How swap negotiations can get a bit heated !

A while back I was negotiating a swap with a Basenotes.net member, and I encountered something that I found strange, but that I have heard others say.  Basically, the idea is that if you “blind” swap for let’s say a 90% full 50 ml bottle, and if it’s quite expensive and you think it smells great, you’ll be very unhappy because you won’t be able to stop thinking that once it’s used up, you won’t be able to afford to buy a bottle.  First of all, this is a really negative way to go through life.  Why not just use the scent judiciously?  You can get several years of enjoyment that way!  During that period, there’s a good chance you’ll find another at a reasonable price, or arrange another swap.  The alternative is to keep scents that you think of as mediocre, so to me this is just a ridiculous way to talk yourself out of making a swap.  But “to each his own.”

I can “live” with a large decant of something I really want and I don’t worry at all about using it up and feeling like a great loss has occurred because I may not be able to find another decant or bottle at a reasonable price, if at all.  The reason is that while there may not be an identical scent available at much lower prices, I feel that I can layer what I’ve got to achieve an effect that is close enough, for me if .  Of course, it’s quite common to enjoy a scent the first few wearings and then think it’s fairly good but certainly not special or even great.  The issue of valuation is probably the one most likely to rear its head.  In one swap negotiation, for example, I told the person (because just such an issue arose) about an experience I had several months before:

When it comes to swapping, everyone has their own way to evaluate scents, and I have tried to explain that to many BNers, not always with success. A good example is a guy who wanted to swap his 80% full 100 ml bottle of V.O. by Jean-Marc Sinan. Now I have a sample of it and don’t think it’s anything special, but I was still willing to get rid of some things I didn’t want but that he did want. He insisted on using ebay sales prices as a guide, but in the case of V.O., at that time, there were a bunch of unsold items with a few that sold a fairly high amounts. So even though I didn’t value it highly, one could still make a case that it’s probably not that easy to sell at the amounts he was valuing it at. I certainly would have swapped him for a similar scent, that is, one that has a few high sales on ebay with mostly unsold auctions, but he wanted more popular ones that were selling with frequency at about the same price levels, and he got angry at me because I didn’t value the potential swap the same way he did.

Perhaps the most absurd thing to hear in this kind of negotiation is something along the lines of, “you can get around X dollars for it on ebay,” because if that were true the person should have sold it himself and then made offers on scents he wanted (or he  could try to find a good deal on ebay, perhaps waiting a bit). I have told such people to simply pay me what I want and then sell the supposedly expensive scent (that he wants to swap me) on ebay. If he doesn’t have the money I’m more than willing to wait a week or two, holding the bottle for him/her, to see if it sells on ebay.  The key point here is that you simply can’t tell other people how to evaluate a swap.  If you don’t agree, just “move on.”

A good example of this occurred when I offered someone a whole bunch of bottles (to choose from) for his 99% full 75 ml bottle of Dark Obsession.  He wasn’t interested in the list of  40 to 50 (IIRC) bottles I offered (and I said I’d go 2 for 1 or 3 for 1 if that made sense to me), but said he’d swap for a 100 ml Acqua di Gio bottle or a 15 ml bottle of an expensive niche scent.  Here, I could have said, “well what do you want for your Dark Obsession bottle,” but on his sales page that was already listed, at $30.  The “problem?”  There were quite a few selling on ebay for less than $19 total for 4 ounce bottles (new).  I also  read more reviews and thought twice about swapping it for some of the bottle I offered him, so even if he had wanted to swap at that point, I think I would have declined (I always ask for 24 hours to “sleep on it”)!

He said that he didn’t care what the bottles were selling for on ebay, but in this case one has to ask, “then aren’t you taking advantage of someone if he/she buys it from you?  He didn’t claim his bottle to be “vintage,” and I don’t think it’s old enough for that to be an issue, but considering the cost of shipping and what he wanted, I would at least question whether his attitude should be placed in the “rip off” category.  It’s certainly legal, but is it ethical?  This negotiation didn’t become hostile, like the one for V.O.; I thanked him for his time and then he did the same, but I do wonder what such a person is thinking.  By contrast, I don’t know how many times I’ve told a person, “I won’t even try to sell this to you because the ebay prices are now so low – just go buy it there.”  I don’t want to feel that I’ve “ripped someone off,” and in these cases the monetary gain is minimal, if there is any.

I could have said to him, “well, don’t you think you should adjust your price, or at least delete your listing until the stock on ebay dries up and it’s selling at about the level you want?”  After all, don’t most people check prices on ebay, if not on ebay and several other sites?  Do you want people to think you take advantage of those who respond to your BN sales page?  In this case, the difference is significant (and I checked back to see what he did but he didn’t lower his asking price after I told him about the ebay listings).  On quite a few occasions I’ve found that people don’t understand that it’s often the case that for the other person it’s a “take it or leave it” situation.  He or she has to pay for shipping and may be “blind swapping,” so it’s possible that he/she will dislike the new scent more than the one that was swapped!

Then there is possible loss during shipping or being “ripped off,” so the person might just decide it’s only worthwhile if he/she gets a “better” deal.  This was the case for me not long ago.  I swapped a 100 ml bottle of Force Majeure for a 50 ml bottle of vintage Furyo. At the time the ebay listings suggested my bottle was worth more, but I didn’t think I’d wear it often and I wanted a vintage Furyo bottle, so I was willing to pay for shipping and get something that seemed to be worth less (taking the other risks as well).  I didn’t complain or tell the person that he should include something else – if you really want something then I suggest not getting fixated on the “ebay value,” so long as it isn’t a big difference.  Be glad that you are getting something you really want (and if you don’t really want it, you can just decline).  No need to get “hot under the collar” and begin to think that the person is a crook or idiot – just make a “yes or no decision.”

Note that even if Dark Obsession’s prices rise substantially in the near future, that doesn’t mean anything to a swap at the time you are considering it.  I’ve seen prices go up and down on more than a few scents, and one certainly shouldn’t assume a price rise on a CK product, with the huge number of bottles that likely were produced (of a non-limited edition release).  Moreover, in this case at least, even if I really wanted his DO bottle, there would be no reason for  me to give him an Acqua di Gio bottle, which isn’t difficult to sell on ebay, nor a 15 ml bottle of an expensive niche scent.  I would buy the DO bottle on ebay now, and put the bottle he wanted up for sale on ebay.  That way, at the very least, the new 4 ounce DO bottle should cost me nothing once the other scent is sold.  He gave me absolutely no reason to swap with him, even if I had what he wanted and was willing to swap it!

NOTE:  The V.O. bottle referenced in the highlighted quote was splash and the one he wanted was spray, which is yet another consideration!  My general rule of thumb is that if I want a scent, then that pays for the shipping cost, but if I just swapping to get rid of something I don’t think I’ll ever like, I want the value to be tilted a bit in my direction if the person really wants what I have (and I can live with a “vice versa” situation).  And if I really want a scent I might give up quite a bit to obtain it, the issue again being if it would make more sense to sell what I’d be giving up on ebay and then just buying the bottle new from a retailer.  Most of the time, though, it’s just two people who want to get rid of some things and have some notion that the ones being obtained won’t be as unappealing.

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