I thought some of your readers would like to
know just what commitment they make when placing an ad. I’m not a lawyer,
but a good friend of mine IS. His specialty is contract law. He told me the following information about
shipping/receiving etc (Note: the following is my understanding of general
contract law as it applies across the board in the 50 states):
If someone sells something as NEW and in fact the good has been USED even if
only 5 minutes the seller commits fraud. If a credit card is used then it’s
credit card fraud. If the buyer mails a money order or a check, then it’s
The person that puts forth the initial good faith (ie the “you” in “you send
me the money THEN I’ll send the goods”) is relieved of any risk/loss that
occur. The “I’ll” in the previous phrase is legally liable for delivery (in
good condition) of the merchandise. In addition, all the classified ads
that include the phrase “$XX.YY shipped” means that the seller is free to
choose whatever method for the shipping, but if the good doesn’t arrive then
the seller is liable. The phrase indicates that the delivery of the good as
well as the good itself is part of the transaction.
On the other hand if the buyer says, “I’ll take it, send it COD”, then the
buyer becomes the one liable for any risk/loss incurred during the property
transfer. This is because the seller is showing the initial good faith by putting the
good in the mail before any money has been transferred. (This also means you should insist
on the package being insured as part of the COD.)
It may seem trivial, but if you collect from someone, send out something, and it
gets lost in the mail, that’s the seller’s responsibility, not the buyer’s hard luck.
The buyer can claim his money back, and you’re out both the product and the cash, just to save a couple
bucks in insurance.
So if you’re selling anything worth real money, you should ALWAYS insure the product. Add it to the cost of
If you’re buying, you should NEVER buy and pay somebody who says “I take no responsibility
for shipping.” If he doesn’t make any disclaimer like that, he’s liable. You should always
pay any serious amount of money with a credit card, using something like PayPal***, so that if there’s a problem, you
have immediate recourse.
Update: 7/19/00: George Pang took exception to this, and for very good reason. I thank him:
I’m a fairly frequent eBay and PayPal user and I
needed to qualify the post you had earlier about
classified ads, etc.
Anyway, PayPal is NOT a typical Credit card payment
service. In a lot of ways once you pay someone via
PayPal you have have no way of recovering your money
from the person.
Usually it is possible to purchase something with a
credit card, and then dispute the charge if problems
arise which the vendor refuses to satisfy. Most of the
credit card companies are very nice about this.
The money flow is : You -> Credit Card Corp. -> Vendor
PayPal is different it’s : You -> Credit Card Corp. ->
PayPal -> Payee
Because PayPal is ‘in the loop’ what happens when you
let them use your credit card is a little strange. If
you disputed a PayPal charge then the one who’s out
the money would be PayPal. They might or might not
have any way of recovering the money from the Payee,
and they have no way to decide who is right.
So in order to block this eventuality PayPal REQUIRES
you to accept a waiver of your right to dispute your
credit charges! This is in the terms when you open
your account I believe..
BTW.. I’ve been an overclocker for quite a long
while.. My first overclocked computer was an IBM
XT/286 overclocked from 6 mhz to a lofty 10 mhz. This
was when I was 10 or so.. 🙂 My first computer was a
TRS-80 which I tried to overclock, but it was rather
well sealed against tampering. (I even tried an ax)
(Ed. note: An ax? Don’t cheat this guy. 🙂