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The BIG LIST of "Safe/Smart trader tips"
(A critical chapter out of our guide entitled: The Sports Card Collectors Guide to Trading on the Internet)
CONTENTS
(Book cover)

Chapter 1 - Now that’s progress!
Chapter 2 -
Tools required
Chapter 3 - How to trade
Chapter 4 - Packing and shipping
Chapter 5 - After the trade: the good, the bad and the…gulp…ugly.
Chapter 6 - Upgrade and MAKE $MONEY$
Chapter 7 - The BIG LIST of “Safe/Smart trader tips”
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The smart trader tips this list provides can make the difference between your having a positive Internet sports card trading experience or a horrible one. All of these tips are important and you need to take the time to become familiar with each of them. Some of the tips apply to more than one category, but instead of listing them twice, I have put them in the most appropriate place. I have the safety tips listed first with the exception one. The first tip on the list is the most common complaint I have heard for the past 10 years.

The #1 trader tip for you is….

Respond!
If a Trader responds to a post you have made, please be kind enough to respond to them. Even if you are completely uninterested in their sports card offer, you need to show some them some courtesy and let them know. This is tremendously appreciated by your fellow traders and only takes a few seconds to do. Email is quick and easy to use so please do not leave people hanging!

Now on to the rest of this important list….

Personal Safety
A word of caution: Trading baseball cards and other sports cards over the Internet involves providing your personal information to those you do not know. Parents and guardians of minors should be aware of all Internet activities of minors for whom they are responsible. Children should NEVER meet in person anyone that they encounter on the Internet unless accompanied by their parents or guardians. Everyone should use caution when giving out personal information to those when they meet online.

Set-up a P.O. Box
A post office box will allow you to avoid giving out a home street address.

“Do not get stolen from” Tips!

Start with small trades
If you have never traded with a particular trader before, it is smart for both traders to arrange a small trade, or even a few small trades, before moving on to higher dollar negotiations.

Trust your gut feeling
If you have a bad feeling about a sports card trade that you are entering, do not rush the trade. Instead, contact the site manager and ask for more references, or start with a smaller trade.

Check References
Earning Sportscardfun.com Good Trader Points is a great way to build an on-line trading reputation. There are many sites that offer ways to earn a good reputation including eBay, NAXCOM, Beckett, Sportscardforum, etc.

Contact the site manager
When in doubt you, should check with the site manager about the person you are with whom you are trading.

Check Around
The site you belong to should have a method of informing you of those individuals removed from the club for bad trader. If you are trading with someone for the first time that has no references, you should investigate whether they are on anyone’s “bad trader” list.

Use those point rankings and references!
The use of point rankings and references will help you establish the process to use in mailing cards to a fellow trader. You will need to determine the number of references/points that you are comfortable with in order to agree to send cards at the same time.  Perhaps you decide that if someone has less than 10 points or references you will request that they send their cards to you first. Maybe if you have 200 references you will always ask people with less than 100 to mail their sports cards first. Be aware that people need to earn a positive on-line trading reputation. Whatever method of qualifications you decide to use, they should be used consistently. If you are the one with fewer points and someone else is asking you to send your cards first, you are also welcome to ask for additional references and/or start with smaller trades!

"Zero to a hundred"
If you make a small sports card trade with someone and it goes well, do not automatically assume that because a small trade went well that a large trade will also go well. Other factors must be taken into account when you begin making larger traders such as point ranking, shipping methods, etc.

Do not get lazy!
After you have made hundreds of trades without encountering even one small trade problem there might be a tendency for you to get lazy with your smart trader tips. Don’t get lazy! I have seen this laziness happen the most when a seasoned trader agrees to send at the same time as a rookie trader; the rookie trader disappears and fails to send the cards they were suppose to send, but happily takes the sports cards that the veteran trader sent.
 

Negotiating and trading tips!

Communicate clearly
The majority of the sports card trade problems reported over the past 10 years have involved good traders who simply miscommunicate with each other. The Internet and e-mail is so fast and easy to use that we frequently assume that we have made ourselves clear when we have not. Trading smart means that you will go out of your way to be absolutely sure that the person with whom you are trading completely understands the terms of your trade.

Email Abbreviations
There are many abbreviations used on the Internet, here are a few that you may come across while you are trading sports cards online:

WTT – want to trade
WTTF - want to trade for
LOL – laughing out loud
TTYL – talk to you later
BRB – be right back
GU – game used
RC – rookie card
HTG – hard to get - as in "it's going to take a lot to get this card from me"
VHTG – very hard to get

Do not conduct too many trade negotiations at the same time
It is often tempting to trade baseball cards, hockey cards, etc., non-stop with many different people. Until you know that you can handle it, be careful to not engage in too many trades at the same time.

Keep your sports card collection organized!
It is much easier to trade when you have an organized collection. Trading is a lot more fun when you do not need to spend hours upon hours looking for cards that have been requested by another trader. It is important that you keep track of the cards that you have promised to someone else. Unless you have more than one of a certain card, make sure you have a system whereby you know what you are already trading away and what is still available.

Card condition
Take pride in the condition of the sports cards you send to your fellow collector. People assume that the cards they will be receiving will not be flawed, dinged, stained, damaged, chewed on, etc. Every smart trader knows it is a good idea to describe ANY OBVIOUS FLAWS in the cards they are trading away before they confirm a trade! For some people, the exact condition of a card is VERY important. If you are one of those people, be sure to let the person you are trading with know! Other people do not take the exact condition of a card as seriously. CLEAR COMMUNICATION is mandatory in all trading negotiations.

Read trade messages carefully
The people you are trading with have already stated what they want for a particular trade; take the time to read that information! Other traders like it when you have read their messages and make them an offer of a card that they actually want.

Make reasonable trade offers
Do not offer a $5 baseball card for a $20 dollar baseball card; unless of course the person has said they are agreeable to this, or if they have made a blanket statement of “make offer”. Remember that most of the time people trade close to high book value for high book value.

Do not back out or suddenly change your mind
If you have spent time arranging a trade try to do your best to not back out or suddenly change your mind.  There are only a few good reasons to withdraw from an agreed-upon trade. An exception would occur if you didn't realize that you do not have the cards to trade that you thought you did, or you realized that you can't complete the trade due to unexpected life circumstances. Occasionally you may begin to suspect that you are dealing with a possible bad trader. In most cases backing out of a confirmed sports card trade is irresponsible and wastes the time and energy of your fellow traders.

Be prepared to undo a trade
Be prepared to undo a trade if your fellow trader is unhappy with the cards you have sent. Undoing a trade is frequently the best way to avoid additional problems. If you do undo a trade use a traceable and secure shipping method to help avoid additional problems with an already problem trade.

Hold on to those email threads!
Keeping your original email thread going when setting up a trade insures that you have a record of what was said and agreed upon each step along the way. Most email programs allow you to do this. When replying to your fellow trader's email message make sure to use the "reply" feature on your email program. Starting a new email message when the subject has not changed is not a good way to keep track of the trade arrangement.

Pick up the telephone!
If you are negotiating a large sports card trade and need some added information, protection and reassurance, you should consider communicating by telephone. Here are a few additional reasons to get the telephone number of the other trader:

1. A phone call is some times the best way to help resolve communication problems and misunderstandings.

2. The telephone is often the quickest way to reach the person with whom you are trading and finalize the deal!

3.  Not all traders check their email every day so having a telephone number is good idea if you find yourself needing to communicate with that other person.

4. Speaking live with the person you are trading with can often help both traders feel more comfortable about their trade.

Certainly not all trades require speaking on the telephone, but for those larger more complicated trades you may want to add the telephone call into the mix!

Do your share
Doing your share of the work is always appreciated by your fellow traders! For example, instead of simply saying "look at my list”, look at their lists.  If someone responds to your post and indicates that they have  found a few football cards that you need; the courteous thing for you to do in return is to offer to look at their list. This is a much better response than saying "great, you found a few football cards that I need, now take a look at my page to see if I have anything that you need.” Studying lists takes time and effort! If traders try to share the load of scanning each others lists, everyone will have more time to make more trades!

Send your sports cards to your fellow trader when you say you will.
Most people agree to ship their cards a day or two after they finalize a trade, keep your part of the agreement! Tell the person if you plan to wait until you receive your cards first, that this is your intention. Not doing so is an unfair trading practice. Those with more points than the person with whom they are trading will often request the person with fewer points to send his/her cards first.

Irregular Schedule
If you have an irregular work schedule, or one that takes you out of town from time to time, you should inform the other traders. If you know that you are frequently away, you need to communicate this clearly so that they do not think you are ignoring them or, even worse, have stolen from them if a problem arises when you are not available.

Do not trade them away #1
Do not trade away sports cards that you have recently received in a trade until you are absolutely certain that the person you traded with to obtain those cards is happy with the cards that you provided to him or her Do not consider any cards you have obtained in a trade to be yours to trade away until you confirm that your trading partner is happy with the cards you have sent.

Do not trade them away #2
Do not trade away sports cards that you do not actually have in your possession. Some traders have run into problems arranging trades for cards that they are still waiting to arrive from another trader. It is best to only trade away cards that you have in your hands.

Be prepared for the unexpected #1
A responsible on-line sports card trader is prepared for the unexpected. Being able to contact your fellow traders in the event of a computer crash or other problem that requires you to be away from your computer is critical. The designation of a good trader means that you will take the time and make the effort to keep the people with whom you are trading with well informed. Take the easy step to being a great trader and set-up a back-up email account today!

Be prepared for the unexpected #2
Have access to a back up computer in place. A back-up email address will not help you if your computer crashes. Think about what computer you can use to contact the site manager or your fellow sports card collectors in the event that your computer needs repairing.

Stay cool
Try to refrain from sending rude or offensive email messages. They really help no one and usually do more harm than good.

Do not burn out on trading
Trading sports cards online is really fun! You will most likely make many great trades and some good friends as well. However, as with all activities, it is possible to get so caught up in trading that you may begin to burn out on it. If you find yourself getting frustrated easily with your fellow baseball card collectors or falling behind with keeping your collection organized, take a break Explore life outside of trading for a while. There really is more to life than just trading!

Sports Card Packing Tips!

Pack your cards carefully
Take the time to learn how to properly package your cards for shipping! Packing your cards poorly will quickly earn you a reputation that you do not want to have.

Include a note about the details of your trade.
This helps the other person remember who traded what. Many traders will print out, and include, the email message created when the trade was being finalized. This is an easy way to provide a detailed outline of the trade to include in the package.

Traceable Mail
Use a traceable and insured form of shipping on the higher value sports card trades that you make. Shipping with Registered Mail and or Insured Mail can provide you with some peace of mind and important protection. Remember that Registered mail is the most secure form of shipping that you can use.

Time saving tips!

Have a “sports card pulling” policy
Clarify how long you will keep cards pulled for someone in your messages to them. Many traders will pull cards and keep them pulled for 3 days only, telling those they correspond with that this is their procedure. A policy like this will help keep you from having stacks piling up indefinitely. Another solution is to simply not pull cards until you are absolutely certain your fellow trader still needs them.

Regular mailing days
Save yourself some trips to the post office by having a couple of regular mailing days. Tell your fellow traders that you go to the post office on (for example) Mondays and Thursdays. This practice often helps traders save time by not having to stand in line at the post office too often.

 

Money saving tips!

Reuse stuff
It is common for people to reuse padded mailers and other packaging supplies; this is a great way to save money to buy more sports cards!

Use exact postage
Using the exact postage, and not a penny more, is another excellent way to save money in the long run. Buy a small postage scale.

Message posting tips!

Be specific
Try to be as specific in your sports card trade posts as possible. State what you have for trade and what you want in return whenever possible.

Provide the details
Looking for rookie cards? If you are, it is a good idea to include the year of the rookie cards that you need. Including the year of the cards will help those that may want to trade to start their search to determine if they have what you want. When a fellow trader doesn't even know where to begin trying to track down a card for you, they will often not bother trying. Keep this in mind for all of the cards you want to acquire and you will make a lot more trades!

Do not post the same message too frequently
Give the members of your trading club a chance to read your messages. Not everyone is on their computer each day. Posting the same sports card trading messages everyday will tend to frustrate the trading community. Wait a few days and then post it again.

Do not post too many messages every day
Good trading sites will normally have a rule in place stating the maximum number of posts each person can make in a day. Sportscardfun.com allows 4 posts per day in each of the groups that we have, for most people this is more than enough.

Technical tips!

Keep your computer in shape!
You can’t trade on the Internet without your computer, so learn how to keep it in tip top condition.

Update your Anti-virus software often
Don’t want to become the victim of a computer virus. Update your anti-virus software and scan your computer for viruses weekly.

Other important tips!

Keep the site manager informed and Ask for help!
If you think you might be having a sports card trading problem of any kind, let the site manager know and ask for his or her help. The sooner the manager is aware of any potential trade problems or bad traders, the faster he or she will be able to assist. A good trading site should be willing to help you with any trade problem or question that you might have.

Your personal sports card trading policy
Now that you have read this guide from cover to cover it’s time for you to get to work on creating your personal trading policy, remember that it will likely evolve over time as you figure out the ins and outs of what you’re comfortable with. Your policy should consist of good safety, communication, card packing and shipping, and integrity guidelines. It’s not a bad idea to post your trading policy on your web page or even in the messages that you post to the trading board.

A sample personal trading policy:

I always do my best to communicate as clearly and politely as I can with the people who I trade with. I RESPOND TO ALL TRADE OFFERS. I go out of my way to be very specific in my trade posts about what sports cards I have for trade and what I want in return. My goal is to always package my cards very carefully and use at least the combination of soft sleeves, top-loaders, team bags and bubble mailers. For any trade over $50 in value I add insurance. When making a trade for $100 or more I require that both of us send with insurance. For trades valued over $300 I will only make the trade if both traders agree to send via Registered Mail. I consider it mandatory that people with less than 20 sportscardfun.com good trader points send their cards to me first; if they refuse I will not trade with them. I do not make large dollar trades with people I’ve never traded with.

 

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