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The Predicament

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The day finally came!  I am putting the finishing touches on my online store, and I finally got an order from another dealer trying to buy me out of some cards that were, admittedly, priced aggressively to sell.  I am leaving out specific details to debate the morality of this issue, as I don't want to focus on the details of the transaction at hand.

The cards are almost all Tier 1 tournament staples, priced to sell below market price.  Their current selling price reflects an acceptable margin given the circumstances, but some may be below market price.  This is not the issue at hand.   Under normal circumstances, I would honor this order in a heartbeat.

These are not normal circumstances.  The buyer is another dealer, which in and of itself, is fine.   I have no issue selling many copies of a card (double digits and beyond) to another retailer, but I am not willing to be disrespected by a lack of reciprocity.  The buyer is a dealer who has cancelled an order of mine, a very similar order.  This is compounded by the fact that this seller has cancelled many of my readers' orders, something I know because they write to me and say so.

I am keeping this seller's name and all transaction details private until I decide what I want to do about this.   While my duty to my store is to maintain profitability (which this transaction would allow), my duty to my readers is transparency.  I'm hardly going to talk about this subject and then simply not address it when i am faced with a topical dilemma.

Here is the barebones fact sheet:

1) This dealer has placed an order with my online store.  I have accepted payment automatically, as my site is not currently set for manual order approval.   This constitutes a binding legal contract as my non-lawyer brain understands it.

2) This dealer has accepted my money for an order and later failed to honor the entire order.  I ordered 12+ of a card, received 4.  Many of my readers report similar issues.  This is to say, when he was placed in this precise situation, his choice was to reduce my quantities and refund my money, without my permission, and had planned to ship the adjusted order until I had to call and cancel it myself.

3) The order placed by this dealer is similar in nature to the orders that he has cancelled in the past, and by my honoring this sale, I de facto permit other dealers to buy me out, without receiving reciprocity.  This is not an arrangement I am willing to make.  Some things are worth more to me than money, and respect is one of them.

I have some options here, and I'd like to bring this discussion into the public to use as a case study for the issue of cancelling orders.  I'm listing a poll below to see what the community thinks.    I'd like to know two things; what should I do, and why.

In the event I choose to honor this order, I plan to make this seller's name public and solicit all past customers who have had a similar order cancelled to come out with their stories as well.  This has not been an isolated incident and I feel that if I honor the sale, I should at least use this opportunity to raise public awareness about shady business practices in our industry.    The amount of the transaction is small enough that the financials of it are of no concern to me; my bottom line will not change in a noticeable way no matter what decision I arrive upon.   Thus, my only concern and motivation is based in ethics.

Vote and comment, and I'll update you all with my choice shortly.

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Kelly Reid

Founder & Product Manager

View More By Kelly Reid

Posted in Free

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25 thoughts on “The Predicament

  1. Not only should you refund the sale, and cancel it, you should make it clear to this seller, that his business is not welcome with you.

    Part of running a successful business, is realizing when a "customer" is actually a "cancer" and cutting them out completely.

  2. I'd honor this order, in the end your system made a promise on your behalf and you should keep it on principle. I would however let the seller know that this will be the last time you will, given past experiences, unless of course he's willing to change his policies (and not just for you).

  3. Quote QuantumTarantino. You're being very transparent and you have nothing to worry about: simply it's this specific customer you don't want in your shop.
    Think in LGS. You went to another one and they "did something wrong" to you. Then they come to your LGS and expect to be treated like everyone else? No way, you kick them out.

  4. You must honor the order. To not do so would be hypocritical. You need to be the "better man" here.

    The comparison to kicking someone out of your store is false. If you could somehow set your online store to not sell to this person, THAT would be the equivalent to kicking them out of your store. This situation would be more analogous to an employee of yours at your store, unaware of the past history, selling to this person, and you noticing as they were on their way out the door. You can't chase them down, give them back their money and take back what they purchased.

    Of course there is absolutely NOTHING preventing you from shouting this dirtbag's identity far and wide and (hopefully) eventually causing him to change his ways, or go out of business.

    1. Ouch! It seems I am "stupid" and "lazy". But at least I honor the orders that come in.

      And, yes, after the Time Spiral incident I am committing myself to staying up 'til midnight when the b/r announcements are posted from now on! [Thank goodness I only had one copy of Time Spiral!]

    2. Ouch! It seems I am "stupid" and "lazy". But at least I honor the orders that come in.

      And I have made a new commitment to myself that I will stay up 'til midnight on b/r nights from now on (thank goodness I only had one Time Spiral in stock this go round).

  5. Because you are so forward and vocal about this issue, I believe, ethically/morally, you must honor this order. If you've told said business owner in the past that you refuse to do business with him, then that's another story, and grounds to refuse the entire order. Otherwise, it's important to stand tall and honor the order specifically because you're better than the scummy online dealer.

  6. Legally, there are no consequences for this. Morally is something else entirely. Given my aggressive and angry personality :D…i would cancel or limit him to 4 copies. i'm the type that likes to fight fire with fire. obviously never, ever, do this to a normal customer, but dealers are less than human amiright? haha

  7. I think you should honor it, too. The best way to honor it is in a pretty public way, including sending a note to them that you are honoring their order when they didn't honor yours. Then I'd let them know that they are not welcome at your webstore ever again and block their ordering info.

    Kelly, while you lose a few dollars, you earn a chance to grandstand, which, to you, I know is worth it : )

  8. You are selling virtual cards in a virtual store front for a game that may change for any reason at any time. If you honor your deal you encourage more bad behavior by this dealer. If you don't honor the deal, you gain a reputation for not encouraging bad dealers and also for not letting less reputable dealers walk all over you. "The customer is always right" is a big lie, always has been. Just because you are generally nice and fair doesn't mean the same rules apply to someone who has so blatantly and consistently broken social conventions and contracts. High road here to me is to cancel the whole thing, refund and refuse to do business with this person period. No point in trying to reinforce burnt bridges when the other party keeps setting them on fire.

  9. I think it's important to realize that whether you honor the order or not is going to make very little difference in whether this seller changes his or her practices. It's one order. What not honoring the sale will do, however, is make you feel good ("revenge" and all that) but also make you look like a hypocrite. If you're really going to be an advocate for this cause and you are really committed to getting dealers to change this nasty practice, then you'll honor the order, refuse to deal with said vendor in the future, and do all you can to call them out both publicly and privately. Of course, I could hardly blame you if you choose to give this particularly dealer a taste of his own medicine, since that's what I'd really WANT to do.

  10. Kelly, you should absolutely honor the contract. You offered the cards at that price, he accepted and has already sent his money. You have a binding contract. Your issues with his dishonorable practices relate to a completely separate contract and have no relevance here.

    However, if you do not want to do business with companies like his, I recommend putting in your online store a line which clearly states that you reserve the right to cancel any order that you choose, providing a full refund to the purchaser. This will allow you to cancel your automated online transactions.

    As far as releasing the name, I would give an extra thought to the situation and be sure there is no misunderstanding. It would be a shame to malign a store’s reputation due to a misunderstanding. Assuming you do decide to release the store’s name, be prepared to back up what you say. Not with “my readers told me about..” but with your interaction. I want to hear what happened with you, not your second hand story that may or may not be true or completely explained.

  11. I should add that I am still making 100, 200 or even 300 percent on this deal, considering my cost basis. I bought Kalastria Highborns for 1-2 dollars and have no issue selling them at 3 even if the market is seeing 5-8. I bought 40 Valakuts at .25, and i'm sure I can choke down a 300% profit. 🙂

    I am going to honor the order and do a write-up about it. I will also be putting a public policy on my site that states that anyone who is acting on behalf of a commercial venture in any way, shape or form must seek permission to order from me.

    I actually love to do B2B sales, but when the opposing party is dishonest, immoral or otherwise goes against my beliefs, I want to be sure I dont support them in any way.

  12. Well first I'd fix your own system so it works for you – if it's important to avoid buyers (whether they are other sellers or not) buying out your store of a single card, fix the inventory so it limits orders to 4, 8, or whatever your stock is minus 4, 8, etc. I know other stores have done this because I'll buy a card they report 1 of, and immediately after checking out, they suddenly have another one of those cards at $10 higher. It's built in price adjustment based on true stock and availability.

    Regarding honoring the purchase, the second change I'd make is to put a disclaimer that most stores have which is all orders have to be processed, and sometimes "availability" data is outdated, and part of the order may be refunded or unavailable. This cover you if you need to make manual adjustments to an already paid for order.

    Point of Sale laws dictate that until the buyer has the product in their hand, you are not under any obligation to give it to them. You can refund their complete order, and they can go elsewhere with their business. It may cause inconvenience as they need to search elsewhere, so you risk losing a customer if it happens often.

  13. Honestly, this pole has hurt my perception of your store. I know you have had issues with the vendor, but how does that change your business? If you are going to make money, then good, if not change your prices/policy. I know I am now hesitant to buy from your business, what if my transaction is not to your liking and you start talking about publishing my name on this site negatively.

    This probably was not your intention, but it is how this has come off to me.

    1. Blake,

      Are you a dealer? Have you canceled or restricted an order of mine? I'd suggest re-reading the circumstances again, but let me know if I was unclear about this: the only time i'd EVER consider doing this is when its -another business- that has specifically done the same to me in the past.

      It's only an issue of professional reciprocity, nothing more. Respect too.

      I actually decided against publishing the details since when I contacted them to politely ask them to not place further orders because I was unhappy with their lack of reciprocity, they politely agreed and said they understood. I wasn't expecting that, and I appreciated it.

      I actually added a note on the page that specifies that, if you are another store and would like to place an order of more than 4x (My site is now set to restrict to 4x to prevent shenanigans), I'd love to sell to you but we'll have to negotiate a bulk price.

      I believe I have been fair and transparent in my actions, so rest assured that no orders are getting cancelled any time soon. I honored the order mentioned, to the letter, and with zero snark (though i really should have just slipped one Cancel in there just for fun).

      This was 99% an exercise to generate discussion, as the idea of cancelling their order was pretty far from my mind.

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