Buyers and sellers have a complicated relationship, we sell and they buy which sounds simple but in Australia the buyer is protected by the Trade Practices Act 1974, yes it’s old but it still applies. There’s also the Sale of Goods Act and the Fair Trading Act and if there are problems and the buyer is not getting satisfaction from the seller there’s always an Ombudsman to complain to. The Trade Practices Act regulates areas such as:
* a system of fair trading, as opposed to misleading or deceptive conduct in the marketplace
* accurate and reliable information, as opposed to false and misleading information
* sales techniques – to ensure they are fair and not misleading or one-sided
* product standards for a wide variety of goods, together with information on those goods and their safety standards
* remedies for both retailers and consumers for breaches of the Fair Trading Act
* implied conditions and warranties that are available to the consumer
* the enforcement of a fair and equitable system in areas such as credit, lay-by sales, and so on.
With thanks to the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme for this information.
Basically, what this says is that the seller must give the buyer full disclosure of information and be totally fair and above board and ensure they honour any implied conditions and warranties associated with the product they’ve bought. Fabulous, now let’s apply that to online selling of pre-loved books.
A system of fair trading
This is a hard one but you have to give the appearance of having fair trading. Everything is in the seller’s court here as we have the ability to take the customer’s money and just run. In order to look fair we have to be open about everything. Have a guarantee that looks totally fair and above board. Have all of your policies documented on your website and make sure they are fair, both to you and to the customer.
Accurate and reliable information
This one is easy. Pre-loved books are often in less than perfect condition and it is incumbent upon the seller to describe the book ‘s faults accurately, if you don’t then the buyer has every right to return the book and expect a refund. When I’m buying pre-loved books through an online auction site or from a website I expect the book to look the same as the description. If the description says brand new or almost new then I’d expect to receive it with very little wear. Make sure the picture matches the description. I’ve seen some pictures showing a book with quite a lot of obvious damage and the description stating it is almost new and sometimes unopened despite being so old. The customer would have every right to return the book as there is a great deal of misinformation there, that description is quite misleading.