For firearm collectors, online auction sites like GunBroker.com have become increasingly important as a means of rooting out hard-to-find collector and antique firearms. While you may have looked long and hard to find your dream hunting rifle, how can you trust that what you pick up from your local FFL will really be what was advertised?
Use a Reputable Website
There are literally dozens of websites that bring together buyers and individual sellers or brokers, but not all of those sites are legitimate. Reputable firearms websites like GunBroker.com will often have a buyer or seller protection program that will cover at least a portion of your purchase. When in doubt, contact customer service for the website in question. If you’re unable to get any type of response, or the email you receive in reply is riddled with spelling errors and broken links, you’ll likely want to find a new website to buy and sell through.
The work really begins once you’ve locked in your seller or won your buyer’s bid. At that point, keeping an open line of communication with the other party can help to head off any potential issues. The vast majority of deals that fall through do so because of simple misunderstandings that could’ve easily been ironed out with a phone call or a few short emails.
Protect Your Funds
The most common question we receive during transactions is “How can I really trust the other party?” The simplest and most transparent way to put a nervous buyer or seller at ease is through the use of escrow. Online escrow platforms simply act as a neutral third party to hold and transmit funds between two unknown parties. Buyers are protected as all funds are held securely until there is proof that the item has shipped, or has arrived for a final once over. Sellers are protected because all purchase funds are verified in advance – completely removing the risk of non-payment, insufficient funds or credit card chargebacks.
When it comes right down to it, most of us are better at sniffing out a bad deal than we realize. If either party is difficult to contact, continually balks at answering additional questions, or makes ridiculous ultimatums it may simply be time to walk away. And, as always, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.