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Archive-name: misc-forsale-faq/buying-selling
Posting-Frequency: 6th & 21st of the month
Last-modified: 1996/02/06
Version: 5.3
Major-Changes: Update to reflect biz.mktplc moderation

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
		--The Usenet Marketplace FAQ--

Volume II.	    The How-To of the
Transactions	       biz.marketplace.*

The entire FAQ is now in full hypertext on the Web.  If you
have a web browser, then for goodness sakes, don't plow
through the text version!  Point your web browser to:

maintained by Daniel King 	<>
	Suggestions/comments/flames always welcome!

Volume I. Posting Ads on the Usenet Marketplace
	1.  Welcome to the Usenet Marketplace!
	2.  Purpose of the Usenet Marketplace.
	3.  What is appropriate to post, what isn't?
	4.  How to write ads for newsgroups.
	5.  Usenet Marketplace group list and descriptions.
	6.  How can I receive newsgroups not carried by my site?
	7.  Other classified ads on the Internet.
	8.  Considerations for commercial/entrepreneurial users.
		Subtopic:  A short guide to cancelling articles

Volume II. Conducting Transactions on Usenet
	9.  Finalizing the sale.
	10. Payment and shipping recommendations.
	11. International transactions.
	12. Glossary of common Usenet terms


Subject: 9. Finalizing the sale. You've found a buyer for your cherry pitter in California, but you are in New York. How can you send him the item and make sure you get paid? Conversely, how can he be certain that he'll receive the item in good working order? A few people choose to avoid this problem by not doing business by mail. In reality, they lose out by staying away from a very large market for their goods. Every day, perhaps a hundred or more successful transactions take place on the Usenet Marketplace. Most of the time, everything goes smoothly. Occasionally, however, problems arise. It is your job, whether buyer or seller, to catch any potential problems as early as possible. Thus, it is a good idea to check and double-check all aspects of a sale long before any packages are sent. ***The Number One Problem: Miscommunication*** Fraud is very rare on the Usenet Marketplace. Much more often, the transaction has problems because the buyer and seller didn't know exactly what was going on. Before you discuss shipping arrangements, make sure both parties know the exact description of the transaction-- What exactly is being sold? If it is a computer item, will it work in the buyer's system? How will it be shipped and paid for? When will it be shipped and paid for? What are the conditions of returning the item if it doesn't work? What is the other party's correct street address and phone number? If your questions meet resistance from the other party, be wary. Both parties should be as open as possible in order to complete a successful transaction. Some experienced buyers also make it a policy to call the phone number to confirm its existence for added safety, although this isn't necessary in most cases. Finally, we strongly urge you to get a current street address, even if it isn't the shipping address. In the exceedingly unlikely event that you need to file a lawsuit, this will save a lot of hassle later. Above all, ask questions now, _before_ the sale takes place! If you are clear on the details beforehand, and if you are sure the item will do what it is supposed to, both parties will be happier in the end. If you're not satisfied with the answers to your questions, then ask more questions, and don't be afraid to cancel the sale. If you think the person on the other end of the line may cheat you, then don't give him the opportunity. In summary, make sure that both sides: .Are clear about the goods or services being exchanged .Have provided detailed contact information .Agree on implied warranties and return conditions .Understand the shipping arrangements, especially when the items or payment will be shipped If you have a problem later, it will be much easier to resolve if you have this information documented. Save a hard copy of all e-mail and written correspondence.
Subject: 10. Payment and shipping recommendations One of the hardest parts of any Usenet Marketplace sale is the exchange of goods for cash. How can both buyer and seller be assured of fair treatment? ***The Safest Ways to Ship for Buyer _and_ Seller COD (Collect On Delivery) small and medium transactions COD is the Usenet Marketplace standard for transactions too small for a third party escrow service. Federal Express, United Parcel Service, the U.S. Postal Service, and many other countries' postal carriers offer this option. In these transactions, the seller ships the item to the buyer "COD". The buyer then pays the courier on arrival in exchange for the package. The courier then forwards the payment to the seller. The small fee is well worth the security of having the courier act as an intermediate--the buyer can't receive the package until he pays, and the seller isn't paid until the buyer receives the package. This method is not foolproof, as the buyer usually cannot check the package to make sure the correct item was sent. Cash and money orders are usually accepted, but we recommend the buyer pay by check or cashier's check to be able to stop payment in the event there is a problem. Unfortunately, COD is not available for international transactions. Payment by check or money order for small transactions For small items, fast delivery, or if both parties trust each other, payment by check can be a good method, although it provides the least security for one of the parties. Either the buyer sends a check first, seller sends the goods first, or both agree to send at the same time. Buyer sending a check first is the most common. Sometimes, the seller may wait a short time to make sure the check clears. A money order or cashier's check will also work, but _do_not_ send cash. Also, a cancelled check makes a good proof-of-payment if the seller doesn't deliver. For this reason, we discourage the practice of having the buyer send half-payment before receiving the package, and half after. In court, a cancelled check for the first payment may be enough to convince a judge that the buyer paid in full. For the seller, sending the package with a return receipt can provide added security. Escrow Medium to large transactions and international sales For expensive items, additional precautions are recommended. One good suggestion is escrow. In this case, a third, trustworthy party acts as an intermediary. Usually, the intermediary receives the buyer's check, and notifies the seller to ship the merchandise with a return receipt addressed to the intermediary. Once the intermediary receives the receipt, the buyer typically has a day or two to confirm that the goods are as-advertised, then the intermediary forwards the payment to the seller. Sometimes, especially with local transactions, the intermediary may receive and/or examine the merchandise directly. Also, some escrow services accept credit cards for payment, a useful service in international trades. Your lawyer may offer this service, or you may contact the following services: American Computer Exchange (MC/VISA) (800) 786-0717 USA Fee: 5-8%, min. $50 Boston Computer Exchange (800) 262-6399 USA Flat fee Computer Classified Exchange Service (216) 481-2563 USA Fee: $20 up to $1000 transaction Welcomes international sales, Subject: "Seller Info" or "Buyer Info" GuaranTrade (MC/VISA) (913) 841-4483 USA Fee: 5% up to $1500, min. $10, rate drops after $1500, Subject: "info" NETtrade (919) 682-7715 Durham, North Carolina Fee: $5 up to $100, $10 up to $1000, $20 for $1000+ Trade-direct (813) 969-2803 USA Fee: 4%, min. $10, max. $60 TradeSafe Online Corporation (800) 994-6362 USA Fee: $15 up to $300, declining from 5% to 1% thereafter United Computer Exchange (MC/VISA) (800) 755-3033 USA Fee: 8-15% [No implication is made as to the integrity of any company at this time. If you know of any other escrow services, please let us know.] Pay by credit card Escrow and commercial transactions This option is only available through authorized merchants, but it is the means of choice when available. This is the safest means for the buyer, because he can appeal to the credit card company if the merchandise is faulty. Meanwhile the seller is guaranteed payment by the bank. Pay by electronic check Escrow and commercial transactions A few companies now accept electronic checks, where you send them the numbers on the bottom of your check, and they write a bank draft against your account which they can deposit immediately, saving a couple days' mailing time. Companies will usually let you know if they accept this form of payment in their ads. We suggest adhering to these methods, as they are proven and the safest for both parties. In all cases, you should do the following: Keep hard copies of your e-mail, checks, and proof-of-mailing Insure packages adequately Make sure both of you are absolutely clear on the items and arrangements Exchange and double-check addresses and phone numbers In the case of expensive items, you may also wish to draw up a notarized bill of sale. A bill of sale is proof as to what is being sold and how much is being paid--essentially a legal contract. has provided a sample bill of sale for free distribution on the Usenet Marketplace. You can download a copy by anonymous FTP from in /pub/USERS/lildan/FAQ. Also, for all interstate transactions in the U.S., goods must be shipped within 30 days of receipt of payment, unless specifically stated otherwise. If a shipment will be delayed, the buyer has the right to cancel the sale and receive a full refund. Most states have similar laws. Finally, If something does go wrong, the best place to start is to contact the other party by e-mail or telephone. Again, the #1 source of problems is miscommunication. If this doesn't work, contact the other person's system administrator by sending e-mail with an explanation of the situation to postmaster@[systemname]. Most system administrators will help if you've already exhausted other routes. But please remember that most system administrators are very busy. Contact them _only_ when direct discussions fall through. DISCLAIMER: While rare, occasionally fraud does occur on the Internet. It is ultimately the buyer and/or seller who must take precautions to ensure fair treatment. Presented here are merely suggestions of means of transaction which worked for others. There is no guarantee that they will work for you.
Subject: 11. International transactions. Despite the large number of advertisements from the U.S., the Usenet Marketplace is a global institution. All advertisers, even individuals, need to be aware of the international culture and reflect it in their ads. Also, they need to be prepared to deal with international issues if a potential buyer sends an offer from a foreign nation. Many successful transactions occur across country boundaries, but a few more topics need to be covered before shipping to other countries. ***Use the Escrow method*** Unless a transaction involves items of very low value, use the escrow method for completing the sale. The advantages, in this case, are manyfold. For one, paying an escrow service by credit card solves the problem of trying to deposit a check drawn on a foreign bank. The major credit card companies usually give better exchange rates than most banks because they can trade currency amongst their international operations. Meanwhile, most banks will charge a hefty fee, often US$20 to process a check drawn on a foreign bank. Meanwhile it can cost just as much for the buyer to acquire a cashier's check drawn on a bank in the seller's country. These charges, and the impossibility of recovering your money or items in case of fraud, makes the effective cost of escrow minimal to negative. Some people successfully send cash through the mail for small items, but as this is not recommended in the U.S., it is even less recommended internationally. Finally, COD is not available across international boundaries. ***Choose a courier carefully*** Before shipping a package internationally, ask the shipping company how it handles international packages. Sending packages through many major couriers may result in additional fees on the receiving end for delivery to certain countries. These charges may cover expenses in clearing customs, or they may represent a brokering fee to transfer the package to a courier that delivers in the buyer's country. France and Canada are two prime examples with certain couriers. Some major couriers operate in different countries, so packages sent by one courier may not incur a fee for a package shipped from the U.S. to Japan, while another will. You must ask, and it may take a few tries because many representatives may not be fully aware of the international situation. ***Taxes and legal restrictions*** Most international sales are subject to import duties, if properly declared. Gifts and small transactions often pass by unnoticed by customs in many countries, but the buyer can expect to pay sales, value-added, or import taxes in large international transactions. Make sure you know what those fees will be in your country before you finalize an offer to buy, because these taxes sometimes exceed 100%. Duties can often negate the benefits of buying from a foreign country. Contact your nearest customs agent or international shipping company for more information. While the buyer worries about duties, the seller needs to know of any restrictions on business to the buyer's country. For example, it is illegal to send many kinds of advanced technology from the United States to certain countries, and likewise across other international borders. Advanced technology is more encompassing than just weaponry and militaria. Many common software packages and computers may face export restrictions punishable by jail time in the U.S. ***Make it easy, let someone else do the work*** Because of the complexity, and sometimes absurdity, of international laws, and because of the documentation required on all international packages, all readers who wish to deal internationally should speak with a company experienced in such matters. Any local packaging and mailing service should be able to refer you to an appropriate company, or you can contact one of the following international freight specialists: Mailboxes Etc. Chain of local mailing services which caters to individuals On the Internet, but address is unknown. Overseas Alliance Group, USA International equipment freight forwarding (914) 472-3204 USA Questions you need to ask an international shipper: Is it legal to ship this item to country X? What import/export/value-added taxes must be paid? What is the best way to ship, and how much will it cost? What documentation is required? How can international shipments be insured?
Subject: 12. Glossary of terms. Biznet The Biznet is the collection of official biz.* newsgroups, as listed in Ed Hew's FAQ about the Biznet, posted to news.answers. The biz.marketplace groups are a part of this collection. CD-ROM Compact Disc Read Only Memory This digital storage method uses the same plastic discs as audio CDs, but instead of music, the discs can contain up to 640 megabytes of data and/or software. Most CD-ROM drives have headphone jacks for playing audio CDs. Chain Letter A pyramid scheme in which you send money to a person at the top of a list, add your name to the bottom, then send that list to acquaintances and convince them to do likewise. Chain letters, even those which purport to 'sell' mailing lists, are prohibited at over 90% of Internet sites, and if propagated by e-mail or news will likely cause you to lose your account. COD Collect On Delivery In COD transactions, the deliveryperson collects money from the recipient as the package is delivered. DOA Dead On Arrival An item was broken when received. Often used to express warranties with electronics; "Warranted against DOA" See also WOA (Working on Arrival) EIDE Enhanced IDE EIDE is the successor to the IDE hard drive interface, allowing for CD-ROM drives and hard drives larger than 512MB. ESDI Enhanced Small Device Interface ESDI is a high-performance hard drive interface for PCs that was popular a few years ago, but is quickly disappearing. FAQ Frequently Asked Question An FAQ is an article on a newsgroup which answers many questions often asked by new readers in that newsgroup. FAQ also refers to each of the questions individually. Flames These articles or e-mail messages ridicule another or another's ideas, often in a stinging, blunt manner. Flames are a tradition on the Internet, and something to expect if you make a netiquette blunder. Do not take them literally, but look for the suggestions presented. The tone is generally very negative, but the point is usually clear. FD Floppy Drive This computer storage device which reads 3.5", 5.25" or 8" floppy disks. FS For Sale Something is being offered in exchange for money. HD Hard Drive Hard disk drives act as permanent storage devices for computers, and commonly come in sizes from 10 megabytes for older computers to 10 or more gigabytes for some business and research uses. Note that physical capacity and usable capacity may be different for a given drive. IDE Integrated Drive Electronics The standard hard drive interface for PCs sold today, IDE incorporates most of the electronics on the hard drive package, rather than on any interface cards. IMHO In My Humble Opinion An American expression followed by an opinion about a current issue. Internet The Internet acts as the carrier of billions of electronic messages, articles, and pieces of digital information annually. This decentralized, worldwide computer network was initially developed in the U.S. by the military for its operations and by the National Science Foundation to promote communication in federal and scholastic research. MB Motherboard The motherboard is the backbone of most computers, containing the CPU, memory, and other support. xxxMB Megabytes The megabyte, or 1 million bytes, is a unit of computer memory and storage consisting of 8 million 1's and 0's which have meaning to a computer. This abbreviation is often used to mention the storage capacity or online memory of a computer system, as in a 500MB hard drive or 4MB RAM. MCA Micro-Channel Architecture MCA is a motherboard communication interface used by IBM in some IBM PS/2 computers. It is technically superior to the standard ISA architecture for most uses, but it was poorly marketed, and is quickly disappearing. Meg Megabytes See megabytes. MFM Modified Frequency Modulation MFM is a physical method of storing data on a hard drive. This interface was the original IBM PC standard, but is not compatible with most systems manufactured more recently. MLM Multi-Level Marketing A legitimate means of merchandise or service distribution where members can actively engage in sales or in sales force recruitment. For every sale made by a salesperson you recruited or anyone under him, you receive a portion of the commissions. Because of improprieties in the past, the US Government tightly regulates the ways in which MLM operators can present their business. MO Drive Magneto-Optical Drive This hard storage device is similar to a rewritable CD-ROM. OBO Or Best Offer This means that the stated price is negotiable. OEM Original Equipment Manufacture OEM equipment or software is intended to be used to make original equipment rather than to be used for spare parts or as an after-market add-on. It is often used with both computer hardware and software to describe items intended to ship only with complete computer systems. Pyramid Scheme or Ponzi Scheme A money-making opportunity popularized by Ponzi and illegal in the United States in most forms. This scheme involves an individual convincing others to pay him for the right to solicit others for payment in turn. By recruiting more people than the number of people you pay for this right, you supposedly make money. In reality, the people at the bottom of the pyramid never get paid by anyone and lose. Such schemes are strictly forbidden at most Internet sites, and will cause you and your system administrator great grief if you try to propagate such a scheme by e-mail or over the newsgroups. Occasionally, merchandise sales are involved. (see MLM for a similar legitimate opportunity). RAM Random Access Memory RAM is the main operating memory for most computers. It is erased when the computer is turned off. RLL Run Length Limited This method of encoding data on hard drives is often used to describe the successor to MFM, although it uses very similar hardware. It exists only on old PC systems. SCSI Small Computer Standard Interface This is a modern device interface, faster than IDE, which supports hard drives, CD-ROM drives, floppy drives, and other media storage. Most of the electronics for this interface are contained on the interface card. SIMM Single In-line Memory Module This is a way of packaging RAM for easy installation. SIMMs come in 72 and 30 pin varieties for different computers, and have been the standard for most computers manufactured in the last several years. SIPP Single In-line Pinned Package SIPPs are a type of RAM which come in 30 pin varieties, but are rarer than SIMMs. SIPPs can be converted to SIMMs with the appropriate adapters. Spam Posting an advertisement or advertisements to a large number of inappropriate newsgroups, often including groups which don't allow ads. You'll hear from your system administrator if you try it. Usenet The collection of official newsgroups in the Big 7 hierarchies: misc, news, soc, rec, comp, sci, talk. These groups are propagated primarily, but not exclusively, over the Internet. Velveeta Posting several times to one newsgroup, particularly if it would have been reasonable to combine all of the content in fewer posts. Also, articles which are reposted too frequently. WOA Working On Arrival The item works when it is tried for the first time after delivery. A guarantee that an item will be WOA is typical in the Usenet Marketplace. If the item breaks later, the seller is not responsible. WORM Write Once Read Many This method of hard storage can only be written to once, but can be accessed often. The hardware to write to a WORM disk is much less expensive than hardware for CD-ROM. WTB Wanted To Buy This abbreviation is used when the poster is looking for a particular item. WWW World Wide Web Also know as W3, or just the "Web", the World Wide Web is a computer communications medium that allows transmission and easy-to-read formatting of text, graphics, sound, and video. ;-) The Universal Internet Smiley To appreciate it, look at this symbol with your head turned sideways. It is used to indicate a joke, sarcasm, or any instance where the writer doesn't mean what he is saying. Thank you for reading, and we hope you find these suggestions are useful. We encourage your comments, good and bad, to help us improve the effectiveness of this article. Please send comments to Dan King, -*-*-*-*-End transactions FAQ-*-*-*-*-

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