I know that I had to verify who I am to set up my storefront, but there seems to be quite a few “questionable “ accounts out there from buyers. As a seller, honeybear55 as a user name is fine IF you also have put a real name AND zip code into you profile.
I am here to tell you as a highly respected keeper, there are bad Buyers out there. If you want to do business and not look like a scammer, I strongly suggest you spend time on your profiles, at least provide a real name and zip code in there. There are quite a few of us keepers who not only took time to do the best husbandry we can, selectively pair, etc. We want these animals to go to good homes and know they will receive good care. Meet us halfway by taking time on your profiles, m’kay? -Deb
We do encourage them to fill out the “essential” parts of their profile, however to date we have not forced them to do so because we are not going to validate their name with an ID. And so we believed forcing someone to put in a name will likely just lead to false information.
The other thing, is every time they inquire we bug them with this yellow warning:
However, all that being said, I am thinking about making a change here. The counterargument to my original thinking is that if we force them to put something in their profile, at least it’s something for the seller to cross-reference against other info, correct or not. I’m thinking I might let them send a few inquiries (1-3) before making it a hard requirement.
I know you (the folks at MM) have been great about trying to “be nice” here. But I cannot sell to a nameless buyer. Too likely it is fraud or underage buyer or… at best, to a seller, it’s a Red Flag. On FB, this topic comes up frequently. Honestly allowing them to have a different profile name from their actual is nice enough IMHO. We only see additional info when they approach us to do business.
But then my MM store profile warns that I will NOT sell to a profile without a name. I STILL get inquiries and more than a few of these are asking for additional photos. I am polite, but geez- let me send out photos to a questionable profile, what could possibly go wrong? LOL (I am being sarcastic here), but you see why that’s not going to happen, right? -Deb
@John I remember at some point we discussed vetting buyers the same way sellers were with an incentive for the buyer, is that still something you have in mind?
I would not see that as something mandatory but recommended/encouraged (mandatory could be off putting for some), than the seller could decide on whether or not he or she would do business with you if not vetted.
Or do you just plan to rely on the rating system as well for buyers?
It’s an idea but one not that high on the list relative to other stuff.
OTOH, a buyer can always create a seller profile, and get validated. There’s nothing stopping them from doing that. Then if that buyer is a “seller” it would give a little credence.
Or do you just plan to rely on the rating system as well for buyers?
Yes that’s plan A. Who cares what their name is really, if they have several good ratings. This system is already in place. The only challenge is not enough sellers are rating the buyers. I need to give it more visibility, and plan to do so soon. For example, I might show on the seller profile the % of raters who they’d given a rating back to, in order to encourage the sellers to leave ratings.
Right now I have one of these incomplete profiles that is inquiring about one of my animals. It appears that they literally joined today just to send me the inquiry message which is just a copy/paste of the “suggestion” they are prompted with:
How can I buy this animal? My zip codes is 90006
Given that zip, they were messaging me at 3 in the morning their time. And I googled the email address associated with the profile and got zero hits.
All of this screams red flag to me but I am not entirely sure how to, tactfully, reply in the very unlikely event this is a real person.
I would not necessarily think the time or the communication or lack of info are red flags, sometime someone’s 3 am is someone else’s 3 pm, many people work night shifts or are simply people that stay up late many of my inquiries happen between 10 pm and 6 am.
Also take in consideration this maybe the person’s first online purchase hence the basic “how can I buy this animal” some people are people of a few words and whenever I get this type of inquiry I usually answer that the animal is available and that I can send them an invoice online and to let me know if they have any additional questions.
Back and forth discussion often give you a good idea with who you are dealing with so don’t rule someone out without conversing with them and once you know a little more name, email etc do some research online, just like I research whom I buy from I also investigate my prospective buyers (The FBI group on Facebook, their own social medial platforms etc)
Any one of these things individually or even as a small grouping I might not take as a red flag but it the cumulative nature of them that worries me:
A new profile created explicitly for the purpose of inquiring about a high dollar animal using a copy/paste of a canned example message at an unusual hour by someone who does not give their name and has an email address that does not even show up when googled.
As I have bolded them, that is seven indicators of caution.
Like you, I also investigate my potential buyers. But with no name and an unfindable email address I cannot even try to begin to investigate them because it is more of a snipe hunt
I mean going based off of just the fact that their e-mail brings up nothing is kinda silly. I googled mine and nothing came up except the website I use for it, outlook.
As Stewart_Reptiles said, another person’s 3am may be someone else’s 3pm. I work 2nd and don’t go to bed until 4am or sometimes even 7am.
High priced animal, that may be where someone really researched the animal and morphs, waited a while and saved money until they had the money then made and account and contacted you.
The “canned example,” is literally there to be an ice breaker and to inquire on the animal so I don’t understand your reason behind being worried about that. When I inquired on my first snake I used the basic suggested inquiring skit.
Annnnnd last but not least the name. I didn’t expose my name until after I bought maybe 3 or 4 animals off the site as I wanted to be sure I wanted to share it. It is the buyer’s choice to share their information.
@t_h_wyman Ultimately, what you as the seller are doing is a risk assessment. And while we may all assign different weight to different details (@keokusan played a good devil’s advocate), your point about the accumulation of evidence is real. What you are not doing is deciding if the person is a bad person or a scammer exactly, but really estimating the risk or probability that this goes bad and isn’t a likely net positive outcome for you. This is a very wise thing to do, and at the end of it you have to decide for your business model what kind of clients you want to service. And if you aren’t comfortable we are totally supportive of the seller responding with the “Decline Inquiry” button from the messages page.
Here’s an additional thought to my earlier point, re: forcing them to fill in their profile, and my concern about giving “sellers getting a false sense of security” because we don’t know if the information is correct. One way to look at it is, if we don’t require the name, you know who’s suspicious. A red flag is helpful to you. If we require everyone to fill in the boxes, then none will have this red flag. But does that make them any less risky?
Here’s a practical idea along the lines of what @stewart_reptiles said. Why don’t you reply to these people with a short statement asking them to fill out their buyer profile before proceeding? It will no doubt upset some but who cares, it’s a legitimate ask. The ones who get upset don’t understand that the seller faces risks too.
Btw @jdconstriction is going to do a related post about how to minimize the chances of a chargeback, soon.