Author Topic: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract  (Read 7902 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2013, 09:29:54 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.

laceandbits

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2013, 09:30:43 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!


TootsNYC

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2013, 09:43:24 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."

that_one_girl

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2013, 09:56:55 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.

Cami

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2013, 10:06:55 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.

Knitterly

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2013, 12:10:06 PM »
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.

rashea

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2013, 02:28:47 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.
"Manners change, principles don't. It's about treating people with consideration, respect and honesty." Peter Post

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JeanFromBNA

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2013, 03:35:47 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.

Lynn2000

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2013, 04:31:02 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.
~Lynn2000

Katana_Geldar

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2013, 05:02:11 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.

StuffedGrapeLeaves

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2013, 05:21:48 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. 

Knitterly

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2013, 09:08:07 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.

laceandbits

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2013, 10:51:22 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?

Knitterly

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2013, 11:16:07 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.

Virg

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Re: Honouring the intent to buy - etiquette of a verbal contract
« Reply #29 on: March 31, 2013, 11:47:13 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