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Thread: An open letter to Classifieds users

  1. #1
    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default An open letter to Classifieds users

    I'm typically not one to engage in open letters to the community, but something has been gnawing at my brain for a very long time. A few days ago I was contacted by a buyer with a question regarding a transaction with a well known seller with a lot of transactions. This resulted in several hours of my time invested in resolving the situation amicably so that the sale stuck. That's my job, but I also do it without pay most of the time, and when I'm putting in hours of free time for the benefit of a seller with a history of not supporting the site or supporting it poorly that makes me very unhappy.

    The individual I dealt with expressed surprise in my tone of voice. He was right. This has been building for a long time and rather than shooting a dart at one person I thought more therapeutic to share that email here composed to no specific name. So allow me to engage in a bit of therapy, and I do need to get this off my chest.

    This is not meant to be a "roll call" for those that have contributed fairly or those that have not. Just read it and think about it. If I could be assured of that much I'd be pleased.

    --------------

    Dear (name removed)

    Let me explain part of my displeasure with your use of the Classifieds. As much as you use them I think you deserve as much. I apologize if my contact the other day sounded a bit harsh. I have very good reason. I thought about not saying anything but I really think I should get this off my chest, and it's clear I need to. I don't like harboring ill feelings. It's unhealthy, so allow me to engage in a bit of therapy.

    It has always been a part of the Classifieds policy that we ask for a 2% donation back to the Mandolin Cafe to offset operating expenses on successful sales. Maybe you're under the impression the Cafe rolls in money and that this all happens by magic and that no effort is involved. Not the case. I can't begin to calculate how much protection sellers and buyers benefit from every day, the scams and bad sellers that attempt contact you'll never hear from. It all looks like it's wide open, doesn't it? That's the beauty. You're being protected at every use and the people trying to take advantage of you never find out, and neither do you. Site security is a 24-hour operation because people wanting to take advantage are knocking on the door round the clock. Dan Beimborn and I have invested hundreds of hours in the security of the Classifieds, and because of those efforts we're as close to fraud free as Classifieds and sales resources get on the internet. I compensate Dan quite well for his work. That's my opinion, I think he'd agree, and he's welcome to weigh in.

    Continually dipping the hand in the cookie jar and not supporting the site or sub-par contributing is little more than poor taste. Successful resources on the internet come at a price. They're not free, and it doesn't appear there by magic. It's the result of hard work, diligence and showing up every day, multiple times to make sure it's right. Holidays included.

    The Classifieds are the way they are by design. They're intended as a perk for site visitors.

    Let me make this very clear: I have no interest in engaging in forced up front PayPal or credit card payments or the possession of your credit card number in return for the privilege of placing or replying to an ad.

    If you contact us with a concern about a Classified ad, a human answers--me. Try that at Reverb, eBay or Craig's List. Two of those don't let you off without paying.

    I'd like to think this is just an oversight, but I know from the numbers of people that engage in this that it's just in poor taste.

    I love running this web site and there are many benefits. I will continue to do so, but seeing people use the Classifieds continually and not supporting us in return is just sad. So, you asked a question and I answered.

    Scott Tichenor
    Mandolin Cafe
    Since 1995

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  3. #2
    Registered User Russ Jordan's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Well said, Scott, and I hope your message was well received!
    Russ Jordan

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  5. #3
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    I appreciate the sentiments expressed in this letter.

    I've bought and sold and contributed to the Cafe, but I'm afraid there may have been a time when I've forgotten to give back after a sale.

    I'm going to do a better job of making sure in the future.

    Kudos and thanks to Scott for this excellent resource to buy and sell instruments.



    You are very much appreciated!
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5 Mandolin
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Girouard A Mandola
    Leo Posch LPD-18

  6. #4
    Registered User Al Trujillo's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Thank you Scott...as a potential Classified shopper I do appreciate your support and commitment to making this a great place to do business. The best insurance is a website master who cares about his product. Thanks again for a wonderful website and for yours (and Dan's support).

  7. #5

    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Well said Scott, the classifieds here are a great resource for which I am very grateful. You've reached out to me if I've made a mistake in my ads, or have severely undervalued an item. I appreciate the oversight you give to them. Please don't let the bad apples upset the applecart.

  8. #6

    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    I always figured that, should the day come that I attempt to part with a mandolin, I'd advertise it here, and be happy to contribute the appropriate amount to the Cafe. Only fair.

    I did not however consider or realize that the buyer was expected to contribute as well. If that is the case, then I guess I'm in arrears.

  9. #7
    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    I always figured that, should the day come that I attempt to part with a mandolin, I'd advertise it here, and be happy to contribute the appropriate amount to the Cafe. Only fair.

    I did not however consider or realize that the buyer was expected to contribute as well. If that is the case, then I guess I'm in arrears.
    Buyers are not expected to contribute and nowhere is that explicitly stated to my knowledge. What I said above which may have been misinterpreted was that I don't ever want this site to get to the point where we have possession of someone's credit card in order to allow someone to reply to an ad which is what eBay and others require. They also use that as their main security feature which I can assure you does not work real well.

    Buyers benefit equally from protection against sellers as a result of participation but I'm not of the opinion that's part of what we should be compensated for. That's the seller's job.

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  11. #8
    Chu Dat Frawg Eric C.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    I always figured that, should the day come that I attempt to part with a mandolin, I'd advertise it here, and be happy to contribute the appropriate amount to the Cafe. Only fair.

    I did not however consider or realize that the buyer was expected to contribute as well. If that is the case, then I guess I'm in arrears.
    I think you may have misread. The story began with a buyer asking him about something in the transaction, at which point Scott worked the issue out with the seller so that both were happy. The failure to be considerate and toss some money the cafe's way from the seller (not buyer) led to this.

    edit: Scott's on the ball today, read above!
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

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  13. #9
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    I have placed a couple ads here, but have not been fortunate enough to make a sale. BUT Scott has let me know when inquiring into an ad or someone inquiring to my ad that might be of concern and for me to look out. That is something no other selling place has done or will do. It is much appreciated by me, and I am sure most of the community here, what a great place this is and what a good job Scott and all do behind the scenes. I love looking at the items for sale, and have bought a few from this site. Even if I am not looking to buy, I look each day and enjoy the information I get from the forums.

    Keep up the good work. k
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    As one who on a very rare occasion gets drafted into watching the classifieds be thankful for what you don't see appear. Scott and Dan go to great lengths to keep the garbage that you generally see on other sites from appearing. This is a pretty safe place and it isn't by accident. There is also a link at the top of the page to just make a contribution to the Cafe and yes, I have contributed. It's a great community.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  17. #11
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Having bought and sold through the classified section here, I'd like to add to the chorus of kudos to Scott (and his henchman Dan) for making this a safe environment for transactions and for the excellent job that is done by all the moderators in keeping the forum an inviting, congenial place for lovers of all things mandolin!

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  19. #12

    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric C. View Post
    I think you may have misread. The story began with a buyer asking him about something in the transaction, at which point Scott worked the issue out with the seller so that both were happy. The failure to be considerate and toss some money the cafe's way from the seller (not buyer) led to this.

    edit: Scott's on the ball today, read above!
    Hi Eric, I did misinterpret Scott's line concerning the "protection sellers and buyers benefit from every day", as well as the part Scott already alluded to regarding not wanting to need "someone's credit card in order to allow someone to reply to an ad".

    Glad to know I'm not in arrears! Believe me though. I truly appreciate the fact that the sellers are screened and vetted and that buying through the Cafe Classifieds is a secure way to go.

    And truthfully, the chances of me ever selling a mandolin are pretty slim.

  20. #13
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    I have been fortunate to have sold successfully on this site. I appreciate the honor system and always contribute based on what I end up selling the item for. I'm glad Scott addressed the issue with the individual in question, I too would find it irritating.
    Thanks for a great site dedicated to these funny little instruments we all like.
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries, Black Slaney

  21. #14
    wannabe mandolin wizzard bluesmandolinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Scott, there is no need to justify your actions.
    In fact what you explained should be clear to everybody even without having it said by the owner of this site.
    Some people just donīt understand how to act respectfully with other people.
    Selfish "Me Myself and I" attitude is spread all over the internet. Itīs not worth wasting your time explaining simple rules to those that will ( want ) not understand anyways.
    I tried to make a small donation with my sales.... at least in those cases where I didnīt lost too much in the sale already.
    And I well understand your " I should get this off my chest" thoughts... I wouldnīt have tolerated such behaviour as long as you do/did.
    Your place is great. Someone that doesnīt agree should move on. Period !

    Thanks and regards
    René
    Carl Martin - Everyday I have the Blues

    My gear : 1927 A0/Ajr , JM-11 , Fender 346 white XH

  22. #15
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    I never sold anything here but was still unaware of a 2% donation.
    I don't see it in the Classifieds , or "Ad Guidelines". The only place it is mentioned is under the "Make a donation". Maybe it appears when actually creating an ad? Curious to how folks would know unless they pressed that button.

  23. #16
    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom C View Post
    I never sold anything here but was still unaware of a 2% donation.
    I don't see it in the Classifieds , or "Ad Guidelines". The only place it is mentioned is under the "Make a donation". Maybe it appears when actually creating an ad? Curious to how folks would know unless they pressed that button.
    In a way you've answered your own question.

    In the process of either 1) placing, 2) modifying, or 3) deleting your ad, there's a prominent link to a donation page. Upon placement of an ad the email confirmation contains an explanation of the donation process and recommended 2%. There's a Donation button on every single Classifieds page. No need for a link to the donation to be on Ad Reply specific pages. I'm sure there's someone that has placed ads that can claim they didn't know any of this, but that's also an admission you aren't reading anything on the resulting screens which is pretty much par internet use for some. But as far as a specific Classifieds guideline, no, it's not in there. Can't say I think guidelines are a good place as in my experience I'd say most people have never bothered to read them. That's just not me grousing, which I'm happy to do, it's a fact.

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  25. #17
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    In my occasional (and amateur) experience of selling instruments through the Cafe classifieds, I have donated a portion of a sale to support the Cafe.

    The really good news for me and everyone else who uses this resource, is that in only one case did I not sell an instrument within a week of listing it. Let's be honest here. The Cafe classified is a better marketplace for mandolin related merchandise than any other site on the internet. Amen. We all need to praise this impeccably administered marketplace.

    The Cafe is hardly acting subtlely when it requests a donation. Every seller, knows that the Cafe wants a donation. It is also made quite obvious that these donations are used entirely to support the website. By contrast, not supporting the classifieds means not supporting the website, which means not supporting the community of which every seller is a member with all perks and responsibilities. Anyone who doesn't understand that linkage is proactively keeping his eyes closed.

    If I may make an analogy. This classifieds issue reminds me a lot of a plumber in my neighborhood association who flatly refuses to join neighborhood efforts to repair neighborhood infrastructure, including plumbing issues. Nonetheless, he gets to use our water system and our neighborhood road, no matter what he does to avoid community.

    You can skirt around the real issue as long as you like. And while I salute our administrator for always being gentlemanly in his conclusions, I prefer to call this action for what it is. Any person who does not support a community of which he or she is a member, and yet who benefits financially of the community's limited resources, is acting unethically.
    Last edited by Jim Nollman; Aug-24-2016 at 4:44pm.
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  26. #18

    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    To add one more thing, which I hope is appropriate here, the level of moderation on the site and swiftly containing any conflict or controversy is hugely appreciated. Those of us who were Flatpick-L users saw a wonderful resource, with many prominent guitar and mandolin players contributing, completely destroyed when a political-religious debate got completely out of hand and personal before the moderators were able to get to it and shut it off. One thing lead to another and sadly very few people participate any more. Scott's and the other moderators work at containing any hint of that sort of stuff is invaluable.

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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Thanks Scott. This is truly an incredible resource. Honestly, I don't read any of the fine print as I run through the listing process, but that's only because its the cafe and I trust this site more than any other. Scott once helped me resolve something with my personal website several years back and I didn't hesitate to send him my username and password so he could log on to my ISP account. I didn't realize the suggested donation was 2%. I actually thought it was more and was feeling bad that I hadn't kept up my end so I checked my paypal history and I seem to be on par for sales at 2% but its not enough for usage. I think he deserves a bit more. Thanks for the reminder and will be more diligent in the future. I don't think there is anything wrong with these "reminders" every once in a while.

  29. #20
    wannabe mandolin wizzard bluesmandolinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    Not to support a community of which one is a member, and especially if one draws constantly and professionally of this community's limited resources, is acting unethically.
    Well Said !
    Carl Martin - Everyday I have the Blues

    My gear : 1927 A0/Ajr , JM-11 , Fender 346 white XH

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  31. #21

    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Unfortunately, those acting unethically really don't care.

  32. #22
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Unfortunately, those acting unethically really don't care.
    No, I wouldn't be too quick to jump to such a cynical conclusion. The truth is that most folks act, more often than not, without complete awareness, and some of their actions can be considered "unethical" from time to time (depends on your perspective). But don't assume that all these folks just don't care. In fact, Scott T's message is a useful reminder, and it's very clearly directed at those folks who probably DO CARE, but may not have made a contribution, for one reason or another. I'm sure it will reap some positive benefits.

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  34. #23
    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Scott, I have a related question. Is there a way to donate a buck for a $40 sale, and NOT get a sticker?

    I have several, and I'm not really a sticker guy. It seems like buy the the time you mail me a sticker, you've lost at least half of the donation.

    Perhaps you could default to sending a sticker, unless I put a checkmark in a box, or something like that.
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

  35. #24
    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Bob View Post
    Scott, I have a related question. Is there a way to donate a buck for a $40 sale, and NOT get a sticker?

    I have several, and I'm not really a sticker guy. It seems like buy the the time you mail me a sticker, you've lost at least half of the donation.

    Perhaps you could default to sending a sticker, unless I put a checkmark in a box, or something like that.
    I don't automatically send stickers with a donation. I check and see if they've made a donation in the past 6-9 months and if so send a thanks only. Sometimes I'll ask if they need any. I do have people that send a $1.00 donation to get a sticker at times. Prefer they don't. PayPal takes .33 cents, stamp is .47 cents, stickers cost us about .25 cents each, envelopes. After 21 years on the web we don't need the exposure that bad.

    Also, I'm really not concerned about the cost to send some stickers. That's an issue that's peanuts compared to people that have sold over a quarter of a million dollars of instruments over the years and haven't donated a single penny. That's what really irks me. There are several.

  36. #25

    Default Re: An open letter to Classifieds users

    I have sold a few small things and made one very good trade. Because they were small sales I never thought to make a donation, which would have been only pennies in each case. However, I will make a catch up donation after the first of the month and be happy to do it. Sometimes a letter such as this can inspire.

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