A Definitive Guide to Online Trading: Take 2
By Audric P. on October 16th, 2007 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
A Definitive Guide to Online Trading: Take 2
Throughout the years, online trading of physical Magic: the Gathering cards has been rising rapidly. As we look through the trading forums for cards, we notice a growing number of international traders around. Some of us players might shun them; however on the contrary, we should embrace this concept of trading with an open mind, as international trading isn’t as bad as some would think. As an international trader myself, I believe that international trading is great, and it did wonders to my Magic collection over the many years. As we trade online, we will come to realize that online traders do shoulder responsibilities in order to make a trade. The onus is on us traders to ensure the trade goes smoothly. JayC once wrote an article of a similar topic. It has been nearly one year since it was published. What a long time for a follow-up to happen!
Ever wanted to trade for this?
Here are some advantages of international trading:
1. The card pool is infinitely larger. By extending your trade boundaries, chances of securing a trade for the cards you need for the upcoming tournament would be much higher.
Also, on many occasions, it would be easier to find cards of a certain foreign language by trading with an individual who resides in that country. That means finding that Foil S-Chinese Alternate Art Drudge Reavers you have been looking so hard for your collection. A trader from China has an extremely high chance of owning it, as S-Chinese cards are very common in China, as compared to the US.
Of the many lists on sites like MTG Salvation and Magic Trading Online League (MOTL), there’ll be at least one of the traders with cards on your want list. I remember back in 2005, when I was desperately looking for four Goblin Piledrivers for a Grand Prix. Searching for them locally was tedious. I couldn’t find a single one of them after scouring countless binders. Well, that was when I turned to the Internet, and I managed to find four of them in a trade.
2. Ease of online trading. Deals can be made via private messages and email. Trades are done at home, without the need to traveling to your nearest store to get your trading fix. By looking at have/want lists, searching for the card you need would be made much faster. Lists are usually organized neatly so they're easy on the eye. Also, the Control+F function on the computer work wonders. The Internet has made trading such that you don’t have to leave your home at all to make trades.
3. The ease of trading cards off. I have truckloads of random cards lying around that I never knew I could trade away. With a wider card pool for you to find your cards, you will likewise find more people interested in the spare cards you have. Therefore trading away cards you don’t need has also been made much easier.
4. Some cards can be found for less in other countries. Take my country, for example. Revised or earlier duals are extremely expensive in Singapore. Many of the nonblue ones such as Savannah come to above $20 per piece. Compare this with MOTL’s pricing of $17. I could get Savannahs cheaper in other countries. Vice versa, many people dislike Chinese cards in Singapore. The demand for them is low, and the prices are lower than their English counterparts, therefore I’m usually able to get them cheap. However, Chinese playable cards are worth more in other countries like the US. Taking advantage of the difference in prices, I can make a profit selling overseas.
As with advantages of trading, there are obvious disadvantages in trading internationally. Allow me to go through them.
1. The most glaring disadvantage would be shipping time. Trades from Singapore to the US takes anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks, whereby an inland US trade usually takes a few days. Some people just couldn’t wait that long for cards to arrive from overseas, especially if they need them in time for an upcoming event. I do respect this decision if you need cards fast. However, if the need is not urgent, why not trade internationally?
2. There are certain postal systems in the world that are comparably poorer than the rest of the world. Some examples include Brazil and Italy, where mail heading to these countries may never be seen again. Mailings to these countries take much longer, especially mailings to Italy, which could take a month or more. I’ve heard about packages getting lost in Spain, although so far I have not had any lost there. My suggestion would be to send via registered mail to these countries. When dealing with normal air mail, Brazil’s postal system is poor. However, their postal system is efficient with registered mail. I have no problems with Italy’s postal service as I have always sent via registered mail, though mail to Italy still takes more time than it should normally.
3. After trading for many years, I came to realize that the grading of cards varies from country to country. This is a real problem, as I have been getting damaged cards that were said to be NM. A good way to solve this problem would be for parties to use a common condition guide to grade the cards. Some sites like www.blackborder.com do provide a pretty good condition guide, with scans to guide you through.
4. Communication problems. By trading internationally means trading to countries whose first language isn’t English. Since trading sites like MTG Salvation and MOTL are English-based sites, most people know at least a little English, thus trades could be done with a little patience.
5. Time differences. I reside in Singapore; there is at least ten hour difference in time from US traders. Responses to messages and emails do not come quick. It slows down the discussion for a trade by a good bit, as exchange of messages take place once or twice a day.
6. By trading internationally, the cheapest way to get delivery confirmation is to send via registered mail, which costs somewhere around $10 from the US. This is something that I believe deters North American traders from trading internationally as without delivery confirmation there is no proof of sending or proof of the other trader receiving. However, most mailings arrive fine. A suggestion would be to trade with members with high references first, as these traders are the ones who have proven their honesty by completing them without problems.
7. Some people might need to head down to the post office to send out international mailings. For a certain group of people, this means traveling a long distance. In a case where the trader doesn't have a convenient mode of transport, the idea of traveling that far just to post something isn't feasible. The time taken just to travel is another discouraging factor.
After trading internationally for some time, I noticed several traders have false impressions and false truths about international shipping. Here are three facts about international trading.
Myth: I’m more likely to get ripped by trading overseas.
Fact: There are many horror stories about international traders. I can safely assure everyone that international traders are, on the whole, great people to trade with. International traders are just as reliable as the traders at your local Magic store. After all, these international traders are people like you, they are simply looking for the cards they need. Once in a blue moon, ripping cases happen. Don’t let these black sheep in the trading community influence your decision on international trading. Rippers can be from anywhere. Not trading internationally is not a foolproof method of avoiding being ripped. Upon checking the rippers list, there is a mix of international traders and North American traders. Hence it is not justified to say that avoiding trading overseas will cut the risk to zero. When you are trading online, there is always a risk. It is the responsibility of the trader to take enough precautions to cut this risk down to the bare minimum.
Myth: Shipping across the ocean is expensive.
Fact: Shipping internationally isn’t as expensive as it seems. Most traders are deterred by the fact that shipping overseas cost a lot, but I beg to differ. A package with a total weight of one ounce or less cost $0.90 to be shipped from the US to Singapore.
Myth: Mails are likely to get lost if I were to send overseas.
Fact: This is certainly untrue, for most of the world’s postal systems are great. They handle packages efficiently and they arrive in good time. Most postal systems are on par with the United States Postal Service, so there is nothing to be afraid about sending overseas. The cold hard fact is that mail rarely get lost.
If you’re still worried, buy insurance. Better to be safe than sorry.
Also while trading; it is always good to do the following below. This actually helps in your trades, from the start of the trade till the end.
Hopefully your list look better than this.
Have an organized and neat Have/Want list. This allow other traders to scan through your list easily for cards they want. Many traders including myself are put off by untidy lists, where cards are not even sorted by the color. Both MTGS and MOTL utilize "Foil" tags. Using them in your thread will come in handy as well, as other traders can distinguish foils from non-foils.
Be clear and concise when contacting the other trader. 1337 speak is not tech. I’m not a fan it and never will be. It is irritating as well as being hard to read. Try to type in a way the other trader could understand.
One example of such “1337 speak”:
Sometimes I wonder how anyone can understand this at the first glace. When trading, I like messages that are easy to read. Whenever I receive messages as the one above, I actually take more time trying to figure out what the trader is trying to say.
i m interested in ur minds desire. plz check my list as I hav gd stuff 2 trade. THX!
Always ask for conditions and language of the cards. Never assume cards are Near Mint to Mint and are in English. Also, when a card has been reprinted in multiple sets, it is always good to ask what set the cards you will be receiving are from.
Various sizes of bubble envelopes.
When sending cards out, always send in toploaders, or cards sandwiched between them. Cards should be sleeved too. If you are taping toploaders or sleeves together, ensure that the tape does not come into direct contact with the cards. Cards that are outgoing should fit an envelope nicely. Do not try to stuff as many cards you can into an envelope. The use of a bubble envelope is recommended. Send your end of the trade in good time as well.
When you are sending cards out, do note that there are four different ways in the order of sending. Let me explain them briefly:
• Sending simultaneously, more widely known as a simul-send. That is when both traders send their cards at the same time.
• Yourself sending first in a trade. Usually, if a trader has more positive feedbacks than you, you will be asked to send your end of the trade first. When the other trader has received your cards, he will send his end out. For newer members, do understand that you might have to send first a couple of times before you start simul-sending. You’ll have to build up your feedbacks. (well, everyone has to start somewhere)
• Sending your end of the trade after you receive the cards from the other trader. This is the opposite of sending first. The other trader will send you his end of the trade. After receiving it, you will send out your side of the trade.
• Last but not least, there are third-party trades. They occur sometimes if the value of the cards being traded is high and both parties have low amount of references. Both traders must agree to engage a third-party trader beforehand. After agreeing, a third-party trader services are called upon. Both traders will send their end to the third-party trader, who will check both sides of the trade before sending out to the correct party. Do not worry about the credibility of these third-party traders. All of them have been approved by the Trading Moderators before placing their names down on the list. The service is free, however the shipping charges incurred from the service will be paid for by the traders engaging the third-party trader.
Buying and Selling Cards, how different from just trading cards?
For starters, buying and selling cards is similar to trading cards via mail. The various methods of sending are similar as well. Simul-send is rarely used however, and most traders will go by the 'refs rule'. This means the trader who has a lower I-Trader rating sends first. When buying and selling cards, cash is involved. The main mode of payment is done via PayPal. What is Paypal? In short, PayPal is a simple and safe way for people to pay for purchases and to receive payments online. Users can pay using their credit card, bank account or their PayPal account.
Other than PayPal, other modes of payment include money order and concealed cash. Money orders might prove to be a problem, as certain countries do not accept them. As for concealed cash, its risky on the whole. The fact that sending cash in the mail is illegal in many countries is a good enough reason for me to discourage you from sending concealed cash.
How to beat the ripping game?
This is by far the worst part of online trading, in both domestic and international trades. In every community, there are rippers around. What are rippers? They are traders who do not live up to their words in a trade. In short, they will take your cards/cash, and never ship out their end of the deal. Sending out fake cards is another example of ripping. This amounts to nothing short of mail fraud. The problem cannot be eliminated fully, but by taking ample precautions, the risk of losing your cards to a ripper will be greatly reduced.
Is this a scam?
Check the Bad Trading Report and Resolution Forum regularly. It would be good to check the Bad Traders Alert forums on other sites as well. Many ripping cases happen when a returning banned (for ripping) member comes back under a new account to trade. It is your responsibility to find out more about the person who are trading with.
Beware of people having low post counts, recent join date and having no trading or selling list. Also be weary of offers coming from private messages or emails. Many rippers like to keep a low profile. Never be tempted by extremely good deals. If someone offers you a deal too good to be true, it probably is.
Rippers will always ask you to send out first, or do a simul-send. They will claim to have refs on every other site, except the site you are trading on. Do not send first to such members, there is a good chance you will not see your cash/cards again if you do so. Some rippers might also impersonate prominent trading members. Therefore it is always good to check the identity of the person you are trading with.
Other than knowing steps to identify suspected rippers, there are precautions that can be taken.
Always check the references of the other trader. MTGS has an I-Trader system where you can view the feedback (also known as references or refs in short) of another trader. The higher the rating, the more successful trades a trader has made. A similar system is being used by MOTL. You can check the feedback or the trader by clicking on his profile, or under his/her User ID in the trading forums. If you are a new trader, I would highly recommend you to trade with members with high I-Trader feedbacks. These members have proved that they are of high standing by making many successful trades.
Use some sort of delivery confirmation. For international trades where delivery confirmation is expensive, always use it if the trade is large. Without delivery confirmation, there is no proof that you have sent the cards. By using delivery confirmation, you will be protected on various fronts. It is also the responsibility of the person sending out the cards to ensure the cards arrive safely.
As mentioned earlier in the article, if the trade is large, ask a third-party trader to help you out. Engaging a third-party trader will ensure the safety of the cards, and protects you from any rippers. Need a third-party trader to help you out in a trade? Check out the list of third-party traders here.
What is a Bad Trading Report and Resolution Forum?
Here is one forum that you wouldn't want to be active in. What basically goes into this forum are trading disputes where you need a Trading Moderator's help. Months back, the Trading forum didn't have a separate forum for Bad Trader Reports. Instead they only had a sole thread for users to post on. After receiving feedback from the traders on this site, as well as weighing the pros and cons, finally a separate forum was set up to handle such disputes. This is the forum where you can check out the information on every bad trader and ripper to ever sign up for this site. I would highly recommend looking at this forum before you start trading.
When posting on this forum, make sure you give ample evidence that a trade has been confirmed, as well as communication logs between the other trader and yourself. Trades are confirmed only after addresses are exchanged. Also, please allow up to two weeks for a local trade and a month for an international trade for the delivery of packages. Mails can sometimes be delayed. While posting a thread there, while its common to 'snip' off the reported bad trader's address, I would advise not doing so. When a person is reported as a bad trader, I would also advise all traders not to trade with the person until the dispute is resolved. With the address displayed, others can be weary of sending to that same address that is listed. Also certain users might search through Bad Trader Alert Forums of other sites to see if the reported trader's address is listed as a bad trader.
Once the dispute has been posted, please be patient and wait for the Trading Moderators to assist you.
Online trading has provided Magic players all over the world with more benefits than drawbacks. International trading has helped me vastly and will always play an integral part in helping me to get the cards I need. For those traders out there who have not traded internationally, its a good time to try it out. I hope I am able to persuade more of you to start trading internationally. Who knows, you might be trading across the ocean much more than I do in the near future.
By Audric P. on October 16th, 2007 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
About Audric P.
Audric currently resides in Singapore. He currently only plays Legacy, mainly playing and testing with combo decks. He is usually found in the trading forums, where he is a 3rd Party Trader. Audric also mainly collects Infernal Contract and Artist Proofs, and hoping his global set of Contracts would be finished soon.