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Dan King

Oct 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/6/98
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
URL: http://www.fmn.net/FAQ

--The Usenet Marketplace FAQ--

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

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 <mailto:lil...@phoenix.net>
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
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

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.

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
clas...@aol.com, Subject: "Seller Info" or
"Buyer Info"
GuaranTrade (MC/VISA)
(913) 841-4483 USA
Fee: 5% up to $1500, min. $10, rate drops after $1500
tr...@gtrade.com, Subject: "info"
(919) 682-7715 Durham, North Carolina
Fee: $5 up to $100, $10 up to $1000, $20 for $1000+
(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
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. ejb...@epix.net has provided a sample bill of sale
for free distribution on the Usenet Marketplace. You can
download a copy by anonymous FTP from ftp.phoenix.net in

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.

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

Mailboxes Etc.
Chain of local mailing services which caters to
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.

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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
;-) 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

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, lil...@phoenix.net.

-*-*-*-*-End transactions FAQ-*-*-*-*-

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