|These are G.A.B.'s guidelines for trading collectable cards over the net. We cannot anticipate every situation, but if traders follow these guidelines, G.A.B. believes everyone will have the same expectations. Hard feelings and misunderstandings about transactions will be reduced.|
Randy Johnson (Admiral Wolfman) created G.A.B. in 1996 to provide tools for online traders to protect themselves from bad traders. He established a comprehensive Bad Trader List and the team structure. G.A.B. members have their trading references verified by their Team Leader. A member's rank is determined by their number of confirmed references
As more people join G.A.B. to unite against bad traders, online trading becomes safer for everyone.
All traders are welcomed in G.A.B. We do not discriminate based on the kind of cards you trade. To join, a trader needs two things: a working email address and one valid trading reference. We consider all references of equal value, no matter the source. After joining G.A.B. you can benefit from the experience of numerous high ranking veteran traders who volunteer their time freely to G.A.B.
First, read the G.A.B. Code of Conduct carefully. If you agree to follow it, you should fill out the application on the Sign Up Page. You must have at least one valid trading reference. (A reference is someone with whom you have traded over the internet.) When your application is accepted and processed, you will be a member of G.A.B. with the rank of Ensign. You will be assigned to a team led by an Admiral who will check and confirm your references for you. To gain rank, you must submit more references.
Trading protocol dictates that the sender is responsible for the shipment. In other words, if your cards (or money) does not reach destination, you are considered responsible.
We highly recommend insuring your cards / payment as often as possible. A good rule of thumb is to do so when the cost of insurance is less than 10% of the cards value. Insuring your cards (or the more expensive options of certified or registered mail) provides you with written, dated proof and, most importantly, a verifiable tracking number. This proves you are a reliable and honest trader in the event of a dispute, and you'll be covered in the event of a loss.
Remember that if the other trader claims never to have received your cards/payment, it will be your responsibility to prove they were sent on time and to the correct address. Finding mail without a tracking number will be a difficult process at best.
When buying cards from an individual, pay by check or money order; be sure to keep written proof. When buying cards from a company, pay by credit card. This is the best protection because you can dispute charges later if necessary. It is unwise to send cash, because many post offices worldwide will confiscate cash if they spot it. If you do decide to send cash, always insure the shipment.
Insuring and Return Receipt procedures vary from country to country. Information should be available at your local post office. They can also tell you who to contact if there is a delay problem.
1) Learn the conditions of cards
Need to evaluate the condition of your cards and understand the other traders' evaluation of theirs. All cards traded by a G.A.B. member should be at least in Near Mint condition. If a card is not Mint or Near Mint, you must inform your trading partner.
The most commonly used descriptions and abbreviations used to describe cards are from Scrye Magazine, which publishes a trading guide. (P.O. Box 1627, Troy, NY 12181-1627, firstname.lastname@example.org) G.A.B. follows this guide. Common abbreviations are shown in parenthesis.
Mint (M): This is a card which is perfect in every way.
Near Mint (NM) : This (probably) unplayed card shows almost no wear but may have a few minor scratches or slight marks on the card's edges. In general, collectors seek only Mint and Near Mint cards.
Fine (F): This card has obviously been played, but not heavily. It lacks marks that would make it easily identifiable. It definitely has some minor scratches and/or less-than-perfect edges. It will show less than 1/16" depth of white along one or two edges of one face of the card. It may have a minor crease that is only visible close-up.
Good (G): This card has a played look to it. It will have white showing on three or four edges on both faces. This card may also have more than 1/16" depth of white showing on an edge on the back face of the card. It may also be a card that looks like a Near Mint card except that it has one distinguishing wear feature, such as a slight tear, or an easily identifiable crease. It may also have permanent black marks from dirt. It is only acceptable for play if it cannot be easily distinguished from the other cards of the play deck.
Poor (P): Any card in less than Good condition.
Misprints & Errors: If a card is mangled by the factory by being irregularly cut or crunched by the flow wrap machine, it often has no value. If a card has a text/icon/art error that is later corrected, it may have a premium value.
2) Learn the value of cards.
If there were unanimous agreement on the prices and values of cards, there would be no need for 95% of the traffic in trade groups! Price will depend on many factors. Common ones include: card rarity (within the print run), size of the print run, edition of the print run (including language), playability of the card, tournament restrictions on particular cards, location of the person(s) offering the card, and card condition.
There are still variables specific to individual situations. Someone looking for a single card to complete a collection or play deck might pay significantly more for a card than might otherwise be expected. Another person may discount the value of a card well below the typical value because they already have one or more, don't play that color/type of card or are looking for a quick sale.
Finally, card values are affected by decisions of the game manufacturer. An out of print card might be reprinted by the manufacturer in a new edition or the manufacturer might announce that a particular card will never be reprinted. A new edition card might be as acceptable to players as the original edition, but collectors might want only the old edition or the new. Differences in play between new and old cards will cause some price variation. Obviously if a manufacturer announces that they will never reprint a card, that card is likely to increase in value.
Several good price guides are available and revised monthly. The most frequently used are the magazines Scrye and Inquest, easily found at any large bookstore or gaming store. These magazines "poll" card stores for current prices. In general, as long as you use the same source for both side of the trade, you can be fairly certain that the trade is fair.
Much like real estate, a card is worth what a willing seller and a willing buyer agree upon of their own free will. This will necessarily vary from transaction to transaction.
3) Mail your cards properly protected!
You must protect the cards you are sending. Do not assume that an envelope (no matter how thick) is all that is needed. When mailing cards, place them inside "penny sleeves," soft plastic holders that will not scratch cards. Put no more then 3 cards in the "penny sleeve." Place the sleeve inside "top loaders," hard plastic sleeves that will protect the cards from almost anything. Cover the top loader with a piece of tape to prevent the cards from slipping out, but be sure to insert the penny sleeve-protected cards in the top loader with the top edge facing inside. This prevents glue from the tape ruining the card edges. Wrapping the top loaders with a sheet of thick paper will prevent anyone from "scanning" your package. Finally, place the top loaders in an envelope. For extra protection, consider a padded envelope.
"Penny sleeves" and "top loaders" are available from any card dealer, both retail and online. Padded envelopes can be purchased at an office supply store or the post office.
Sleeves and top loaders are fine for small numbers of cards, but when sending moderate to large numbers they are not practical. If sending enough cards to require a box, wrap the cards in paper or plastic. Make sure the box is well padded. The cards should not be able to move at all in any direction; if cards can move, they will be damaged while in transit. Wadded newspaper and/or plastic peanuts will protect the cards in the box.
A final note whenever packaging cards: although tape is usually necessary in order to secure cards for shipping, it is always a good idea to keep the tape as far away from the cards as possible because any sort of contact can damage the ink and cardboard.
See http://postcalc.usps.gov/ for information on weights and postage.
4) Identify fake cards.
Fake or fraudulent cards are occasionally a problem with high value cards and foils. Magazines like Scrye can be resources for help in identifying these cards. More experienced traders may have good tips, too.
5) Get references.
If you do not have references, you will probably have to send first. However, if you take the proper precautions (How to Trade Safely Online) and trade small value cards at first, it is less likely you will be cheated. Make sure to send your cards in a timely fashion and in the promised condition.
After every trade, ask the other trader if you can use him/her as a reference. Wait for permission before you do so; offer to do the same in return!
It is G.A.B.'s policy to accept only trade references. Buying cards does not count toward gaining rank. A reference must be able to confirm the condition of cards as well as how well and promptly they are shipped.
6) Report a Bad Trade.
If the alleged bad trader is a current G.A.B. member, please fill out the Internal Affairs Investigation Request Form.
If the alleged bad trader is not a current G.A.B. member, please fill out the Inquisitor Investigation Request Form.
Note: You will need to submit archived copies of all correspondence with the other parties as well as copies of any mailing receipts you have. For this reason, we recommend you keep all e-mails intact until transactions are completed satisfactorily and acknowledged on both side sand that you save all receipts until the trade is completed.
As an added measure against Bad Traders, we suggest you consider filing a claim with your nearest Local, State, or Provincial Attorney General's Office or Solicitor's Office. Include a detailed explanation of your claim. Since Mail Fraud is a federal offense in many countries, contacting the Postmaster at your local post office or the nearest Postal Inspector's Office can often lead to some recourse.
In the United States, bad trading is a federal offense punishable by law under the statutes regarding Mail Fraud and Misrepresentation. You can find the appropriate information at the following location: http://www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect/fraud/welcome.htm
The section we believe they are violating is: http://www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect/usc18/
You can make a fraud report here: http://www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect/fraud/MailFraudComplaint.htm
If you have questions that aren't answered here contact Grand Admiral Mortal Q