Monday, February 6, 2017

Public Service: How to buy toys on the Internet

Public Service: How to buy toys on the Internet
Dark Lord Dungeon on
Welcome to a public-service post on how to buy toys on the internet. We at the Dungeon also serve as admins on several Facebook toy collector sites and we've noted an increase in the number of people complaining about being scammed by sellers.

These cheated buyers have resorted to publicly shaming the sellers - which shouldn't matter since they're probably fake accounts - however we don't think that these buyers know that they may be facing libel charges under the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10175).

There are risks that every buyer takes whenever he makes a purchase - both offline and on-line. It's just easier to return to a real-life seller if you find a defect in a product, and most purchases involve direct exchanges of cash for product. Buying on-line makes is riskier because, in some instances, sellers will demand payment prior to purchase.

Which is where scamming comes into play - though note that scamming can be done both ways.

So here are a few tips to keep you safe while toy collecting through the internet:


A) Ask yourself why you are buying toys on-line?
  • If you're new to toy collecting and aren't a multi-millionaire, and haven't specialized yet, then the internet must look like a smorgasbord. It's a great way to chalk up credit-card debt or set yourself up as a target for scammers. 
    • Buying things on Amazon or Ebay where you use either Paypal or charge directly to a credit-card usually doesn't provide the sense of satisfaction that a regular off-line purchase would provide. Why? Well you don't have the item. You have to wait. Sooooo shop some-more? 
    • If you're "dibbing" everything you can get your hands on in a Facebook group, scammers can see you. They see your pattern. They see how fast you dib, when you dib and on what you call dibs on. Sellers also sometimes like to say thank you, so they know you're liquid and have paid. The next thing you know you may find yourself dibbing on a scammer's post.
  • So specialize. You'll have more money for the core of your collection and you'll be less vulnerable.Specialization also allows you to use the internet for what it's for: finding stuff that you won't be able to find or source from your local specialty stores. A few notes:
    • Buying from well established physical specialty stores is preferable to buying toys on-line. 
    • If you're a member of a social media group that's specialized, chances are your local specialty stores will regularly announce their upcoming releases. So there would be no reason for you to invest in a complete stranger who promises to deliver a product that may or may never arrive. 
    • Some specialty stores carry physical catalogs of toys that they soon will be carrying so visiting them occasionally to reserve certain items - and paying a reserve price in cash - may be preferable to using a credit card on-line. 
  • The only reason we would resort to buying on-line would be:
  • Public Service: How to buy toys on the Internet
    Most of this had to go
    • For spare parts - This is something that you unfortunately have to resort to especially if you're dealing with really old vintage toys, and even with more modern toys such as GI Joes and Transformers. Personally we've trawled the internet a lot for spare parts. Our greatest spare-parts success story would be having restored an entire GI Joe Rolling Thunder. There was another time that we broke the support strut of the missile launcher of our GI Joe WHALE. We really had to wait for that part to appear on Ebay.
    • To complete a collection - If we were financially viable in the 80s (We'd be very old), all our money would have gone to toys and we'd have a GI Joe Defiant (Screw the Flagg). Getting one before the end of our lives remains our struggle today. Frankly spending  few hours slowly trawling through your local flea market should provide most of what you need. 
      • Talking to your local flea market dealers may compel them to source certain items for you. You also might meet fellow collectors who have what you need. 
      • Some Social Media groups also encourage swap meets. We encourage you to socialize - yes  you nerd you. Come out of your cave and discover that you are not alone. Swap meets are great places to find what you need and to meet people who can provide you with what you need.
    • Because it's a great deal - For new toys, it is very unlikely that your local specialty toy stores will not carry an item that someone will carry for sale on-line - unless your specialty is really, really rare. However you have to understand that they run a business, and that business has to pay for the brick and mortar that they operate from. On-line sellers have no such add-on expense and so are able to lower their prices a bit - which makes them quite enticing. 
B) If buying on-line can't be avoided, who are you buying it from?
  • Remember that even friends and family will fight over money - what more a perfect stranger. With that in mind: 
    • Buy from the on-line stores of well established international toy-stores. These are professional businesses who rely on successful deals and happy customers. Off the top of our heads, you may want to visit:
    • Public Service: How to buy toys on the Internet
      Our first ever Amazon purchase
    • Buy from established re-seller sites:  These are sites that also value their reputation, so they work to seal and deliver deals perfectly. Sometimes these re-sellers demand that their sellers give them their stock so that they can handle inventory and delivery. Samples include:
    • Buy from the independent sellers on established sites.There are several, but only one that we would recommend:
      • - Some people have misgivings about "Evil-bay", but personally we feel it's one of the safest places to buy from. Why?
        • It has a feedback based rating system. Sellers here value and work to gain higher feedback ratings. We currently have a feedback rating of 241 with 100% positive feedback and 1 neutral feedback. We have a nice golden medal marking us as a top-rated power-seller. And we like it that way. Now if you choose to send a huge amount of money to someone with zero or a lot of negative feedback, then we have a bridge that we would like to sell to you.
Public Service: How to buy toys on the Internet
Completed thanks to Ebay
        • has an internal communications system. Personally if someone buys something from us and is unknown to us or has low feedback, we communicate through Ebay's mail system. That way there's a paper trail. If something goes South, we have evidence. There's an idiot who tried to blackmail us once with negative feedback and we were able to have the negative mark removed because he was dumb enough to blackmail us through Ebay's mail system (Where he also heaped tons of abuse on us). 
        • Meeting up with the buyer to exchange money for his toys in person is always an option on Ebay. Some of the best conversations about toys that we've had happened when meeting toy collectors. It's also a great way to learn, to gain new information, and to be introduced to other sellers and buyers. We've met dorky college students - whose mothers probably would not approved - toy collectors covered in tattoos, lawyers in the public attorney's office, businessmen, and even women. The community is big and covers all walks of life. 
    • Buy from established Social Media Groups. There are certain groups in Facebook - established by enterprising individuals - dedicated to the reservation and selling of toys. What's good about these groups is that you don't have to do much vetting on the seller given the number of happy people ordering in the group. But because they don't know you, don't be offended if they ask for a reservation deposit. Examples include:
      • King del Mundo's TF HK sales group. We've mentioned this 2,100++ member group in the past and the group has never failed to deliver. 
      • Public Service: How to buy toys on the Internet
        Purchased from TF HK
      • Michael Ong's DDC2 (Dorky Doodle Collectibles 2) is another reliable group with 1,600++ members.
    • Buy from individuals found in Social Media Groups: Here's where a lot of bad blood happens - although admittedly it's a lot of fun to just sit back and watch the fighting. The important things to remember are:
      • Would it kill you to vet the seller? Failing to vet the seller has resulted in a ton of really nasty posts in social media groups where we can't help but think "Well it's really your fault" You wanted something so bad you were willing to be played. So how can one vet a seller?
        • Scan the social media group for his posts. If he has successful sales and people are happy, they usually post their happiness and thank the seller. If the seller has no other posts and no successful sales stories - or has horror stories - then stay away. There is a search function within Social Media Groups. Use it. 
        • Ask your friends if they know the seller or have heard of him. It's unlikely that you're in a group with no friends. If they haven't heard of your seller, then that's  red flag. 
        • Ask openly. It's your right as a seller to post and ask if they've heard of a particular seller. Sellers should be pleased when this happens because it's free promotion - provided the seller has happy customers If nobody can say anything good about you as a seller, that's bad - and a red flag to you buyers. 
      • As much as possible meet up with the buyer instead of making a deposit and having the item shipped. Why?
        • A lot of mishaps may happen with shipping and a lot of cargo may be lost. There is even one shipping company whose reputation is soooo bad, merely adding the name of the company to your post in Ebay triggers a red flag warning from Ebay.  LBC is the only company that we would ship with - even if it is more expensive.
        • Never glance over the opportunity to make a new friend. Whole new worlds await if you open yourself up to making new friends.
        • You exchange money for the toy on-site. So unless you agreed to meet in a dark alley in a seedy part of town, the chances of you getting robbed are lower. 
Bottom line: keep your wits about you and remember to have fun. There will always be those exceptions where you will be required to take a leap of faith. If you do, keep it small. Hedge your bets and know what kind of risk you are willing to accept and take.

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