28 Jul

People who just “don’t get” barter

Posted in Training by

Negative decision

The longer I’ve been bartering as a business strategy, the more I come to a conclusion that I don’t like:  There are people who don’t understand barter, and they probably never will.  They just don’t get it.  It doesn’t matter how many times you explain it, what analogies you use, or how advantageous a particular deal might be to these types of people.  They are often fear-driven and cannot get past untrue preconceived notions.  These are the folks that think that barter is a tax-dodge, or that it’s a slippery used car salesman technique.  To these people barter is by definition unsavory, dishonest and even criminal.

Ug.  These people drive me crazy!!!!  I think the reason they bug me so much ISN’T because they have the wrong idea about barter.  That’s actually not a big deal.  Most people don’t understand barter the way us barter geeks do.  What makes me nuts is that I’m often unable to help them understand the reality of barter; how good and honest and relationship-building and profitable barter can be.  It’s almost like there is a barter gene, and people either have it or they don’t.

So….what to do?  You have a great trade lined up that’s a win-win for both parties, but it turns out that the person (or persons) you are dealing with just doesn’t “get barter.”  I wish I had a magic answer for you.  The way I see it you have two options, neither of which are particularly good:

1)  Walk away.  This is definitely the low-blood pressure approach that saves time and stress.  Unfortunately it also means you are walking away from a mutually profitable deal.  I’ll say it again:  Ug.

2)  Try to work with them anyway.  You may be able to talk them into the deal.  It is, after all a good deal for both parties so it seems reasonable that you should be able to show them the benefit of the transaction.  Their are a bunch of downsides to this approach though.  Firstly this kind of sale totally stresses me out.  Life is short.  Is it really worth it?  Secondly, you could be unsuccessful in selling the deal which means a big waste of your time. Thirdly, you may actually make the transaction, only to find out later that they were only begrudgingly “sold” on the idea and still don’t really grasp why the deal was mutually beneficial.  In that case you can forget ever trading with them again.  Plus when that happens I personally want to stab my own eyes out.

When I read over the two options above it seems obvious to me that the “walk away” option is the wiser of the two, and yet I often find myself in the potion of trying to barter with people who are uncomfortable with the concept.  Clearly I can’t take my own advice.  The good news is that there are plenty of people who do understand barter and are happy to do it.  I’m much happier when I stick with those folks.

I’d love to hear back with advice from my readers!

 

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05 May

Barter exchange “stealth mode”

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Let me start out by saying that this particular article is specifically for barter exchange members.  If you don’t already belong to an exchange, I suggest you check it out.  You can learn more about what barter exchanges are in my Barter Basics article.  OK, with that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s proceed.

Are you aware that there is a significantly larger number of members in your barter exchange than is listed on their website?  There are also more members than your broker can refer you to.  Intrigued?  Good.  Here’s the deal;  when an exchange member isn’t especially good at spending their credits (don’t get me started), they will sometimes go into “stealth mode.”  What that means is that the exchange takes them off their “active” list which removes them from the exchange’s website and flags their account for brokers that they are not currently accepting barter credits as payment.  The ARE STILL MEMBERS though.  They usually have credits that they want to spend so they continue to maintain their membership.

How does this help you?  Often even members that are in “stealth mode” will actually still accept credits if you contact them directly.  This is especially true if you’ve traded with them in the past and have maintained a good relationship.  With that in mind I would encourage you to maintain good contacts with all of your barter partners.  If they do need to reduce the amount of barter credits they are accepting, your relationship will make the difference when they are choosing which barter partners they keep.  For example, if you are known to be a good tipper at a local restaurant that takes barter and the restaurant makes their account inactive, it’s very likely they might still accept barter credits from you.  All you have to do is ask.  The worst thing they can do is say “no.”  AND…. do what you can to help council these folks on how to spend barter credits wisely.  Usually the whole reason for going on hold is that they are not good at spending barter credits.  I certainly wouldn’t mind if you send them to this blog!  :)

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20 Feb

Watch out for stolen items available on barter

Posted in Training by

theif

I’m a big believer in optimism and giving your fellow man the benefit of the doubt.  That being said, not everyone is a pillar of their community and I’ve learned that Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) is a good mindset to have when dealing with new barter partners.  When you are making trades with folks you don’t know, watch for red flags that indicate that they might be trouble.  I’ve found that folks that are interested in making illegal transactions (selling drugs or stolen goods) can be attracted to barter.  Examples of red flags would be people who are selling items for significantly under market value, or people who have an unusually large amount of a particular product without cause.

Recently I posted on craigslist that I was looking for a local bakery that I would like to barter with.  I was contacted by someone who said that they had access to thousands of dollars worth of gift cards at a local bakery.  When I asked them if they were an owner they said “no” but said that they were “authorized” to have the cards.  During the course of the next week or so, we traded multiple emails working out a deal, however I noticed that the person never gave their name and would not talk on the phone after multiple requests.  When they did finally phone they missed me, wouldn’t leave a message and told my staff they they were calling from a friend’s cell phone.  They called back later that day and would not tell me their name.  At that point I told them I was not interested in a trade and called the manager at the bakery to give them a heads up that something suspicious was going on.  Ultimately I suspect that it was actually the manager at the bakery who was trying to surreptitiously barter away the gift cards for personal gain but I have no proof of that.

Bottom line here folks:  Be smart and watch for red flags;  doubly so when you are dealing with someone you found on Craigslist.  :)

 

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