Summary: A guide to the rec.radio.swap newsgroup, providing a description of
the group and its charter, net-wisdom on the best use of this forum, and
some brief netiquette notes. Also provides general guidelines for the other
forsale and marketplace forums.
Expires: 01 March 2003
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Archive-name: radio/swap-guide This message is a guide to buying and selling over Usenet. It is intended to serve as a guide for users unfamiliar with common conventions used in the Usenet marketplace. Questions and comments may be directed to Jeff Kilgore, KC1MK, email@example.com. Thanks go to readers of the personal radio newsgroups, who provided feed-back to the net about proper use of this forum, and especially Paul W. Schleck, K3FU, firstname.lastname@example.org, who compiled most of the net wisdom and suggested the creation of this article. Usenet has proven to be a valuable resource for many folks. Along with lots of discussion, argument, and good, solid information, it's also a good place to buy or sell equipment, and many people have done so successfully. As with any other medium, though, there are conventions that make everyone's life easier if they're followed as much as possible. The following are some suggested guidelines for using the rec.radio.swap forum, based on general net-wisdom from users. Most of it is basic common sense, but it is unfortunate that some users have consistently abused this forum by not following such basic common sense. The general guidelines will serve as well for other groups on the net, such as misc.forsale and just.about.anything.marketplace. What is appropriate to post in rec.radio.swap? Any offer to buy or sell radio and electronics equipment, such as transmitters, receivers, antennas, electronics parts, and radio-related computer equipment is appropriate for this forum. Posts concerning non-hardware (but still radio-related) items such as documentation manuals, books, radio-related software, and publications, are also welcome. Sirens and emergency lights would surely find a more appropriate audience in one of the public safety newsgroups. It has become common practice to append "FS" ("For Sale"), "WTB" ("Want To Buy"), or "WTT" ("Want To Trade") to the subject line of an ad. With the new online auction service, eBay, we ask that you include "FA" ("For Auction") and also "eBay" to your subject line if you choose to place an auction notice. (Note that a recent straw poll revealed that many readers are not happy seeing auction notices on r.r.swap - post such notices at your own risk! If you fail to append "FA" and "eBay" in your subject line, you will surely be flamed.) PLEASE DO NOT POST DISCUSSION ARTICLES TO THIS GROUP. If you really must post, please do so to the appropriate discussion group. Use email whenever possible, especially if you feel someone has committed a breach of etiquette. Articles concerning illegal equipment (such as CB linear amplifiers and police radar jammers) are not welcome. Not only will you be severely "flamed", you are also opening yourself (and possibly the owners and administrators of your news site) up to civil and criminal liability. Individuals who are involved in the regular business of buying and selling for profit are requested not to abuse this forum by using it as a "free advertisement" service for their business, although they are welcome to participate as individuals. The distinction here is that there is a cultural bias on Usenet, and an actual prohibition on some networks that carry Usenet traffic, against using the net for commercial purposes. Let your conscience be your guide. Doesn't this article violate its own guidelines? Well, yes and no. In the strictest sense, this article violates the rule that only buying and selling advertisements belong in the rec.radio.swap newsgroup. However, since those using this newsgroup are most likely to see articles in the same newsgroup, and since this newsgroup serves readers of the rec.radio.amateur.*, rec.radio.cb, rec.radio.shortwave, and rec.radio.scanner newsgroups, posting it here provides the greatest visibility with the least intrusion. Other suggestions which achieve the same goals are welcome. If you are looking for something specific... Try to first find the item through other channels before resorting to the net. If the manufacturer is still in business, you may be pleasantly surprised that they still have the items on the shelf. Other companies specialize in discontinued and surplus parts and equipment and are your best source for tracking down items. Consult the mail-order electronics list, available from ftp.cs.buffalo.edu in file ~/pub/ham-radio/mail_order, or the advertising sections of most popular radio and electronics publications. Once you have exhausted all other channels, then certainly do post. State clearly what you are looking for (e.g. "a part# 345X56 Bakelite Frobnicator for an American Hawk Fubar 2000, circa 1968-1970"), and how much you are willing to pay (or that you're willing to negotiate). Avoid sending out "equipment-wanted" posts unless you are willing to pay for shipping from wherever it may turn up (this newsgroup is read throughout the world), or state clearly where you're willing to accept items from. Use the Distribution: header line to limit where your posting will go, but be aware that it's far from an absolute restriction; articles with ba (San Francisco Bay area) distribution, for example, are imported to places like Boston, London, and Singapore regularly. If you are selling equipment... Be specific in your first post about what you are selling and how much you want for it (or that you're willing to negotiate). State clearly whether or not the price includes shipping, and if it does, be sure to allow yourself a reasonable amount to cover the cost. Avoid sending out "for sale" posts unless you are willing to arrange for shipping to whomever in the message distribution wants to buy it (and remember the comment above about Distribution: headers...); if you cannot limit the posting's distribution for one reason or another, be clear in your message about where you will and will not ship. The US Postal Service has a 50-pound limit on the weight of packages sent through them, and United Parcel Service has a 150-pound limit; other carriers have similar limits. Check with your carrier before shipping. Anything heavier will have to go by motor-freight (read: EXPENSIVE). Don't advertise equipment that you cannot ship within a reasonable amount of time. Once you have made a deal, state clearly your intentions and follow through on them. Nothing angers a buyer more than delays and excuses. Once you do ship, have it securely packaged (insurance is strongly recommended). Payment terms should be whatever you and the buyer are comfortable with, and commonly include options such as money up-front, COD (Collect on Delivery), or payment upon receipt and inspection. For money up-front transactions, be specific about payment options as appropriate (for example, "USPS money order or personal check; personal checks must clear before item is shipped). Don't be offended if the buyer wants to take steps to protect his position, since he probably doesn't know you. Most readers of this forum are basically honest and want to maintain their net-image, but the few bad apples should encourage you to only deal with honest, reputable people and to reasonably protect your position in any transaction. Remember that COD stands for "Collect on Delivery" and not necessarily "Cash on Delivery." The carrier collects the funds from the buyer, and then hands him the package; they then send the payment on to you. They are not a party to the transaction, and so they don't care if the buyer gives you a bad check. Therefore, you may want to specify the collection of cash, money order, or other certified funds for your COD. Check with your carrier for exact COD options and policies. If you choose this option, make sure the buyer knows up front so that he can make the necessary arrangements. One thing to remember is that UPS, at least will send whatever is Collected on Delivery to the shipper's address as recorded in their files, and NOT to the return address on the package. If you use a commercial packing and shipping service, you'll have to go back there to pick up your payment; if you send from your office, make sure the shipping department knows what to do with the check they'll get from UPS in the mail. If you are buying equipment... Respond to an advertisement in a prompt manner. (The item may well not be available if you don't!) Don't skip a message just because you think the price is too high; offer the seller a price you think is reasonable instead. You might be pleasantly surprised. State clearly your terms and intentions and follow through on them. Nothing angers a seller more than delays and excuses. As radio equipment is generally bulky and fragile, allow for a reasonable amount of money to package, insure, and ship your purchase properly. Payment terms should be similar to those suggested under seller's guidelines, and should reasonably protect your position (remember, you are probably buying equipment sight-unseen from a relative stranger), but remember that he needs to protect his position as well. If you are unsure of a given seller, ask a net-regular discreetly via E-mail. He or she will be more than happy to either ease your concerns or confirm your suspicions. In general... When you post to rec.radio.swap, be sure to use a meaningful Subject: line. "FOR SALE" or "WANTED", by themselves, give little information to the person skimming through the group by looking at the message subjects. "IC-32AT dual-band 144/440 handheld for sale, $400" is much more useful; if the reader is looking for HF transceivers, he can skip right past your message. If you have lots of different things for sale, try to give as much information as you can, but remember that most systems get unhappy at Subject: lines longer than 80 characters, and a few older ones truncate them at 40. It's generally a good idea to include your geographic location and a phone number where you can be reached somewhere in your posting as well. Besides reassuring your potential buyer or seller that you are a real person, it's often easier to bargain and make other arrangements on the telephone than through a protracted electronic mail exchange. Some buyers prefer dealing with folks in their local area, too, as that makes it easier for them to inspect the equipment before paying money. The Usenet marketplace groups in general, and rec.radio.swap in particular, are a great place to buy that piece of gear you've had your eye on. Items go quickly for reasonable prices. I've sold a radio within three hours of posting the for sale message. The usefulness of these groups depends to a large extent on the people who inhabit them, though, and a few unscrupulous users can easily sink the whole thing. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or seeker of equipment, remember that your honesty and integrity reflects on the general reputation and usefulness of this forum and amateur radio in general.