Conduct on Audiogon

I am relatively new to Audiogon and have a question about how business is conducted on this site. This morning I made an offer to purchase an interconnect at a certain price and if the seller responded within the day. I received an e-mail from the seller indicating "I'll accept your offer" and notifying me that he would accept paypal or a money order as payment. At this point I have made an offer, he has accepted, and I am thinking we have a deal. 42 minutes later he sends me an e-mail saying he needs me to reconfirm within 10 minutes or he is going to sell to someone else. Of course I am not monitoring e-mail on a minute by minute basis since I have to keep my day job in order to support this expensive habit, and the guy turns around and sells this thing to someone else. In the regular, non-internet, world where I operate this type of conduct would be total b.s. But when I ask this guy how he can agree than simply back out he tells me this happens all the time on Audiogon. Is this really the case? Does this type of conduct merit negative feedback or am I overreacting?
I have found most individuals on this site (although some have tasteless humor) to handle themselves very well.
Thus, a more consise response would be yes this is considered poor edicit and does merit negative feedback.
The last time someone did that to me they got negative feedback. I for one give each potential customer 24 hours to respond to my last e-mail before I move on. I can't stand people like that. You have a right to be ticked but yes this does happen all the time. (By rude people) Just forget about it and move on. You will soon find the true blue audiogon family and have many pleasent deals:~)
Feedback is not appropriate in this case, due to the fact that a verifiable agreement had not been reached. Please note that Audiogon policy states that one of four events must have occured before feedback may be submitted:
- Buyer winning a bid at auction, if reserve is met.
- Seller receiving a bid at auction above reserve price.
- Buyer sending payment to a seller in a verifiable form.
- Seller shipping an item to a buyer in a track-able manner.

We understand the frustration that would be caused by the set of events presented in this thread. However, when dealing through a classified ad, there are too many variables in concluding WHEN an agreement has been reached. In the above described scenario, it appears that the seller was waiting for a final confirmation before considering an agreement to have been reached. Apparently, the buyer thought otherwise. Perhaps the seller should have indicated within the "I accept" email, that he is expecting a confirmation to finalize.

To us, this appears to be a case of a miscommunication, rather than a seller "backing out". It seems more a question of whether both parties "knew" they had an agreement or not.

We have been working on an online system that will better define the process of reaching an agreement through a classified ad. Admittedly, it is rather vague currently, as we have left it up to the two parties to negotiate in whatever manner is comfortable. We hope to have a formalized "offer-accept-finalize" method online within the next 2-3 months. Our apologies for not having something in place sooner. We are all learning as the internet keeps evolving.
You'll find out that it takes all kinds to make the world go round. His "10 minutes to respond" is QUITE ridiculous to say the least. Chances are, you'll come out better in the long run by NOT dealing with "Mr Impatient". When things "just didn't work out", i've always ended up finding a better deal on a similar piece of gear just a short time after that. Just look at it as "not being meant to happen" and count your blessings. It could have been a LOT worse. Sean
PS... I think that you'll find that most "regulars" on this forum and in the buying / selling section are quite good to work with.
According to your description of the transaction, you tendered an offer, and he accepted. By any reasonable standard, you had an agreement to buy his piece. It sounds like he got a better offer than yours AFTER agreeing to your terms, and, rather than do the honorable thing and uphold his agreement with you, he created an "out" for himself by suddenly requiring you to contact him in a ridiculously short period of time to "confirm." Likewise, if you had backed out after the seller accepted your offer, it would have been just as unethical (although buyers have done that to me before). For the seller to call what he did common practice at this site is weak justification for his actions. It's bad form no matter how you slice it, and Audiogon should permit buyers to document such behavior through feedback.
Sounds like you got the short end of that one. But as stated above if that is the kind of guy he is you are better off not dealing with him anyway. Once the seller had agreed to your offer he should have let all others know that the sale was pending. Good luck, hope you find a better deal soon.
I have been visiting this site for around a year. During that time I have generally agreed with the decisions made by the Audiogon staff - with a few exceptions. However, their response to this thread concerns me. While I understand that Audiogon exists to make money and that that will at times put them at odds with posters in these forums, their current stance makes me wonder about the integrity of their rating system.

If Bink's statement of the sequence of events is accurate there was no misunderstanding or miscommunication. The seller agreed to his offer and later decided to sell to someone else. Giving ten minutes to reply via email is ridiculous. I am disappointed in Audiogon's response and their stance on this matter.

Clearly, the rating system is worse than meaningless, it is misleading. Yes, there can be misunderstandings with respect to classified ads. But Audiogon has a responsibility, as the host of such ads, to investigate possibilities of abuse *before* posting responses. Audiogon, I hope you are reading this.
Bink, I think that the problem was around the word IF in the offer. It was not a firm offer unless the seller agreed to certain criteria. In my opinion, this needed additional confirmation and acknowledgement to complete. The 10 minute time limit is what is unacceptable. In a reasonable exchange, there would have been one email agreeing and one more from you acknowledging. Another point to consider is that there are a lot of flakes that make "offers" and never follow through, leaving sellers stuck. So this person may have had a bad experience and is still trying to figure out where common ground is.
Like Sean said, consider yourself lucky that this is all that happened. Best of luck in future ventures.
Mac, i have to applaud your response. While i agree with you in principle, Audiogon has to draw the line somewhere as to what constitutes a "deal" or "transaction". Otherwise, i could post negative feedback about you for literally ANYTHING and it would be my word against yours. For example, if you did not cut me a "better deal" on an item that you were trying to sell, i could post that you are "uncooperative, hard to get along with, someone to avoid", etc... See what i mean ??? So long as everyone follows the basic guidelines and leaves feedback by the same agreed upon standards, everyone knows EXACTLY ( or as close as possible ) as to what took place.

Like any other "rules" or "guidelines", there are always loopholes and those that find ways to exploit them. Audiogon is working to "fill in the gaps" in terms of transactions and feedback, but it will not be an overnight thing. As always, Audiogon is ALWAYS open to good ideas and member feedback, so if you or anybody else has something positive to ad to the website, feel free to start a CONSTRUCTIVE thread on the subject or email them directly.

I have suggested previously, and still believe, that each item listed should receive an "item number". Transactional feedback could only be made with that item number used as a reference. Right now, there is REALLY no way to know who is leaving honest feedback and who is stacking the deck. With the "reference number method",the seller would have at least had to pay to post an ad in order to get an item number and there would be some way to cross-reference the feedback to the specific item that was listed. Make sense ??? Sean
Boy thanks for all the responses in such a short period of time. With a couple of exceptions (unfortunately including the one from Audiogon) that fact that others were equally as troubled sure makes me feel better about using this site - it's just going to take time to find the straight shooters. I think Macm nailed it, and I am pretty troubled by the Audiogon response in that it indicates a "verifiable agreement had not been reached" as either no payment had been sent or the product had not been shipped. I am no lawyer, but I have spent enough time with lawyers to be confident that an agreement can be reached (both written and verbally) prior to payment for or shipment of of the product. Under the proposed Audiogon guidelines an individual could agree to purchase something via money order, then spend the next several days looking for a better deal before sending payment. If they find a better deal take it, drop the first deal, and have no risk of bad feedback. There are obviously a multitude of scenarios that can create problems under these existing criteria. I can assure you I have a sequence of time-stamped e-mails that would constitute a "verifiable agreement" by almost any standard. I came to this site assuming the feedback system was an effective form of self-policeing (policing?). Seems like there is still some work left to turn this into a reliable system. The good news is they are focused on it. I thought I was doing the users of this site a favor by giving this guy negative feedback to alert others to be careful when dealing with him. Question now is whether under the current rules of the game I am obligated to go back to Audiogon and request that they remove this negative feedback - I think this is the case based on the Audiogon commentary above.
The problem with your "offer" Bink was that it apparently did not include your proposal for acceptable methods of payment (or if it did propose a method of payment - the Seller "countered" your proposal by specifying very limited acceptable methods to either pay pal or a money order. Accordingly, the Seller did not accept your offer - he modified it by introducing additional material terms to your proposal. Although you may have been agreed on price - you had no binding contract with the Seller unless and until you confirmed that you were willing to accept his proposed payment terms. Granted the time limit he put you under to reply seems a bit harsh - if he has an acceptable deal pending I am sure he wants to close it ASAP. I would suggest to you that in the future - you be very cetain to include ALL material terms in a proposed offer, including shipping and method of payment. I have done many deals on audiogon and payment terms are extremely important to me. I have and well continue to reject offers that have unacceptable payment terms - even if the price is OK.

For all intents and purposes an e-mail response stating: "YES I will accept your offer" is analogous to a deal closing handshake. …In this sense a cyber-handshake, as it were. The response confirms agreement that a deal has been struck in principle and that details and particulars to be worked out later. …How much later is a good question, but 10 minutes seems ridiculous. I have bought and sold several items and NEVER have I ran into this type of constraint.

In this particular situation it would appear that the seller in question “shook on it”, and then regretted the decision. It then appears that the seller (realizing that he had two good offers, and rather than being honest) created a 10-minute “confirmation time limit”; in order to extricate himself from the first deal. It might also be argued that THIS was also an attempt by the seller to create a bidding-war environment - providing the original buyer responded quickly enough. …Or we could just call it a moving target.

While one is certainly entitled to getting the most $ one can for their gear and selling it to whomever one chooses; it would only seem prudent that these considerations be made prior accepting an offer from a prospective buyer. Not afterward.

It only seems reasonable that this seller (and those members who would act similarly) be held accountable to the Audiogon community. This type of behavior demonstrates a general lack of foresight, patience, good judgment, and questionable ethics. …In the end this member is simply a person who would just as soon waste the time of others as not.

Shoddy dealings such as these are the exact kind of information I want to know about when I reference a member's feedback. …So I can avoid them! …Who knows what else might be awry.

Assuming that the originator of this thread is giving an accurate representation of the transaction or “non-transaction” as it were, a negative rating for the offender would seem more than justified. While every successful transaction via Audiogon constitutes acts of good faith for the parties involved this particular seller could hardly be described as “acting in good faith.”

The members responding to this post appear find Audiogon’s current stipulations regarding negative feedback lacking. What, if anything will you do to address this apparent concern/desire to post negative feedback under circumstances such as those in this post - in which there appears a consensus that it IS warranted?

It sounds to me as though you kinda got screwed, more mentally than monetarily. It's pretty pathetic when a guy who is selling something can't wait more than ten minutes for a reply, particularly when we're all trying to work in between normal business hours. I've bought and sold many times over the last year or so, but I can't ever remember being so "pricky" about people responding. Sure everyone would like a response within a reasonable time frame and many times that's possible. It's not as though cables are perishable so some flexibility in response time would be the courteous thing to do. You know the nice thing about all this is that without being a frequent trader here, you already know what the protocol is, and the seller obviously didn't follow it as he should have. The only right thing the seller did was to email you back. Maybe that's the only thing we can give him credit for. If you follow this sight for any time, I'm sure you'll find that most members are honest, fair and usually more patient.
I would just forget about it & get on with life; there seems to be some considerable over-reaction above. As both buyer & seller I've had deals go sour in various ways, but never bothered to get so bent out of shape over such trivialities. The buyer didn't lose any $ & the seller didn't lose any equipment, so feedback is absolutely unjustified in this case. Otherwise the feedback system would become so clogged & corrupted with insignificant/irrelevant commentary ("seller was rude", "buyer didn't respond to inquiries or in timely manner", etc. etc. ad-nauseum, that it would be essentially useless.
Hi again Bink & others. ...Sorry for the verbal diarrhea, I did get carried away in my last post. …My excuse is that Audiogon's response felt SO wrong that I had to vent. Reason being is: While I applaud Audiogon for responding so rapidly I question what message their post sends.

Posting policy and stating their position (that no foul had been committed) appears hasty and callous. And it let the jerk off the hook. It also informed other would be deal-breakers that there are no REAL repercussions for backing out of agreements. While I’m certain this was not the intent it is nonetheless a result.

Well Bink... as others have said, be glad you don't have that guy to deal with and move on - wiser for the experience. Hopefully I can do the same :)

These things happen a lot as there are so many people on earth with that kind of attitude. Shame on them. I am so upset a couple of months ago as the same thing happen to me twice!

Yes is yes, why waste the time to re-confirm. If re-confirm is really need, then wait for the re-confirm to come back with a Yes or No within a reasonable time frame, at least 24 hours. Not 1 hour, 2 hours, 10 minutes! Give me a break.

I will add those people into my NOT TO DEAL WITH LIST.

Good luck all.
Angela--I'm not a corporate lawyer, but I have studied contract law. You're right, there was a condition attached to the offer. Bink offered to buy at a given price "IF the seller responded within the day." I'm assuming the seller did in this case. However, if he didn't respond within the day, then Bink's offer was automatically voided. In that case, what we've been calling the seller's "acceptance" would actually have been a counter-offer. Until the counter-offer was accepted by the buyer, there would be no agreement. It's entirely reasonable for the seller to clarify the need for "confirmation" (read: "acceptance") that the buyer still wanted to proceed. However, the seller should have given Bink a more reasonable amount of time in which to reply before going with another buyer, as you and I agree.

Sean--I agree that the line must be drawn somewhere. It would not be appropriate, for example, to allow negative feedback if a buyer wasn't able to cement a deal and just wasn't happy with the way the seller negotiated. But apparently there was a deal in Bink's case, so what we're looking at is a breach of contract on the part of the seller. Offer + acceptance = contract. I think the line deciding what is allowed in the feedback section should be drawn to include willful unethical conduct that arises after an agreement is reached, regardless of whether the transaction is completed. If a member has a history of reneging on his deals, I think you'd agree that's something prospective buyers should have a right to know.
Mac, thanks for your well worded and thoughtful post on the subject. Hopefully, Audiogon will take note of your thoughts ( that i think MOST members agree with ) and try to work it into the program. I'm glad that others still feel that this site IS willing to listen and are taking the time to voice their thoughts in a positive and helpful manner. Sean