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The Purpose of the BST Forum - optional reading updated May 2014
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MarkPrince
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Posted Thu Mar 19, 2009, 2:19pm
Subject: The Purpose of the BST Forum - optional reading updated May 2014
 

With the release of new rules (May 2014) for the Buy, Sell and Trade (BST) forum, I decided to do a short and sweet rules post that is required reading for all participants in the BST forum, and it can be found here. Discussion about these rules is encouraged in this thread.

Before I start, I want to share some statistics with you, and some thoughts.

I kept track of how many products were sold through this forum through about 2010. I gave up when the count was close to 2,500 items sold. It's easily double that now, probably triple that amount. But let's just pretend it's 5,000 items sold. All with an average price of about $500. That's $2,500,000 worth of goods sold. If this were eBay or a paid listing website, the fees on that would be $200,000. That's $200,000 our membership has saved, or put another way, $200,000 that is not in my own pocket. Because I offer up this service for the free use of our active membership. And if anything, these numbers are very, very conservative.

Our moderating team polices the Buy and Sell forums quite a bit - except for spam removal, BST monitoring is the biggest job our unpaid, volunteer moderators do. They don't make a dime from their work here. I do not make a single dime from anyone's participation in the BST forums. In fact, I lose money because of some of you, the ones running ad blockers on CoffeeGeek. But that's another issue. Most of the rules we do have in place are for two reasons: we want to protect buyers as much as we can, and we want to make sure only active, participating members on CoffeeGeek use this free and money saving resource.

I type all this because about 75% of the time we do a moderating job on a BST post, I hear from an incensed user who didn't like getting a strike or their post deleted. That I was in the wrong by doing so (or the moderators were). And the worst - that we (CoffeeGeek) owe them (the seller who had their post removed) something. We don't owe a BST seller anything. We provide this service as a courtesy to our existing, participating membership.

With all that said, let's get into the meat of this announcement.

Why BST exists
For a long time, those into coffee and espresso in the home had only one avenue to sell their machines when they decided to upgrade - alt.coffee. Then eBay came along, with its associated fees. We decided to introduce the BST forum some nine years ago, long before Craigslist really took off in major (and minor) cities, with one purpose in mind: to help our active membership sell their machines to other members once they decided to upgrade their equipment. To help them save some eBay fees. To continue the sense of community, with a more senior member passing along great equipment to a more junior member looking to make their first quality espresso machine or grinder or coffee brewer purchase.

This forum exists solely as a courtesy for our active membership. What's an active member? Someone who visits CoffeeGeek regularly and reads the website, for months or years. Someone who posts regularly in the forums - learning new things, and sharing learned knowledge. Someone who posts comments in reviews. Someone who posts member reviews. You don't have to be someone who has 100 posts under their belt to be an active member. But we don't consider people who just signed up to be active members just yet. You need to be a member of this website for a while.

This forum doesn't exist for those who only sign up to CoffeeGeek in order to sell a machine and avoid eBay fees.

Who Can and Cannot post to the BST Forum
Here's the simplest way I can detail who can and cannot post here. This also assumes you meet the new Rule 1, listed below.

If you have a machine or cup set or whatever that you bought, you used, you had in your kitchen or wherever, and have decided to upgrade or move on, the BST forum is here for you to help find someone else to take it off your hands.

If you in any way derive normal, occasional, weekend, whatever profits from buying and selling equipment, cups, or other coffee related items, the BST Forum is not for you. Please use Craigslist, eBay, other auction sites, or buy a SponsorAd from CoffeeGeek.

The Rules, and explanations


Rule 1: You must have at least 10 posts on CoffeeGeek forums and be a member for 1 full month, or be a 'Senior Member' with any number of posts (3 months as a member of CoffeeGeek) to be able sell something in this forum. Absolutely no exceptions to this rule. If you are a member for less than one month and have less  than ten posts to the forums (not including the BST forum) You will have your posting deleted and be issued a site "strike.  (More info on CoffeeGeek's 3 strikes policy)

See above, re 'Why the BST forum exists' for the reasons behind this rule. This has also been abused as of late, so we've changed it to indicate you must be an active member for one full month before posting your first BST.

We still do allow new members to post WTB threads - if you're looking for a product, feel free to post your wanted ad, your offer price, and location.




Rule 2: You must complete all of the Listing Details fields located directly below the main text field.  The text fields are Price, Location, First Name and Last Name.  Also the Type of Sale must also be selected from the drop down menu (For Sale, For Trade, For Sale or Trade, or Wanted to Buy) below that menu the agreement box must also be selected (verifying that it is a private sale {see rule #4}). You must have a valid email address as your "public email' in order to post, or list a valid, unobstructed email in your for sale / trade / buy post.

This was a suggested rule (not enforced) before - it is now a rule, set in stone. Why? Because over the last several months, some folks have been burned by sour deals in this forum, and by requiring a bit more transparancy, the hope is people will be more morally obligated to be up and up with their sales.

We do understand privacy concerns, but the bottom line is this - if you want to use this forum to sell something, you have to list your real, full name and your location and have an unobstructed public email address. If you list your city in you profile for public viewing, you do not have to list it again in the forum posting. however, if you choose not to have an unobstructed email address or choose not to list your location, then do not use this forum to sell your coffee related equipment.

Asking price is required now as well. This is a must, and has been requested as a rule dozens of times by our forum regulars. Do not post unless you are willing to state an asking price (or equivalent in the case of trades). This also applies to offers to buy threads.

Rule 3: No links to external sales can be made in new threads on this forum. This includes, but is not limited to, eBay and Craigslist.

This rule is new, and again, comes at the request of our forum regulars. This includes all self promotion links to items you may be selling in another venue online, be it in new threads or followup posts. People can still post eBay or Craigslist links in followups only to new threads where the situation is warranted (ie, 'it's listed for much less here on Craigslist), but we have zero tolerance for self-promoting links to external for sale and auction sites.

Rule 4: Only private, consumer sales are allowed. No commercial posts at all. No business postings. No website domain name sales. No hobbyist tamper makers. No weekend fixer-upper cottage business posts. If you in any way profit on a regular, irregular, or occasional basis from the buying and selling of anything related to coffee, you cannot post an ad in this forum. This forum is provided as a courtesy to our membership for the times when they decide to upgrade their brewing equipment, and want to sell their existing machines to their fellow members.

We've had a lot of issues in the past with a variety of people on CoffeeGeek in this forum who violate the above rule. People who routinely scour garage sales for uber-cheap machines, clean them up, and resell them. People who made a tamper on their home lathe, liked it, and decided to make a few more and sell here. People who tend to flip machines often (buy from one source, sell here for profit).

Also, CoffeeGeek.com is supported by our paying advertisers. Without them, this site would not exist, and because of that, we have an obligation to them to make sure no one is getting a free ride on this website - if we allow any kind of commercial posting in our forums, our paid support would dry up. If you profit in any way from the sales of espresso or coffee equipment, and want to use CoffeeGeek to sell your wares, you should be using our advertising options, and not expect a free ride.

Rule 5: No machines obtained from a coffee or restaurant or food service business are allowed to be listed here. It doesn't matter if the business is real or failed, or if you bought it at a bankruptcy auction, or are selling it for a friend.

This one has been an ongoing problem. We've heard every excuse in the book, from "it's never been used commercially!" to "I'm selling this for a near bankrupt friend!" and everything in between. But the bottom line is this - if it is in any way tied to a commercial food venture, real, failed, or never realised, it cannot be sold here. No exceptions. Use eBay or Craigslist.

Rule 6: ONLY coffee and espresso related products may be listed here in the BST Forum.

We have everything from cell phones to software, to website layout automated engines attempted to be advertised here. All get deleted. It has to be directly related to coffee or espresso to be listed here. Pretty simple, actually.

Rule 7: If you sell the item you have listed, you must edit the original post's title to indicate it has been Sold.

Again, fairly simple. Helps with the flow or threads, and closes off threads for sold items. Editing is easy - log in, find your initial post, click the edit link / icon, and change the subject title. Hit submit, done.

Rule 8. If asking for payment via Paypal or any other service, you are not allowed to insist or demand buyer pay using a "gift" option or any other option that limits the buyer's ability to be protected via that 3rd party payment service should the deal go wrong. Paypal's "gift" payment option saves you, the seller, a few bucks in fees, but removes any protections the buyer has. This policy is strictly enforced. If you communicate offline with the buyer demanding they use the "gift" option and we hear about it, you may be banned from using our BST forum for the foreseeable future.

We've noticed a trend lately - people are demanding payment via paypal gift or other non-guaranteed payment methods (buyer assumes all risk). The way we look at it is this way: you're already saving your eBay fees by posting here. You can either swallow the limited paypal fees in your asking price, or boost your price to include it. But we will not allow buyers to lose any protection they may have should a deal go wrong. We will enforce this.

Buyers: if a seller tries to demand "Paypal Gift" as payment off this website via email, please let us (any of the moderating team) know. We will discuss this with the seller and take further action where necessary.

Further Tips on using CoffeeGeek's BST Forum

One thing I need to make crystal clear to everyone using the BST forum. You use this forum at your own risk. If you get burned on a deal, in no way, shape, or form are we, the site adminstrators, owner, or moderators, responsible for your loss.

That said, I do have some tips to help you make your transaction safe and uneventful.

- Insist on real names in your communication with the buyer / seller
- Insist on a contact number they can be reached at. Negotiate the deal via phone if possible.
- Even if paying via an online service, insist on a real mailing address; avoid PO boxes or other types.
- Request proper packing, and ask the seller to confirm how the item was packed before shipment; photographs help.
- Buy from established members - those who have been on the forums for some time, or have been participating members of CoffeeGeek for more than a several months (check their sign up date, visible on all members' profile pages)
- If not an established member, ask for references, and verify them.

A lot of trust is given when someone pays for something before it is shipped to them. It's not irresponsible or rude to ask for the above when conducting a transaction. Sellers who balk at this are best to be avoided.

Mark

 
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