Buying and Selling Carriers Online – Our Simple Guide

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For the uninitiated For Sale or Trade (FSOT) markets might seem like a bewildering world, full of abbreviations and terms that a person new to slings could take a while to get to grips with.

I know it took me a long time to realise people were not talking about wrapping their husbands when I saw the abbreviation DH and that in this context they were taking about a type of a carry with a long wrap called a Double Hammock. FSOT allows people to buy and trade pre-owned baby slings and some sites also offer babywearing advice too.

There are lots of different FSOT markets out there, including the FSOT sections of The Babywearer and Natural Mamas forums, and many more on Facebook.

It is crucial to remember that most FSOT groups are ‘buyer beware’ environments and as such your rights as a buyer and seller are often different to buying a sling new from a retailer.

Every group will have different rules and guidelines for sale and when you first join you should read these. You may find you have posts deleted if you do not. The guidelines are there to help you and to help prevent issues from arising. For example, most will ask you to pay for a sling by PayPal ‘goods’ rather than as a ‘friends or family’ payment.

This means if there is an issue with the sling you will have some protection as a buyer and a seller. As a seller, it is important to send via a method which requires a signature on delivery as proof of delivery is required for PayPal. If you are the buyer, you know that if the sling arrives not as described that you have some protection.

It is good practice to try and resolve the issue between you both before escalating to a PayPal dispute or contacting admin. To avoid potential issues, read or request links to ‘feedback’ threads. A good buyer/seller will be happy to provide these for you. If you send as bank transfer (cheaper than PayPal) or as a gifted payment you do not have any protection if things do go wrong. Buying second hand is usually problem free but issues can occur.

It is important to ask people where they brought slings from in first place, this is especially important with regularly counterfeited brands such as Ergo, Beco, Moby and Freehand MTs. Genuine sellers will be able to provide you with photographs, receipts and details to help put your mind at rest. To read more on counterfiet carriers click here.

Most forums and Facebook groups will have a moderation or admin system. Many will request a minimum number of posts and day’s membership before you can sell, although in most cases you can buy before these requirements are met.

By asking for these the forum and board owners are trying to protect you by allowing people to get to know individuals first. As an ‘admin’ on a group I appreciate the complexities of managing a relatively small number of individuals, moderating groups of thousands of members is an extremely difficult job, which admin do for free, in their spare time, with young families.

Sometimes issues do arise and FSOT can become quite feverish and heated. Part of the problem is what we type can be misunderstood and it is easy for a quick comment to be seen as negative or aggressive. Take time to read what you have written; could it be misconstrued?

What you get out of FSOT groups and forums will depend on your expectations. If you are looking for a specific sling ask, if you have a set budget tell people what it is, if you are allergic to cats/dogs for example make sure your posts tell people. Many people come to FSOT looking for their next carrier or sling and can be astounded at the price people are asking for their sling.

It took me a long time to be willing to spend anything in FSOT markets. I could not understand why people were asking for the amounts they were. It was only as I became more aware of the different brands, the process of ‘breaking in’ wraps and how some slings (especially wraps) can be limited editions, that I became willing to spend.

“Breaking In” a wrap is the process of helping soften a wrap and helps make it easier to use. Some people prefer buying preloved because the wrap has already been broken in but it is a personal preference. Buying a preloved sling or carrier can be a cheaper than buying new, and slings often hold their value well, but they are not always cheaper.

High end wrap companies which make limited numbers can go up in value if there is a market and demand for the product.

This is the same as any ‘sort after’ item. It does not mean that babywearing is expensive or that you have to be extremely rich to take part. There are several cheaper manufacturers out there which allow people of all budgets to find a sling for them. Do not let the higher prices scare you off.

Enjoy the flexibility that For Sale or Trade Markets allow, enjoy the advice you can receive but remember that not everyone on these sites will have a full knowledge of every type of sling, be trained in babywearing physiology, safety and comfort, but be offering their own experiences.

If you need or want further advice then shout. Many of these boards have lots of babywearing consultants and sling librarians as members who will always be willing to answer your questions, or point you in the direction of those who can help you.

So remember in order to get the most out of FSOT:

• Acquaint yourself with the board guidelines
• Do not be afraid to set a budget
• Take time to read feedback from buyers and sellers before committing.
• Ask where sling was brought from originally
• Remember to tell people if you are selling a product from a smoking or pet friendly home, or are allergic to these.
• Try to resolve problems between buyer and seller first but if this does not work ask group or page admin to help too.

Beginners guide to FSOT key abbreviations. (This is not exhaustive but gives you a summary of the key) ones

FS/FSO – For Sale/For Sale Only
FT/FTO – For Trade/For Trade Only
FSOT – For Sale or Trade
PP – PayPal
HTF – Hard to Find
ISO – In search of (DISO – Desperately In Search Of)
ABC – Asian Based Carrier but also a brand of sling
MT – Mei Tai
MD – Mei Dah
SSC – Soft Structured Carrier (has buckles)
WC – Wrap Conversion
FB – Full Buckle Carrier
BW – Babywearing
RS – Ring Sling
NM – Natural Mamas Forum
TBW – The Babywearer Forum

By Rachel Coy – Sling Librarian and Consultant at North East Sling Library

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