Buyers beware! That is literally, all I can think to say at this point.
I had this awesome post about interacting with your Facebook Family (a post that grew from an AWESOME question during my Q&A time a few weeks ago) all planned out and ready to hit the “publish” button, when a few groups went haywire with scammer reports.
While I don’t like pointing fingers, I do think that there are buyers and sellers who get into business that don’t take appropriate caution online. As a seller, I see the same complaints over and over with the attitude of “well I guess I know now.”
Why is that the outcome? You don’t have to live and learn in this business. There are SO many resources for you out there. So many amazing vendors, groups, multi-vendor events and photographer references online, there shouldn’t be any space for shady vendors. Which, brings me to my first point.
Shop within Multi-Vendor Groups and Events
This is so easy to do- and perfect for people that get last minute bookings. Most of the Mult-Vendor Events are Ready to Ship (RTS.) So you get your props right away, which is always great. Each multi-vendor group is a little different- but most stand by these rules:
- Vendors MUST post turn around time
- Vendors MUST add tracking to packages
- Vendors MUST have a FB page and/or website
In some events, there is a fee for a vendor to even join- which really helps shift through the prop creators that treat their business like a true business- instead of a “get rich quick scheme.” Most of the groups I am part of have waiting lists for vendors. They fill out an application or have to prove they have a great history with customers, shipping and can fulfill all the requirements of the group.
Here are a couple links to groups I am a part of, and have other amazing vendors who are great to work with.
Know the vendors policies
With all the Facebook pages it is really easy to set up a “business,” post picts and get sales. Join some groups, post your pictures and get even more sales. But what good are all these sales, likes and promises from someone who hasn’t even posted their policies. Out of all the things to do in business, your policies are one of the easiest to do, if they can’t be bothered with clear policies, what else will they not be bothered with when there is an actual problem that arrises.
In my opinion policies that state “message me if there a problem, I would like to make it right” is not a policy. That shows they don’t have a clear cut yes or no and have not thought out what they will and won’t do. They should have clear/easy instructions for you to follow if there is a problem with your purchase.
Here is an example of my policies. Short and to the point with precise instructions on what to expect for ordering, payment and returns.
This is a biggie. I stay out of drama for the most part in the groups- it wastes my time and energy. However- I got sucked in last week. There was a post showing a few fun crocheted sets- and then the image of what they received. I snarkily commented “well that is what happens with people steal photos.” The photographer replied that the vendor didn’t steal the photos. She had sent them to her from Pinterest to remake. Yes. I know that. The photographer stole the images, sent to someone cheaper and now is blowing up all the groups with how this vendor has scammed her. The vendor should have been 100% honest and admitted that it wasn’t something she would be able to do and referred the photographer to the original designer.
Stealing is stealing- whether it is a photographer trying to get discounted props or a vendor posting images of things they “can” make. Each handmade item is different. We all use different techniques, are at different skill levels and use different materials. Honor that- understand that each artist has their own style and have custom creations made in that style. Don’t expect one person to be able to recreate someone else’s style. Even when crafters buy patterns from the same place, the end result will be different. That is the magic of buying handmade- don’t turn it into a negative experience.
The Perfect Price
Now, this is tricky. Pricing is definitely relative. Everyone’s idea of what is pricy and what is cheap is different. Cost of doing business is different with every business. Time, materials, designs are all different for every vendor- just as they are for photographers.
I am not even going to go on to say that cheep vendors are all scammers. I run $5.00 bonnet pre-orders three times a year. That is pretty.darn.cheap. Turn around time on these is always a couple months – which is stated in the listing. They are designs that work up quick and I order fiber wholesale online so the cost of yarn is low on them. I use these pre-orders as advertising. They get the word out there and help new photographers see the quality of work I offer. They are a GREAT first purchase for anyone on the fence about shopping with me.
While you don’t need to analyze everyone else’s cost of doing business- it is helpful to know what is a “too good to be true” price. Make sure these vendors have a page with great reviews or at least photographers posting great comments on products. Make sure the sale is a limited time sale. Check and see what turn around time is- communication is key when buying! Don’t fall for the “I can make anything for $15.00” posts. You don’t want someone to make just anything for you- you want them to make something unique for your business, something that adds to your brand and creative style.
If you are scammed
If you feel you have been scammed- message the seller. Make sure they offer tracking on packages and remember that not all sellers work on weekends. After you have covered your bases of communication- file a dispute. That is the best way to protect yourself. Don’t close it until your item arrives or a refund is given. Some people claim that they can’t print out tracking without the dispute being closed. That is untrue- they simply go to paypal.com/shipnow and type in your address for shipping. Quick and easy.
Please comment with your tips or tricks for buying or selling! I want to know what you do to protect yourself- as does all the other readers 🙂 Let’s help buying from handmade vendors a priority again!