Unofficial Guidelines

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starslayer ( 560 )
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by starslayer » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:43 pm

Cervantes3773 wrote:
starslayer wrote:How often has this ACTUALLY come up??
A misunderstanding like this is another reason why location should be mandatory.
Someone expecting free shipping (or very cheap) shipping should make sure. Both parties should be clear on the terms.
Expecting free shipping to another Country is ridiculous. International shipping is expensive.
I think this kind of thing will just discourage anyone from dealing with someone not in their own Country.
Agreed. However, if you say free shipping/includes shipping then you need to qualify it (in the US, Canada, Germany, wherever) or stand by your offer/advertisement.

I also agree that location should be mandatory, and I think the Powers That Be have requested that current members add it, but I'm not sure how many have. Maybe a mass PM to ALL bartertown members saying "add or update your location information" is in order?
Why?? Where does it say that? (Im playing devil's advocate) Someone who says free shipping is probably thinking same country. It doesnt say free shipping anywhere/everywhere. There has to be a "meeting of the minds". Seeing someone who lives in the USA (example) offering free shipping, and a buyer in China expecting that same offer- should ASK. Expecting it IMHO is silly.

The buyer isnt releived of all responsibility. Both parties should be clear on all terms, what edtion models, assembled, painted, packing & shipping,etc.

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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by JohnHwangBT » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:51 pm

Cervantes3773 wrote:
JohnHwangBT wrote:What you miss is that breaking the offer is precisely the point of requiring additional handling charge for international handling.
Are you saying that after stating "includes shipping" or "free shipping" you find out it will be an international shipment, that it's okay to break the agreement?
The other point is that Btown intends not to have pages of fine print as part of listings - that would be huge amounts of bandwidth for no good reason.
Agreed, but you still need to be clear when making an offer or advertisement. The only assumption anyone on Bartertown should make is that if something can be interpreted multiple ways, it will be.

However, let's go back to my example. At that point, if you found out that they lived in Brazil and you now wanted to charge extra to ship, they would not be obligated to pay that additional amount.

If you then say, "fine, I won't sell to you", they'd be well within their rights to leave a "backout" as demanding specific performance would be difficult and money has not yet changed hands.

If they decide not to pay your additional fee to ship, you would be in no position to leave a "backout" as you changed the terms/breached the contract.

As far as I'm concerned "free shipping" or "includes shipping'" means anywhere. If you don't actually mean that, then you're trying to attract buyers/traders with misleading advertisement. And that's poor form.
A few points:
1. Shipping and Handling are two separate things. Shipping is the cost of postage & packaging. Handling is the labor component. Handling is usually "free", but not always. As it is separately chargeable, and not stated, anybody who states "free shipping" is well within their rights to charge a separate international handling fee that they waive for domestic. That is not in any way "breaking" any agreement, as handling was never stated to be free. From a legal contracts standpoint, it's no different from somebody with a seller's permit charging the required sales tax or a registered importer/exporter charging their fees. From a business standpoint, those fees should be assumed as standard cost of doing business. Offering to waive one portion of the fees in no way constitutes an obligation to waive other fees. I would gladly go to court on this basis, and expect to fully recover all legal costs in the process.

2. If you look in the classified ads for car sales (5-figure transactions), and compare the terms & conditions listed as opposed to the typical 2-3 figure transactions on Btown, I think it's clear that one should reasonably expect some amount of fine print / assumptions not necessarily stated in the body of the listing that both parties would need to discuss.

3. Your example is preposterous. I've never seen anybody post "PM to accept", so it's not worth discussion. That said, if I state there is a substantial handling charge for Brazil, then that's up to the buyer to decide.

4. If someone actually demanded free shipping and handling, then the answer is going to be as follows:
- shipping to be at the cheapest, slowest method available,
- NO tracking numbers to be provided under any circumstances,
- NO confirmation to be provided whatsoever,
- ALL risk and additional fees / surcharges on the Buyer,
- NO risk to the Sender,
- ANY payment to be irrevocable (i.e. wire transfer only)
The buyer gets (or doesn't get) what they (didn't) pay for.

5. If they leave a backout, I would definitely BTR and Neg them. The deal was never closed, due to disagreement on conditions. Leaving a "backout" means they don't understand process.

6. No terms were changed, and no deal was agreed, so no backout is warranted.

7. As above, shipping isn't handling. I can offer free shipping and charge for handling, just as others often include handling but charge for shipping.
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govannon ( 116 )
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by govannon » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:04 pm

What gets posted in ads are not final, it is just a starting point for making a deal. Putting free shipping in an ad means nothing until both parties workout all the details.
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by Cervantes3773 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:39 pm

starslayer wrote:Why?? Where does it say that? (Im playing devil's advocate) Someone who says free shipping is probably thinking same country. It doesnt say free shipping anywhere/everywhere. There has to be a "meeting of the minds". Seeing someone who lives in the USA (example) offering free shipping, and a buyer in China expecting that same offer- should ASK. Expecting it IMHO is silly.

The buyer isnt releived of all responsibility. Both parties should be clear on all terms, what edtion models, assembled, painted, packing & shipping,etc.
JohnHwangBT wrote: A few points:
1. Shipping and Handling are two separate things. Shipping is the cost of postage & packaging. Handling is the labor component. Handling is usually "free", but not always. As it is separately chargeable, and not stated, anybody who states "free shipping" is well within their rights to charge a separate international handling fee that they waive for domestic. That is not in any way "breaking" any agreement, as handling was never stated to be free. From a legal contracts standpoint, it's no different from somebody with a seller's permit charging the required sales tax or a registered importer/exporter charging their fees. From a business standpoint, those fees should be assumed as standard cost of doing business. Offering to waive one portion of the fees in no way constitutes an obligation to waive other fees. I would gladly go to court on this basis, and expect to fully recover all legal costs in the process.

2. If you look in the classified ads for car sales (5-figure transactions), and compare the terms & conditions listed as opposed to the typical 2-3 figure transactions on Btown, I think it's clear that one should reasonably expect some amount of fine print / assumptions not necessarily stated in the body of the listing that both parties would need to discuss.

3. Your example is preposterous. I've never seen anybody post "PM to accept", so it's not worth discussion. That said, if I state there is a substantial handling charge for Brazil, then that's up to the buyer to decide.

4. If someone actually demanded free shipping and handling, then the answer is going to be as follows:
- shipping to be at the cheapest, slowest method available,
- NO tracking numbers to be provided under any circumstances,
- NO confirmation to be provided whatsoever,
- ALL risk and additional fees / surcharges on the Buyer,
- NO risk to the Sender,
- ANY payment to be irrevocable (i.e. wire transfer only)
The buyer gets (or doesn't get) what they (didn't) pay for.

5. If they leave a backout, I would definitely BTR and Neg them. The deal was never closed, due to disagreement on conditions. Leaving a "backout" means they don't understand process.

6. No terms were changed, and no deal was agreed, so no backout is warranted.

7. As above, shipping isn't handling. I can offer free shipping and charge for handling, just as others often include handling but charge for shipping.

Clearly, the issue isn't black and white and, as JohnHwangBT said, there needs to be a meeting of the minds. Both parties need to clearly communicate and cover all relevant terms of a transaction. However, if you say "free/includes shipping" in your post, you need to qualify it. You could do this in one of two ways. One, also state that you will only sell to other people within your country or two, say "free/includes shipping in the US".

Without qualifying your statement, you leave it open to interpretation and confusion. Something we should all avoid.

1. Sales tax and customs fees are required by law, handling charges are not. When a seller says "$10 shipped" it is reasonably understood by all parties that $10 includes all relevant costs. We're not dealing with a brick and mortar store here. If we were, we would expect to pay the sales tax of the relevant state.
2. Agreed. Both parties should bargain, and upon reaching an agreement (contract), execute their duties in good faith.
3. It's called a unilateral contract and, while they may not be common on bartertown, they exist, are a valid form of contract, and the example shows the danger of unclear/ambiguous terms, which was my intention.
4. The buyer didn't demand free shipping, the seller offered it. However, I understand what you're saying and agree.
5. The backout example is based on the unilateral contract which was accepted and closed by PM.
6. See #5.

7. Why would someone say "free shipping" in a post? To encourage someone to buy the item. If I saw a post for an item I wanted which was listed as "$10 shipped" I would reasonably expect to pay exactly that. If the seller then said, "by the way, it's another $5 for handling", I would be suspicious of his intentions and probably not agree to the deal (my personal position). Why? Because the seller included enough information to attract a buyer, but left out other pertinent information. It would make me feel that the seller was trying to trick me.

You either include all of your terms in your post/offer/advertisement, or none of them. If you include all the terms, the include them in full, relevant detail (free shipping to US only). If you don't include any terms, then you would negotiate them upon finding an interested party.

I prefer the second option.
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Cervantes3773 ( 40 )
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by Cervantes3773 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:42 pm

govannon wrote:What gets posted in ads are not final, it is just a starting point for making a deal. Putting free shipping in an ad means nothing until both parties workout all the details.
Then why include it in the ad at all? To get someone's attention. I think it's poor form for a seller to offer/advertise "free shipping" and then take it back because the s/he didn't think through their post enough.
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starslayer ( 560 )
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by starslayer » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:10 am

Cervantes - you make some excellent points. Im not arguing with you. Im just trying to say we are all reasonable adults here.(I hope), we just have to act like them when making deals. Be clear on all details.

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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by Cervantes3773 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:13 am

starslayer wrote:Cervantes - you make some excellent points. Im not arguing with you. Im just trying to say we are all reasonable adults here.(I hope), we just have to act like them when making deals. Be clear on all details.

Thanks. You nailed it on the part in bold.


Also, you nailed it in your signature as well.
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by govannon » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:54 am

Cervantes3773 wrote:
govannon wrote:What gets posted in ads are not final, it is just a starting point for making a deal. Putting free shipping in an ad means nothing until both parties workout all the details.
Then why include it in the ad at all? To get someone's attention. I think it's poor form for a seller to offer/advertise "free shipping" and then take it back because the s/he didn't think through their post enough.
It's called bartering. People include prices in ads all the time, but those usually change during bartering. If somebody wants to make a different offer, then the seller has the right to change the offer in his ad.
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by s_o_r_r_o_w » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:57 am

govannon wrote:It's called bartering. People include prices in ads all the time, but those usually change during bartering. If somebody wants to make a different offer, then the seller has the right to change the offer in his ad.

Isn't the point that it's not a Backout on Party B's side if Party A advertised Free Shipping, and then wants to charge for it?
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by Cervantes3773 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:30 am

govannon wrote:
Cervantes3773 wrote:
govannon wrote:What gets posted in ads are not final, it is just a starting point for making a deal. Putting free shipping in an ad means nothing until both parties workout all the details.
Then why include it in the ad at all? To get someone's attention. I think it's poor form for a seller to offer/advertise "free shipping" and then take it back because the s/he didn't think through their post enough.
It's called bartering. People include prices in ads all the time, but those usually change during bartering. If somebody wants to make a different offer, then the seller has the right to change the offer in his ad.

Well, in this scenario "free shipping" was the seller's offer, which the buyer accepted.

Additionally, in bartering, you usually go down from what the seller asks, not up. I can't think of a situation in which the seller asked $10 and I ended up paying more (without receiving/buying more).
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by JohnHwangBT » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:10 am

Cervantes3773 wrote:Clearly, the issue isn't black and white and, as JohnHwangBT said, there needs to be a meeting of the minds. Both parties need to clearly communicate and cover all relevant terms of a transaction.

However, if you say "free/includes shipping" in your post, you need to qualify it. You could do this in one of two ways. One, also state that you will only sell to other people within your country or two, say "free/includes shipping in the US".

1. Sales tax and customs fees are required by law, handling charges are not.

3. It's called a unilateral contract and, while they may not be common on bartertown, they exist, are a valid form of contract, and the example shows the danger of unclear/ambiguous terms, which was my intention.

7. Why would someone say "free shipping" in a post? ... If the seller then said, "by the way, it's another $5 for handling", I would be suspicious of his intentions and probably not agree to the deal (my personal position).

You either include all of your terms in your post/offer/advertisement, or none of them. If you include all the terms, the include them in full, relevant detail (free shipping to US only). If you don't include any terms, then you would negotiate them upon finding an interested party. I prefer the second option.
Exactly, there needs to be a meeting of the minds. That is the fundamental concept of contracts.

And part of any meeting of the minds is going to be assumptions, which can include things like "free shipping" means "free domestic shipping". Just like "dollars" = "US Dollars" vs "Canadian dollars" vs "Australian Dollars" vs "Hong Kong Dollars". If someone puts a price out in "dollars", can I force them to accept payment in Hong Kong Dollars (current conversion rate is 1 HKD = 13 US *cents*) if they never say *American* Dollars? Or, in more concrete therms, when I offer to pay 100 (Hong Kong) dollars for a Battleforce, I'm *actually* offering to pay less than 13 (American) dollars. But placing a price in dollars means the seller has to accept this? That's what you're arguing with your "free shipping" means "free shipping worldwide".

If one automatically assumes all trade is domestic because one has the good fortune to be an American on a highly-American site, then it's a reasonable basic assumption until such time that one actually has to trade internationally. And that was my original point. While Btown does some non-US trades and sales, really, Btown is US-centric from a facts on the ground standpoint. Americans really have no need to trade outside our borders, and non-Americans should be aware of that, while Americans have the luxury of being oblivious. And this is why we've had the recent blowups over international shipping. Given that the bulk of un-Americans who comprise a minority of Btown members know exactly who they are, vs the bulk of Americans who comprise a majority of Btown members who may not be aware of the outside world, it's far easier to educate the smaller number of non-Americans.

1. And that is why one would need to ask exactly what "free shipping" means.

3. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, which is why Btown's motto really should be caveat emptor. But on Btown, "Buy it now" contracts generally aren't offered. So for Btown, it's a useless example.

7. For the vast majority of buyers / traders, "free shipping" simplifies the deal. If I'm international, thinking that I'd actually get free shipping is pretty silly from the get go. If the seller says, "You didn't identify yourself as international, so there's extra cost", that would seem reasonable, because I've done international deals, and they're much more of a pain in the ass to conclude. You can't just drop the thing off on your way to work. You need to go to the counter, you need to fill out an extra form. You need to buy the postage at the counter. You can't just credit card it and be done. That's a lot of extra hassle that you bet I'd charge extra for.

The idea that terms must be all or nothing is utter nonsense. You put a general outline of key terms and negotiate the rest in good faith. Assuming you can get anything international for free is not in good faith, and is an abuse of the seller's good nature. If you fail to reach agreement, that's not a bad thing. Better not to deal, than to deal badly.
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by govannon » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:12 am

Cervantes3773 wrote:
Well, in this scenario "free shipping" was the seller's offer, which the buyer accepted.

Additionally, in bartering, you usually go down from what the seller asks, not up. I can't think of a situation in which the seller asked $10 and I ended up paying more (without receiving/buying more).
Maybe I am not making myself clear.
If I have an ad that has item x for $2 and free shipping.
Somebody sends me a PM saying they agree to $2 and free shipping on item x.
That is not automatically a deal. Maybe that person has negative refs or something.
That might make me want to use signature confirmation or something else and I would want to charge for shipping then.
Until everything is worked out and both parties approve, it is not a deal. No back outs either way.

Now, as far as the problem that has happend last time with this, the user agreed to a price and asked for payment through paypal. I am not arguing about that not being a backout. The deal was done, both parties approved and then he changed his mind after. That is a backout.

I am just saying that having it in your ad does not automatically make it a deal.

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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by JohnHwangBT » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:13 am

govannon wrote:It's called bartering. People include prices in ads all the time, but those usually change during bartering. If somebody wants to make a different offer, then the seller has the right to change the offer in his ad.
If someone wants to make a different offer, all previous offers are automatically rendered NULL and VOID upon proposal of the counteroffer.
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s_o_r_r_o_w wrote:Isn't the point that it's not a Backout on Party B's side if Party A advertised Free Shipping, and then wants to charge for it?
I think you worded this wrong.

Anyhow, it's not a Backout if the Seller needs to pass a separate Handling charge back to the Buyer.
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by Ironhide » Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:55 am

If trader A offers "free shipping" in his ad and then works out a deal with trader B, that is accepted by both parties, then trader B sends payment and trader A comes back with, "Oh. I didn't see you were in Brazil. I'm going to have to ask that you pay shipping or no deal." Even though trader B has his location listed (not only in his profile, but also in his sig), then trader B is well within his rights to file a backout if trader A doesn't come through.

If you want to say, "That it is assumed it is free domestic shipping only." Then I'll have to assume that you have looked at my location, and agreed to free shipping based on that location. Don't "assume" anything. Because you know what happens when you assume.

To reemphasize a point: BE CLEAR ON THE DETAILS WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR DEAL.

And if you want to go and give the guy a BTR and a neg ref for posting a valid backout, then you will be in violation of ITL intimidation. And we all know what the penalty for that is.
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Re: Unofficial Guidelines

Post by JohnHwangBT » Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:42 am

Ironhide wrote:And if you want to go and give the guy a BTR and a neg ref for posting a valid backout, then you will be in violation of ITL intimidation. And we all know what the penalty for that is.
If someone claims backout when no deal was reached, then the any retailiatory Neg is fully justified.
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