How to Protect Yourself From Unethical Reptile Dealers

Unfortunately, rip-offs and scams are common in the reptile industry. Whether you’re new to the hobby or a seasoned veteran, everyone is vulnerable. Thorough research on reptile dealers is the best way to avoid scams and being ripped off. Learn how to protect yourself from unethical reptile dealers.

Do your research!

Research, research, research. Yes, researching potential reptile breeders and dealers are the best to avoid scams and getting ripped off.

How to protect yourself from unethical reptile dealers | Snake Hacks

Luckily, we have strong resources at our disposal such as Fauna Classifieds. They had a popular forum where you can search the history of many sellers and their business tactics. The number of threads on negative feedback is amazing. Unfortunately, this resource is closing soon supposedly due to the number of Facebook pages with the same focus.

You can also search for any potential candidate on Google. Simply search the individual’s name and the name of the business adding ‘rip off’ and ‘complaints’ at the end.

YouTube is another great place for researching customer feedback and dealer reviews. The Better Business Bureau has also been alerted to unethical businesses, but it doesn’t keep track of private individuals. Remember, thorough research is the key to avoid getting taken by scammers. When in doubt, don’t send your money!

Email scams

Scams by email in the reptile industry are common. Remember, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Once your email is available through reptile classifieds and forum activity, you become a target.

It’s a good idea to keep your email private in as many instances as possible. Email schemes are not limited to those new to the industry. Even established breeders and dealers are sometimes subjected to fraudulent emails.

One of the most obvious signs of a scammer is when they say they’ll add an extra $50, or more if you go with their offer. Don’t fall for it, it’s a lie.

The false representation of animals

The false representation of animals is a tricky subject. It mostly occurs when buying animals over the internet that require shipping. This includes when a buyer claims the animal they receive isn’t the same animal from the original photo. Sometimes it’s blatantly obvious while other times it’s questionable.

There are also instances when completely different species are knowingly sent to a buyer. Everyone makes mistakes occasionally. When dealing with high volumes of animals on a daily basis, they’re bound to happen. As long as the mistake gets corrected in a fair and timely matter, it’s no big deal.

You have the right to get what you paid for

You do have the right to get what you paid for. If there is a problem with your order you must contact the seller immediately. Don’t wait several days to do it. Inspect the animal as soon as it arrives. Contact the seller at that time with any problems.

I understand that sometimes unforeseen problems occur in the first twenty-four hours or a bit more. Just remember, the longer you wait to report a problem, the more your credibility begins to slip away like sand through an hour-glass. 

When buyers scam sellers

Sometimes, roles are reversed. It is important to note that most reptile breeders and dealers are honest. Up till now, I’ve come off hard on reptile dealers, but sometimes reptile dealers are the ones who get ripped off. Yes, fraudulent buyers are just as common. Unfair chargebacks are usually associated with inexperienced reptile keepers. 

My own past dealings with Paypal as a seller

About a decade ago I ran a small independent record label. Most of my sales were through eBay. While a CD is not a living animal, I was constantly dealing with people who were opening PayPal claims against me because of the leniency of their (PayPal’s) policy.

Even when I had proof the product had arrived at their residence by way of digital delivery confirmation. PayPal and eBay would always side with the buyer. To make things worse, eBay took away the ability for sellers to leave negative feedback against deadbeat buyers and liars.

I was left completely defenseless. Besides illegal file sharing, this is why I’m no longer in the record business.

Flippers – know what you’re buying

I think flippers get a bad rap. A flipper is a person or company that buys reptiles and amphibians wholesale, usually in bulk, then turns them over for sale to you. Pet shops are technically flippers too. Flippers often get criticized for their treatment of animals. They also tend to deal with greater amounts of wild-caught specimens.

If a company honestly lists an animal for sale that’s noted as wild-caught or field-collected, the buyer must take full responsibility for it. While it would be nice, there’s no rule that flippers must treat wild-caught specimens for internal or external parasites. Know this going into it. It’s advisable to properly quarantine all new reptiles you receive and treat them for internal parasites by a reptile-competent veterinarian.

When the buyer is responsible for what they purchase

I believe the buyer is responsible for what they buy. In other words, if the correct animal arrives alive and outwardly healthy, the buyer needs to take full responsibility from there. Buyers remorse is not a reason to open a claim or make up a story.

Make sure those who live with you know you’re getting a new reptile. This includes husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, friends, cousins and so on. Be sure there are no household objections before you commit to buy. Do the research and have your setup ready before you buy.

How to protect yourself from unethical reptile dealers | Snake Hacks

Payment options

It’s not my place to tell you how to send your money, but when using online payment methods like PayPal, be sure to use an option that covers you and offers buyers protection. Most credit card companies are very good when dealing with fraudulent sellers.

Still, some people with too much time on their hands find ways around these hurdles.

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to sit around all day and think of new ways of ripping people off. It’s very sad indeed. Avoid sending direct money wiring transfers. Be careful with certain debit cards. Cover yourself and if something seems fishy. Go with your gut instinct because it’s probably right.

What to do if you’ve been scammed

Report all fraudulent activity so others won’t get scammed. Post your bad experience on appropriate reptile related forums. Before you post, be sure to supply proof of all correspondence including emails, text messages, and pictures. Without evidence, your claim carries no weight.

Conclusion and a friendly warning from Snake Hacks

There’s no way I can cover every kind of scam in this article. There are so many and new ones pop up every day. The important thing is to protect your money by thoroughly researching breeders, dealers, and companies. Finally, sellers must report fraudulent buyers.

Comment below on ways to avoid being scammed that were not included in this article!

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