Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Playing By the Rules

I just pulled the plug on the sale of a bike frame, due to the fact that the buyer simply made me too nervous to complete it. I won't go into all of the boring details, but suffice it to say that the buyer just didn't follow what I consider to be the rules of internet buying.

Here is what I, and everyone I know who sells over the net, expects along with a general description of what went wrong in this deal:

1. Pay by the method that the seller prefers. (I suggested PayPal but agreed to a check due to sympathizing with his circumstances.)

2. Do not ask for/specify something and then change in midstream. (He asked for parts, which I located and priced for him. He agreed to the deal, then backed out of buying the parts. I didn't mind not selling the parts, but I didn't appreciate being led to jump through hoops for no reason.)

3. Do not ask for items to be shipped to a state 2000 miles from where you live, without explaining fully why you want it shipped there. (He lived in Baltimore, and wanted the frameset shipped to Arizona. That sets off all sorts of warning bells for someone who has been selling on the internet and trying to avoid scammers for years.)

4. Communicate well and often! (This is related to #3. There was a delay of days at a time between me asking him a question/answering one of his questions and the next time I would hear from him. The capper was when I expressed concern about the fact that he wanted the frame shipped to Arizona, and I didn't get an explanation.)

Three days later, I sent him an email letting him know that the deal was off due to my suspicions, and outlined exactly why I am not comfortable with the situation. Unlike every other time I had emailed him, he responded quickly (in about 3 hours). Even though he had an answer for everything, I had to just tell him that the deal still made me uncomfortable and the frame is no longer for sale.

Four simple rules to follow...most people do. Many who don't are trying to scam you. Some just don't understand how vulnerable a seller is, and how cautious we've learned to be. Individuals are not like big corporate retailers which can write off a certain amount of loss as the "cost of doing business". If I send something off and don't receive payment, it makes my life difficult.

I've sold dozens of bikes over the net, and I've only been burned a couple of times. Both of those were times when I allowed someone to convince me that they had a legitimate reason for not following one or more of the rules. I'm afraid that has made me very strict about the rules.

Tim, if you are reading, I hope this helps explain (further) what I tried to get across in my email to you. As I said, you may be the most upstanding guy in the world, but I don't know you from Adam. And, I can't afford to to take the chance that I'm going to be taken advantage of.

So, in closing, I'd just like to point out that this kind of thing is very unpleasant for a seller (as well as a legitimate buyer who just doesn't know how to deal with a long-distance purchase such as this), and it's so easy to avoid. Just follow the rules...



At 12:44 PM , Blogger Noah said...

As a guy who does information security work in the financial industry, I applaud you for pulling the plug. I know exactly what was going to happen with this one. They'd send you a check for WAY too much than you'd originally asked, and just tell you to write a check or send cash to cover the "accidental" discrepancy along with the bike. Then, the check (which might even be an international cashier's check, given the shell-game these a-holes play) will get rejected after the funds have already been withdrawn from your account, and you'll have a hell of a time recovering anything. There are a couple other derived scams similar to this one, but needless to say, the red flags were all present. Even if it was going to be a totally legit deal, you can't be too careful. Better to miss out on a sale than end up knee-deep in debt due to a scam artist.

At 2:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That bridge that I'm willing to sell you is still available. Please include your bank and credit card account information including your PIN and SSN. I'll ship it ASAP.

At 10:09 AM , Blogger Jon said...


I'll have the cash for that as soon as my Nigerian contact deposits a large sum in my checking account. (The Internet Lottery of Thailand may beat him to the punch, though. They promised to to credit my winnings directly to my credit card, after I provided them with the number.)

At 9:55 AM , Blogger Matt said...

Any one who is a legitimate buyer and at least somewhat tech saavy will understand and respect your actions.

At 5:33 AM , Blogger bmike said...

been here too. good on you for pulling the plug. i currently have a potential sale and the 'checks been in the mail' for better part of a week. hopefully it will work out...


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