Trading in Good Faith

As the economic woes continue and more and more families find it more difficult to afford anything other than the simple essentials, more and more are turning to websites (eBay anyone?) and newspapers that offer the ability to Buy / Sell / Trade / Swap / Barter. But when you are not dealing with an shop and rather a one on one transaction, how should you act and what should you do if something goes wrong?

A lot of the BSTSB (Buy / Sell / Trade / Swap / Barter) are simple objects such as furniture, media or clothing. Baby and child clothing are obvious items as children out grow their clothes nearly as fast as you can buy them. Most items are simple ones that cannot go wrong, be different to their description or otherwise not what was discussed and agreed to. Others not so much.

There are a lot of items that become redundant to the current owner, including electronics such as televisions, audio equipment, computers, video game systems and cell phones. If you want to get a little bigger think house hold appliances such as washers, dryers, fridges and microwaves. Finally, the biggest of the big, automobiles. These all come with more complex issues and this is where Good Faith comes into play.

Honesty; a sincere intention to deal fairly with others.

Good faith is an abstract and comprehensive term that encompasses a sincere belief or motive without any malice or the desire to defraud others. It derives from the translation of the Latin term bona fide, and courts use the two terms interchangeably. For a more detailed description see The Free Dictionary.

If you are purchasing an item that falls into one of the above categories there are obvious procedures to adhere to. If you are getting an automobile, unless it is being sold “as it” with no guarantee that it won’t fall apart in the near future, you would expect that it runs smoothly. You would also hopefully get a detailed description of what has been replaced, and perhaps if the dealer / trader is happy to go that little bit further in the name of good customer relations, a list of what is likely to fail or need replacing in the future. A win / win situation is a customer happy with their acquired item and a dealer who not only has gotten rid of some merchandise but also has a happy customer who will tell their friends about the service.

There are times when things don’t work out though, an item turns out not to work as advertised. If you aquire a microwave, you don’t expect it to fry the cat each time it walks buy. What do you do if this happens, other than look for a microwave-proof feline? Good question, if I do say so myself.

Whenever you BSTSB an item you have to remember your Latin. Caveat emptor which in English means something like “let the buyer beware”. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. With retailers, you return the item to the store, with the receipt and either get a replacement or your money back. When you are dealing with a one on one situation, things are different. If in Good Faith the item was sold then in the name of good faith and reputation (on eBay there is a Positive Feedback display where content customers can rate the service), the seller will do what they can to rectify the situation.

No matter the issue, the first step is to open up a communiction with the person involved, be it email or face to face. Be civil, don’t name call, threaten, or anything else that you wouldn’t want done to you. Genuine mistakes do happen, don’t assume that you have been intentionally screwed. If you are unable to resolve the issue through simple communication, then the next option depends on the item in question. If the amount in question is small enough, let it go.

Nothing will be gained by spending more time over an issue than you spent on the item. Seriously, your time is worth something, and if you understand why read What is your time worth. If you are going back and forth over an item worth $50, more than 5 hours spent on it means you are wasting your time and what you are worth. Write it off as a learning experience.

What else you don’t want to do it either bad mouth the other person in the transaction or make it into a debate where friends and families of both sides can join in and just make things worse. Nothing will be achieved by this show of support in the same way that changing your Facebook status to complain against taxes won’t magically lower your taxes. When you are involved in a situation, it can be hard to distance yourself and view the situation with clarity but if you can’t, hopefully a friend or family member can.

If the amount invovled is a large amount, you can make a claim in the Small Claims Court. For a run down of what the Small Claims Court can do, visit The Ministry of the Attorney General. Just remember that when the dust settles, it is likely to be a (she/he) said / (she/he) said issue and as such can be a little more difficult to resolve.

At the end of the day, both parties need to remember that not only is the reputation of the other person is at stake but also their own. Act like adults, remain calm and chances are that any issues can be resolved quickly and simply.

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