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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone,
After joining this forum I've come to realize that I am the flipper type; I think it's all part of the fun! I've done a number of private deals though this website, all of which turned out to be very pleasant. I recently took a plunge on my grail watch that was up for an honest price last week, and hopefully it will be at my door tomorrow without any problems.
Then I started thinking, if I keep flipping at this rate I may someday run into a rotten deal. And given that I'm trending towards buying and selling more and more expensive items, the chances of losing big money is inevitably increasing as well. Being new to this game, I want to ask you experienced folk here, how often do you think deals on WUS are in fact scams? (either in percentage terms or per arbitrary # of sales threads). I'm not asking for the number of victims who post their scam andecdotes, but instead what you think the actual number of scam sale posts are among the sea of FS threads, regardless of whether or not they eventually get sold. Are the risks very real, or do you think there's some unnecessary going paranoia around here?
 

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If you always get feedback on sellers and buyers first and you use paypal you really shouldn't have any problem...and if you do that's why you used paypal ;)
 

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Look in the feedback forum. Some have had problems, but the overall consensus is that it's reasonably safe to buy here. However, remember to always buy the seller first. In other words, research who you're buying from and only then consider actually doing a transaction.
 

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There is always a chance of being scammed, but if you look into your buyer's background and set realistic restrictions on payments and delivery then you can minimize those risks. I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of buyers and sellers on WUS, Ebay and other sales fora are fundamentally honest. I would focus less on the chances of losing money and more on how to manage the risks inherent in buying and selling.
 

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A regular contributing member is not likely to scam you. The only times I've gotten the raw end of a deal was on eBay, and since I paid through Paypal via my credit card I got my money back. I've literally bought hundreds of watches here, from members on Watch Talk Forums, WatchNet, and TimeZone without issue because I did some homework on the seller in question if I didn't know them.
 

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Just remember, if you use PayPal and choose gift, all that protection is thrown out the window.

I worry about my purchasing going bad on the forums too but I try to check out the seller to give me some peace of mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for your input guys. As most of you have suggested, I do have a set of rules that I follow before doing deals here. First of all, I always purchase through Paypal (funded by credit card) within CONUS, and secondly engage in at least one additional written correspondence regarding the item's condition and terms of sale before sealing the deal. That way I feel sufficiently protected under the first rule, and I get a good feel for the person by following the second rule. Then again I overlook other criteria that a lot of people regard as important. I'm usually lenient about references or number of posts, as I feel like a scammer has the means to hijack/fabricate a hi-post account or reference easily anyways. Also, being a low-post newb myself, I try to give my fellow peers a break - we all need to started at the bottom at some point, and you may notice that honest low-count noobs will try harder and thus provide better services/prices. Also, I've never thought of asking a seller to jump through additional hoops, like the whole today's newspaper photo request. If the sale isn't clear/convincing enough that I have to make such further requests, then it's not marketable/attractive and is already of no interest to me. Likewise, sales without pics or description of condition is a no no.
That said, would you say that my general rules of thumb are sufficient, or do you think there are additional rules that one must ALWAYS follow when making a purchase here?

P.S. I know there's a sticky on this, but I'm sure most of you don't go through that list exhaustively. Which ones are essential? For example, would you walk away from a seller who didn't have a verified Paypal account?
 

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A bit of advice from my past experience is, follow your gut. If you feel even the slightest bit of oddity or the hair twitching on the back of your neck, then consider taking extra precautions. I was scammed for about $1700 once a long time ago, pre-Paypal (1998 or so, non-watch related gear sale) and I think back on it pondering if I had intuitions I should have listened to. I tend to be rather trusting, though, and I do have a sense of comfort in this WUS community, but that doesn't protect me from sly anonymous newcomers. The advice to look at a user posting history seems very good, especially if you feel the jitters.
 

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Sounds like you are being reasonably safe. Obviously my rules vary depending on the price of watch I am buying/selling. I might buy sell an affordable, sub $200 watch to someone with 10 or 15 posts, but as purchase price escalates, I tend to be more cautious and choose to deal with more established members or request additional references. I also tend to read some of their previous posts to find out a bit about their character. I almost pulled the trigger on a Seiko Sarb recently and decided to read a few previous posts by a member after he told me that he purchased the watch directly from Higuchi in Japan. I found a post documenting that he bought from another seller a few months ago. Watch/seller was probably fine, but little things like this make me move on. Turns out the stars aligned and a Mido that I liked better came up on the sales forum a few hours later for the same price.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Cool, may I ask what your threshold price would be for getting picky? I'd say any investment in excess of $1000 requires extra due diligence, but I feel like in the end it all boils down to gut feeling (as skywatch commented. I recently spent around said threshold on a used watch on the sales forum from a guy who didn't have an identity here, but I snagged the watch anyway because I was able to infer from the nuances of his writing that he was the real deal. In retrospect I may have been naiive, but I'm pretty sure it'll turn out okay when I open the box tomorrow.

Dnslater, smart move passing on the SARB deal - I always offer either the hard copy invoice, or a forwarded copy of the email invoice whenever I sell one of my watches. I think this convinces most interested buyers without question.
 

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I wouldn't put a hard threshold on anything. The more expensive the sale, the more cautious I would be. If I feel itchy about someone, the less expensive the purchase the more flexible I would be. I should say, so far I have only been a buyer here on WUS. I feel safer as a buyer in general, especially here. I think sellers are more susceptible in general, and the two times I bought here I made very clear communications to let the seller know I was legit. But those were small sales so neither of us felt very exposed.

I would feel especially cautious with famous name brands: Rolex, JLC, Breitling, Cartier, Panerai, IWC, Ulysse Nardin, names like this have a weird way of pulling crud from the floorboards. Many of us here respect these brands highly but probably don't treat them quite the same as fakers and scammers, so I feel somehow the risk of getting scammed as buyer or seller on the open market (eBay etc.) might be a bit scarier for me PERSONALLY than WUS; but this is also an open market of sorts and YMMV.
 
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