Buyer and Seller Etiquette
August 25, 2019
There are now several places on Facebook to post "reviews" of both sellers and buyers. The idea behind them is to warn people of seller scams as well as problem buyers. But, many times the places become a place for petty things because one or the other party does not really understand the transaction. Some one recently said there was no SOP [standard operating procedure] for buying or selling so we were kinda stuck. I don't think so. There is buyer and seller etiquette and if more people would follow it there would be a lot more happy transactions.
When a seller takes a persons money they have an obligation to get the purchased items to the buyer in the best condition possible. Wrapping eggs in bubble wrap, putting them in a box with some peanuts and sending them flat rate shipping then blaming the postal system for broken eggs and low/no hatch rate is not ethical. Like it or not, seller did not take proper care of the purchased eggs. Boxes in the postal system are subject to tremendous forces and your packaging should protect the purchased eggs from as much of them as possible.
Eggs should be double boxed. The eggs in the inner box can be any way that protects them and holds them rather steady. Some people use foam with eggs held firmly held in holes in the foam. Others put eggs in egg cartons then surround that with bubble wrap. Some sellers wrap each egg in bubble wrap then surround with paper shreds or peanuts. We have even seen the use pipe insulation foam to protect the eggs then peanuts for fill. A seller will have to work out what they feel is best, but the eggs must be protected and not allowed to move much at all in that inner box.
The boxed eggs then need to go into another box that has some filler that can insulate and absorb shock. The inner box should be able to move slightly as that will also help to absorb some shock. The yolk in an eggs that is dropped is moving at the speed of the falling box. When the box hits the floor the box stops but the yolk is slammed into the shell and bounces back and forth against the shell until the force is dissipated. That is why there needs to be some movement of the inner box and materials that can absorb some shock surrounding it.
Bear in mind the box is the first thing your buyer sees when they get their package, so try to present as professional an appearance as possible. The outside of the box should have stickers or something that indicates the contents are fragile. I do not think the USPS handles those boxes any differently than boxes with out such stickers, but at least you are communicating the contents are breakable. You want to also have something on the outside stating the contents are perishable. In the event that eggs do not arrive when expected, having these stickers on the box will help when filing a claim.
I like to use a bright colored piece of paper behind my shipping label that has Fragile and CALL FOR PICK UP with a space for the phone number. They also have m NPIP number on them. The colored paper goes on the box, then the shipping label over that and then everything taped down. I run tape over the address, the top of the shipping label and the bottom. The tape goes from one side of the box to the other and the areas covered are areas I want to keep readable if the box is exposed to rain.
When shipping eggs out of one state and into another, most states require the shipper to be NPIP clean. Some also require flocks tested clean of AI [avian influenza]. A seller should file the proper paperwork with their state that will then send it to the receiving state. Under no circumstances should a seller expect someone to look up and verify their number and putting a number on or in the box is also not acceptable. Paperwork should be on file with both the sending and receiving states of any shipment. Get caught once and you will probably get a call from your state Vet. Fail to file paperwork again and you can lose your NPIP status.
Terms of the shipping and transaction should be clear before you ship. Some people have certain days off to get their shipment and others may be out of town. A buyer has a right to know when their eggs ship and to have them ship at a time when they can receive them. I prefer shipping on Mondays, sometimes Tuesdays. The reasoning is package should arrive before a weekend and it is easier for me to pack on Sundays. That said, I have made arrangements with people to ship on other days to accommodate their schedules. Be mindful of holidays. Some sellers ship on Saturdays with a Monday arrival. The shipping date should be clearly communicated and agreed on. When you create the shipping label, the tracking information should be sent the the buyer. If you are using Click-n-Ship you need to enter the tracking into into PayPal as a record you shipped the merchandise.
Most eggs are shipped "Hold at PO" with a phone number to call for pick up. I used to create my shipping labels in PayPal, but I had one buyer whose post office would not hold a package unless the box arrived as SHIPPED to hold at PO. PayPal does not have that shipping option so I went to the USPS site and used Click-n-Ship. When my labels are created in the USPS site, there is a box to check for hold at PO. The label then prints and ships to the post office address instead of your buyers. Shipping through Click-n-Ship is not as cheap as Paypal, but I can ship correctly, have all my shipping history in one place and refunds are easy and instant. Sellers can ship however is convenient, just make sure you can have the package delivered as buyer expects.
Insurance. Always insure the package for the value of the sale. Sure, it can add a few dollars if the value is over some limits, but if the insurance cost is something you can't/won't absorb, price accordingly.
Many sellers these days ask payments to be sent through PayPal as friends and family instead of goods/services. That means the buyer has no recourse if you don't deliver the goods as expected. I understand some buyers are scam artists too.. and you will have to do what you are comfortable with. Bear in mind, if you don't deliver what you promised you may open yourself up to Federal fraud charges because you used the postal system. If you are uncomfortable with a buyer and want the friends and family to protect yourself, maybe you should avoid the entire transaction. You can always run a buyers name through the several review sites and see if they have a history of being trouble. You can also check their profile and see if anything seems off, like no pics, 6 friends and joined Facebook 4 months ago.
Many sellers sell their eggs as a dozen, and add a few more as extras in case of breakage. That is a good business model to have to make sure your buyer gets a good number of eggs to put in their incubator. If you can send even more extras, you are going above and beyond what is typical and will thrill your buyer when they open your box.
Having done everything in your power as a seller to get the eggs safely to your buyer, what happens if things still go bad. If the postal system did destroy the box and there are broken eggs, the buyer files a claim and will get the cost of the item back. Shipping is not refundable. The buyer paid and lost and you had something of value and lost. Both parties are on the losing end at this point so recovering what you can is helpful. Many sellers will send another shipment of eggs with the buyer paying only the cost of shipping. If that is something you can do, it is a nice gesture to the buyer. If you cannot because of you have a waiting list and future eggs are spoken for... or the girls just quit laying, maybe offer some replacement eggs at a later time. Telling the buyer too bad and to take it up with the post office you did your part is not very service focused. You may get to keep their money, but there is a good chance they will be posting and destroying you all over social media on the review sites. It really is not worth it for a dozen eggs.
While a seller is responsible to get what you bought to you in good shape, you as a buyer have a responsibility to make sure what you want is clear to the seller.
Many sellers are on social media and that is where you most often find something you may be interested in obtaining. If they post something you are interested in and you post to PM with a price, check your PM's to see if you got a reply. Sellers often have work, family and busy lives.. so asking the same question or not responding to their replies can get them where they won't respond any more to your requests. Understand you are also probably not the only person that is interested in what they are offering.
When dealing with sellers you should be clear about everything important to you. If you have preferences in shipping or packaging you need to make sure you discuss how the seller ships. My first customer told me I had to ship the way they wanted their order shipped to get their business. Some shipping methods are better than others, and as the buyer you want to make sure your seller packages well so you get what you paid for.
Do your best to make sure you know what you are getting. If egg color is important be clear in your expectations. Also do your research on the seller. Search their name on the review sites like Good Egg and Bad Eggs sites. If you are buying on EBay check out the good and bad reviews from the seller. Understand there are some bad buyers out there that can unfairly post bad reviews. You want to read the bad reviews and see if there are issues that keep reacquiring, like bad shipping or poor quality stock.
Check out any social media page the seller has and check out their birds. Ideally your seller has posts on places like Facebook or Instagram. Check out photos of parent stock if you are ordering eggs. Offspring are only as good as their parents. You also want to also look beyond the birds and check out their living condition. Nice birds in filthy conditions should give a buyer pause. Chickens are not very clean, and one should not expect immaculate conditions, but living conditions should be relatively clean.
If you have done your research and want to make a purchase, pay using PayPal and do not use Friends and Family. If the seller insists on the Friends and Family payment you will have to decide if your research makes you comfortable enough to pay in a way that you have no recourse as a buyer if things go wrong. Send your payment promptly and make sure the seller has your address and phone number for the HOLD AT PO and call for pick up.
When you arrive at the post off to get your package make sure to look the box over. If it is damaged get photos and open the box at the PO. Take photos of any damage or broken eggs as you will need them for a claim and to inform the seller. If the box is in good shape take the eggs home and set the eggs in a carton with their fat ends up. I like to let the eggs sit for a couple days before putting them in the incubator.
It is nice to let the seller know when you get your eggs and how well they survived the shipping process. If the seller did a great job let them know and if you choose to post a review they will surely appreciate it. If the transaction, despite all your research, is a disappointment, you will need to reach out to the seller. Do your best to communicate your concerns clearly. Be careful as any correspondence in writing can and may be posted in a public forum or to prove your case. If the seller fails to to honor the agreement and you have not paid using Friends and Family you can file a PayPal dispute. Photos and correspondence will be used in evidence to prove your case.
You can also post reviews of the seller on both EBay and on the several Facebook groups. If you post a negative review of a seller, make sure you include facts and supporting evidence. You should also be aware of what are normal and customary responses to a problem from most sellers. If the seller has offered what it a typical recourse and you reject it and make unreasonable demands, you will not paint yourself as a buyer in a favorable light. Sellers also pay attention to reviews of other sellers and a ranting and unreasonable poster will be quickly noted and remembered as a person not to do business with.
Buying and selling is a good way to get new additions to your flock. As long as buyer and seller stay in the bounds of good faith and proper etiquette the transactions are satisfactory to both parties.