How to judge a seller

I found a snake that I like but the seller does have a few negative reviews and is listed as u responsive all of witch are over 1yo most of them 2 and they all seem to be misunderstandings form when the seller was new but I was wondering if there’s a better way to
Judge the seller than just he said she said


I tend to think of every business will have negative feedback it’s unavoidable ( i worked in customer service positions) some people will never be satisfied no matter what. If one or 2 negative comments are present it may be those individuals however if they have several than perhaps its not the buyers but the seller doing wrong.

Id say go with what your gut tells you. If you don’t feel comfortable don’t go throught with it. Ask the seller questions, ask for video and pictures of the animal(s) ask questions about the animal, ask questions about their purchase policy etc. I’ve had pretty good results shopping online for my animals as i cannot simply walk into a pet shop to purchase my exotics. I’ve only had 1 DOA and the seller gave me my money back and offerd a nice discount on my next purchase. A good seller should have no problem providing additional information, pictures or a video. If you feel uncomfortable then don’t go through with it.



Safe Purchasing

### Key Points

Follow the advice in this document to ensure a great experience when buying animals. This applies not just to MorphMarket but buying anywhere online. It can also be helpful when buying in person at expos or stores.

  • Buy from those with known reputation, especially if you are new to the hobby. This is the most fool-proof way to avoid being scammed.
  • Consider many factors collectively when evaluating reputation and risk. Our site provides valuable information for this process.
  • Use credit cards for payment which provide the best balance of protection for both parties.
  • Expect and provide clear, regular communication.
  • Document the arrival of your new animal and notify the seller in writing immediately of any concerns.

### MorphMarket’s Role

Understanding MorphMarket ’s role will help you better understand how to set yourself up for success.

  • We provide education to help our users make informed decisions. We can’t force our users to read these documents, but we put a lot of time and energy into creating them and making them available for all.
  • We provide tools to help buyers evaluate the trust-level of sellers, such as our Ratings System, checklists, badges, new seller flags, and links to outside resources.
  • We require sellers to show their full legal name or entity and verify that with an official ID.
  • We investigate complaints immediately.
  • We moderate many issues which are detailed in our Moderation Policies including disputes between buyers and sellers.
  • We suppress sellers (and buyers) as soon as they have been proven to be deliberately dishonest.
  • We have processes in place to keep banned users off the site.
  • We enthusiastically support authorities by providing relevant information; however this process must be initiated by the defrauded party.

Since your payment goes directly to the seller, there are limits to what we can do:

  • We cannot guarantee that a transaction will turn out as expected.
  • We cannot get your money back. Sending any money to a seller is done so at your own risk.
  • We do not ban sellers or buyers just because someone says they’re “bad”. We must have evidence to back up any accusation before we take action

We are very sympathetic to those who are taken advantage of. In the case of a dispute with a legitimate seller, we are often successful in convincing the seller to make things right with an unhappy customer. But in cases of true fraud, there is nothing we can do to get your money back.

### How to Mitigate Risks

If you are a new buyer, we recommend buying from a seller with a proven reputation.

This is the best and closest thing to a “fool-proof” way to avoid being scammed. With some experience, you will develop more discernment which will allow you to more safely expand your set of options. For more information, read below on Researching Sellers.

Make sure you fully understand the agreement you are entering into with the seller when you send an inquiry. This agreement is defined by three parts:

  • Seller Store Policy
    • Every agreement between a buyer and seller starts with the seller’s Store Policy as it is written on their MorphMarket Seller Profile.
    • Sellers are allowed to customize their policy, so Terms and Conditions may change from one seller to the next. Make sure you check each seller’s policy!
    • Buyers agree to abide by that policy by checking a box when you send an inquiry through our site.
  • Prior Written Agreement
    • It’s possible and quite acceptable for the two parties to come to an agreement that overrides or is in addition to the existing Store Policy.
      • This is usually done in the negotiation process after the initial inquiry, but before any money has changed hands.
      • This kind of agreement must be clearly laid out in written communication prior to the exchange of money.
  • MorphMarket Default Store Policy
    • If the seller’s store policy is silent or vague on a particular point that is central to the current dispute, we will refer to the Default Policy.

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to use a Credit or Debit Card to make your purchase . In general, we do not recommend using an unprotected service such as PayPal Friends & Family (F&F), Zelle, etc., unless you are very confident in the seller; however you can get similar protection by backing these up with a credit/debit card. For more details read the section below on Payment Methods.

Here are other steps you can take to lower your risk of getting scammed.

  • Study all of the MorphMarket documents on this subject
  • Study your market
    • Understand the genetics involved and how to recognize seller error or potential fraud
    • Be familiar with market prices
    • Most of the animals in our marketplace are captive bred, but not all. Understand the differences between “wild caught,” “imported,” “self produced,” and “domestically produced”
      • Wild Caught - the animal for sale was born and captured in the wild, it may or may not have been imported, depending on its origin and the country it’s being sold in
      • Imported - the animal for sale was likely hatched in a “farm” in its native country and then shipped to other countries for sale in the pet trade. This kind of “farm” typically involves capturing gravid females from the wild and selling the offspring to exporters. An “imported” animal might also be Wild Caught.
      • Self Produced - the animal was captive bred by the person selling it
      • Domestically Produced - the animal was captive bred, but not by the person selling it
  • Keep all communication and negotiations within the MorphMarket Inquiry System
  • Keep all communications in a written format that can be saved and shared as evidence if necessary
  • Clearly communicate your expectations

### Before the Transaction

The most important step is avoiding a problem in the first place before money is sent. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

#### Research the Seller

Before ever making an inquiry, visit the seller’s Store Page and consider these factors:

  • How long has their store been on MorphMarket as indicated by the Joined Date?
    • Just because a seller is new to MorphMarket does not mean they are untrustworthy. Furthermore, some new sellers on MorphMarket have actually been in the hobby for many years.
    • However, sellers without a track-record are more difficult to assess, especially for buyers who are new to the hobby.
    • Asking for references or previous buyers willing to discuss their purchase experience is a one way to build trust and determine if they are new to our site or actually new to the hobby.
    • Sellers who are actually new to the hobby may be honest, but having less experience may lead to mistakes in husbandry/care for their animals, morph or sex identification, or safe shipping practices.
  • What are their MorphMarket Ratings?
    • How many positive vs negative ratings have been recorded?
    • How do they score in the detailed ratings categories?
    • What kind of written feedback have buyers left?
  • Do they have a paid membership subscription?
    • This is not required for a seller to be well-known and trusted in their field, but many will have a paid membership.
    • This is also not proof that the seller is a “good guy,” but it’s less common for true scammers to pay anything extra to run their scams.
  • Are they active on MorphMarket’s Community Forums? This is a great way to see a seller’s husbandry, business ethics and likely pictures of the animal you are thinking of buying and its parents.
  • Is their store linked to social media pages?
    • How active is their social media?
    • How many followers do they have?
  • Is their store linked to a website?
    • How well-developed is it?
    • Does it appear to be up-to-date with current inventory?
    • Does the inventory and prices listed on the website line up (generally speaking) what is being offered on MorphMarket ?
    • Do they have marketing materials like official logos and swag? This can prove that the seller is committed to their brand.
    • Do they show pictures of their facility?
  • Other sites
    • Can you find any mention of them in social media, such as the Herpetoculture Feedback and Inquiry and Feedback and Inquiry groups on Facebook * * Use the “Search this group” function, or ask about a seller.
    • If they are not established on MorphMarket , does a Google Search indicate any web presence at all?
  • How many followers do they have on MorphMarket ?
    • “Followers” is a relatively new feature on MorphMarket , so a small number is not a bad sign, but a large number indicates a well-known and popular seller.
    • This feature is only available for paid members.

#### Evaluate the Ads

  • Is the price reasonable for what’s being offered?
    • Prices that are too good to be true often are.
    • Also remember the saying, “You get what you pay for.” Part of what you are purchasing is customer service.
  • Does the picture have a business logo/watermark on it?
    • Does it match the seller’s?
  • Do the trait tags match the animal pictured?
  • Do species, size, and age seem to match between what is claimed and what is pictured?
  • Does the animal look healthy?
    • Not too skinny
    • Not too young (Animals should be reasonably established before being sold)
    • No stuck shed
    • Bright eyes
    • Well-formed limbs and tails
    • No kinks or other deformities
  • Compare with other ads from the same seller
    • Do all the photos look like they’re being taken in the same facility by the same photographer?
    • Does the quality of animals look consistent across all the ads?
  • Does the seller communicate in such a way that demonstrates personal knowledge and understanding of the animal(s) they are selling?
    • Scammers often don’t know the hobby very well and may make mistakes that are obvious to experienced enthusiasts.
    • Check descriptions, “About” section, and Store Policy
    • Facts and details in their other ads
  • Does using Google reverse image search on an ad’s picture bring you to ads by other sellers?

#### Evaluate the Store Policy

Anytime you send an Inquiry to a seller, you are required to indicate that you have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions laid out in their Store Policy (or in the MorphMarket Default Policy in aspects that are not in the seller’s policy).

  • A seller’s Store Policy can be found on their store page and on every ad they place.
  • At the bottom of every seller’s Store Policy is a link to the MorphMarket Default Policy.
    • This policy applies if the seller does not have their own written, and/or if their written policy has gaps around specific points that need to be understood.
  • The terms on these policies can be adjusted only if both parties agree in writing prior to the purchase being made.

It is important that you understand all the terms you are agreeing to.

  • What kind of payment options do they accept?
    • Look for payment options that allow for some buyer protection.
    • Don’t allow yourself to be coerced into using a payment method you’re not comfortable with.
  • Do they allow payment plans? On what terms?
  • How much of your purchase is deposit? Deposits are usually non-refundable.
  • Under what circumstances would you be due a 100% refund?
  • Who accepts responsibility for the risk of shipping?
    • What happens if the animal dies in transit and it’s no one’s fault? Someone will bear the responsibility in that rare event. Will it be the buyer or the seller? This can be addressed with shipping insurance.
  • What guarantees do they offer on health or sex?

#### Look for Red Flags

Keep an eye out for warning signs. While most of these are not significant on their own, the accumulation of these factors indicate an increased risk.

  • Price too good to be true.
  • New seller with no history is selling high-end animals.
  • “About” section and Store Policy section of Seller Profile not filled out or scant.
  • No other online presence (no social media or websites listed).
  • Seller insists on communicating outside the MorphMarket Inquiry system.
  • Seller insists on PayPal Friends & Family or other equally insecure cash-based payment methods.
  • Pressure or urgency to buy.
  • Seller suggests non-standard shipping method.
    • In the US and Canada, the standard for shipping almost all reptiles is via FedEx (sometimes UPS ) Priority Overnight .
      • Venomous snakes and very large animals must be shipped via airline services such as Delta Dash.
      • USPS is NOT an acceptable method for shipping live animals.
    • Insurance MIGHT be available at the time the label is purchased and needs to be agreed on before shipping arrangements are made. Cost for this kind of insurance is typically around $2.50 per $100 worth of coverage.
    • Needing some “shipping agent” to contact the buyer to make arrangements is a huge red flag, as is asking for additional shipping costs for things like “care of the animal,” “transport papers,” “legal documents,” high cost “insurance,” “security deposits,” etc.
    • European shipments rely on private couriers, so some additional communication with the courier service may be required, but many of the same cautions listed above should apply.
    • Import/export situations will require additional costs and unique shipping arrangements and should be done only by experienced buyers and/or through a known and trusted agent.
  • Errors in the ad (wrong tags, unrealistic age/weight/size numbers). Scammers often utilize popular or colorful morphs but often lack the understanding or ability to recognize other morphs or combos present in the animal pictures they steal.
  • Using someone else’s photos in the ad(s) is a big red flag.
  • Seller is unwilling to send additional pictures.
    • It’s not uncommon for legitimate sellers to refuse to take additional pictures because it takes time out of their busy day and that time may not be worth the small chance of the effort resulting in a sale.
    • Breeders without an established reputation * * should be more willing to take an extra picture.
    • If requesting an extra photo, this should be the very last step before you purchase.
    • Make sure it’s the exact same animal by looking for specific patterns. You could request a picture of the reptile from the same angle, sitting on top of their business card or a piece of paper with your name on it.
  • Multiple negative ratings, especially if they are similar complaints.
  • Poor communication skills.
    • You could ask to have a phone conversation with them. Ask them a couple of questions about the animals they are selling to test their knowledge.

### During the Transaction

What you Should Expect from the Seller

This is a summary of our document on Buyer Expectations:

  • Consistent, regular communication
    • This does not mean sellers will reply the instant you write. Most of them have jobs and other responsibilities. Allow at least 24 hours.
  • Professional demeanor
    • By this, we mean polite and respectful.
    • Not everyone is skilled at written communication and not everyone has strong “people skills”, but true abuse and foul language is against our Terms of Service.
  • Healthy animals exactly as represented in the ad.
  • Prompt shipping arrangements after payment has been made.
    • Weather or national emergencies may delay shipping, but the seller should stay in touch and give clear communication about what’s going on and when it will be reasonable to ship.
  • Sellers should abide by all the conditions of their own Store Policy, and the MorphMarket Default Policy where necessary.
  • Sellers MUST abide by MorphMarkets Rules and Guidelines.

#### Payment Methods

Sellers choose which payment methods they wish to work with. If they will not offer a form of payment that you are comfortable with, we recommend purchasing from a different seller.

We generally feel that Credit Cards offer the best protection for all parties.

The list below is not exhaustive; these are simply the most commonly used methods at this time. Some of these services are listed as Not Recommended only because they offer little or no chance of getting money back in the case of fraud or a deal gone bad.

  • It is okay if sellers and buyers agree to use one of these Not Recommended services, however, if a seller INSISTS on using ONLY these services and gives the buyer no option to protect themselves, that could be seen as a Red Flag.
  • Legitimate sellers sometimes only accept Not Recommended options when working with unknown buyers because it reduces the risk on their side. We suggest that buyers only use this kind of payment method if the seller has a strong, positive reputation.

##### Payment Methods: Recommended

  • Credit or Debit Card
    • Seller may accept credit or debit cards through a variety of services
    • Invoice emailed to you so you pay with your own credit or debit card
    • Buyer/purchase protection is provided by your bank or credit card
  • Cash App*
    • We recommend Cash App only if it is connected to your credit or debit card, in which case the card can provide buyer protection
    • Money sent directly from your bank through Cash App is unprotected and not recommended

##### Payment Methods: Neutral Recommendation

  • PayPal Goods & Services (G&S)
    • PayPal is commonly used, but we have downgraded it due to a pattern of PayPal freezing seller accounts. For this reason many sellers no longer use PayPal.
    • Payments may be made through your PayPal balance, your bank, or an attached credit card
      • A credit card may offer the strongest protection, acting as a backup option to report fraud if a PayPal dispute does not work
    • Strong buyer/purchase protection offered through PayPal
    • Buyer/purchase protection may also be offered through your bank or credit card if used in the transaction

##### Payment Methods: Not Recommended

  • PayPal Friends & Family (F&F)
    • It is against PayPal TOS to use F&F to purchase goods or services. It is unlikely that you are either friends or family with the seller.
    • Offers little-to-no protection for the buyer.
  • Zelle
    • Bank-to-bank instant transfers
    • May not be attached to a credit card
    • Offers no protection to buyer
  • Venmo
    • Venmo TOS states that it is NOT to be used for purchasing goods or services.
    • The one exception is if you’re using the Venmo-issued debit card and that vendor accepts it.
    • Offers little-to-no protection for buying goods or services.
  • Western Union, Walmart Pay, MoneyGram, Money Orders, etc
    • Pay cash at one location and the other party picks up cash at their location.
    • No fraud protection offered.

### After the Transaction

These steps can help protect yourself in the event of a dispute or other issue with the seller and the animal(s) you have received. The more clear documentation you have, the better chance you have of prevailing in a dispute. Even if everything looks like it’s going well, these are good practices:

  • Photograph the Unboxing (Video works very well or even better in some situations)
    • Get a clear shot of the label before the box is cut open
    • Get images of each step of the process
      • Show the condition of the box
      • Insulation
      • Packing materials
      • Animal INSIDE its bag, delicup, or other container
      • Animal OUTSIDE its container
  • Examine the animal closely for any visible issues
    • Document these with pictures or videos
    • If the animal is DOA (Dead on Arrival) get pictures and/or video of it lying on its back
    • Notify seller immediately if there are concerns
      • There are time limits for filing a dispute over issues such as
        • DOA
        • Health concerns
        • Animal not as advertised
  • If you’ve given the seller an opportunity to work with you and feel like you can’t get anywhere, please contact us by filling out an Incident Report.

### Conclusion: Risks vs Benefits

MorphMarket is the largest network for breeders and keepers to connect. We take great effort to both be inclusive to all hobby breeders AND protect buyers by keeping dishonest sellers out of our marketplace. Genuine scammers are rare, and we usually catch and remove them quickly. However these people are looking to take advantage of inexperienced buyers, and we do not want to see anyone get ripped off. Don’t send money to anyone unless you feel comfortable and confident.

Using the advice in this document, each buyer can decide their own level of risk. Newer buyers can eliminate almost all risk by limiting themselves to those sellers with well established reputations. Similarly, more experienced buyers can gain the benefit of maximum selection with low risk.

Buying in-person from breeders at expos or other local sales venues has some benefits, such as being able to examine the animal’s physical condition in person; however, it also carries a different set of risks. Often, there is no proof of purchase and no recourse if things go wrong. There is no papertrail of what exactly was agreed to. There is no one available to mediate a dispute as we do at MorphMarket .

There is always risk in buying and selling live animals, both online and off. We believe that the benefits of buying through MorphMarket far outweigh the risks, especially when the following steps are taken by all parties to educate themselves and mitigate the risks as much as possible.

If you have any questions, we’d love to help. Please contact our Customer Success team.

Learn More


Wow, when I pressed summary I didn’t think it was going to be so detailed.


:joy: :joy: :joy: omg text for dayzzzzzz.


Communication, communication, communication! People will tell you stay with the known breeders, but there are a lot of small hobby breeders on here that have great animals! The reason some don’t use PayPal or only pay pal friends and family, is the fees and they sometimes feel that the buyer wins most disputes and receives their money back, even if no wrong doing was proven of the seller. I know that last statement is not always true but we have all heard horror stories about people complaining and receiving there money back, with no cause. As a little breeder you can’t afford those incidents. The truth is MorphMarket requires a lot of proof as to a sellers identity, and does a great job in preventing scammers. So if you get great communication and you feel good about the seller and their animals purchase them, even if they are not the big guys. Here is my page as a example, it’s horrible no reviews! I have 2 snakes on hold but haven’t technically sold any on here for a few years so I have not gotten any feedback yet. Just saying, don’t disregard the little sellers on here please.


I swear he just has them all typed up and saved on his computer so he can copy and paste his wisdom when needed ha-ha


While I agree with this I also will send a reminder to be professional in this yourself. A request for an additional picture or three with specifics of what you are looking for are okay. Asking for 500 additional pics on every possible background and lighting condition every other day… That is being a pest :+1:t4: (not that I am speaking from personal experience or anything here LOL)


Oh of course! Courtesy goes along ways both directions. For myself i never bother a seller unless im prepared to purchase pretty much now. Im not out to waste their time nor mine. I make sure that i pose my inquiries in professional manner and only ask pertinent questions that may not have been addressed in their web page/ad etc. I may ask for an additional pic if for example something said “this is a picture of the mother” thats great and all but if im buying the baby i want to see the baby.


If you want a lot of details and pictures I would always recommend asking the seller “when are you free and in your snake room for an hour so we can talk?”. Don’t expect most to follow through with this, but those that do will have a much greater investment in yourself rather than just a quick sale.

Getting a quick response is great, but having a actual back and forth conversation about the transaction is better. Get time that is dedicated to you and your questions, rather than rushed answers on a smoking break at work :sweat_smile:

It also give you a greater chance to haggle and the seller a greater chance to upsell :wink:


As a seperate note… If you ever call a seller/buyer over the phone, make sure to note down the terms of the deal as you speak and then send them a copy to agree to in writing in MorphMarket Messages. Then should a dispute arise all terms of the deal are written down and easier to assess and uphold.


As someone running a business and using paypal…
Especially now with the changes to the tax info, using Friends and Family for your sales is a big red flag. And I don’t know how much more attention PayPal has then usual in this matter.

Scammers will always use it because you cannot get your money back when you pay F&F. Paypal also specifically says not to use F&F to dodge transaction fees and you risk having your account frozen. It’s also a big no-no to charge the service fees to the buyer. They are your responsibility.

If you’re using Paypal for your payments you should take those considerations into account in pricing.
For example, my business is freelance artwork. If I want to make 250, I need to charge 270 to make sure I get the amount I want.


Paypal has a long history of freezing accounts and assets of pet sellers (their policy on being used for the pet trade flip flops back and forth on a whim), as well as favoring the buyer in disputes even without evidence and its a months long process to attempt to get the money back and prove the sale was legit.

I wont say it isnt a red flag, but it is certainly not rare for reputable breeders to reject PP unless its F&F. As long as the seller reports this income properly to the IRS (or whichever tax system your country uses) there should be no problem, they just need to remember to save up for tax season so they can pay the piper so to speak haha.


Well PayPal has changed it so they’re tracking and sending tax documents for anyone who made more than 600$. I think that includes F&F.
Iirc stripe needs to do that as well.

I guess it’s not as much of a red flag here as it is for the commissioned artwork side of things… Because it gets to be messy on that side. Chargebacks can happen but with the right TOS linked in the memo and all for invoices it usually works in the artist’s favor. When you don’t then that’s another story…
I still personally never change through F&F and won’t purchase through anyone who does. I don’t want to risk freezing my account for not using the correct payment options.


Yeah, for the pet sales side of things, there have been far more accounts frozen for doing it correctly than not. 1 week they will have a clause forbidding the use for animal sales, the next week its gone; and if you are caught during the periods its disallowed, they freeze your account and all the money with it. Its dumb.

I get your experience with it from an artist standpoint, ive just seen alot of horror stories from the animal sales side of the house.

That being said, i fully agree with your right to keep yourself safe, and if that means not buying from those who use F&F, thats your right as a buyer to choose, and you can always find another seller :). I only spoke up because i didnt want people thinking everyone using F&F was a scammer / tax evader. When it comes to animal sales, its a way to keep yourself safe. If they change their policy to disallow animal sales again, good luck fighting the fraudulent claim against you. It changes too often to risk. Larger breeders can survive the loss, but for smaller breeders, it can be devastating.


A lot of people will **** and moan about the littlest thing that doesnt go their way. And most of it is probably beyond the sellers control. While i take legitimate negative reviews seriously, i try to give the new breeder every chance that i would a big breeder. Big breeders seem to forget why they are even in this hobby, and forget they once started at the bottom too.


As a digital artist, I charge people for a “service” rather than a digital good — they’re not buying the art itself, they’re paying me to draw them something.

Luckily I haven’t had any issues with clients filing chargebacks on me thus far.

I want to switch to using Square for accepting all payments with the reptile business, but a lot of people still prefer PayPal which makes it difficult.

I don’t expect people to send as F&F, and won’t ever send as F&F unless the breeder in question is someone I’ve purchased from before and/or I can see the animals in person before I purchase, like at an expo.


My personal experience, i can completely agree with this one. I breed and sell axolotls. I had a potential customer once ask me for a picture of every baby in a certain type. AXOLOTLS LAY HUNDREDS OF EGGS! So im sorry but i am not about to send you 150 pictures of each Leucistic baby when 90% of them look exactly the same.


As a fairly small breeder, all things considered, i think just talking with a perspective seller will give you a solid gauge on whether to invest in them. To me, communication is the key. I like talking with people who contact me about one of our snakes for sale, it’s amazing how well it can go if you just spend the time answering their questions and putting them at ease. Granted, you’ll get those people who go crazy with requests and questions, but if you can weather that storm, chances are it’ll pay off. And on the flip side, it’s a great way to get a read on the buyer as well. I’ve been lucky to have a handful of repeat customers just based on our back and forth communication.

And as for PayPal, i used them early on, but as i began to see more and more of those horror stories, i decided to move to Square for all our transactions, haven’t had a single issue, yet. We’ll see how the long game goes, but so far it’s been smooth sailing.


I hope they made that change. The first few times I was doing my taxes, I found a discrepancy between the total amount I sold through Paypal and what they said I sold on the 1099-K.

I don’t ask buyers to use F&F but on occasion (<5 times/year) they do it. Turns out that F&F transactions are NOT included on the 1099-K and you need to account for it on a separate line item on your paperwork. I use TurboTax and I end up with one line item for each 1099-K and another one that I just label “Paypal” that catches the handful of F&F transactions.

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