Monday, January 31, 2011

World 1-4 Trade Etiquette, and Buyer / Trader Types

Audio Transcript here. This is just an audio transcript.
Once I get some real hosting this will be available in real feeds like a true podcast
Video game collectors go about amassing games in various ways: eBay, garage sales, video game stores, pawn shops, and the one I want to really focus on forums. Forums are a great resource for collectors, you can get tons of info on games, meet like minded people, be part of a community, and buy sell and trade games. Forums are great to have, but I think we need to talk a little bit about proper etiquette when conducting business on forums.
First and foremost if you are new to a forum introduce yourself. Most forums have a dedicated space for all new users to say hello and give a brief introduction. Introducing yourself will allow current members a chance to greet and familiarize themselves with you. This might not seem very necessary, but for me I am far more likely to conduct business with someone who has a few posts down and has introduced themselves. I'd much rather deal with you than the guy who jumped into the Market Place Forum and put down a few items he has for sale. Forums are very small communities people look out for each other. When someone burst onto the scene with no post but a sale thread it throws a few red flags. Who is this guy? Is this a scam? Is their only reason for being here to profit on collectors? Unknown members are a risk, this isn't just for selling, it goes for buying too. How do I know a new member won't try to screw me with a bad paypal transaction, or bad feedback? The answer is I don't. The risk of being taken advantage of isn't relegated to just new members; this goes for transactions with anyone, but being new might just tip the risk / reward scale to far into the risk category.

How to create a Buy, Sale, or Trade Thread
Now that you are a full fledged member of a forum lets talk about how to properly create threads in the market place. Know the lingo, you have to know what the common abbreviations used in market places mean like WTS (Want to Sell) and WTB(Want to Buy). Knowing the lingo will allow you to more effectively create threads. Okay example 1: You have three games for sale, two for the Genesis, one for the SNES. The games are Bubsy, Batman, and Sonic 1. First be very clear in your title, as it will tell your potential customers what to expect. For me I have an ongoing trade/FS/WTB so my threads look like this: Timemaster's Big Trade and Sale Thread, Sub header: looking for... New Items: Sega Games. My thread title lets you know it's not a one off sale. For the purpose of our example a good title might look like this WTS/WTT 1 SNES and 2 Genesis games MINT!!! This title tells everyone what you have and gives them an idea what to expect.
Thread Content and Layout
Now that we have an adequate title for our thread it is time to put in the content. The most important think to know about the content of your thread is this "BE SPECIFIC". It is so important I made it bold. When it comes to collecting nobody like surprises. I have seriously seen threads where the title says "Game X For Sale $50", and then the content of the thread some how manages to say less "Game X". Threads like this make me crazy, I know nothing about the game except the title and the price and as a collector that simply isn't enough. So when making a thread do it right and tell everyone as much as you can, it doesn't need to be a novel. Using our example.

Genesis games for sale: Sonic 1 complete Retail Version all original paper work included, cart manual and clamshell in Mint condition, hardly played $10. Batman includes, original clamshell, manual and cart no other paper work $7. Shipping not included buyer pays actual shipping

SNES Bubsy also for sale Box, Cart, and Manual. Formal Rental has stickers on cart and box, manual is in rough shape. $5 plus shipping. Please see attached pictures. Paypal non gift only. I know I am new seller, but please see my eBay feedback and my feedback on Forum A. Links attached.

Also willing to trade all three and some cash for Shining Force 2, would like CIB but willing to discuss cart only.
The thread is specific, it tells us how the seller expects to be paid, how much the seller wants for their items, the nature of the items for sale, leaves nothing to the imagination by including pictures, includes references, and tells us the seller is looking for in trade.

You made a Sell or Purchase, now follow through
Now that you have made your sell it's time to move on to the easiest part of the transaction to mess up. I liken this part of a sell to movies that have endings so bad they ruin the the whole movie. Basically what I am telling you here is to do these two things, ship it fast, and make sure it is well packaged. Remember shipping it fast doesn't mean send it express mail, send it however the buyer paid for it to be shipped. It means get that game packed and in the mail soon, don't make someone wait a week before it goes in the mail, unless it's already been discussed. A note for all sellers, be it on eBay or on forums, "DO NOT USE BUBBLE MAILERS FOR BOXED GAMES". I cannot tell you how many times I have had a game ruined by bubble mailers. In many cases the box is the most expensive and hardest to find part of a game, packing it in a bubble mailer is a sure fire way to screw up a valuable box and a transaction. Every collector I know has the same story about some idiot who sent them something nice that was ruined by a bubble mailer, and everyone of those collectors would have gladly paid another dollar or two to have it shipped in a box. So in short pack, boxed games in boxes and protect them with bubble wrap or paper. Packing a game properly is more than just bubble wrapping and putting it in a box. When you ship an item protect yourself by put tracking on the item, and if it's expensive put insurance on it too. After you have packed it properly and got it to the mailbox only a few small are left for you to do, inform the buyer of their tracking number, this tells the buyer when you shipped it and keeps you from getting a ton of messages asking for updates, and lastly leave the buyer feedback. Many forums have designated areas for feedback, some forums even have trade transactions you can create which also allow you to post feedback.

If you were a buyer your follow through is much easier, first pay promptly, second leave feedback after your game arrives. If you had a problem with delivery or the item is damaged contact your seller and try to work it out. Most people aren't trying to mess you over, and will gladly work with you to resolve any problems that may arise. Mitigate all potential problems by using good communication through out the transaction, remember no surprise.

Other pieces of Etiquette
So I know the first two thirds of this post reads like a tutorial, and that's it's intended purpose, it is geared for new members. The advice I give is solid all the way around for all levels, but in this portion I want to talk more to forum members who have been around the block a few times.

For Offer threads...
I hate them, and I am guilty of placing them. If you make a For Offer thread then please really be willing to take offers, and stop complaining that people are low balling you. If you have a price range in mind then then you should state your price, don't put members in the tricky position of trying to generate a number they feel like is a bargain but simultaneous not be offensive. For Offer threads to me feel like a seller is trying to see what they can squeeze out of you. Has anyone else had this happen? Offer X (50) amount of dollars on game Y in a FO thread, seller replies with an adjusted price of 70 or something similar. It really feels like the seller is trying to bait the buyers into telling them how much a game is worth. They know if you offer 50 it has to be worth more than that, because nobody offers at a games highest estimated value, people usually go mid or mid low. The seller now knows how much they can squeeze you out of you, if you offered at 50 (mid) you might make a follow up offer of 60 (Mid High), which the seller will probably take. The game is not had at what I would call a deal, you probably did a little better then what you would find on eBay. Another scenario is you offer and the seller replies back with a snarky low ball comment. So annoying, just stop it. Again if you know what you want for it just say what you want and stop making it awkward.

eBay prices in Forums...
Another silly thing that seems to be coming up more often is, sellers wanting full eBay price for their games in a forum. Here is my view, feel free to disagree. If you are trying to sell something on a forum, you should know what it's worth on eBay and then go lower. If it is a really rare item then maybe you can get away with asking full eBay. The math to me is simple, if I sell something in eBay, I figure I am only going to get about 83%-86% of what it sold for. This number accounts for listing fees, final value fee, and paypal fee. If I want to sell Burning Rangers and I know I can get $100 on eBay I will probably take $80 in a forum, depending on if they are sending paypal gift or regular, have I dealt with them before, are they a well reputed member that sells a lot, and so on. If you demand $100 I will probably just go to eBay, it is a lot safer, if your response to me asking if you would take $80 is I can get $100 on eBay, then my response to you is then sell the damn thing on eBay and loose all that money. What you can get for it on eBay is only relevant in a forum as far as I am concerned to create a forum price.

Trade Value is not the same as Cash
Again just my opinion trade value, is higher than cash. If the game you want from me ranges from 10-14 I am probably going to side on 13 to 14, while if you wanted to give me cash I'd probably take 11 or 12. I imagine you are pricing your trades the same way. Another note about Trade Value, both parties should use the same source for prices. Doesn't really matter what the source is as long as both parties agree to the source, for me I actually prefer to pull prices from a few sources to create a true median price.

A few more suggestion and reiterations
  • Don't be afraid to give someone a deal, sure you could get $15 for a loose Punch Out, but sometimes taking 10 or 12 will net you a better deal or more business later.
  • Always have pictures.
  • Always have a tracking number.
  • Don't use bubble mailers.
  • In a sale thread don't mention where a similar item is on sale.
  • In a sale thread don't bring up how much a previous copy sold for or how much another member is selling it for.
  • Don't be an ass, trading and selling is about building relationships, people remember and tell others who is good and bad to deal with.
  • Don't try to rip people off, it might work once or twice but once a community is on to you they will spread your name into every bad trader thread they can find.
  • Don't waste peoples time. If you have no intent on buying, or can't afford an item, don't string a seller along.
  • Do follow all forum rules.
  • Be specific, again Be specific, manual have small tear on page 9, list it, even if they may never see it.
  • Do communicate and follow up
  • Help others when you can, I know I already kind of said this, but really I have gotten so many sweet deals and throw-ins from people I have given good deals to.
Now that we have gone over some basic etiquette and generally good trading and selling tips I want to spend a few lines talking about trader/buyer types. In my last post I talked about collector types and many collector types translate into buyer types, almost a one for one conversion. I am not going to rehash that I want to talk about the difficult types. The people who represent these types might be really nice people, but are kind of a pain in the ass to sell to or trade with. We all have our standards and goals and it isn't for me to say someones standards are too low or high or their reason for collecting is wrong. I do want to point out just these few so people are aware. If you know the collector type you are dealing with it should allow you to not get in a bad situation.

Investor- These collectors may or may not care about games at all, they are in it for the potential to earn money. Many of these collectors are part of the great Stadium Event Phenomenon. These collectors know games now = $Dollars$. Long gone are the days of any NES game 5 dollar bin at game stores.

The Dealer- These are my least favorite types of collectors. These people might own stores or are big sellers on eBay. They want to trade with you, but they will point out every small flaw in your cart, manual, box, disc, ect and then under value it. They will then proceed to over value their item and over estimate its rarity. They will says things like, well I bought it at price X (20) so I have to get at least this much Y (30). It's nice to buy low and sell high, but save your blatant attempts to rip me off. If this is how you make your living fine, don't ask me to like it and please just avoid me. The Dealer is usually in this for one reason, to turn a profit. Are they wrong?

The Perfectionist- Another tricky collector type to deal with. These collectors, never mind what they collect, need the items they are getting to be pristine. They want nice box, no dings, or creases in the manual, and no broken hinges. They are not wrong to want these things, but if you are dealing with them be sure you have accurate pictures, and be sure to do a good job packing the item, something you should do anyway. I try to treat ever transaction I make as if I am dealing with a perfectionist, it ensures I do all I should to make a positive experience for both parties.

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