I figured this would be needed eventually and the number of PMs lately kinda pushed me over the edge to do this. I've been buying/selling now for about 3 years now. Yes all my friends on here might know me as a gear whore to which I reply . However with the deals in the range of 50+ going on here I've made a few observations and "Rules" that I follow every time I get into a deal/sale/trade. These rules have saved my ass more than once and have yet to let me down :knockonwood: ~) Never deal with someone who has just joined this place to hawk their gear/guitars. Now I know what you might be thinking - but they are selling some really nice gear and at a good price. Well here is the thing. When someone just joins a forum to hawk gear a few alarm bells go off in my head. Also I never deal with kids. No offense but when you are a kid there are so many things you don't know, certain things you can't control and are somewhat immature. Kids need to be driven around meaning they can't ship out when they are supposed to. They usually have to confirm with mommy/daddy before doing things. They have a totally different level of maturity and responsibility. This might not be the case with all but in my experience definitely the majority. Now if you are a kid (younger than 19) don't get bent out of shape. Prove me wrong and do whatever you need to get a positive deal going. Make every effort to make the deal go through smoothly. Note: This is just a warning I know some kids who are stellar dealers so its just the 80/20 rule. a) I don't know this guy and he doesn't have any established positive reputation on this forum. Thus I'm not dealing with him. b) The above step is the hardest to do especially when you are GASing really hard for a certain piece of gear/guitar. If you must have something it make sure you are ready to accept any possible shit that happens. c) You as a buyer must be active in your purchasing decision. Take time to talk to the person via PM/IM and get to know them. A lot of times I've found that through this method you can tell if the person is a douche or a genuine guy who loves gear whoring as much as you do d) Ask for forum references from other forums and FOLLOW UP on them. I've seen too many people on here get sucked in by someone hooking them up with false references from other forums. 90% no one checks and thats when you kick yourself when shit happens. e) If they have eBay ID ask for it and send them a message on eBay to confirm that that truly is them. I go one step further and ask them questions in the message that allows me to confirm that they are the same person. Questions like "What item are we discussing and on what forum is this on?" etc help a lot. f) Get addresses and contact information (tel #/email/IM) even if its for something trivial like a pickup. No one likes to get screwed and in this day and age being anal means you get what you want. h) *Never* pay with a USPS MO as they aren't trackable and once you mail it out you are at the sellers whims. Should they decide what the heck I'll use this Dual Recto for my next gig in 2 weeks then mail it out guess what - you can't do shit. There is nothing there to squeeze his balls. You call him out on it , they'll either pretend they were uber busy and couldn't get it out or they'll ignore you. * I am referring to new/shady members who don't have a lot of time on here and without references. Some older members like myself included prefer USPS MO as PayPal has dicked us around too long. There are still times when I prefer PayPal as its instant payment and you get a record of the payment should shit hit the fan. i) Always pay with PayPal and a Credit Card. Paying with a credit card gives you an additional level of comfort should shit hit the fan. I mean when PayPal says the guy has no money in his account you outta luck - you can do a Charge Back with your CC company. This means you get your money back!! If you don't have a Credit Card get one and use it only for this purpose just as another security measure. Paying with the PayPal Gift option is a very bad option should you get screwed over. It gives you zero protection from PayPal no matter if you got scammed or not. So use it only if you're dealing with a high volume seller, highly reputable member on here. Personally for a large amount I'd pay the fees or split them with the seller/buyer to get the PayPal protection along with my CC protection. j) Never wait for something/someone to help you out. Be fucking proactive and PM/IM/Email/Call the person if something is not the way its supposed to be. Don't sit for weeks and then finally PM a mod saying "d00d i didn't get my guitar halp". Also note PayPal only can help you out within 45 days of the transaction. So move your ass!! Remember there are warnings all over the place on here that you all accept once you post/reply/buy/sell/trade on here. The moderators aren't the Police in which we can help you nab the perp. All we can do is email them, check their account out and maybe give you their email. Other than that its all you. k) If you are buying gear/guitars ask for pics. I'm not talking about ass pics from a cellphone. I'm talking pics from a legit digital camera outdoors where you can see a lot more. Pictures indoors in poor light reveal nothing and are usually really bad for judging condition. Also if you are posting something for sale take a shit load of pictures. Digital pics don't cost money so why take 2 pictures when taking a lot more can help you in the long run. It can help by letting a potential buyer feel more secure with its condition and also save your bacon should some discrepancies come up down the line. l) Confirm and reconfirm the method of shipment. Ask whether insurance, signature confirmation, tracking #, delivery confirmation etc will be included in your shipping costs? If not spend the extra $ and get that shit in yo! If your package is being mailed out via USPS ask if its Priority or Parcel. Request Priority as the less time the item is in transit the less damage can occur to it. Parcel post is nice and cheap but you have to wait 2-5 weeks sometimes and that means a lot of shit can happen (damage, lost, stolen). If your package is being mailed out via courier (Fedex/UPS/DHL) make sure you get a tracking number. Ask if insurance is included? Is signature confirmation needed or will the person just drop off the package at my door. I used to live in a mainly college based apartment complex and there have been times when Fedex left shit at my door and then I come home to find its been stolen. Be smart and proactive - if this can happen to you ask the person to include it for a few extra bucks and shell out some cash to help them out. m) While waiting for your package keep communicating with the buyer/seller. This helps both parties as it provides a feeling of security. n) Shipping. Make sure the gear/guitar so that it doesn't move, has no chance of getting crushed/dented/torn/basically fscked up. If your guitar doesn't have a hardshell or a gigbag, double cardboard box it and have a layer of shipping foam peanuts between it. You know just think about protecting the item. n) When the item appears immediately check it out for damage, its appearance from what was described to you or from the pics. If everything is fine and dandy proceed. o) Leave feedback. There are many people on here who don't leave feedback. I've noticed this as when they go to sell items all they have are things like "I've done deals with so and so" but nothing to reflect this in iTrader. Which means if you are anal like me you gotta check those references out. That seems to be all I can think of at the moment. Hope this helps everyone out here. If you have any more questions/comments please PM me. If there is something you'd like to add PM me. Good luck in your future gear/guitar deals. -dj PS: Posted here to that people can comment.