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Old 09-24-2004, 01:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Looking for Free* Plants, read this first please

With the ADA contest deadline past and folks gearing up for being inside more as winter is nigh you may have noticed more and more posts where others are doing some tank clearing in order to change aquascapes and are giving away plants for a little more then the price of shipping. Being one that is giving plants away I've noticed certain things that well, frankly are annoying.

In no particular order and with in a attempt to be at least mildly humorous...

Shipping costs: The majority of folks in the US ship via USPS Priority Mail. It cost $3.85 for the first 1 lb anywhere in the US. So why do people charge $5? I no longer count how many people that accuse me of profiteering saying I am making a whopping $1.15 per order. Lets take an honest look at costs.

$5.00 Sent to shipper via PayPal
-$0.15 PayPal charges 2.9% of the total
-$0.30 PayPal also charges 0.30 per transaction, be it 0.01 or 99999.99
-$3.85 Priority Mail Shipping Charge

Of the 70 cents the shipper needs to have certain supplies on hand, namely Paper towels and Ziploc type bags as well as paper and ink for the printer to print mailing labels and fuel costs to get to/from post office. So in the end the Shipper walks away with maybe 30 cents. Time and effort is not factored in as it's a hobby and if I was not willing to spend the time I would not offer the plants. For the sake of argument, lets say I send out 10 boxes at a time. That’s $3.00, not exactly get rich quick material.

Will you ship to (insert foreign country here)? If the post says " I live in East Timor and will only ship to others in East Timor" than by golly, no I'm not shipping to Canada. Why is this you ask. The reasons are many: a. Shipping live plants across borders may be illegal. b. PayPal charges yet even more to convert from your currency to mine. c. Shipping costs are exponentially higher d. shipping times are exponentially longer e. it's a pain in the @ss to fill out all those customs papers f. there is a good chance your plants will be "disposed of properly" by the authorities. (Picture a gov't contractor in a clean suit tossing the plants into an incinerator)

Please send ALL of it to me as I have started a 10gal tank and need to fill it. That’s one of my favorites, cause IF one took the time to look at the amounts being given away one would see that ALL the plants offered would fill a 10gal leaving no room for water or fish or snails or substrate. That request goes hand in hand with….

My tank has X wpg and Y water conditions, can you tell me if your plants will work, and where should I put them with Q mix of plants? No offense folks but I’m giving away plants, not designing your aquascape. There is TONS of info on this as well as other boards that describe what the plant needs, where it will fit in your overall design and if it will even fit in your tank. There are books that also have this info. Do some research, you might learn something.

Payment: When the shipper says “PayPal only” it does not mean “PayPal for everyone but you”. No, I don’t take checks. Money Orders, your first born or Food Stamps. Also this echeck thing that PayPal offers is not really acceptable, it takes 4-5 business days for the funds to clear and by then most of us offering plants up have already shipped and take the risk that your $5 echeck may bounce. Yeah I know it’s only $5 and the money is not the point, but for those of us turn around and pay the shipping from PayPal it adds an extra layer of complexity.

I know you said you will ship on Xday but my lights are not here yet or the tank has no water yet or anything like that, so will you ship to me some other time please? All I can say here is “if you are not ready then wtf are you asking for plants!!”

Hopefully I’ve done a fine job at this point of offending everyone that makes me wonder why the heck I even bother offering plants instead of tossing them on the compost heap and you have seen the error of your ways.

For those of you that offer up plants, I hope you too found this funny.

Lastly for those of you that don’t make it a chore to offer free plants, I THANK YOU!!
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Old 09-24-2004, 01:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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"Despite the fact that auction clearly stated 'Will ship to United States only', the Korean woman bit her lip and pressed the Submit button. Her $40.00 bid appeared on the screen. She was going have her Downoi if it cost her the world."

Yeah, big problem. And I don't see why anyone has a right to complain about a $5 S/H cost. I don't know about you, but my Post Office isn't exactly within walking distance. And Ziploc bags, for what they are, aren't cheap. Not to mention all the chemicals, electricity, and water used to actually grow the plants. Come to think of it, once you factor in everything you spend, the $5 is probably less than what it costs to get that plant to the bidder, which means if you're giving away plants for free, you're taking a little bit of a hit.

My personal favorites are the ones who e-mail you after the auction has ended and say, "Dude, my bid on your Cyperus didn't win. Can I just PayPal you what I bid for it and you can send me a little? Just maybe a runner...?"

Uhhh...no. I would've posted multiple auctions if I had multiple items to sell. If you want the plant, bid higher or get it elsewhere. Sorry!

And the ones who want to buy directly from you for what the auction price BEGAN as. No, really. This has happened to me SEVERAL times.

Add all of this up to the fact that most of us throw in extras to offset shipping and other costs. I can't count the number of times I've thrown in substantial portions of "uncommon" species and had actual COMPLAINTS about the selection. They're FREE, people. FREE. Beggers can't be chosers. If I send you free M. mattogrossense, I've just saved you the time and money it would've taken to haggle over it on Aquabid. So DO NOT e-mail me asking for my Pantanal or HC.

Oh, I almost forgot. Non-responsive bidders/takers. If you're going to express some interest in my plants, the last thing you should do is ignore your e-mail or give me an e-mail address that filters out my replies. And please...if I e-mail you asking for information...don't put off replying! Many of us have schedules to keep.
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Old 09-24-2004, 01:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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A great read, both of you! I totally agree. $5 for shipping is really taking a knife and stabbing it into your own chest. Then why do people still feel anal about it and hassle us? I don't know~ Good job at breaking it down, gnat.

As for those trying to buy off the auction at initial bid, what would be whole point of auctioning if you can already get the plants at lower cost? That is why I always pay much more than the winning bid, or at least the same provided the seller has extras and doesn't mind selling them. This only happens when I really absolutely gotta have the plants and I couldn't possibly find it elsewhere. The key point is: always ask and communicate effectively first!!! Either by e-mail or by phone call to speak with the seller. Get to know them to develop that level of trust. Finally, it is a sorta unofficial rule to show off your professional courtesy and mannerism. Like Error said, if you are getting the plants for free or really low price then please be a gentlemen or lady and maybe even offer a little extra money. It's just one of those small gestures that will get you far~ Well, at least it's still not as far as if you have to travel to the Far East and get those plants yourself! Kindda think about it I can relate and understand all your points as I am both a seller and a buyer. Lastly, we are all people with similar or same hobbies, and it will do us all good to be nice and courteous to one another. Make friends will get you a long way. Make enemies....well, then I guess the Administrator wouldn't even allow you to be in this forum, haha:P

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Old 09-24-2004, 02:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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In my opinion, I always offer a price which is inclusive of mailing. That way people simply bid or not bid according to their budget. Having to email several times to establish the mailing charge is irritating for me as both buyer and seller (long time seller on eBay I might add).

As for Aquabid, I love it. I would even support it financially. But if only Aquabid would include a flat price sales system - eBay calls it Buy It Now. Time would be saved all round. Auctioning items for under $10.00 just does not seem worth it when time is short.

I also empathize with the points expressed above.

Andrew Cribb
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Old 09-24-2004, 02:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Excellent post Gnatster and wonderful pionts that I think most would not have realized unless they stopped to think about it.

Another point I might add, if I may, is often when I send plants, especially stems, I find they don't often fit unthe small box, so what do I do... I use the big one. What is the base price to ship that? $4.65. Well, considering that i have to drive 7miles round trip and my big gas guzzling 4x4 gets 15mpg city, thats .93c in gas. Whoops! more than the $5 already, plus 1-3, often use the gallon size, bags. What are they, $3-4 for a box of 20, thats 15-20 cents each.....

As Gnat already pointed out, we are trying to be NICE
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Old 09-24-2004, 03:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I want to say thanks to all who offer free plants, and also thanks to the ones who have sent me plants, I do appriciate all. I can not afford to buy alot at a time. I am out on disability but I love my fish and I love plants and if there are nice enough people to charge a little for the plants and shipping , they are great in my book. I love you all.. I think the ones on this board are the greatest. Again, thank YOU< JO Ann
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Old 09-24-2004, 07:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree 100% as a buyer and seller...and one note for aquabid sellers....please DON'T ship stem plants by standard mail....
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Old 09-25-2004, 05:22 AM   #8 (permalink)
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My trip to the post office is 20 minutes to a half hour each way (usually half hour)! Approx 20 miles I think (never checked the odometer) -- so when I offer plants for free it is definitely a labor of love. Someone started me off on plants that way, and I tried very hard to do the same for others. However, that post office trip with two jobs just isn't my cup of tea. I've offered for sale once, and may start doing that more b/c sending out plants can basically take up my whole morning (trimming, packaging, labeling, trip to post office).
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Old 09-25-2004, 06:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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USPS shipping supplies can be ordered for free. Stamped mailing labels can be printed from home/work. There is also no need to stop by the postal office because you can arrange for home pick-up of items that won't fit in your mailbox (free service). You don't even have to be home for that. Just jam them behind some bushes, bury them in the yard, or tie them to a tree. Just describe the location of where you hid the oversized items and the nice USPS post(wo)man will get off his/her truck and retrieve them.

Paper towels may be obtained from fastfood restaurants, work, etc. Grocery bags can be employed to house the plants. Miscellaneous advertisements, community newspapers, etc. may be used for extra insulation and modes to prevent the shifting of plants during shipping.

You folks need to be more resourceful.
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Old 09-25-2004, 07:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Excellent points Gnat, Error and Paul! I agree completely. For most of us this is a labor of love and not a business. How many businesses would survive making .25 - .50 cents per transaction after going through all the work it takes? Some people just need a reality check.
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