Buying from a private owner

Nov 29, 1998
If this question has been answered before please excuse me. I was wondering what is the safest way to purchase a knife from an individual that has listed his knife over the internet. Sometimes I see privately owned knives at good prices but cautious about dealing at great distances.


I've been buying and selling knives over the internet for several years now and really have no horror stories to tell.

It's not uncommon for the seller to ask for payment in advance (usually in the form of a cashiers check or money order), but I won't send money to a post office box unless I've previously done business with the seller. I also look up the seller in Yahoo's People Search just to make sure that the name, address, and phone number they've given me looks right.

I'm a little more wary of folks who I'm not familiar with. I frequent the two major forums as well as the rec.knives newsgroup and have a pretty good feel for the other knife knuts kicking around. If the deal is with someone I don't know, I'll usually search the forums and newsgroups for previous posts, just to see what sort of person I'm dealing with (and obviously to see if anyone else has complained about business dealings with him/her).

Be patient when it comes to shipping. I've had several situations where the package got lost in transit and the knife didn't show up until a week past when it was expected. Since the seller often asks the buyer to pay for shipping, spring for UPS (ground, air, overnight, whatever). With UPS you get a tracking number that can be used to determine where exactly your package is. Also buy additional insurance if the knife is valued over $100 (the UPS default insurance amount).

Hope this helps,

If doing business over the internet, there is only one way to be safe; use a credit card. I have only had one problem in about $10,000 in internet purchases, but that one problem was sufficient to make me glad that I had put the purchase on my credit card.

If you have a dispute with a merchant, the credit card company issues you a credit, then offers the merchant a chance to refute your charges. If the merchant cannot refute your charges to the satisfaction of your credit card company, then you keep the credit (also called charge back).

If you pay by cash, check, or MO,you have virtually NO possibility of getting your money back, even if the merchandise is not delivered. I found this out the very hard way; I sent a gunsmith in another state three of my guns, and some money to do a lot of gunsmithing. I got one of the guns back. I contacted the ATF, since he was refusing to return my registered firearms, they were not in the least interested. I also contacted an attorney in the state where the gunsmith resided, he said that there was virtually no chance of getting any money or guns back; he said the guy is out of business, he has probably sold your guns, mortgaged his house to the hilt, and you are foolish to spend your money trying to get your posessions back.

So, learn from my errors. Use a credit card. If the person doesn't do credit cards, either walk away, or make a deal where a third party can broker the exchange of goods and money. This is commonly done with gemstones, but is a somewhat cumbersome and expensive manner in which to conduct business. Hope this helps, Walt
Since most private parties are not set up to transact with credit cards and you are interested in something a particular private party has, a credit card isn't going to aid you.

You might e-mail some people and ask privately if they have dealt with a particular person or know one who has. As well, ask the seller if he/she will give you the name of some forum references.

Come here and ask about the person or go to the links section for buyers, sellers and traders and see if anyone has rated them.
DC is right most private sellers don't accept Credit Cards, so do some homework. I am extremely reluctant to send a money order to someone I don't know. Send it certified, at least they have to sign for it, and if they cashed your MO you have some recourse. Otherwise, seek out posts from the individual. I've found these are very reliable...If someone screws you over hopefully someone has made a post about it. Also, talk to the person on the phone and ask the right questions. I've had good luck so far. But I don't blame you for being reluctant. If all else fails, make posts that'll sink the no do gooder! Or simply check there member status, if they've been here a while...chances are they don't want to burn any bridges. Hope this helps.


[This message has been edited by SALMON (edited 20 December 1998).]
Thanks for the replies guys. I will take your advise and maybe the next time I see something interesting I just might take the chance.