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  1. #1
    bcr229's Avatar
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    Do's and Don'ts of Buying Herps Online

    Spring is here and so are the baby herps. Buyers who are considering their first-ever purchase from an internet seller, where the new critter will be shipped instead of picked up locally, are asking questions on how to pick a reputable vendor. Rather than reply to each individual question I wrote this up as a guide based on my own practices. Also if anyone has other ideas on how buyers can protect themselves please don't hesitate to speak up!

    Do:

    Check out the seller before even initiating contact once you find an ad for a critter you want, especially if it's someone you don't recognize. If spending a few minutes doing research means that you lost out on an animal then so be it; another buying opportunity will come along. It shouldn't take long to find background on a seller. If you come up with nothing then ask in the forums listed below if anyone knows, or knows of, the seller. Even if this is the seller's very first sale ever, that person has likely been active on Facebook and/or internet forums, and the herp world is pretty small. Places to look for feedback and reviews include:
    - The Inquiries/Feedback forum on ball-pythons.net under the Business section (search for name, business name, email, and phone number).
    - The feedback groups on Facebook, including (but not limited to): "Herpetoculture Feedback and inquiry", "FBI - Feedback and Inquiries For breeders who lie and cheap ass people.", and "Herp Industry FBI: The Good, The Bad, The Truth".
    - Other groups on Facebook, such as species-specific groups for the critter you're purchasing.
    - Google, on the seller's name and/or business name, plus the type of critter you're buying, e.g. "python", "boa", "gecko", "dragon".
    - Google, on the seller's name and/or business name, plus a word like "review", "thief", "steal", "scam", "warning", "mites", "infection", "arrest", "mug shot", or "smuggle".
    - Google, on just the seller's email address and/or phone number. Someone with an ad for a python in Virginia isn't likely to be rehoming a dog in California at the same time.
    - Also do reverse-image searches. Scammers love to steal photos and sell stuff they don't have.

    Read the seller's Terms of Service (TOS) thoroughly, especially the policies about non-refundable deposits, shipping, health guarantees, and DOA's.

    Read ads thoroughly before asking questions, but don't be afraid to ask for any information not stated in the ad or if there are discrepancies in the ad. Sometimes sellers use copy/paste and don't update everything, even the age, sex, morph, and species of critter.

    Ask about guarantees if the seller doesn't have a TOS available.

    Ask for more pictures if the ones in the ad are out of focus, have poor lighting, etc.

    Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation in emails and texts to avoid miscommunications and/or misunderstandings.

    Pay promptly once a deal is struck, or adhere to the payment plan if one is offered.

    If using PayPal to pay, back up your purchase with a credit card rather than a bank account. That way if there is a problem you can bring a dispute not only through PayPal but also through your credit card company.

    Have a quarantine enclosure set up and running well before the critter arrives. If you are receiving a reptile, pre-treat the enclosure for mites the day before the critter arrives.

    Make sure you are home and keep an eye out for the shipper the day the critter is supposed to arrive, as even signature-required packages get left on the doorstep. If you are picking up the package at the hub, be there when it opens.

    Make a digital video of the unboxing and inspection of your new critter.
    - Note the type of packing materials, insulation, heat packs (if any), labels, etc. that were used.
    - Look/listen/feel for signs of illness, injury, or deformities with the critter.
    - Dampen a white paper towel with either water or Reptile Relief and wipe the critter with it to check for mites; even if you can't easily find any on the critter due to its markings, mites should show up on a white paper towel.

    Post feedback about the transaction, whether good or bad, afterward.

    Save copies of all correspondence and get a screen shot of the original ad.

    Don't:

    Waste the seller's time kicking tires or asking for more pictures when you have no intention of buying the animal.

    Lowball. Asking for a 10% discount in the advertised price is negotiating. Asking for a 75% discount is insulting to the seller and the animal.

    Be afraid to walk away if something seems off or if the seller doesn't communicate in a timely manner.

    Believe a too-good-to-be-true price, scammers would rather collect a little money from a lot of people before disappearing, than a lot of money from one person.

    Send money "Friends and Family" if using PayPal, or use money transfer services like Venmo, Zelle, CashApp, Chase QuickPay, Facebook money transfer, etc. that do not give you buyer protection.

    Respond expressing interest to someone else's add with your own cell phone number or email address posted where anyone can see it. Scammers will text or email you pretending to be the seller, get a payment, and disappear. Send that info in a private message.

    Buy an(other) animal if you don't have savings or a line of credit in place to deal with life's little emergencies. It is not the seller's problem if your car's transmission goes tango-uniform halfway through the payment plan.

    Complain about high shipping costs, especially for a coast-to-coast shipment.

    Be surprised about shipping delays due to weather. Summer and winter happen every year, get over it if the seller won't ship because the forecast high or low temperatures are dangerous at your location, the seller's location, or the mid-country FedEx hubs.

    Deal with people who state they don't bother to quarantine because they only buy from trustworthy, reputable sources. Yes, these keepers exist.

    Deal with convicted criminals. Someone who has a record of ripping off others won't hesitate to rip you off too, no matter what "guarantees" you are given. Unfortunately there's a small portion of the population who are predatory and amoral, and who cause a great deal of heartache. These are the type of people who will find your wallet and not return it, who will eat your lunch out of the work fridge, and who will sell you a vet bill and disappear with your cash. The theme can be seen over and over in the various forums and feedback threads, not just for animals, but for many industries: cars, firearms, motorcycles, boats, real estate... the mindset of these people is that if the opportunity is there, it must be taken; I'm gonna get mine at the expense of everyone else.
    Last edited by bcr229; 07-27-2020 at 10:34 PM. Reason: Removed reference to Fauna BOI as it no longer exists, listed more payment options that lack buyer protection

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  3. #2
    BPnet Veteran JodanOrNoDan's Avatar
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    Sticky worthy

  4. #3
    BPnet Veteran Mustang5's Avatar
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    Re: Do's and Don'ts of Buying Herps Online

    Quote Originally Posted by JodanOrNoDan View Post
    Sticky worthy
    Agreed. Really good info bcr229.

  5. #4
    Registered User JoshSloane's Avatar
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    Great write up and very inclusive! Fauna really is a great resource for getting information, it just has to be taken with a grain of salt sometimes. To thoroughly use the BOI to its full potential I really encourage people not to only read the most highlighted or dramatic postings regarding a particular breeder, but dig deeper into the information and try to get an overall picture of the seller.

    Ive noticed that some people post 'Bad guy' threads in the heat of the moment, and once all the evidence and facts start coming out, it turns into more of a miscommunication. That being said, above everything, I find that a seller's willingness to professionally and openly communicate about an animal is directly correlated with the quality of their product.

    There is absolutely no excuse for a seller to not provide information to the consumer directly about the animals they breed, or can't find an associate who can. I've purchased animals from leaders in the reptile community, like Ron Tremper, who still had time to respond to my emails in a timely and professional manner.

    When in the process of inquiring about and ordering an animal online, I would take any inability to properly communicate as a MAJOR red flag. If a seller wants me to send them 500$ for a snake I can't see in person, they better be ready to communicate like an intelligent and professional human being.

    My list of some of my favorite and dependable sellers are:

    Chase-n-reptiles, Chase Delles and Russell Dabritz- Retics
    Andrew Deitz- Retics
    Rainbows-R-Us- BCI boas and BRBs
    Ron Tremper-Leopard geckos and bps
    Reptiles by Mack-Leopard geckos
    Last edited by JoshSloane; 04-25-2016 at 03:30 PM.

  6. The Following User Says Thank You to JoshSloane For This Useful Post:

    robert7107 (08-19-2016)

  7. #5
    BPnet Veteran stickyalvinroll's Avatar
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    Buy from me. I'm very reputable

  8. #6
    BPnet Veteran robert7107's Avatar
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    Re: Do's and Don'ts of Buying Herps Online

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshSloane View Post
    Great write up and very inclusive! Fauna really is a great resource for getting information, it just has to be taken with a grain of salt sometimes. To thoroughly use the BOI to its full potential I really encourage people not to only read the most highlighted or dramatic postings regarding a particular breeder, but dig deeper into the information and try to get an overall picture of the seller.

    Ive noticed that some people post 'Bad guy' threads in the heat of the moment, and once all the evidence and facts start coming out, it turns into more of a miscommunication. That being said, above everything, I find that a seller's willingness to professionally and openly communicate about an animal is directly correlated with the quality of their product.

    There is absolutely no excuse for a seller to not provide information to the consumer directly about the animals they breed, or can't find an associate who can. I've purchased animals from leaders in the reptile community, like Ron Tremper, who still had time to respond to my emails in a timely and professional manner.

    When in the process of inquiring about and ordering an animal online, I would take any inability to properly communicate as a MAJOR red flag. If a seller wants me to send them 500$ for a snake I can't see in person, they better be ready to communicate like an intelligent and professional human being.

    My list of some of my favorite and dependable sellers are:

    Chase-n-reptiles, Chase Delles and Russell Dabritz- Retics
    Andrew Deitz- Retics
    Rainbows-R-Us- BCI boas and BRBs
    Ron Tremper-Leopard geckos and bps
    Reptiles by Mack-Leopard geckos
    I didn't even know fauna had a classified section.. I check it out

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

  9. #7
    bcr229's Avatar
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    Back to the top, just read yet another sad story of someone who got ripped off sending money via PayPal Friends and Family to a scammer, who has of course disappeared...

  10. #8
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    I have only used paypal once and it was probably 10 years ago. Why do you not do the friends and family option? I made a deposit on a snake recently and used that option...have I done something very wrong?
    _________________________
    0.1 Aditi (Black Eyed Leucistic)
    0.1 Ushas (Candino)
    0.1 Manasa (Genetic Stripe)

  11. #9
    BPnet Senior Member redshepherd's Avatar
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    Re: Do's and Don'ts of Buying Herps Online

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob6656 View Post
    I have only used paypal once and it was probably 10 years ago. Why do you not do the friends and family option? I made a deposit on a snake recently and used that option...have I done something very wrong?
    If you can be extremely sure that the person you are buying from/sending money to is not a scammer, it works... The problem is if they are a scammer, you have no way to make a claim if they run away with your money.




  12. #10
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    Okay. Thank you for the info.
    _________________________
    0.1 Aditi (Black Eyed Leucistic)
    0.1 Ushas (Candino)
    0.1 Manasa (Genetic Stripe)

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