Suggestions for not getting ripped off.....

fgilles02420(z6 MA)October 13, 2005

Having seen the way certain traders are operating on gardenweb has inspired me to post a few guidelines. I've had relatively few trades go bad in the years I've been here, but I've learned a few things I'd like to pass along, especially to newcomers on the board:

1) Ask politely for references. Nobody should be offended by a polite request for people you've had successful trades with. If they are - be suspicious.

2) If you post an offer, and someone answers you privately instead of posting a response publicly - be suspicious. Scam artists avoid posting in the forums so their victims can't be warned.

3)If you just get a bad feeling about a trade, pass it up. This is a mistake I made recently.

4) Keep records of your trades, good and bad (mine go back to 1999). You'll learn who to avoid, and which members are great traders.

This board has been a great resource for information, and a wonderful source for seeds and plants for me over the last few years. It's been great trading again and again with reliable traders you come to know. But with the increasing numbers of people who seem to look at these forums as their personal free landscaping service, more and more people are going the "I'm not sending til I get mine route".

I can't fault them for that, and honestly I wouldn't trade plants (only seeds) any longer with people I don't know. I'm hoping by posting this I can prevent a few people from getting scammed. If anyone has any other suggestions, please add below!


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bruggirl100(z9 FL)

Good suggestions, all. I will add to get a free program that traces IP addresses for email addys. I have one, and the person who recently ripped me off just proved its worth.

The count on people ripped off by this person who have emailed me is up to 5. And the funniest thing is, she emailed me today using an alternate email addy which traced back to the same IP address! The email was to tell me I was wrong to say bad things about her. This is the kicker...she didn't send the email through GW, like someone who read this thread would do, she sent it DIRECTLY TO ME! Now how in the world did she get my email addy if she hasn't emailed me before? I've only had that email a short time, since I had to re-register here, and I've never had an email from her before, so how stupid does she think I am?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 7:37PM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

I will say they are all good suggestions. If anyone ever asks me for references though, they can go take a hike. It aint fun if it's all business. If they can't trust me, then I guess I can't trust them. This isn't do or die. I have never asked anyone for references and I have never held my end of a trade until I received my plants. I could count on one hand the number of times I didn't get my end of the trade.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 7:53PM
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It doesn't make a difference to me if someone asks me for a reference. Nor do I ever ask someone to send out their end of the trade first.

If someone e-mails me and asks if I have this plant or that plant because someone that I've traded with before said to ask me, I would trade with them. Other wise, all stray e-mails from people I do not know are deleted.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 11:31AM
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I don't mind the private emails. I really don't care if they answer my post or privately email me. The number of scammers here are FEW. I've been here for years, have done 100's of trades, and have been stiffed about a dozen times.

I don't ask for references and I don't give references. Really, I don't think all my friends want to be emailed by dozens of people when I trade. I know I wouldn't want that hassle everytime one of my friends trades.

I don't hold my end until I receive their end. You either trust me or you don't. If I trust you and you don't fullfill your end, then you have to live with that. And somewhere along the way, someone like Weebus will give me what you owe me and much more.

The key to trading is trust your instincts. And pay attention to the conversations on the forums. Get to know people before you trade. If you don't know someone, then don't trade your special plants with that person if you get a bad vibe. They're just plants and can be replaced.

If it becomes too much of hassle to trade, there's always Ebay. Honestly, there are far too many good traders here to keep harping on the few dishonest ones. And some of those "bad traders" have probably died or may be in a coma with trades pending? Are they still bad traders? You may not have a clue what's happened to the trader who stiffed you.

There are hundreds of great traders here and only a handfull of "pathologically bad" traders. Can't we focus on the good and move on? If you do a lot of trades, you'll find that you are probably getting good trades at least 95% of the time. Keep a record and see for yourself. My ratio is about 1000:12. Not bad. And some of the traders I've dealt with, like Weebus, are abundantly generous and just great friends. Weebus is well worth the dozen bad traders I've experienced. She has more than made up for what I lost. Thank you, Weebus!


    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 4:42PM
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I'd be curious as to how many traders ask for references when trading a plant but when their cherished daughter goes out on a date they don't have a any knowledge whatsoever about the young man. LOL "Come here son. You and I are gonna have a nice man-to-man talk...."

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 5:12PM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

You guys say it so much nicer than I. thanks for the glowing compliments BC.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 8:34PM
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I don't know about anyone else, Mikey, but the shotgun is loaded and waiting over here (figure of speech, y'all, NO I don't keep a loaded shotgun in the house). I know it's stereotypically the father that the young male suitor must fear, but I've got some sad news for the lad who comes a-calling for my daughter when she's old enough (she's 12 now). Forget my 6'3", 250 lb, Stone Cold Austin lookalike hubby, he's gonna have to deal with ME.

Frances, it used to be that honor was sometimes all a person had. It's sad those days are gone. Yes, the great trades MORE than make up for the bad ones, but that doesn't make it OKAY when one goes bad. It still stinks knowing someone doesn't share your same sense of honor and commitment. I wish I had what you're looking for, I'd definitely send it to you.

Oh gee, and speaking of honor and commitment, I just realized I forgot to send a trade out this week. Oops, gotta shoot the poor dear an e-mail.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 10:01PM
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I had a boy and worried just the same as if he were a girl......I can't imagine the fun the family of 16 are going to have. I thought being from a family with 7 girls and one brother was a riot at times. Guess not!


    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 10:17PM
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Sorry frances......I got off topic.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 10:18PM
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fgilles02420(z6 MA)

Not a problem Annie! This is the conversations forum!

I completely agree with many of the above posters that the number of dishonest traders on gardenweb is small. But the point is, it would be better if it were even smaller, or even (dare we hope!) zero. Cheating on trades makes the boards worse for everyone.

The point of my post is offer advice on how to prevent trades from going bad, by avoiding potentially suspicious offers. If that prevents even one person from getting ripped off, it's been well worth it.

And personally, I'd be happy to offer a positive reference for someone I'd had an excellent trade with!


    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 5:52PM
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I don't know if this is a violation of USPS regulations, but if someone intentionally stiffed me on a trade I sure would like to package up some nice fresh, steamy doggy doo and mail that to them. Just the thought of them opening up their surprise package would make being stiffed an even trade.... - Mike

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 1:07AM
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As hilarious as that idea is, it's a total violation. It's considered hazardous material and if caught you WILL get a hefty fine and in a heap o' trouble. One of the sales reps that is no longer with my company (he got fired over this stunt) thought it would be a hoot to FedEx some doggy doo to another sales rep as a joke. The package somehow got ripped open in transit and my gosh what a big stinking mess (every pun intended). My company got a fine to the tune of several thousand dollars and he was fired immediately. Enough said.

Frances, I have both asked for AND been asked to give references. I don't see what the big deal about it, especially since GW does not have a feedback system. I even have references on the bottom of my trade page.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 10:19AM
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In that case, I guess I would have to use Spike as the sender ;)

Actually I kinda liked Spike....but then again I enjoy Disneyland :)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 12:54AM
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mrbrownthumb(z5 Chicago)

The dog chip would be funny but as lilaclily pointed out but very dangerous to do so. Heck even cigarettes in the mail are a big no no. They're considered hazardas material.

I've seen so many references to getting 'Disneyed' that I have to ask; "What does that mean?" I didn't come across it on the FAQ and I've been curious since I first joined. I've figured it means getting banned but I don't get the Disney connection.

A little help? :/

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 4:05PM
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The person who used to manage the GW and it's content was named Spike. Spike had the technical where-with-all so that if he considered you to be a trouble-maker he would have you blackballed so that anytime you tried to access the GardenWeb you were automatically forwarded to the Disneyland web page. It never happened to me but that's the story I've read from folks who were banned.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 4:14PM
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You could be temporarily Disneylanded, too. Once we were having a discussion on some forum about 'sexy plants', I made some silly comment and linked to the first picture of Knifophia that came up on a google search. When I previewed, Disney came up. Thinking for sure I had inadvertantly added some banned word, I went back and started deleting bits of my comment - until there was nothing of my original post left! When I got to the point where I only said 'test' and it still went to Disney, I realized it was the picture itself that was the cause of the problem.

With that, I started over. Knowing that people couldn't resist the temptation, I said 'Knifophia is so sexy, just posting a picture will get you sent to Disneyland!'. Only after I posted the comment did I open my mail to find Spike asking that I not link to that site, which had been affiliated with spam!

Of course after my comment, he probably had his hands full with folks trying to link that picture. A couple of them even came back to exclaim, 'That's the darndest thing!'.

It's a wonder I was never permanently Disneyed. ;)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 7:36PM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

Cigarettes are shipped by mail all the time.

Here is a link that might be useful: cigs by mail

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 7:52PM
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mrbrownthumb(z5 Chicago)

Oh ok I get it now. I may have to try that. I co-own a forum and for a while there was a problem with a trouble maker and if it should happen again it would be funny to re-rout the person to another site.

Weebus, take a pack of cigs open them then put them in another box and take it to the post office. When they ask you if you have any liquid or hazzardas material tell them it's just a bunch of cigs. Then report with what they tell you.

Just an FYI; Remember the anti smoking commercial of the hidden camera footage of the kids trying to mail cigs? Do you remember the reaction of the guy on camera?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 8:51PM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

They mail cigarettes as a regular business. They can't lie about what they are shipping when the mailman pulls up and picks up the cartons at the cigarette store.

Care packages to our military have packs and cartons of cigarettes in them all the time.

The USPS doesn't say anything about cigarettes. They have restrictions on cigarette lighters, and you can even mail soda, heaven help you, but no word on tobacco that I can find.

Here is a link that might be useful: USPS regs.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 9:53PM
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I wont do business here , Ive Heard all about it,kNoway man, Im just here for the Forums,,,Monk

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 9:48AM
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Ok I need to vent somewhere, and here is the best place to do it. I made 2 trades last month with two traders. Neither one has sent their end. Of course, we emailed eachother and stayed in contact all the time. Eveything felt ok, I never doubted any of these traders. But here I sit one Month later, lost wonderful (expensive) plants, and now these people will NOW not even respond to my emails. I understand that this time of year there is a long wait time on packages. But when they tell you they are behind, then promise you they were sent with a dc number, but will not give it to you..........and I email them just for the dc number and quess what no response. HUMMMM So I have been taken for twice in the same month. So much for the spirit of giving and sharing during the holidays. I guess I gave two people VERY nice Christmas (Holiday) presents, and I have been scrooged!!! Oh well, thank you for letting me VENT.....and many blessings for the Holidays.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 1:18PM
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> 2) If you post an offer, and someone answers you privately instead of posting a response publicly - be suspicious. Scam artists avoid posting in the forums so their victims can't be warned.

I very often email privately. I have an extensive collection of rare/hard-to-come-by plants which I enjoy trading but posting in the forum is the VERY best way to blow my own email box up.

I will NEVER hold a trade until I receive my end but life has a habit of throwing curve balls my way and I can be a bit slow. The last trade I sent out was several days late going out, we had a very early cold wave that required some extensive repair and new construction on the greenhouses. I felt SO bad but there wasn't anything I could do about it. The kind lady I was trading with was completely understanding(thanks, Aboo!), I didn't even get a chance to pot up what she sent to me until yesterday(I told her she did an excellent job of packing, and she did; not one of those plants looked at all stressed).

I probably won't ever ask for references, if the other person hasn't been around long enough for me to recognize him/her I'll probably just sit back and watch for a bit, or I may offer to send for postage, although it's so much more fun to actually trade.

I have some of the most amazing plants and a lot of that is due to the generosity of the wonderful folks I've met here. I've probably had some traders fall through but as long as I get my own end out I'm ok with that, I propagate my own plants so the outlay isn't too high. I can probably count on less than one hand the number of trades that went south(where did that expression come from, anyway????).

As far as I'm concerned, trading plants on GW is kind of like gambling at the dog track or playing the lottery but with better odds. I don't offer more than I can afford to lose and most of the time the pay-off is fantastic.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 7:46PM
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