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,
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, psch...@novia.net, 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
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
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,
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
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.
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