How Not To Get Ripped Off On TFW2005's Junkion Exchange written by Joe Moore When TFW2005 and the 2005 Boards were just starting to grow in popularity, buying, trading and selling was a pretty harmless affair. Our fandom was fairly contained, with the age skewing to the mid-to-late twenties. Incidents of people getting ripped off in trades were very few and far between. That all changed when the Transformers Movie was gearing up for release. Even during the Unicron Trilogy days, we could easily see our members starting to skew younger. This led to a lot of members making some really bad decisions when it comes to trading. Cases of people backing out of agreed upon deals, even after goods had exchanged hands, was on the rise. And since TFW2005's sales and trades rely on the "honor system", scam artists and opportunists came out of the woodwork. They would provide deals that seemed too good to be true, or had some of the hardest to find items at prices that were hard to pass up on. We quickly went from a fandom that could rely on members to come through, to one where you need to be skeptical, regardless of whom you are dealing with. So how do you not get ripped off? It's not always easy. It requires some effort on the part of the members and patience on the part of the sellers. If you follow soem of these simple steps, your buying and trading experience will almost always be positive. Look For Feedback At TFW2005, we provide a Junkion Exchange Feedback area for members to post about their buying, trading and selling experiences with other members or even some online retailers. The very first thing you should do before committing on any deal, is check this forum. See what experiences people have had here with the seller. If you're the seller, you should be prepared to provide feedback. If no feedback exists for the member, don't hesitate to ask them for feedback. They may have an Ebay account, or may be a member at another forum where they have amassed positive feedback that you can base your decision on. If they don't have any feedback anywhere, it might be wise to pass up on that deal or take some extra precautions. Request Pictures Descriptions are great, but one person's idea of "good condition" is not necessarily going to be the same as another persons. You should always request pictures of the items you're looking to acquire. In this day and age, there's no excuse to not have access to a digital camera of some kind. If someone is unwilling or supposedly unable to provide pictures, then you may end up with something vastly different than you were expecting. Paypal If you have access to it, Paypal is one of the best options to cover yourself in case something goes wrong. Paying by checks, cash or even money orders can leave you defenseless if you get ripped off. There will be almost no way to get that money back. When paying with Paypal, beware the "Gift" payment option. If a deal goes sour, you will NOT be protected. Your money will be gone, and there will be little you can do. If you have money in your Paypal account, sending money is free. If you're sending money fro ma bank account or credit card, there will be a fee. Paypal lets the sender dictate who is paying those fees. Negotiate who will pay those fees before sending the money. Shipping Always, always, always get a tracking number and/or delivery confirmation. It doesn't cost that much to add it to shipping, and can give you some extra peace of mind in your transaction. If the seller isn't offering a tracking number, offer to pay for it yourself. Again, the fee is nominal, and the end result means you can follow your package from shipping to delivery. If you're the seller, or it's a trade of products instead of a sale, pack your stuff with care. Newspaper is an excellent and inexpensive packing material that can offer great protection of your shipment. Packing your items well will nearly eliminate any complaints and minimize that chances for problems after the transaction has been completed. Regardless of how you choose to pay or receive payments, make the effort to take any precautions available. Communication and Patience This is a two-way street. This is one of the biggest problems that members run into. Sellers and buyers have to be open to communication. If a problem arises, it's best to let the other party know as soon as you can. Most members will be understanding. On the flip side, impatience is another key problem. I have personally seen complaints filed less than 24 hours after a transaction has been agreed upon, and the moment that happens, the chances of a positive outcome for either party is nearly impossible. Give the transaction a little time to happen. Many sellers may not live directly near a post office or shipping center, and it can take a few days to get the packages shipped out. An open line of dialogue and a bit of patience can go a long way to smoothing out any problems when dealing on the forums. Common Sense If it looks to good to be true, then it probably is. Someone who just signed up claiming to have 50 Classics Ultra Magnus' and City Commander Armor sets, and selling them for rock bottom prices, is likely going to rip you off. Also, someone refusing to post photos or posting pictures that all look like they're from different sources probably didn't take those pictures themselves. Bottom Line Take some time, do some research and protect yourself in every way possible. If you take care and precaution, you will likely never have a problem dealing on the forums. And remember, if you do get ripped off, there not much that TFW Staff can do, other than banning the scammer. So keep that in mind and never jump into a deal blindly, less you risk getting burned.