Ethics of Buying or Selling

I recently started a dialogue with a person to purchase a table top press from them. They didn’t ask for a specific price, so I asked what they had in mind. I offered a little over what they told me, and they agreed to sell me the press. While I was busy making arrangements to have someone pick up the press, I realized that it didn’t seem reasonable to pay a person several hundred dollars before I knew that the press was on its way to me. (It seems reasonable that the seller might have that same concern in letting the press go before knowing that the money was theirs.)

While I was trying to decide when it was fair to pay for the press and when to have someone pick it up; the seller asked on Briarpress what the press was worth (something which I think they should have done before offering to sell it at best offer). The response was that the press should go for more than what I offered. I specifically told the seller that I didn’t know what it was worth when I asked them and that I would be willing to go up on my offer if it was reasonable. Over the weekend the seller decided to post the press on ebay without telling me or letting me make a counter offer, which I would have.

It seems completely unethical to me that a seller would accept an offer from a buyer and while the details for that offer were being arranged change their mind, revoking the offer without the buyer’s knowledge.

Am I wrong to feel this way? We had a written agreement on a product at a price. If the seller found this to be unfair shouldn’t they offer me a chance to counter offer before making it available to the public again?

Log in to reply   14 replies so far

Sounds like an inexperienced seller.

Everyone has had, at one time, bad experiences with individuals selling or buying equipment - and I’m not intending to slam any individual sellers, but CAVEAT EMPTOR (let the buyer beware). If you can deal with experienced equipment folks (like John Barrett, Don Black, Dave Churchman, etc.), you will have a much more positive experience.

In an age where narcissism rules supreme, declaring ones’ word as bond is long gone. Forget this soured deal. You did not lose any money - the other person lost character. Not that they had any in pulling this shoddy deal.

Unfortunately, Forme is right. The days when a person’s word was considered to have some meaning are a thing of the past. While some of us stand by our word, there are so many who don’t that one cannot conduct business on a “handshake” basis any more. It’s sad, but true.

It WAS unethical for the seller to cancel the deal after an agreement was reached, and you are well within your rights to be unhappy about it. But other than that, there’s not much you can do about it…. other than to tell others about it so we can avoid dealing with that particular unscrupulous person.

BUT… there are a lot of presses out there, and I’m sure a good deal from a reputable person will become available. So I’d reccomend that you take Forme’s advice, and let this particular sour deal go… You’ll be happier in the long run.

Thank you all. I feel a little better now. Still frustrated, and bummed out that a press I thought I had purchased is now on ebay, but I guess that’s life. I guess it could have just miscommunication, but it really does seem unfair to me. Oh well at least I hadn’t paid for it yet.

That is raw. I had a sort of similar experience. A guy about an hour and a half away from me listed some things here on Briar Press, so I called him and we agreed on a price and a time I would pick up the items.

My husband and I gave up a beautiful afternoon that we could have spent doing a million other things to drive out there to pick up the stuff. When we got all the way out there, the seller told us that another buyer had called him with a better offer and he was going to take it.

Why the seller didn’t call me on my cell phone (he had the number) so I could have saved all or part of the trip, I can only chalk up to his greed in hoping that once all the way over there, I would increase my own offer beyond the other buyer’s. Well, he had some nice things, but no way would I have dealt with him then. Nope!

One’s word is still one’s bond; just because some people don’t think so, and behave accordingly, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

You changed your mind about payment and pickup more then once, I didn’t question your ethics. I changed my mind on how the transaction should go, you’ll just have to bid and confirm on e*** to be fair and safe, we’ll both be obligated to a time frame, Sorry but I dont think its unfair or unethical, you changed your mind more then once , after I stated I would not wait weeks to sell, I think its fair for me to seek a format where a transaction can be monitored and confirmed, especially if theres already an established lack of trust and miscommunication.

You Wrote Me
Date: September 27, 2008 1:48:42 PM PDT
Now that I think about it - it might make sense for me to wait until I can have someone pick the press up to
get the payment to you - or at least someone to see it
(not that I have any reason not to trust you -just the internet you can’t be too careful…) I will try to get a hold of my friend
down there to come by and check it out, then I can pay for it. Is that okay?
I 100% agree with you on this but could not wait.
You always take a chance online and always inspect a press, if you can. I agree stick with a experienced equipment dealers (see how long they’ll hold something) or only look at presses in your area if you dont want to or cant afford to take a chance online. By using e*** there’s a stipulated time frame and you would be obligated to a time and payment.
I would be obligated to a refund if there was something wrong with the press.

Very sorry it didn’t work out. Keep looking theres plenty of presses out there to be found.

You made the deal. The details of subsequent transaction bogged down. You reneged. Take it off-line. This is a letterpress site not a bazaar.

And yes and I rightfully reneged for the better, and this is not a bazar its a great letterpress resource!

Posting private emails in a public discussion forum is really unfortunate and unseemly.

thank you, i agree with that

So now we know better than to deal with jred. Arrogance and lack of ethics = buyer stay away.

If this is Marjorie from the the Printer’s Guild, I have met you.
I have been to the SJ meetings, I even inquired about a C&P that you tried selling on Briar. Did you wait around for a weekend to receive payment? No. Either I called or you called me, one way or the other we spoke. We agreed it wasn’t the right time for me to purchase your press.
Do I think you lack ethics because you couldn’t wait for me to
“get my money together” ? NO!

Call me Arrogant, yeah I can be harsh, question my ethics NO! as I recall you had some trouble selling your press.
Here’s your post: “Is it the economy, or-?”.
As far as I’m concerned this post does not belong in Briar discussions because it has to do with a classified ad,
Marjorie, feel free to contact me personally if you want to discuss this more. But I hope you have better things to do, like print.

In the case of the press I was selling, the prospective buyer did not incur any expenses, she did not have to rent any special equipment. She didn’t give a name of a person picking up, or a shipping address. and I DID NOT RECEIVE PAYMENT. For anyone who has purchased or sold online
…. Sometimes things don’t work out! I didn’t have time for this available to figure out if or how she was going to ship and pay, I never received payment from her.

I’m not an equipment dealer, I was selling the press to purchase other equipment, and needed a solid guarantee,
at this time. Given my experiences with buyers through classifieds ads, sometimes they promise and your waiting around for days for them to pick up or receive payment.
Celia did have another chance to purchase the press through an auction system , were both parties were protected, I also sent Celia other post to other available presses. I didn’t even need full payment, a small deposit in good faith and a pick up date would of been fine.
It was a 60lb press shipping arrangement should have only taken a couple hours.

As pathetic as this is to re-hash, I will always post my finds on Briar Press first , I have learned so much here and have scored some great deals through the classifieds. I have several people who have bought presses from me and no complaints. Anyone who doesn’t want to go through the ordeal of finding a press can contact me or come by to use my presses.

Sellers and Buyers have the right to cancel a transaction when no money or property is exchanged.
I’m not ashamed about canceling. I’m busy salvaging presses, and learning to print.


Consider yourself lucky, Celia. If you had sent him the full purchase price — the amount HE AGREED TO — and someone else had offered him $10 more, he would have sold it for $10 more. Then where would you be? Your money is good anywhere; be thankful that you didn’t lose any of yours.
If you are buying something from someone long-distance, however, there will be a point at which the seller has both your money and your item. There’ll never be a way around that. It sounds as if your lack of trust contributed to the seller’s decision to act unethically. There are a lot of “tire kickers” out there, and a seller who thinks he’s going to miss a sale is likely to throw fair dealing to the wind.

You made some good points, but please don’t assume she would have lost money with me. Thats a false conjecture.

I have been both buyer and seller
it’s not considered unethical to cancel a transaction when there’s been no exchange of money or property. Yes, there might be a question about how much time was given, but no time table was set, I didn’t receive a deposit, or payment, a pick up or ship date through email over 2 days. I assumed, she assumed, It just didn’t work out. Hopefully she has found a press.