Pulled all this from another thread where I think I was becoming a distraction:
I've only got 25 deals here in just over 6 years, but I've never been burned, and I've never had a dissatisfied buyer. Actually, I've got a bit over 25, but some people don't leave feedback, even when I do (and I always do).
The "worst" deal I've ever had was when I traded a holster for some mags. I didn't know anything about the holster I was trading (it was a gift to me), and the guy was mistaken about the mags he had that he traded to me. We had spelled out in advance that if either of us wasn't satisfied with the deal, that we would each pay shipping from our end and undo the deal. We apologized to each other and traded back. Then, a few days later, I get a letter in the mail from the guy with some cash, and a note of apology for the way the deal went. I was a bit floored at his honesty and didn't know what to do. I didn't want to keep the money, as we both had erred, and I didn't want to send it back and insult his integrity. In the end, I spent the money on my kids in the toy department at Walmart. So at least someone benefitted from the deal. BTW, I left him positive feedback (before I got the apology money) because he honored the terms of the deal.
But what has gotten me through the EE without a hitch (so far, and keeping my fingers crossed) is a few simple rules:
1. Be brutally honest, to yourself and the buyer. Better to undersell than to oversell, and the buyer will be happier upon receipt. Be clear about any defects or shortcomings, but also sell the good points.
2. Post pictures. Even crappy pictures are better than no pictures. Do the best you can with the equipment you've got. You can even get useful pics from a low res cheap webcam if you take your time. Photograph every "little" flaw, as your idea of little might be the buyer's idea of serious damage.
3. Spell out every detail of the deal. Price, shipping cost, who pays insurance, what carrier will be used and what level of service. How the payment will be made, what the return policy is, and how return shipping will be handled.
1. Have the money or the trade goods in hand before making an offer. Don't depend on selling something else to raise the money, or working a third party trade to get the trade goods.
2. Request pictures if none are posted in the ad. Make sure you are getting what you want, getting value for what you pay.
3. Spell out every aspect of the deal, as posted above. Leave nothing to chance, or as "customary" or "understood".
For all deals, whether buying or selling:
1. If you make a deal, follow through. If after you make a confirmed deal, you get a better offer or find a better buy, chalk it up to your impatience. Is it really worth your honor (and a possible -1) to save $20, or get $20 extra on a deal?
2. Tag the thread, bookmark the thread, quote the original ad in the thread, do something to record the original offer. Keep a copy of every email and IM sent during the deal. You may need it later.
3. If the deal is big enough, talk on the phone. You can tell a lot about someone from hearing their voice, their demeanor, and just their general level of amicability.
4. At any stage of negotiations before a deal is reached, don't hesitate to bail on the deal if your gut tells you to.
5. Never ship to a PO box. Always get an address or an FFL address. Verify the FFL address.
6. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS leave feedback. If someone does you right, let everyone know he's a good guy (or gal). If someone does you wrong, let everyone know that too. I don't know how many threads I've seen over the years where someone says "he screwed me too, but I didn't want to post because blah, blah, blah [insert lame excuse here]".
7. Try to ship your payment the same day the deal is made, or next day if the deal is made late. Try to ship the goods the same same day payment is received, or next day if the payment is received late.
8. If you use Paypal, you deserve whatever bad things happen to you.
That's my thoughts. Feel free to agree or rebut as you see fit.