Hello PULP readers!

First off let me introduce myself, I am PJ Martinez from The RIG, an online based store where I buy and sell instruments and music related accessories.

When asked to do a short column on effects and gears (since I do have lots of them), I was first stumped of ideas. Then it came to me, a guy who makes a living out of selling instruments online should write about buying and selling online.

You find yourself browsing the usual sites - Facebook, Sulit.com.ph, even PhilMusic.com, you see a nice piece of gear you've been eyeing for a long time, you saved enough money and want to go in. But what to do 'before' actually buying the item posted online? Here are some tips for first time buyers:

1. Read, read, and read about the item you want to buy. Read reviews, watch YouTube videos, or even check out similar items at music stores and compare them with what the seller posts in his description. As a consumer, it's your right to ask questions and clarify any potential issues with the seller. As a side note though, don't be that guy who asks stupid questions (ie: "anong brand ng Crybaby mo?" or "meron ka bang gold na cymbals?" more on this on future articles here at The RIG's Den). For the not so obvious questions, Google is you friend.

2. Bargain but don't lowball. Make a reasonable offer to the seller. If he agrees, then go. If not, there are other options. Look for similar items from other sellers or at other sites. You, of course, want to get the best out of your money so always canvass before making any decision. Bargaining is generally allowed but lowballing is frowned upon by most online communities.

3. Examine the seller's feedback. If you're not sure about the seller, ask around any of the sites. Some sites provide user feedback, for good buyers and sellers. You can also google the cellphone number or the facebook profile of the potential seller and check to see if there are posts about him/her.

4. For meetups, decide on a meeting place. For security reasons, it's always nice to meet at public places like malls, restaurants and train stations. If you are not sure, it does not hurt to bring a friend along with you. Be wary though some establishments have a no solicitation policy so always check with the meeting place beforehand.

Sometimes, there will be instances where you'll have to pickup items from the seller's house, that's perfectly normal especially for the bigger stuff like drumsets or stack amp combos, it gives you the luxury of testing the item before you actually purchase it. Again, since you are meeting with strangers, it's not a bad idea to bring someone along with you.

For deliveries, ask for shipping options. If you do live far from the meetups specified, ask the seller about it. Some sellers are not comfortable with shipping because of the rampant shipping scam modus in some online selling circles. If the seller does consider, make sure you are through with #3. Then, choose a safe payment method, bank to bank transfer and bank deposit is still the easiest and the safest. Money transfer services (remittance padala, pera padala, Gcash, Western Union etc.) are not always good because scammers can use a fake ID when claiming your cash. Money sent through remittance channels is also harder to trace if anything goes wrong.

5. Don't be late. If you are running late make sure to advise the person you are meeting up with. It's always a good idea to text ahead of time to confirm or cancel any meetups to avoid hassles.

6. Upon meetup inspect the item, check all sides knobs, and what have you. If possible, use batteries or plug in at a coffee shop (with permission of course) to test electronic items. If you don't like the item or if it is not at par with your expectations, now is your last chance to back out of the deal. If everything is good pay for the item and ask if the seller will give you a warranty. Test the item again at home for any hidden issues.

Hopefully all goes well as you enjoy your new purchase.

If there is a problem, contact the seller. A good seller will provide reasonable after-sales accommodation. If you suspect anything short of a scam, report to the online community and file a complaint at NBI's Cybercrime division (contact using this hotline: 521-9208).

Be sure to check in next time at The RIG's Den.
Happy shopping!