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Thread: What do we look for in a pre-order?

  1. #1
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    Post What do we look for in a pre-order?

    Having followed several large custom pre-orders for paintball equipment both here and on other forums and some disastrous outcomes I had a thought: Why don't we, as orderers, make a universal set of rules as to what we, as paintball players, see as acceptable universal standards for any preorder? It seems to me that if we came up with a universal rule set that other producers could follow we could have a document or set of guidelines to point at when arguing the success/failure of a company to deliver a standard.

    While it may be hard to enforce a set of rules on any company or individual, it seems to me that we as players could use this rule set as a guideline for a database. Players could use this database like the better business bureau, and indicate which companies may or may not be reputable in a transaction, but also could have comfort that a company or persons they are dealing with are holding themselves to a certain specified standard within the community.

    Anyway, my ideas for what we look for:

    1. A clear definition of the product we are looking for
    a. If this is a non-prototyped project a specific mention that this build has never been fabricated for testing
    b. If this is a prototyped project a short media type (photo, video) of a prototype model working as stated.
    2. A firm order date, start date, and finishing date.
    3. A bi-weekly update of project progression, even if it is "nothing has happened this week"
    4. No more than 2 project extension deadlines
    5. Specific shipping restrictions
    a. At least 1 layer of bubble wrap
    b. Standardized shipping and delivery confirmation
    c. Acceptable standards of cosmetics on delivery
    6. Statement of merchantability.
    a. If product does not meet standards cosmetically or functionally, what will happen.

    What else do we look for? Might there be room for such a promise here on AO? Do you think something like this might be beneficial in the long run for all manufacturers and players?

  2. #2
    I would look for enforcement.

    I personally would want the money to go into an escrow, and if terms are violated, I have the option of pulling my money back out.

    That way the manufacturer knows that the money is actually in the escrow, and the customers have a very fast, very direct recourse.
    "Accuracy by aiming."


    Definitely not on the A-Team.

  3. #3
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    so far every idea in this thread is great...even tho im not a big fan of pre-orders these ideas/proposed guidelines could help keep the buyer protected?

    the Escrow idea is a good one!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoatBoy View Post
    I would look for enforcement.

    I personally would want the money to go into an escrow, and if terms are violated, I have the option of pulling my money back out.
    I'm just not sure I see any incentive on the manufacturer here. I'm not sure we can force a standard on a paintball manufacturer and it may leave details too vague for compensation. When we do a pre-order our money is supposedly going for the materials to create the part, it would be hard to put that money in escrow and still be able to have the build completed. By keeping a social standard we can force disreputable people out by just not doing business with them, and keep things friendly for smaller parties to do their work, I.E. people like the guys who've made the new xmag boards and private annoists.

    I totally agree with enforcement, It could literally be "you've not followed through on X and X orders, gt(censored) off our forum with this", followed by a thread lock. Keeping a stickied thread in the Dealer BST could also act as a feedback for companies who have/have not complied in the past.
    Last edited by Drix; 03-16-2013 at 10:30 AM.

  5. #5
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    Thumbs down

    The problem is, theres more failed pre-buys then good ones.

    You go thru a couple bad ones and you lose the fire to build anything else.


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by going_home View Post
    The problem is, theres more failed pre-buys then good ones.

    You go thru a couple bad ones and you lose the fire to build anything else.

    I feel that you are correct, and that's why I think as a community we should directly express our expectations. More or less I'm looking for a social contract that manufacturers would be willing to optionally adopt for the betterment of their product. I'm not looking to force anyone into being required to follow this policy, and I can't change anyone's opinions about pre-orders so I'm not going to even try. I do however feel that the community could benefit from having a set of standards laid out. It may be shakey for now, but going forward we could have "AO Guaranteed" offerings. For instance, think of the following scenarios:


    Company A:
    [AOG] Pre-order for Xvalves with bottom facing air lines. $300

    Company B:
    Pre-order First Strike Micromag $550

    In this scenario company A has elected to promise to deliver a higher standard than Company B (A.O. Guaranteed). As such they should be able to generate more interest in their product, especially if their reviews in our standards stickies are positive for their last set of orders. Company B however has not elected to deliver the standards of expectations that we look for as a community, immediately that should set off a flag for us as forum users, and therefore may not receive the interest to which they are looking for, and consequently the profit they were hoping to receive.

    Does a contract like this suddenly make pre-orders ok? Well no, just like buying anything from anyone on a forum you do have to weigh all of your options and potential liabilities and consequences. I'm just hoping that we as a community can band together and say "Hey, this is not ok this is what we want" and use those expectations to shape the future of orders.

  7. #7
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    Enforcement is good, such as requiring a legally binding contract for all pre-orders. In exchange for cash up front, the O.P. would be responsible for any/all liabilities, regardless of who the manufacturers are, or other 3rd parties involved. It's it up to the O.P. to then make individual contracts with 3rd parties to cover his/her back (in the case the manufacturer messes up). The forum admin would have to qualify each pre-order; like "mod approved"... I believe AO already does this to a certain extent.

    Escrow... not so much. I agree with Drix in that putting pre-order money in escrow gives the O.P. and/or manufacturer no incentive. They might as well just make it a standard sale then.

  8. #8
    Kickstarter.

  9. #9
    Looking at what kickstarter allows, they may not allow paintball marker parts.

    Copied from kickstarter FAQ.
    "We allow creative projects in the worlds of Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater."

    I suppose it could fall under technology but that may be a stretch. In fact, digging a bit deeper... I think this may kill it.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/help/guidelines
    "In addition, Design and Technology projects that are developing new hardware or products must show on their project pages a functional prototype — meaning a prototype that currently does the things a creator says it can do — and detailed information about their experience. Projects developing new hardware or products are also prohibited from using product simulations, photorealistic product renderings, and offering multiple/bulk quantities of the product as a reward."

    Most pre-orders won't have a functional prototype.

  10. #10
    Sure, but if there isn't even a prototype, you probably don't want to get on board with the project anyway. That would likely be the whole reason for Kickstarter requiring one. The product they offer is a system for ensuring the investor gets their product.

    Been there done that. Enough of my own grand ideas flop so hard that I won't take $ for something that I don't have a *tested* working prototype AND a solid production method for.

    I don't know about how their categories and all the rules there work. Search for 'titanium' on their site. You will see all kinds of widgets with the same basic cost/market size/machining complexity that we see for the specialty paintball market.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Drix View Post
    I'm just not sure I see any incentive on the manufacturer here. I'm not sure we can force a standard on a paintball manufacturer and it may leave details too vague for compensation. When we do a pre-order our money is supposedly going for the materials to create the part, it would be hard to put that money in escrow and still be able to have the build completed. By keeping a social standard we can force disreputable people out by just not doing business with them, and keep things friendly for smaller parties to do their work, I.E. people like the guys who've made the new xmag boards and private annoists.
    The incentive is knowing your customers have already paid for the product you're going to make. It's an in-between. It's money in the bank -- just not your bank.

    On one end, you take no money up front and just take it on faith that people who said they would buy one will actually pay. Manufacturer gets financing to pay for production on their own. There is the strong risk that if they make the product, nobody buys it anyways.

    In the middle is the escrow. Manufacturer gets financing to pay for production; might be made easier if you can point to all the money in the escrow and go, "Hey, see, everybody's already paid up."

    On the other end is literally taking the money up front. The customers are the financing.

    Social standards and money don't mix.

    Having looked over the social landscape of paintball, the prospect of entering into a pre-order without an ironclad escrow is mortifying.



    Middle path, folks. Please consider the middle path.

  12. #12
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    Preorder problems really boil down to the personal ethics of the person behind the preorder.
    I also believe there is some human psychology behind working for money that has been long since spent; people just have a hard time doing it.
    So to motivate everyone involved there should be an “opportunity of loss”.

    I think the following would solve several issues in the preorder process:
    1. Non refundable or transferable down payment.
    2. Balance due when project is completed to everyone’s satisfaction.
    3. Remaining balance is due within 30 days after the of the projects completion.
    4. After 30 days, unpaid balances will be forfeited by preorder customers.
    5. A clause could be added or simply used by the seller to motivate "would be buyers" that would pass on deposits (After 30 days of non payment) to anyone willing to buy the parts.

    This format keeps all parties invested in the project, everyone stands to loose something if they don’t follow through and do their part.

    Some large or expensive projects could require a second or third draw to further/complete a project.
    This would of course have to be outlined in the beginning so all parties are aware that additional funds will be needed through the course of a project.

  13. #13
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    After dealing with christian scaffo/venomous designs I have made but one simple rule for myself regarding preorders: Never again.

    However, there are some outstanding dealers on here that have been willing to forgo any payments until the project is completed/if it is completed within the proposed timeline (my stipulation) while still reserving the item(s) I wanted.

  14. #14
    Need financing?

    Go get financing.

    This is not “Banco de Paintball”.

    Build the cost of financing into the product’s final price. The customer pays for it anyways, whether or not you built it in or hold onto their money for years.

    Manufacturer drops the ball? They get to deal with the bank. A real one.

    If you guys were more strict about this, they wouldn’t constantly be pulling shenanigans on you.

  15. #15
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    Preorders normally happen because there is a lack of faith in the market.

  16. #16
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    I feel like we've gotten really off base here and moved something that I was hoping to be a really constructive thread into something that's well, not. Perhaps I should have titled the thread "What do we expect from a preorder?" I hear lots about economics, but lets face it- If there were a reliable way to be working the economics someone, somewhere would be using it. We can't change the passing of money overnight but what we can change is how we accept and allow vendors to deliver our products, and a clear picture of the product we're buying before we put our money down.

  17. #17
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    1. A clear definition of the product we are looking for
    I dont understand how that would ever be a problem.

    a. If this is a non-prototyped project a specific mention that this build has never been fabricated for testing
    Personally I have never seen a preorder where this was not clear one way or the other. Plus as a designer and machinist (speaking only for myself) I don’t see how that would ever be a concern to the consumer. Sometimes I prototype sometimes not, either way it’s not your concern as long as you get a working part. If it does not work it’s my responsibility to make it right.
    The MM2K was prototyped and tested and there was still problems, so your concerns really don't cover any bases. You can prototype till the cows come in and still have 101 problems in the production run. So like I said before personal ethics of the person behind the preorder is the real concern.

    b. If this is a prototyped project a short media type (photo, video) of a prototype model working as stated.
    I believe most everyone works in 3D programs so I don't see this as a real issue. As far as working parts, not sure how one could get away with selling something that did not work as intended.

    2. A firm order date, start date, and finishing date.
    That will never happen in the real world.

    3. A bi-weekly update of project progression, even if it is "nothing has happened this week"
    Easy enough.

    4. No more than 2 project extension deadlines
    Never happen, no way to control that.

    5. Specific shipping restrictions
    a. At least 1 layer of bubble wrap
    b. Standardized shipping and delivery confirmation
    c. Acceptable standards of cosmetics on delivery
    Perfectly acceptable.

    6. Statement of merchantability.
    a. If product does not meet standards cosmetically or functionally, what will happen.
    That's a no brainer, you should get what you paid for.
    Last edited by luke; 03-17-2013 at 10:33 PM.

  18. #18
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    Glad a manufacturer chimed in Thanks Luke, I will revise ideas.

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