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Facilitation Guidelines?

Old 03-16-11, 10:47 PM
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khatfull
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Facilitation Guidelines?

All,

Since I started the "facilitators thread" I get PMs from folks asking about the facilitation process. I thought it might be helpful to offer up some guidelines and ask for additional input. I'd like to collect that input here. I plan to add the text of this post to the actual facilitators thread and update it as suggestions are made.

Please know I'm not trying to play big brother nanny state here by any stretch of the imagination. As I say below this process is between two individuals who can enter into any sort of agreement/arrangement they wish. My only purpose here is to give people and idea of what's involved, questions to ask, etc.

With that...here we go...

===============================================================


Suggested Facilitation Guidelines

The “facilitation” process we have developed here in the C&V forum is one of the most interesting and beneficial things we have going. Being able to have trusted, knowledgeable eyes and hands on an item thousands of miles away PLUS knowing that someone who knows how to pack and ship is helping out is IMHO a fantastic thing. We can widen our nets to Craigslist listings far outside our locally accessible area. Not that I haven’t availed myself on several occasions.

Those who have publicly volunteered and that do so privately do us a great service, asking little or nothing in return for the time in purchasing, packing, and shipping our treasures.

I thought it might be helpful to put together some suggested guidelines. I guess since I started the “facilitators thread” I get PMs on occasion asking how to initiate the process, how it works, etc. In the end, the arrangement is unique between two individuals and those individuals are free to come to any arrangement they like. My point here is to hopefully answer some questions or at least list some of the things you might want to consider when facilitating or looking for a facilitator for that grail bike/part/item.

Having facilitated several items and I think six or seven whole bikes now and having engaged facilitators on several occasions I’m going to add a little commentary as well. I hope it’s helpful.


Experience

Does the facilitator have experience shipping the item you’re looking for, especially whole bikes? It’s a task to undertake and IMHO takes a couple hours to do properly.
Has the facilitator completed other such transactions in the past?
How will examination of the item work? The facilitator and buyer should agree on things to looks for when examining the item…stuck stems/seatposts, dings, dents, whatever. People’s idea of what “good condition” is can vary. I have taken pics on site and e-mailed to the buyer. I have also had the buyer on the phone while examining the bike. Both work.
Who will contact the seller of the item and handle that communication? With Craigslist sellers especially sometimes dealing with a local entity is the only acceptable thing….other times not. I have acted as agent totally, I have merely been a pick up guy.


Shipping

What shipping method(s) are acceptable? The parties should agree on a method of shipping, FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc. I think it’s generally agreed that FedEx Ground, so long as you don’t hit their magic box size, is the least expensive and quickest way to ship a whole bike. Others’ experiences might be different but I find it to be true as well. Being in the middle of the US helps get bikes to either coast.
If the facilitator likes or uses only one shipping service he or she should state it. Some people ship from work and have access to only one carrier.
How long will it take to ship the item? The facilitator should give the buyer an approximate date that they’ll be able to ship the item. I try to get small items out in a day or two…bikes within a week. Of course, things get in the way sometimes…I have taken 2.5 weeks to ship a bike but I told the buyer up front that I was busy with work and that was ok with him. I try to keep both a frame sized box and a bike box on hand but sometimes it takes a couple of days to ping all the LBSes to find a proper box.


Packaging

What level or type of packaging would the buyer like to see? I mummify the frame in pipe foam and then use the frame to attach bars seatposts/saddles and the like to. There are a couple very good threads in the forums about this, search for miamijim's threads on the subject. Don’t forget to block forks and/or dropouts!
What level of disassembly is acceptable? I like to nearly disassemble the bike completely. Most of us would do so anyway on receipt. Removing the majority of components allows maximum flexibility in locating bars, front wheels, etc. within the shipping box. I usually then pack each component in a plastic bag, bubble wrap, and into a box that then goes into the main shipping box.
Who will pay for packing materials if cost is incurred? I try to reuse materials as I seem to have as many coming in as out. I also get bubble wrap via the local freecycle list. If I do have to go get pipe foam I let the buyer know up front or if that’s even a possibility. Payment for that is nice as it’s an out-of-pocket expense. A typical bike takes 3-4 pieces at about $1.25 each. I might also throw in a buck or two for nylon ties as I buy a big bag of 1000 and have them on hand. I probably use 30-50 per bike. I haven’t yet had to pay for a box.


Payment

This is tough. All the rest is just talk until the exchange of money takes place. In the end this is a transaction of trust. Parties can use past forum posts, our transaction feedback thread in the Sales subforum, ask other members, all sorts of ways to determine the relative reputation of a potential facilitator/buyer.

How does the seller want to get paid? Some may want cash only in which case the facilitator will need the funds. Some are good with PayPal.
Does the facilitator want funds for the transaction up front? I generally need to as I don’t have a huge bike fund. If I have the funds on hand I ask the buyer to PayPal me. On one occasion I didn’t, the bike was a little more costly, and time was of the essence. We chose to use a wire transfer. However, that cost $15 for me to receive so be aware of any costs related to wire transfers.
How does the buyer get funds to the facilitator? Check, MO, PayPal, wire transfer? Sometimes time is of the essence so that should be considered. PayPal transfers of a balance to a bank account take 3-4 days.
Does the facilitator expect payment for his or her time, gas, etc.? I never expect nor ask for anything for my time. Doing this is my donation to my bike karma bucket. I’m also a frequent user of facilitator services so I feel I’m giving back as well. Besides, sometimes I get to touchy feely some neato stuff I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

I hope this helps some of you who might be considering offering your services or trying to avail yourself of the same. I’m sure this is by no means a comprehensive list. I’m very open to suggestions for additions.

In the end, this process is an agreement between two parties who choose to enter into it. I have found one thing to be true and have had it return to me many times over: our mothers were right, the Golden Rule really does work.

Last edited by khatfull; 03-17-11 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 03-17-11, 10:06 AM
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ScottRyder 
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Keith, thanks for putting this together, great guidelines, I don't see anything I disagree with. Perhaps others will chime in with suggested additions or subtractions.

I haven't added my name to the main list list yet but I'll do that today.

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Old 03-17-11, 10:41 AM
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Keith,

This is very good work.

I wish I had a little more time to do this "full scale" but I am woefully overbooked for the next year or so.

I'll continue to assist on a case by case basis for those that contact me directly. I'll continue my "enabling" ways.

Again, this is very thoughtful.

By the way, is this where all of the "cool" items on the local CL such as the 1974 Masi Gran Criterium and the 1988 Chris Kvale Sport Tourer are going so efficiently?
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Old 03-17-11, 08:41 PM
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Charles Wahl
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My own feeling about this is that a volunteer facilitator should have a role that is minimized, and that the potential buyer understand that s/he is ultimately responsible to deal with the seller -- not expecting facilitator to judge the goods (that's what cameras and email between buyer and seller are for), or bargain with seller. Pickup and shipping only, and anything else (advice, opinion) be clearly understood to be without "guarantee" of any worth whatsoever.
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Old 03-17-11, 10:34 PM
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I've had nothing but great experiences both as the recipient and giver of assistance. While Charles is definitely right, I also do trust most of the members to either be able to judge as well, or better, than I could or to warn me they're in a weak area.

One thing to keep in mind about pricing is the facilitators transportation costs. If the person is driving to help you, pay the gas. I personally don't have a problem with someone asking for a few dollars for their assistance given all the work they're likely to do, but would also never ask for it. I've usually been offered, and accepted, a few extra dollars and I've usually offered a few dollars to those who've helped me. Obviously the relationship with the person plays a role...I'd send many here a kidney on dry ice.

I've found that favors and parts karma comes around here...I could easily use Keith as an example. I had asked him for a favor, a few weeks later he needed a favor. It works out...and I think if I did the math I've helped others about as much as I've been helped.
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