Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Knitterly on March 25, 2013, 05:31:29 PM

Title: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on March 25, 2013, 05:31:29 PM
This situation was resolved (at least I hope it has been) much earlier today.  But it did leave me with a few thoughts rattling around in my head.  I recognize that there are many countries where a verbal contract is legally binding, here it is NOT, so I am talking specifically about how you see this issue from an etiquette standpoint and not from a legal one.

Does whether you are the buyer or the seller affect your feelings towards a verbal contract or an intent to buy?  Does it affect whether you feel it is rude to sell an item to someone else (or offer it for sale elsewhere) when a first person has expressed an intent to buy that item - including making arrangements to pick up the item?

There is a specific story attached to this query, but I'm afraid it might be long, so I will post it separately and give people a chance to consider the "big picture" question.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Cami on March 25, 2013, 05:35:06 PM
As a buyer, I've learned  that it's probably wise to assume that whoever shows up with money in hand is going to get the item, regardless of any verbal statements.

As a seller, I've learned that a verbal contract is worth the paper it's printed on.  So I always tell buyers, "He who shows up with money gets the item. No holds."
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Jaelle on March 25, 2013, 05:42:24 PM
Unfortunately, I have to agree with Cami. I'd like to be able to trust "verbal contracts," but I've been burned before. :P

That said, if the verbal contract was with a very good, close, trustworthy friend I would do my best to honor it.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on March 25, 2013, 06:12:15 PM
I had the story all written out with pseudonyms for the item I am in the process of buying, etc.  That made it unnecessarily complicated.  So I've revised the story with the actual item, etc.  Hopefully it's more clear.  Please pardon any unnecessary background - I'm hoping that by including it, you'll get a feel for why there are emotions involved.

I am a spinner.  I spin yarn.  Yes, on a spinning wheel.  ;)  I own one right now, but the one I own is my third one since I started spinning.  mr K doesn't quite "get" the hobby and has (until recently) been adamently opposed to my owning more than one spinning wheel.  However, many serious spinners do.
So I've been casually perusing a particular website similar to craigslist for spinning wheels locally.  I have wanted a smaller wheel that is easier to transport to take to spinning gatherings and meetings.  I found one online that I fell completely in love with.
I contacted the seller.  It comes with only one bobbin where most spinning wheels have 3 or 4 (more is good to make yarns that are plied).  It is a vintage wheel of unknown origin, meaning it won't be possible to buy extra bobbins commercially. I would have to have them specially made.  No big deal - there is someone fairly locally who makes bobbins for vintage and antique wheels where bobbins are no longer readily available.
We negotiated the price in light of this.
She lives 4 hours round trip from me, so getting the wheel would be a bit of an issue.  If she lived closer, I would have had it in my possession by now, I am sure.  We arranged to meet at a particular location on a particular day. The day/location was to be at a convention of sorts halfway between our respective towns.  Convenient for both of us, as we both planned on attending.
As far as I was concerned, this was a done deal.
I requested closeups and measurements of the necessary area so I could get started on getting quotes for replacement bobbins.  I told her why I wanted the pictures (ie, "Can you please send me a closeup of X, Y, Z so that I can look into having extra bobbins made?).  I let her know that she could consider the wheel sold pending pickup.

Her reply was where I got confused and, if I am honest, a wee bit put out.  She told me that she never considered an item sold until cash and product have exchanged hands, and she hoped I wasn't offended by that.  Fair enough.  I suppose I understand if one has been burned before.
But then she went on to tell me that she would be offering the wheel for sale at an event two weeks prior to our arranged pickup day and time.  And that sent my poor brain into near-panic mode.  THAT did offend me.  It felt like she was assuming I was going to flake without giving me a chance.  At this point, 8 emails had been exchanged, including one where I'd inquired about a second ad.  A specific date and location had been arranged to pick up the wheel.  It made me wonder why she agreed to that date and location if she planned on offering the wheel at another event.  I felt put out that she hadn't mentioned it when I asked if that date and location would be convenient for her.  If she'd answered that query (which was in my very first email to her) with "Yes, but I also plan on offering it at X event prior to that, so it may no longer be available," I would have felt extremely differently. 

Now, the story does have a happy ending - I replied immediately to say that I understood that when one is selling something, it is wisest to sell to the first person able to pay and pickup, but that the distance was very difficult for me, which is why I'd asked about the .  I asked if she would consider delivering it and the other item I wanted for a fee.  She offered to have a family member bring it half the distance (the family member lives much, much closer to me), so it looks like I'll have it within a week or so.  I'm hoping she does not change her mind.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Amara on March 25, 2013, 06:33:54 PM
Because of the high number of flakes on CL and Freecycle, I agree with her position especially as, apparently, the original exchange date was two weeks away. She had no way of knowing that you would honor your verbal agreement. It's awful when you know are reliable and you will keep your word. I have to say I am glad you were able to make alternate arrangements, but, having been burned a number of times, mostly but not exclusively, as a seller, I would have to stand with her. She probably wanted very much to sell it to you but simply felt she could not take the chance of passing up another and important selling opportunity and risk that you might bow out.

Verbal agreements should carry more weight but, alas, the number of people on CL and Freecycle who don't honor their word are numerous. If this specialized selling site has the same number of problems then I can see why she felt she needed to avail herself of more opportunities. I would be equally leery given you wanted to check out bobbin makers for this particular model. Who knows? If you hadn't found any would you still have bought it? Maybe and, from her point of view, maybe not.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Jaelle on March 25, 2013, 06:35:31 PM
I think she definitely should have told you about that other event sooner. And I admit I would probably have felt exactly the way you did.

But I bet that while you wouldn't flake out on her, she doesn't know that ... and she might have had people do that before.   :(

That said, she had the order all screwed up. I think she should have attended the event, then put it on Craigslist if it didn't sell ... and certainly don't set up a sale and then inform the would-be-buyer it will be at an event sooner! That feels completely different to me than having a ready buyer turn up on the doorstep with cash in hand. (Maybe it shouldn't.)

(I'm glad you worked something out. :)  I have a friend who spins. I've witnessed her salivating over wheels. ;))
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on March 25, 2013, 06:53:24 PM
I personally feel that an item for sale should be first come, first serve - with certain limitations.
If I am selling something and someone makes plans to buy it and pick it up in 2 weeks and someone else contacts me and says they can pick it up tomorrow, I will contact the first buyer and tell them someone else can pick it up tomorrow.  If I don't hear from the first person, the second person gets it.  If the first person can't pick it up tomorrow, the second person gets it.  After all, I'm selling the item to get the money for it.

If I'm selling something and someone has told me they are coming from 2 hours away to pick it up and they leave, I'm going to hold it for the first person until at least the end of the day.

It's the whole making arrangements and then telling me about the event as an aside a full 5 days after the arrangements were first made that really got me. 

Amara to answer your question: yes, I would buy the wheel even if I couldn't get a second or third bobbin made.  We agreed on the price after I initially asked for the pictures and before she sent the pictures.
And sorry for the confusion - it's not a specialized site. Just a site that's not craigslist but works on the same principle.  More people in my area use this website than craigslist. 
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: TootsNYC on March 25, 2013, 06:55:33 PM
She may have also wanted a faster sale and didn't want to be tied to you if she could unload it at this event closer.

She's selling it for her own reasons, for her own purposes, and she is not required to set those aside in order to make *you* happy.


(first come, first served--what do you mean by "first come"? First person there with the cash in hand? If our OP had said, "I'll pay you by Paypal/make a deposit," then she might be "first come." But to say "I really want it" is not the same as being "first come.")
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: blarg314 on March 25, 2013, 07:12:05 PM
When it comes to selling on something like Craigslist, Freecycle or an ad in the paper/internet forum, I consider it a deal when money and/or the object changes hands. Anything before that is planning only, whether I'm a buyer or seller.

It would be nice if it worked so that when someone said I'll sell/buy it to/from you it actually happened, but in reality the flake level is incredibly high, particularly among buyers.  Someone can be really interested, and asking for pictures and communicating regularly and then suddenly drop out of contact. People who make elaborate plans to pick something up from a distance don't show up, and you have to start selling it again.

I would say that in this case, the seller should have been open with you from the beginning that if she found a seller who would buy before you two would meet, she would sell it. But personally, my policy for sales like this is that the first person to show up with money and/or transportation for the item (as appropriate) gets it.  I will hold items only with a deposit. In the case of someone who wants it but can't pick it up for weeks (or months) I would tell them to contact me before they pick it up and see if it's still available. With a deposit of 1/4 to 1/2 of the purchase price (depending on the item) I will hold it, but only for about a week.

Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on March 25, 2013, 07:12:18 PM
She may have also wanted a faster sale and didn't want to be tied to you if she could unload it at this event closer.

She's selling it for her own reasons, for her own purposes, and she is not required to set those aside in order to make *you* happy.


(first come, first served--what do you mean by "first come"? First person there with the cash in hand? If our OP had said, "I'll pay you by Paypal/make a deposit," then she might be "first come." But to say "I really want it" is not the same as being "first come.")
I mean first there with cash in hand.  But, as I said, with limits on that.
For example - if someone else had contacted her through the ad and shown up right away with the money for the wheel, I would not have been offended or put off at all.  It's a far drive and you're right, she's selling for her own purposes.  Usually, for most people, that purpose is to get rid of an item and get cash in it's place.  First person to fulfill that wins the item.

It really was the whole thing about making the arrangements and agreeing on the price and then blindsiding me with "I'll be offering the wheel for sale at X event."  I literally did a little boggly head shake/blinky thing.  The event is an annual thing and she's there as a vendor, meaning she's known about it very likely for weeks if not months.

It's resolved now, but for a moment I just didn't know what to do.  I wondered if I was really off in my feelings of ...i think almost betrayal.  I couldn't help but wonder why she didn't mention this event 5 days ago, it would have affected the way I went about making arrangements.  If I'd known there was a 2 week time limit, I would definitely have found some way to make it up there to get the thing.  The only reason I was waiting was because she seemed willing - kwim?

I think it would be like me saying to someone "Yes, I'd be happy to hold that item for three days" and then tomorrow saying "Someone is coming this afternoon."  If I'm willing to hold, I'm willing to hold.  If I'm not, I should say so upfront.

Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: katycoo on March 25, 2013, 07:13:05 PM
IMO until one party has done they bit (either paid, or given the item) there is no contract.  if you have paid but are without item, or if you have given the item but are unpaid, then you have a problem.  But until then, no sale.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: lady_disdain on March 25, 2013, 07:19:09 PM
I think the seller was rude not for not wishing to hold on to the spinning wheel until the agreed upon date but for giving Knitterly the impression that they had worked out a deal when, in fact, she had every intention of offering the wheel for sale before that date.

In my view, if she had agreed to the terms (date, price, delivery) then she should stand by them. If she has been burned before and doesn't like those terms, she should have said so ("Knitterly, if I haven't sold the wheel by then, I will take it to the event for you").
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: YummyMummy66 on March 26, 2013, 07:29:07 AM
Well, number one, if I wanted an item that badly, I would not be asking the seller to deliver it.   No matter how far, if it was this important to me, I would be picking it up or I would have asked the seller that to be sure that she knew that you really wanted the item, you would send her payment now and we could arrange pickup at the venue where you both would be.

When I want to sell something, I don't want to wait "weeks" to do so.  I want it out of my house. First person to come and get it, gets it, because there have been to many times where someone says they are interested and then never show up.  And also, it has happened where a seller agrees to meet somewhere for the convenience of the buyer and that buyer never shows up.   

In this case, I can see the seller's point, because it would be weeks before said item would be transferred.

Now, I am confused as to how seller responded.  That does seem confusing.  It seems that she should not have posted said item until after the event she wanted to sell it at, if it did not sell.   But, if am wondering if after your response, she might have thought, here is another one, who wants me to make arrangements to transfer an item that she wants at her convenience and who knows if she will follow through?  Especially after seeing that you posted that the one event she will be going to is two weeks before the event you both will be attending. Exactly how far out is pickup for this item?
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Twik on March 26, 2013, 07:40:33 AM
Well, honourable people keep their word. The problem is, in such situations, the honourable person (if a seller) may end up with unsold product waiting for someone who is not so honourable, so I understand why there is an impetus to play several hands at once, so to speak.

Once the owner of the wheel has accepted an offer, even a verbal one, she is morally (if not legally) obligated to hold the wheel until you have had your chance to purchase it. If she felt her chances of selling it were better at the event, she should not have advertised it, or agreed to sell it to you, until that event was over.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on March 26, 2013, 08:04:43 AM
Exactly how far out is pickup for this item?

It was in a month - end of April.  So I can understand from the sellers perspective that if she has the opportunity to offload the item before then, of course she'd want to.  But then, why go to the trouble of negotiating a price and arranging pickup date and location without mentioning that this was all contingent on the item still being available.

Now the pickup should be Sunday.  Still waiting to hear confirmation on the specific day/time/location of pickup.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: TootsNYC on March 26, 2013, 08:29:54 AM
If she intended to offer it for sale at that other event, I do agree with you that she should have mentioned it. But she may not have gotten that far in her thinking.

In fact, your interest in it may have made her realize that she had other options (like this show) for selling the wheel and didn't need to only rely on the "craigslist-like" listserv.

She *did* tell you about the possibility of the deal's falling through when she realized you might be spending money in advance on new bobbins--she did act honorably there.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: laceandbits on March 26, 2013, 08:30:43 AM
The other thing which no-one appears to have mentioned is that as knitterly's arrangements were made through e-mails, it was no longer a verbal agreement.  She had it in writing that the wheel would be brought to the later show for her to buy, and the seller had it in writing that knitterly would be there, with cash in hand.

Perhaps the lacemaking world is more 'reputable' than the spinning one but I doubt it and I have always found that most crafts people are willing to respect the word of others and not been burnt in the same way that you might be selling a bed or a second hand electrical thingy to Joe Bloggs who you have never seen before and will never see again. 

The circles around the various crafts are relatively small, the seller and buyers of related items are likely to bump into each other at these shows time and time again and I can understand 100% why knitterly is befuddled by the seller's attitude.  As they are both already going to the show where the wheel was originally going to be handed over, what did the seller thing knitterly was going to do - change her mind?  After having had the photographs and made enquiries about exact sizes etc.  Would it have been possible to post her a cheque for a deposit on the wheel to sooth her anxieties?

The only niggle I have is whether there might be an inconspicuous flaw in the wheel which doesn't show in the photographs.  As the seller has worked out that knitterly knows what she is talking about, there is a good chance that she would spot the flaw and say "no thanks".  So if in the meantime she could find a less experienced buyer, she might feel that she should take the money.  But that is pure conjecture and comes from the bad, cynical half of my brain because I can't think of another reason for the seller's distrust!

Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: TootsNYC on March 26, 2013, 08:43:24 AM
It may have been less distrust and more "wow, someone is interested; I hadn't realized; maybe I can sell it sooner or for more at this earlier show."

And the emails *do* actually take it out of the real of verbal and into "she really does mean this."
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: that_one_girl on March 26, 2013, 08:56:55 AM
From an etiquette standpoint, everyone should honor their word (be it written or spoken).   However, written contracts become necessary since people are not as honest as they should be.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Cami on March 26, 2013, 09:06:55 AM
It may have been less distrust and more "wow, someone is interested; I hadn't realized; maybe I can sell it sooner or for more at this earlier show."

And the emails *do* actually take it out of the real of verbal and into "she really does mean this."
In my experience, people view an arrangement made via email to be about as binding as an arrangement made via the phone. As in, not at all.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on March 26, 2013, 11:10:06 AM
The other thing which no-one appears to have mentioned is that as knitterly's arrangements were made through e-mails, it was no longer a verbal agreement.  She had it in writing that the wheel would be brought to the later show for her to buy, and the seller had it in writing that knitterly would be there, with cash in hand.

Perhaps the lacemaking world is more 'reputable' than the spinning one but I doubt it and I have always found that most crafts people are willing to respect the word of others and not been burnt in the same way that you might be selling a bed or a second hand electrical thingy to Joe Bloggs who you have never seen before and will never see again. 

The circles around the various crafts are relatively small, the seller and buyers of related items are likely to bump into each other at these shows time and time again and I can understand 100% why knitterly is befuddled by the seller's attitude.  As they are both already going to the show where the wheel was originally going to be handed over, what did the seller thing knitterly was going to do - change her mind?  After having had the photographs and made enquiries about exact sizes etc.  Would it have been possible to post her a cheque for a deposit on the wheel to sooth her anxieties?

The only niggle I have is whether there might be an inconspicuous flaw in the wheel which doesn't show in the photographs.  As the seller has worked out that knitterly knows what she is talking about, there is a good chance that she would spot the flaw and say "no thanks".  So if in the meantime she could find a less experienced buyer, she might feel that she should take the money.  But that is pure conjecture and comes from the bad, cynical half of my brain because I can't think of another reason for the seller's distrust!

Long post again, sorry. I seem to be long winded today. ;)

I have found the craft world in general to be extremely reputable.  I bought my current wheel online through a spinning forum from a spinner on the other side of the continent.  I sent her the money by paypal and trusted her to send me the wheel in exchange.  This was just a person - a fellow spinner, not an actual dealer.  I was buying a used vintage wheel, not a new wheel from a supplier.  If she took my money and didn't send the wheel, I would have had little recourse.
I posted the tale on another forum - before it was resolved.  Pretty much everyone was shocked.
The seller did make good fairly quickly, though (though to be fair, I am still waiting to hear the details for pickup this weekend).

There was some information I took out of my explanatory post that I felt might be going overboard in the information dept, but I'll add it in here:
Spinners - at least serious spinners - tend to get rather attached to their wheels.  In addition to it being fairly common to own more than one, it's also pretty common to name one's wheel(s).  With human names.  One tends to assign personalities and otherwise anthropomorphize their wheels.  Purchasing a used (especially a vintage or antique) wheel is often referred to as "adopting" the wheel. 
In fact, I referred to it as such very early in our email exchange with the line "I look forward to adopting this little beauty."  I got unfortunately attached very early on (she's SUCH a pretty wheel!!) and even gave her a name (Holda for the germanic goddess associated with the household and spinning - my current wheel is named Elaine) when I began talking about her over on my spinning forum.  This is all peripheral information that in no way affects how one sees an email transaction and a plan to purchase, so I opted to remove it.  But there it is - the reason for my emotional reaction to the possibility of losing out on a purchase.

And you're right about crafting circles often being quite small.  I can count on my hands the number of spinners in my mid-sized city.  There simply aren't that many of us.  It's still not a very popular hobby - certainly not as popular as knitting.  Chances are, in fact, that our paths have even crossed before without us realizing it.

But again, that doesn't make one of us right and the other wrong.  The emotions don't really address the etiquette, as we've often seen here in many stories.  :)

As for the possibility of some other undisclosed flaw - that is something I have considered, too.  One of my very best friends lives much closer to the seller than I do.  In fact, I could easily ask my friend to drive up and buy the wheel for me.  I'd pay her back by bank transfer or paypal and then get the wheel whenever I got up to see her or she came to see me.  But she has never spun before and would not know if the wheel was worth what I am paying for it.  I am 99% sure it is, just based on the pictures (and also based on the other ads she has up - often other ads paint a bigger picture of why things are being sold, and I have a pretty good idea of what that picture looks like), but I do want to sit down at it myself. 
When I adopted Elaine, I was able to do it entirely online because the seller had a solid reputation in the forum and I knew a good deal about that particular model of wheel.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: rashea on March 26, 2013, 01:28:47 PM
I think if you've agreed on a time and place and they haven't mentioned that they might be offering it elsewhere they are being deceitful. What she did is fine, but only if she had been upfront with you about it earlier.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: JeanFromBNA on March 26, 2013, 02:35:47 PM
I haven't read the details of your story, just the initial question. 

A verbal contract should be honored by all parties under most circumstances.  It takes at least two parties to make a contract, and all are obligated by etiquette and honor to follow through, in my opinion. 

There are exceptions to honoring a verbal contract, but they should be rare, and not as common as most people (not referring to this board) seem to think.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 26, 2013, 03:31:02 PM
I can see why the seller might want to hedge her bets if she's been burned before, by seemingly interested buyers who disappear at the last minute. And, as a trustworthy buyer, that could sting a bit.

However, I think if the buyer agreed to delivery and payment arrangements, she needs to uphold that. No one made her agree to wait until the end of April to sell to the OP; she could easily have said, "I'm sorry, I'm not comfortable with that arrangement. I'll be bringing it to [convention] in two weeks and putting it out for sale there, if I don't sell it to someone sooner." Then the OP would have had the option of suggesting new arrangements.

I think whatever policy sellers have, they need to be upfront about it with their potential buyers. Otherwise they are being just as flaky and unreliable as the buyers who claim they want the item and then never show.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Katana_Geldar on March 26, 2013, 04:02:11 PM
Similar agreements are honoured, or expected to be honoured, in my costume community. Someone advertises something on the forums, and you need to get in quick.

One time I was trying to get a small item, just a piece DH was missing. I was late in sending the money and when I did it was refunded as he'd sold it to someone else under me without telling me.

But recently, we actually won against someone else. It was an all but whole costume that DH loves. The seller was in Mexico and he offered a good shipping rate. DH told me to go for it and I was competing against another Aussie. We offered money, paid and won. Hours late I got an irate email from the other guy complaining we'd beat him to it. We thought the other buyer had bowed out and told him to take it up with the seller, not us. It's hardly my fault the seller chose not to wait for him.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: StuffedGrapeLeaves on March 26, 2013, 04:21:48 PM

However, I think if the buyer agreed to delivery and payment arrangements, she needs to uphold that. No one made her agree to wait until the end of April to sell to the OP; she could easily have said, "I'm sorry, I'm not comfortable with that arrangement. I'll be bringing it to [convention] in two weeks and putting it out for sale there, if I don't sell it to someone sooner." Then the OP would have had the option of suggesting new arrangements.


I agree with this.  The seller should have said something earlier about her intentions to put it for sale earlier than the arrangements made with OP. 
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on March 31, 2013, 08:08:07 AM
Directly related to the story in post #3, I am now facing the dilemna of how to not be pushy or come across as "too desperate".

It's Sunday morning.  I was supposed to get the wheel this weekend sometime but have not heard from the seller since Thurday afternoon.  She was supposed to send the item home with her daughter who lives about 45 minutes to an hour away from me.   She was quite clear that I'd have to pick it up fairly promptly as her daughter doesn't have room to store it.  I was willing to drive out pretty much right away.  But the problem is, with only one car, that's not really always feasible.  If it had been this weekend, I could have gone at the drop of a hat.  But during the week, that's much harder.

Do you think it would be pushy to send an email today asking for pickup details or should I wait for tomorrow - after the long weekend is done and her daughter is presumably home.

Even though I'm less than happy with the seller, I still want my beautiful new wheel.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: laceandbits on March 31, 2013, 09:51:22 AM
Directly related to the story in post #3,   

She was quite clear that I'd have to pick it up fairly promptly as her daughter doesn't have room to store it.   Do you think it would be pushy to send an email today asking for pickup details or should I wait for tomorrow - after the long weekend is done and her daughter is presumably home.

As she made the "pick it up promptly" clause, I think it's fair that you should know the timescale of promptly. 

So long as you are very polite in your enquiry, then I don't see why she should be upset or feel harassed by this.  She can't expect you to keep the car waiting for an undisclosed amount of time at their convenience.  It also depends how she defines "weekend".  Here in the UK this particular weekend is a bank holiday weekend so it could be argued that it includes Monday.  Do you have Easter Monday as a holiday too?
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on March 31, 2013, 10:16:07 AM
Directly related to the story in post #3,   

She was quite clear that I'd have to pick it up fairly promptly as her daughter doesn't have room to store it.   Do you think it would be pushy to send an email today asking for pickup details or should I wait for tomorrow - after the long weekend is done and her daughter is presumably home.

As she made the "pick it up promptly" clause, I think it's fair that you should know the timescale of promptly. 

So long as you are very polite in your enquiry, then I don't see why she should be upset or feel harassed by this.  She can't expect you to keep the car waiting for an undisclosed amount of time at their convenience.  It also depends how she defines "weekend".  Here in the UK this particular weekend is a bank holiday weekend so it could be argued that it includes Monday. Do you have Easter Monday as a holiday too?
Generally no, though schools are off.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Virg on March 31, 2013, 10:47:13 AM
In general terms, it's polite to stick to your word in a verbal contract, but in certain cases that can lead to problems, so I'll extend that by saying that making delivery arrangements isn't necessarily a "contract" in terms of the etiquette.  In your case, I don't think she violated the spirit of your agreement because she did give you an alert that plans might change if she was able to sell it earlier.  In this particular case, I don't think that the "betrayal" feeling was warranted, since you must admit that she's got a right to do what's best for her schedule and you had the means to make it better, although it seems you didn't realize that.  I'd bet a dollar that if you'd responded to her comment about selling it early with "I'll mail you a check for (the cost/half the cost/reasonable deposit), she'd have been willing to wait.  Given that (and that she gave you plenty of warning in case you decided to do something like paying first) I think she did fine.

Virg
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: citadelle on March 31, 2013, 12:04:19 PM
Directly related to the story in post #3, I am now facing the dilemna of how to not be pushy or come across as "too desperate".

It's Sunday morning.  I was supposed to get the wheel this weekend sometime but have not heard from the seller since Thurday afternoon.  She was supposed to send the item home with her daughter who lives about 45 minutes to an hour away from me.   She was quite clear that I'd have to pick it up fairly promptly as her daughter doesn't have room to store it.  I was willing to drive out pretty much right away.  But the problem is, with only one car, that's not really always feasible.  If it had been this weekend, I could have gone at the drop of a hat.  But during the week, that's much harder.

Do you think it would be pushy to send an email today asking for pickup details or should I wait for tomorrow - after the long weekend is done and her daughter is presumably home.

Even though I'm less than happy with the seller, I still want my beautiful new wheel.

I think if you want the wheel, you should go to where the wheel is to pick it up. Involving the daughter and adding complications to the pickup leaves more room for issues. I would call the seller and go pick it up as soon as possible, without asking her to send it closer.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Amara on March 31, 2013, 03:28:08 PM
I agree with citadelle. It's a hassle for you to be sure, but I am guessing that the seller just wants the wheel gone (now!) and isn't amendable to anything but an immediate pick-up. She probably feels she's made accommodations. And I'll bet she has reached her breaking point so if you don't pick it up as soon as possible she may well take it back and get rid of it elsewhere. (I know that when I sell or give away something I want it gone yesterday and have little patience for pick-up negotiations.)
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on March 31, 2013, 09:14:48 PM
I agree with citadelle. It's a hassle for you to be sure, but I am guessing that the seller just wants the wheel gone (now!) and isn't amendable to anything but an immediate pick-up. She probably feels she's made accommodations. And I'll bet she has reached her breaking point so if you don't pick it up as soon as possible she may well take it back and get rid of it elsewhere. (I know that when I sell or give away something I want it gone yesterday and have little patience for pick-up negotiations.)

If that is the case, I do feel that she ought to have said outright that she is not amenable to anything but an immediate pickup when I asked in my very first email.  Any seller is certainly within their rights to decline to give extra pictures, decline to meet the buyer anywhere except for at the seller's own home, and sell to absolutely anyone they wish to.
She has made an offer to be accomodating, but at 10pm on the last evening of the weekend, I still have not heard from her about when and where this weekend I am to pick it up, so although she may very truly feel she's made accomodations, she actually hasn't.

I would imagine that if you have little patience for pick-up negotiations, you are forthcoming about it, are you not?  I wouldn't imagine that you would make any offer to any potential buyer except "if you want this, you must come and get it."  The seller has twice offered to accomodate a pickup arrangement - once was my suggestion, the other was hers.  If she did not wish to sell in this manner, the first (mine) ought to have been refused and the second (hers) ought never to have been made.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: citadelle on March 31, 2013, 09:34:55 PM
I agree with citadelle. It's a hassle for you to be sure, but I am guessing that the seller just wants the wheel gone (now!) and isn't amendable to anything but an immediate pick-up. She probably feels she's made accommodations. And I'll bet she has reached her breaking point so if you don't pick it up as soon as possible she may well take it back and get rid of it elsewhere. (I know that when I sell or give away something I want it gone yesterday and have little patience for pick-up negotiations.)

If that is the case, I do feel that she ought to have said outright that she is not amenable to anything but an immediate pickup when I asked in my very first email.  Any seller is certainly within their rights to decline to give extra pictures, decline to meet the buyer anywhere except for at the seller's own home, and sell to absolutely anyone they wish to.
She has made an offer to be accomodating, but at 10pm on the last evening of the weekend, I still have not heard from her about when and where this weekend I am to pick it up, so although she may very truly feel she's made accomodations, she actually hasn't.

I would imagine that if you have little patience for pick-up negotiations, you are forthcoming about it, are you not?  I wouldn't imagine that you would make any offer to any potential buyer except "if you want this, you must come and get it."  The seller has twice offered to accomodate a pickup arrangement - once was my suggestion, the other was hers.  If she did not wish to sell in this manner, the first (mine) ought to have been refused and the second (hers) ought never to have been made.

That may be true, but the fact remains that she has something you say you still want. This gives her the upper hand.  The only way you have the power in this situation is to walk away from the sale.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: lady_disdain on March 31, 2013, 10:30:32 PM
The seller may have the upper hand but she also wants to sell the spinning wheel. And no upper hand will make what she is doing either polite or good business practice.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Amara on March 31, 2013, 10:38:10 PM
Quote
If that is the case, I do feel that she ought to have said outright that she is not amenable to anything but an immediate pickup when I asked in my very first email.  Any seller is certainly within their rights to decline to give extra pictures, decline to meet the buyer anywhere except for at the seller's own home, and sell to absolutely anyone they wish to.

She has made an offer to be accomodating, but at 10pm on the last evening of the weekend, I still have not heard from her about when and where this weekend I am to pick it up, so although she may very truly feel she's made accomodations, she actually hasn't.

I would imagine that if you have little patience for pick-up negotiations, you are forthcoming about it, are you not?  I wouldn't imagine that you would make any offer to any potential buyer except "if you want this, you must come and get it."  The seller has twice offered to accomodate a pickup arrangement - once was my suggestion, the other was hers.  If she did not wish to sell in this manner, the first (mine) ought to have been refused and the second (hers) ought never to have been made.

You are correct, Knitterly, and I may have come across as more harsh in my post than I intended. If so, I apologize. The situation has obviously gotten difficult for both of you. I wonder if the holiday weekend has added to that? At any rate, yes, she should have make clear what her willingness was early on; her failure to do that was wrong. I honestly don't have any suggestions except to try and keep the lines of communication open. She wants to sell the wheel; you want to buy it. I hope it works out.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Slartibartfast on April 01, 2013, 12:00:12 AM
At this point she either sent the wheel with her daughter - presumably making it much more inconvenient for her to try to sell it at the upcoming event - or she didn't.  If she still has it herself, she probably was going to flake all along.  If she sent it with her daughter, it becomes easier for her to get the wheel to you than it does for her to go pick it up herself and try to *maybe* sell it - so as long as you can get it before the festival, I think you'd probably be in the clear.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Lynn2000 on April 01, 2013, 11:27:53 AM
What a frustrating situation! I do think the seller has fallen down on polite communication here. She should have been upfront about whatever restrictions she wanted, so the OP could decide if she was willing to work with those or move on. It sounds like the seller has agreed to things several times, and then not followed through with them or changed her mind.

OP, I think it would be okay to contact the seller again, maybe by phone if you have it. Just keep everything polite and professional for now, and hopefully you will get your wheel in the end.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on April 01, 2013, 06:16:49 PM
At this point she either sent the wheel with her daughter - presumably making it much more inconvenient for her to try to sell it at the upcoming event - or she didn't.  If she still has it herself, she probably was going to flake all along.  If she sent it with her daughter, it becomes easier for her to get the wheel to you than it does for her to go pick it up herself and try to *maybe* sell it - so as long as you can get it before the festival, I think you'd probably be in the clear.

She did email me very late last night to tell me the wheel was with her daughter and gave me the daughter's email address to sort out picking it up. 
Hopefully things will fall together.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on April 03, 2013, 08:29:22 AM
sigh
I think I'm going to "flake" as I'm sure the seller expected. 
Can you tell me if the following sounds very rude?

Dear [seller] and [daughter],
Thank you for your willingness to accomodate me in purchasing this wheel.  The transaction has now become too frustrating to continue.
[Daughter] requested that I pick up the wheel yesterday, and I was willing and able to do so, however, no pickup address was given. I sent 3 emails requesting a specific location (my first one early in the morning in reply to her suggestion, my second an hour after she said she would be home from work, and my third shortly before the latest I would have been able to leave my house and be back at a reasonable time), but did not receive a reply.
My last email consisted of 3 suggestions for alternate pickup days and even suggested meeting at a [coffee shop] if she's not comfortable giving her address (something I would understand entirely - I am, after all, a complete stranger).  I still have received no reply.
I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and wish you the best of luck in selling this wheel in the future.
Sincerely,
Knitterly

So tell me.... how does that sound?
I am giving the daughter until tonight to reply with specifics for pickup and then I'm going to back out of the transaction.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: lady_disdain on April 03, 2013, 09:34:28 AM
You are not flaking - they are. You are ready and willing to keep to the agreed date and they haven't done their part (giving you an address). I would make that very clear in the email.

Dear [seller]

I still have not received the pickup address, even though we agreed that the pick up should have been yesterday. As I have not received a reply to my previous 3 emails requesting the information, am I to assume that you do not wish to go on with the deal we have? If I am mistaken, please reply with an address tonight.

Sincerely,
  Knitterly
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Lynn2000 on April 03, 2013, 09:37:58 AM
Agree with lady_disdain. Maybe even strengthen it to "am I to assume you are canceling the deal we made?" These people are being very unprofessional. Do you have a phone number you could call anyone at?
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Virg on April 03, 2013, 10:02:20 AM
Knitterly wrote:

"I think I'm going to "flake" as I'm sure the seller expected."

You tried three times to arrange pickup and got no response.  Backing out at this point isn't flaking out, it's reasonable behavior.

Virg
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on April 03, 2013, 10:09:58 AM
You are not flaking - they are. You are ready and willing to keep to the agreed date and they haven't done their part (giving you an address). I would make that very clear in the email.

Dear [seller]

I still have not received the pickup address, even though we agreed that the pick up should have been yesterday. As I have not received a reply to my previous 3 emails requesting the information, am I to assume that you do not wish to go on with the deal we have? If I am mistaken, please reply with an address tonight.

Sincerely,
  Knitterly

I like that wording.  It is much more concise.
Thanks.

Edited to add:  This is what I've written.  I have saved it as a draft and will send it tonight before I go to bed.  That gives the seller a few more hours to get back to me.


Dear seller,
I still have not received the pickup address, even though we agreed that the pick up should have been yesterday. {Very Big City} is a very big place and I do need a specific location in order to collect the wheel and wool. As I told {daughter} in my most recent email, it does not have to be a home address, a coffee shop parking lot would suffice. 
I cancelled plans on Tuesday evening to wait for a pickup location that did not materialize. I will not do that again. I have offered 3 alternate pickup days (Thursday, Friday, or Sunday afternoon) and received no reply.
I can now only assume from the lack of response that you mean to cancel this transaction.
I wish you all the best of luck selling the wheel elsewhere. It is a beautiful wheel and I am sure it will make some other spinner very happy.
Sincerely,
Knitterly


And with that, I'll be done.
I think at this point I am more saddened by not being able to buy the wool than I am over the loss of the wheel.  The wool was an AMAZING price and was two pounds of two specific breeds that I particularly enjoy spinning.  It was a "sweater's worth" of wool (meaning enough to spin a sweater for my hubby).

No transaction should ever be so frustrating.

I still desperately want a german castle or parlour style wheel, though.  I know that means nothing to anyone but a spinner - but it's a style of antique wheel that is particularly pretty and small.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Amara on April 03, 2013, 03:41:43 PM
I am sorry, Knitterly. You took the high road, you were responsible and reliable, and all you got for your efforts was frustration. The email is perfect. I hope you don't have to send it, that you are able to pick it up without any more trouble, and that you get the wheel and yarn. (And if you do, can you post a picture of it? I admit to being in awe of anyone who spins.)
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Knitterly on April 08, 2013, 02:46:00 PM
Well, that last email I sent got a response!!  And man, what a response.  I think I would have been much happier with an "I'm sorry, I forgot, can we please reschedule."  Instead, I got something about having to work late, and then there were police around when she got home, and...   ::)

That's fine, but I waited about 24 hours before sending my note, allowing for plenty of time for her to get back to me with any sort of reply (not to mention I gave her both my home and cell phone numbers).

I still wanted the wheel enough to reschedule, so I did.  I'm glad I did.  I've posted pictures over in the Craftiness folder.  Here (http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=126551.0).

Not only did I get an email with the address, I got a followup email that morning, then a followup text, then another followup as I was on the road, as well as a phone call to make sure I got the texts.  That made me laugh.

The wool was not what I had thought I was buying.  I should know by now not to buy wool "sight unseen".  It was matted, felted garbage.  It'll make good fertilizer for the garden.  But even with the wool, I paid less than the original asking price, so I have decided not to bother or care about it.  I'll sort out what I can and recycle the rest.

Thanks to everyone who helped me sort through this and keep me calm.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Amara on April 08, 2013, 03:02:08 PM
Congratulations, Knitterly! I am glad it turned out to be worth the trouble. It's a pretty and interesting little thing.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: lady_disdain on April 08, 2013, 03:33:32 PM
I just saw the pictures. Very cute and it looks fun to use as well. I am sorry about the wool, though.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Lynn2000 on April 08, 2013, 04:37:39 PM
Sorry it was so much trouble, but I'm glad you finally got it! I admit I was beginning to doubt it would ever happen.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Peregrine on April 08, 2013, 04:57:54 PM
Very nice wheel....Glad it finally worked out well.

I'm a spinner as well.  I got an Ashford Traveller a few years ago, unfortunately between having an inquisitive toddler and being away from home for 7 months, I haven't had a chance to spin as much as I would like.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Katana_Geldar on April 16, 2013, 06:45:39 PM
I recently got burnt myself by the costume forum but a different guy. I was all set to buy a critical part of the costume for DH when the seller pulled out, saying he preferred to sell the entire costume locally rather than piece it out as he was doing.

And that one part is hard to find, as they usually do sell them as a full kit.

I politely told him that I was disappointed and that I would have to look elsewhere, which was difficult. This was the second time it's fallen through for this part.
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Virg on April 17, 2013, 08:45:30 AM
Katana_Gelder, I know it's a bit offtopic, but can you get that part built as a custom job?  Usually something like this that's hard to procure can be shopped out separately unless there are licensing issues with doing it or the item itself must be an original for some reason.

Virg
Title: Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
Post by: Katana_Geldar on April 17, 2013, 08:53:21 AM
Well, we could be we can't be sure of the quality unless we see it as a finished product and it has to meet certain standards. People do make them, though.