothing wrong with telling every contact what's going on and where they stand in the process.

1) If the Buyer asks the Seller to hold it for him:
o "How long?" should be decided.
o A positive agreement between the parties is necessary.
o Both should honor the agreement.

2) If the prospective Buyer says "I'll get back to you":
o The Buyer and Seller should agree on timing.
o After that time expires, the Seller should go to the next Buyer in line.

Not everybody will be happy with this, but I think that it is fair to all concerned.

Good luck.

bUd
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 14 Sep 2007 11:41 am     Reply with quote

I guess I'm in the minority. As far as I can see, the seller's only responsibilty is to make sure that the product is honestly described and that it gets delivered. Other than that, as far as I'm concerned, all bets are off. I also think that if someone comes in at a higher price after you agreed to sell, but no money has actually changed hands, then you have an obligation to offer the instrument to the first buyer at the higher price. If he refuses, than I would sell to who ever was willing to pay the most.

There are lots of reasons to sell to one person and not another: they may be local, you may know them better. And if someone underprices the instrument, they shouldn't be penalized. The seller can sell to whomever he likes at the highest price he can get. They are only instruments. There is another one coming down the pike right after that one.
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Jim Bates


From:
Alvin, Texas, USA
Post Posted 17 Sep 2007 10:03 am     Reply with quote

The first to contact me AND send the money gets it.
If it is a popular item, then I keep a date / time log of e-mails, phone calls or Forum replies. I have ALWAYs found that serious buyers will e-mail or phone me, and I will tell them their place in line.

When I buy something, I do the same.

Anything else can quickly sour the deal.

Thanx,
Jim
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James Cann


From:
Phoenix, AZ
Post Posted 24 Sep 2007 3:44 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
...if someone comes in at a higher price after you agreed to sell, but no money has actually changed hands, then you have an obligation to offer the instrument to the first buyer at the higher price. If he refuses, than I would sell to who ever was willing to pay the most.

...well, now, Bill, would you end up on the phone as money is changing hands (check on the way, somewhere between you two), telling the buyer you will not sell to him per your agreement?

Your before-the-fact offer of first refusal to the buyer with courtesy memo to the higher bidder would be one thing, but is that the case here? Your having a higher offer might be immaterial for the buyer, and this willing-buyer/now-unwilling-seller picture might well be construed as 'bait-and-switch': not good for integrity or reputation.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 24 Sep 2007 8:00 pm     Reply with quote

I think that certainly cuts both ways. Let's take the case of the naive seller who puts up his pristine Fender Stringmaster up for sale that he inherited from his father. He puts it up for $100 not knowing its worth and someone jumps on it and sends the check. While said check is on its way, another offers him $1,500 and tells him the true worth of the guitar. Who is unethical here? The person who knowingly pounced on the naiveté of an unsuspecting seller, or the seller who suddenly realizes that the buyer is taking advantage of him?
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post Posted 24 Sep 2007 8:41 pm     Reply with quote

IMO, the situations I have seen are not "bait and switch", which implies intent. The usual scenario is that several prospective buyers make offers over a very short period of time, even bidding up the price. There's a time synchronization issue, as happened in the case that started this thread, and it often indicates the item was underpriced - sometimes very seriously underpriced out of complete ignorance of the market.

The point is that an "offer to buy" is just that - an "offer to buy", not a meeting of the minds and a contract. Just as we don't generally beat up on a prospective buyer who makes an offer to buy, and then, for whatever reason, quickly backs out - we shouldn't jump on a seller who changes his mind before accepting an offer, but after realizing he has made a mistake.

Of course, all bets are off after accepting an offer to buy, a promise to pay, and so on. At that point - within some limits, as Bill M notes above - there has been a meeting of the minds.

I am concerned that if we get too technical about this kind of stuff, it will just motivate sellers to do "price fishing expeditions" to avoid the appearance of problems. I also think that even a handful of high-profile examples of unknowledgable people getting stung with catcalls of "bait and switch" after they make an honest mistake could undermine the friendly atmosphere that makes this a desirable place to buy and sell among people we know and trust. I genuinely think that jumping on a seller who has stuff priced a third or half of the going market rate for correcting their mistake is not right. If you want to argue that you have a right to force them to sell it at that price - well, I disagree.

Quote:
I think that certainly cuts both ways. Let's take the case of the naive seller who puts up his pristine Fender Stringmaster up for sale that he inherited from his father. He puts it up for $100 not knowing its worth and someone jumps on it and sends the check. While said check is on its way, another offers him $1,500 and tells him the true worth of the guitar. Who is unethical here? The person who knowingly pounced on the naiveté of an unsuspecting seller, or the seller who suddenly realizes that the buyer is taking advantage of him?

I couldn't agree more. In fact, if it's a knowledgable dealer who pounces on this type of deal, I even question whether it's a legal contract after money and goods change hands. Even in my non-lawyer mind, I was made aware of the notion during my vintage guitar dealer days that if an "expert" in a field takes advantage of someone like this, the deal may be open to challenge. I have heard of cases just like this.

This selling forum should not be a purely Darwinian "piranhas vs. guppies" fishbowl, IMO.
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David Doggett


From:
Bawl'mer, MD (formerly of MS, Nawluns, Gnashville, Knocksville, Lost Angeles, Bahsten. and Philly)
Post Posted 25 Sep 2007 7:28 am     Reply with quote

I agree with Dave M. Naive sellers should not feel trapped by the experienced buyers who troll here and jump on steals before the seller can be advised of the true value.

Even in the gray area where the initial price is appropriate, a seller should be able to wait a day or so to see what offers come in. Suppose the first buyer to respond is far away, maybe even outside the country, but a little while later someone nearby offers the same price, but will come by and pick up the item with no shipping hassle. Ideally, the seller would say up front that it is not first-come-first-served. But most sellers here are not professional sellers or buyers, and they just don't necessarily consider all the potential complications and so don't carefully word their post to avoid them. It just doesn't seem right for them to automatically be trapped by a technicality into a deal that is not best for them by the first person who happens to see the post and get in a response.

I do understand the frustration of a buyer who makes an honest offer of the asking price, and gets passed over for someone who contacts the seller later. I understand how that seems unfair and underhanded. But these are mostly informal sales by musicians, not dealers. Holding them to impractical technicalities also seems unfair.

The best solution is for instructions and a sticky that advises sellers to make clear whether the deal is first-come-first-served, or is negotiable, or is an outright auction. And there should be instructions or a sticky warning buyers that unless first-come-first-served is clearly specified, that may not be the case.
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James Cann


From:
Phoenix, AZ
Post Posted 26 Sep 2007 6:58 pm     Reply with quote

I also agree with Dave: taking unfair advantage is only becoming among those who practice it; however, is fair market value even relevant to "willing buyer/willing seller" per se, and for the devil's due, who is responsible for our salvation from naivete?
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post Posted 27 Sep 2007 10:17 am     Reply with quote

It doesn't bother me a wit if a seller and buyer want to agree on a price way below or way above market. Any transaction where both parties willingly agree is fine. "Fair market value" has nothing to do with it, per se.

I only object to setting up any rule which censures sellers or buyers if they decide not to complete a transaction - provided they haven't accepted payment or already gotten the goods. For example, if they decide it would be mistake to sell it far below "fair market value", we should not try to pressure them into conformity with this type of rule, IMO.

There are several other things that might cause someone to back out of a transaction - seller decides he can't really bring himself to part with the item, someone gets seriously spooked by something the other party says, they decide they can't safely ship the goods, or a host of other contingencies not known at the start. It's the same for buyers. A deal isn't a deal until they both say "I do" clearly and without equivocation. The parties involved are the ones taking the risks - we're just back-seat drivers here.

Suppose the forum member that had to go to small claims court to get his money back for that Sho-Bud D-10 had had a last-minute change-of-heart before he finalized the deal and sent the money. Would it really have been reasonable for us to get in the middle of that and censure him for backing out? I really think we should butt out of this kind of thing unless we really know something factual about it.

I also agree with David D. that unless a seller says "first-come first-served" in an ad, that should not be assumed. That is very simple, and needs no special explanation.

Of course - it's best if sellers clearly explain any and all terms of sale in the ad. But I doubt that will ever happen universally - people are human and don't necessarily think every point through to its logical conclusion.

All my opinions, of course.
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Curt Langston


Post Posted 30 Sep 2007 5:36 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
Who is unethical here? The person who knowingly pounced on the naiveté of an unsuspecting seller, or the seller who suddenly realizes that the buyer is taking advantage of him?


Very good point, Bill.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 11 Oct 2007 3:15 am     Reply with quote

as said earlier, it is ALWAYS the RESPONSIBILITY of the Seller to set the price and terms.

Would you sell your 62 Corvette for $6000 because it is twice what you paid for it ?

IF a seller places something for sale without knowing the value, thats not the fault of ANY buyer.

In this room for example, there is enough experience and available resources through PM and Email for any SELLER to make a contact and at least get in the Ballpark before placing there '64 Push Pull for sale for $999.

At the same time, if you accept an offer, over the phone or EMAIL ,to me, thats a DUN deal and if the seller decided while CASH was in transit to re-sell it to another for a different price, that in my world is a NO NO. Either accept the offer or don't, but don't play games in between.

With purchasing over the Internet and Forums, perhaps it is WISE for BUYERS to state a 3 to 5 day transit terms for the money to arrive ,before they send it, at least get a handshake over the phone. IF the Seller backs out at least the Buyer knows who he is dealing with, in a broken handshake. You can't FORCE anyone to actually complete the transaction but at least you have the satisfaction of knowing who you are dealing with, given you made a "two" person deal.

As a buyer, would you send off $2000 to someone who said , "Well if another higher offer comes in before your money arrives,this deals dead " ?

not hardly...
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Joe Buczek


From:
San Jose, California, USA
Post Posted 24 May 2008 9:31 am     Reply with quote

Just wanted to weigh in and make a point here about supporting the Forum and Forum Members. For "first come, first served" sales, I personally favor forum posts as a means of establishing who is considered to be "first". This is because the forum server software establishes the time of the post. Even when two posters are "very close" in time, the server (as disinterested a party as one could hope for) chooses whose post is "first".

But the second reason I like this method is because you must be a member in order to post. I have nothing against non-members buying from members, per se, but I like the idea that someone buying off this Forum should support this Forum. There are other places to sell stuff (like evilbay) if members are interested in reaching a general audience.

Just my two cents on this topic.
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Joe Buczek
"My other steel is a dobro."
Williams S-10, Nashville 112
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Chris LeDrew


From:
Canada
Post Posted 24 May 2008 11:18 am     Reply with quote

Yes Joe, but problems arise if the first poster is actually himming and hawing privately, while the second poster has cash in hand and is ready to go. The first poster may claim first dibs even though he's trying to nickel and dime the seller, or otherwise can't commit. I'd say it's totally up to the seller who he picks as the buyer. He may not be comfortable dealing with the first poster, or may want to sell to someone who lives close by and can meet half-way, etc. There are too many variables to have the first poster have first dibs. Having said that, a seller can state this rule in his/her own thread and use it as a preferred way of handling the sale.
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Blog: www.chrisledrew.com
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Steve English


From:
Baja, Arizona
Post Posted 20 Jun 2008 1:58 pm     Reply with quote

I would love to see b0b completely eliminate the ability to reply to a seller's ad online.

Way too many people (with no business posting to the ad in the first place) unjustifiably slamming a product/price that a seller is putting on the market. Not only is it rude, it's downright asinine. Exclamation
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George McLellan


From:
Duluth, MN/Mesa, AZ USA
Post Posted 23 Jun 2008 3:41 pm     good experiance Reply with quote

I just received a GFI from Mr. Tommy Adams and it was in as good or even better condition than he listed it at.

Geo


Last edited by George McLellan on 23 Jul 2008 3:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post Posted 23 Jul 2008 2:14 pm     Reply with quote

95% of the transactions I have conducted here have gone without a hitch. A few, including one recent one, have left me feeling badly.

The seller has every right to sell to whomever he wants, I guess, but it seems the urgency to sell sometimes messes over well intentioned buyers.

IMO, it is common courtesy to follow through chronologically with contacts as they come in and give interested parties a chance to make good on their bid. Some of these deals turned sour have left me with a short list of forumites with whom I'll have second thoughts about doing future transactions.
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Jeff Rutland


From:
Minnesota, USA
Post Posted 24 Jul 2008 7:19 am     Reply with quote

You know, seeing this is an etiquette thread, I have say this.

I'm a complete newbie to all things pedal steel. I signed up here on the forum to learn about the instrument and meet people in the 'community' as well. Obviously, to learn how to play, I need an instrument. I've gotten some great advice from people - things that I believe helped me make an informed decision.

While surfing the classifieds though, we all know when there's a good deal, it's going to get a lot of attention - both public on the forum with posts, and private communication with the seller. I understand that the seller in these cases may not have the time to get back to everyone - and that's fine. If I don't hear back, I assume it's been sold.

Here's where my issue lies: I've been here a month as a member, longer as a 'lurker' saving money for a guitar, and reading many late nights. Numerous times now since I've been shopping on the forum, a good deal sells - and then within days, the same instrument is for sale again, for a significantly higher price. Sometimes on the very same forum in public, sometimes privately in email.

Am I the only one that thinks this is tacky? I know people need to make a living, but this practice seems awfully flagrant to me.

I'm not trying to 'ruffle feathers' here, just stating my experience. Having an instrument that I had been inquiring about with the original seller offered to me for more money by a different person within the same week just leaves a bad feeling.
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