Friday, July 30, 2010

Bad Dolly Deals

It's crazy how many people end up the victim of a "Bad Dolly Deal". I've been very lucky in my dealings in the Blythe world so far and all of my purchases have been good ones. On occasion I've taken a punt - like on the factory girls - and I've known that the doll that I recieve might not be perfect, and to be honest, I kind of get a kick out of that. Sometimes you get an amazing doll at a great price, and others you get more or less what you expected and no more and that's fine too. Today I'm talking about those dishonest people who set out to swindle you, and how to avoid being scammed when buying through forums.

While I still believe that the forums are safer than ebay as far as scammers are concerned, it's still possible that you might fall victim to a scam. The forum Plastic Paradise has drastically changed a few of their policies following a scammer scare that happened recently. You can read about it here. As a result of this, PP have (for the time being at least) closed the forum to new members. New members must now be referred by a current member of PP and can only join bi-annually and the sales thread is closed to any members with fewer than 30 posts.

While I do applaud the efforts of PP to stop scammers (at this time I think they might be the only forum to take action on this - I know that on TIB it's strictly "buyer beware"), ultimately you need to use some common sense.

Before entering into any arrangment to buy, you should check:

1. Number of posts.

These are usually prominently displayed on the left hand side of the post along with the avatar. A seller with a low number of posts might not be out to take your money, but it is the first thing you should take into consideration before you decide to deal with them. Someone with only one or two posts has obviously joined for the purpose of using the sales thread, or someone who has been caught out before and named in BDD who can no longer use that username without arousing suspicion.

2. Avatar

Sounds silly, but do they even have one? A seller with few posts and no avatar suggests to me that they are just there to make a quick buck and can just as easily vanish when it all goes pear shaped.

3. Flickr

Do they have a link to their flickr account? Most Blythe fans tend to have one. When was it created? Does it just have a few pics of the items that they are selling and nothing else? That's a red flag for me. If they have a larger collection of pics, try and track down the doll you are interested in and find out as much info as possible.

4. Sales thread pics

Are they using the stock pics of the boxed doll? No pics at all? A list of several dolls with not even one pic of each doll posted is a red flag. The seller may have stolen someone else's images to post on flickr and doesn't want to draw attention to themselves by having them obviously displayed. Poorly taken photos or even ones that have had a lot of digital editing can be very misleading. If you have any reservations about the seller or the doll, ask for an unedited photo of the doll with a piece of paper in the shot with the sellers name on it. If they won't do this for you, move on. In many BDD the seller does not even own the dolls they are trying to "sell".

5. Third parties

Never buy anything from a seller that mentions that they are selling the doll for a friend/relative or has any third party involved in the transaction (ie. the doll is at my sister's house in Singapore and she'll post it when the money has been received). Just read through the Bad Dolly Deals site - it is full of entries that have had problems that stem from this situation.

6. Trades

Trades are a huge act of trust. Unlike a straight forward sale where you send the money and the seller sends the doll when it's been received, you have to post your doll in good faith, assuming the other party has done the same. Again, there are lots of posts on BDD where this has gone sour. There is a lot of potential for a shonky operator to get their hands on your valuable doll to onsell and for you to end up with either flat out nothing or a damaged or inferior doll to the one you traded. Unlike a sale, you have no protection via Paypal at all, so if things go wrong there's not a thing you can do. The best policy to adopt with trades is to simply don't do this with anyone that you don't "know" reasonably well. Always, always insist that both of you use insurance and tracking numbers on both packages.

7. Payment as "gift"

No, it isn't. Payment is "payment for goods" - unless this person is your best friend or your mother. Lots of people think it fair and reasonable to ask you to do this in order to avoid paying paypal fees but the reality is that it is neither. Don't be afraid to walk away from the deal if they insist on this payment method and will not budge. Paypal is your only recourse if things go wrong - don't throw that protection away. You'd be crazy!

A few sellers will also ask you to pay the paypal fees on top of the price of the doll. I personally disagree with this practice - especially if they disclose this after you have agreed to buy the doll.

8. Check the price
Always do a quick look on ebay and on other sales threads/forums on the doll they are offering for sale. If the price is ridiculously cheap and they've raised a few other red flags, you might be looking at a scammer.

9. Who are you dealing with?
Not all forums require members to be over 18. I feel safer dealing with adults when large sums of money are involved and I'm not above checking profiles, previous posts and flickr accounts to get an insight as to who I'm going to be dealing with.

How is the sales post written? If english is the seller's first language (usually the country of origin is listed in the profile) and the post is very badly written or uses leet speak it's possible that you might be dealing with a minor. Are you comfortable with this?

10. Search Bad Dolly Deals

Don't assume that just because they haven't been listed yet, that everything's fine. Don't even assume that they aren't listed there under another username. A seller with just a few posts may well be one that has been named and shamed under BDD.

Ultimately, you need to go with your gut feeling and try not to allow your heart to rule your head when making the decision to buy. While it might appear like the deal of the century at first, if you have reason to suspect that the seller is not entirely honest you are far better off walking away. Legitimately great deals pop up all the time on the forums, and if you are cautious you can add to your collection without suffering the frustration and stress of a deal gone bad.


  1. Thanks for another great post. Do you have any ideas about buying on ebay? I bought my first two Blythes from the CWC internet store in Japan but now I would really love to add some older dolls to the family that are no longer sold by the CWC store. I have seen some dolls on ebay I am interested in, but I have no idea if I can trust the stores that sell them. I'm not looking for a dead-cheap-doll or a customized one all I want is a new doll nrfb. Do you have any ideas or advice?

  2. Hiya Dutchlady :)

    I started writing a response to your comment, but then it became ludicrously long - too long for a mere comment! Think I might do a follow up post on ebay sales. I have touched on this subject before, but it was very general and brief.