Here are some useful tips and resources for buyers.
How NOT to get ripped off
Many people have been asking me for a couple tips and strategies on how not to get ripped off. Although it may seem like this market is only for scalpers, the truth is there are many people with legitamite reasons for selling their costume and will sell the costume at the original price. Here are a couple tips to help you out along the way.
Essentially you're trying to build a very short term trust relationship if you're going to hand over that kind of money for your costume.
Hint 1: Look at the posts. Note the name of the person as well as the email address. Ideally you'd want to go for more open, honest posters, up front. (e.g.: name: "John Smith", email: [email protected] would be better than name: "R. Youoff", email: [email protected]).
Hint 2: Do some research. Before you contact any sellers, check out the costume and the actual prices of the costume from the band's website. If the seller is asking more than the original price of the costume. Report that person to the band. Some bands like Tribe / Bliss are begging to receive reports like this because they hate scalpers as much as we do. And chances are, you might get that costume at the original price after all.
Hint 3: Keep your guard up. When you contact them, look at the replies, again, focusing on openness and honesty. You want to feel comfortable when doing business. If something strikes you the wrong way, there'll always be another opportunity.
Hint 4: Get all the details you can about the seller and the costume. That way you can actually call up the band themselves and ask if there is a costume in the seller's name. Explain that you're about to buy the costume and you're just checking. This is a big one so that you're sure that everything the seller is saying is true or not.
Hint 5: Get the Why? Ask for the reason for the sale of the costume. Some people legitimately can't be here for carnival while others bought the costume for the sole purpose of selling it at a profit. Avoid the latter.
Hint 6: Keep meetings public When you're ready to meet. Meet in a public place like a shopping mall or the mas camp. Don't meet at your home or the home of the seller.
Hint 7: Check and Re-check! Make sure you have what you need before you hand over payment. The checklist: The costume itself, or a signed letter with picture ID (photocopy of valid driver's permit, ID card or passport) from the seller stating that you have purchased the costume and will be collecting on their behalf.
If you're collecting the costume, make sure you get the entire costume and all the pieces are there.
You can also contact the Band to find out what they require to hand over the costume to you if you're purchasing it from someone else.
Do not hand over payment till you have these things.
Hint 8: Pay safely If everything's okay so far and you're ready to pay, try to pay with a form of payment with the least risk. e.g.: PayPal is less risky than Cash. Even Cheque is better than cash. If something goes wrong, you'd want to make sure you could at least cancel the transaction.
Again, you want to feel as comfortable as possible througout the process.
Be safe out there.
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