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  Disputes
Almost every transaction at Audiogon ends with two completely satisfied parties.  Occasionally, there might be problems which the two parties are unable to resolve through private communications.  Below are some tips that could avoid common disputes, and some strategies for attempting resolution.  If an agreement does not appear likely, then you may need to consider the involvement of a third party.


Tips to avoid disputes

 Which details to put in writing
 Which questions to ask over the phone
 Notify of each step with an email
 Be willing to answer questions after the sale


Trying to resolve disputes
 Email the exact problems to the other party
 Handling damages or malfunctions from shipping
 Speak over the phone to negotiate a resolution
 Words that will make a resolution impossible



If you reach an impasse
 Try one last phone conversation
 Audiogon's Dispute Resolution Process
 Consumer Protection Agencies


Online Dispute Resolution Process
 For disagreements, contesting a feedback, or reporting fraud.
  Avoiding Disputes
Which details to put in writing
You will be entering agreements involving a monetary exchange, with someone you do not know, or with someone whose native tongue is not English.  Both parties should include any specific details via emails, even if they have been discussed over the phone.  The following specifics should be put in writing:
1) Exact model number, version, any updates or service, serial number, etc.
2) All dollar figures: separate and specify the item price, shipping costs, etc.
3) Expected dates: when you will send payment or shipment, when it might arrive.
4) Shipping details: which shipper, exact method (ex: 2-day air).


Which questions to ask over the phone 
Audiogon STRONGLY recommends a phone conversation before committing to a transaction.  While the details should be handled in writing, a phone conversation is important to get to know your trading partner.  Some topics require a two-way conversation because one answer often leads to another question.  The following issues are best handled by phone, and not email:
1) Physical condition, usage history, system context.
2) Buyer's familiarity with the item - helps avoid surprises.
3) General conversation - informative? friendly? do you feel comfortable?

 
Notify of each step with an email 
It is critical that both parties remain in contact throughout a transaction process.  Every step should be indicated with an email to the other party.  Even if you are not nervous, your trading partner may be very nervous indeed.  The following steps mandate an email:
1) Confirm agreement - include price, shipping, payment method, etc.
2) Payment or shipment sent - include tracking number
3) Payment or shipment received.
4) Payment clears, or item is inspected.
5) Feedback submitted - helps remind the other party to do the same.


Be willing to answer questions after a sale
Most transactions at Audiogon result in a friendship that continues long after the deal.  The next owner of a piece may have a few questions about how something works, or what a particular button does, etc. Sellers should be willing to answer a few reasonable questions after a sale, to help the new owner enjoy the new toy.  One should not ignore emails from their trading partners. If you do not have the time to answer questions after the sale, at least respond with a note explaining that.  Remember, there are only so many audiophiles in the world, so it never hurts to make another friend.


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  Trying to resolve disputes
Email the exact problems to the other party
If you encounter a problem, email the other party immediately, with as much information as possible.  Include very specific details as to the nature of the problem, and what solutions you have tried.  Examples:
1) Check bounces: email the date your bank returned it, whether it was tried twice, etc.
2) Item is not as described: include the seller's description, and how yours is different.
3) Item is not working properly: be very specific, and mention everything you tried.


Handling damages or malfunctions from shipping

If the item appears to have suffered shipping damage, call the seller and the shipping company immediately. Electronics should not be powered up, or further damage may occur.  Speakers should be tested if the cabinet appears damaged. 
1) Save ALL documents and tracking numbers
2) Save ALL boxes and packing materials as it was shipped.
3) The seller is generally responsible for filing claims.
4) The seller is generally the one to be paid any damage claims.


Speak over the phone to negotiate a resolution
The usefulness of email deteriorates rapidly when addressing a dispute.  Phone conversations offer a much more personable means to work things out.  After you have emailed the details of the problem, try to call the other party and explain your concerns.  Be willing to consider options presented by the other party, and expect the same in return.

 Words that will make a resolution impossible
Avoid questioning the other party's integrity.  There are numerous variables in a transaction consummated over the internet.  One should assume that dishonesty is the LAST possible explanation for the problem. Words such as "liar" or "thief" will only cause the other party to walk away from the negotiation, thereby reducing your chances of a successful resolution. Also avoid vague problem descriptions such as "it doesn't work", instead, describe the exact nature of the problem you are experiencing.


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  If you reach an impasse
Try one last phone call
Give yourself and the other party a few days to calm down and reflect.  Then try one last phone call to see if a resolution is possible.  Be willing to consider a compromise, or better yet, propose a compromise yourself.  Keep in mind that if you are not able to reach an amicable solution, any further recourses will take considerable time and money.  Arriving at a gentlemen's resolution is by far the quickest and cheapest way to resolve a dispute.

Audiogon's Dispute Resolution Process
Audiogon offers a service that tries to resolve disputes after private communications fail, and before any legal agencies are enlisted.  Audiogon's process is available to all registered members if the dispute arises from an Audiogon transaction.  This resolution method requires an extensive set of rules and procedures.  
Please read about the Dispute Resolution Process.

Consumer Protection Agencies
There are a variety of agencies in each state which may be able to assist you.  Unfortunately, many of these agencies do not investigate consumer-to-consumer disputes.  Others are not prepared to handle this new phenomenon, because c-to-c transactions were extremely rare before the internet.  Further complications arise from cross-state or even cross-country jurisdictions.  However, it may be worthwhile to file a complaint, since multiple complaints may receive some attention.  
You might start with this list of Consumer Protection Agencies.


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