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Doulton said

Swap Etiquette?

I think that there are probably a few schools of thought on “swap etiquette” (borrowing this from Survivor’s “Banana Etiquette”). I know that I am in a minority when it comes to swap etiquette and I know that it would probably be unwise in many ways for there to be a universal etiquette to follow, but I wonder what you expect out of a swap?

What if the person never signals that he or she has received the package?

If the person asks for a swap and you send first, does that mean you are an idiot and the person gets to gleefully waltz off with the tea?

What if you send the person a tea sample and s/he writes that she got a “free sample”? Does that mean the person thinks you are a company?

What if you’ve been cursing the post office for mis-managing a package and then you suddenly see a person review the tea that you sent? Does that mean that the package might have arrived or does that mean that the person might have procured the tea elsewhere?

What if a person thanks you in a tasting note and you know for a fact that you never had that tea and you never sent the person that tea?

If you give a tea as a “giveaway” should the recipient acknowledge receipt or is a giveaway just that?

Do you treat a person differently or have different expectations than you would a company?

What do you say if a person asks to do a swap and says s/he will send you Tizzie Lizzie Kumquat Earthworm Tea in exchange and then when the person gets the tea from you says words to the effect that “I’m just a poor college student and cannot afford postage”? Wouldn’t that person have been aware of this condition a week or two previously when making the original swap deal?

First off, I must say that about 55% or 60% of the swap deals I have been in have gone off swimmingly. But almost 50% have not. Should I chalk it up to experience? Should I just go by the motto “Caveat Swapper”? Or should I blame my elderly condition?

Am I just a very fussy elderly woman? Or do I have a legitimate point about “swap etiquette”? Please discuss!

58 Replies

I have not participated in any swaps here on Steepster, but there have been a few Steepsterites like yourself that were nice enough to send me some tea they posted on the “take it away” thread. I do believe that no matter if it is a swap or gift, it is just courteous to let the person know that you received the shipment and to acknowledge it in a tasting note for those teas. I believe that you should treat individual people differently than companies. Individuals are being kind enough to share with you while companies are making a profit from your business.

If someone agrees to do a swap, I believe that they should hold up their end of the deal. I would hope that the majority of people here on Steepster would be honest enough to not sign up for a swap if they have no intention of actually sending anything. If for some reason, the person involved in the swap needs to delay a shipment say until payday, they should be honest and up-front with the other participant about the terms. Preferably before the swap is actually initiated if possible.

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had such bad luck with swaps when you have been so generous to other Steepster members, including myself.

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denisend said

I would say that if you have any concerns/questions about your swapping partners, you should speak directly to them! Communication is key!

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Doulton said

I do speak directly with them but I thought that perhaps a larger round-up of opinion might help considering that so many people participate in swaps. Of course a “swap” is different from a give-away or a contest but maybe it would not hurt this board to be aware that if people approach you for a swap just because they are on Steepster does not mean that they will come through with their end of the agreement.

denisend said

Oh, this board is like any other internet “place”. There are people of all types on here and they aren’t all trustworthy.

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Doulton, I hope you don’t mind, but I laughed out loud at this one: What if a person thanks you in a tasting note and you know for a fact that you never had that tea and you never sent the person that tea? Gosh, I’m tempted to say “just say you’re welcome and have it make up for some of the other more unpleasant experiences you’ve had” but that would be wrong. ;-)

I don’t do swaps, mostly because I don’t have time, but also because I know that some of the things you mentioned (not the one I quoted above) would totally annoy me and probably sour me on the experience of visiting here which I find an entertaining and relaxing diversion. If I had a 50% bad experience rate, I would be downright angry.

I do think you have a legitimate point. I don’t think it has anything to do with being fussy or with age. I think it has to do with being honest and expecting others to stand by the promises they make, which is eminently reasonable.

SoccerMom said

Morgana, If you are not doing swaps because you don’t have time I completely understand. However I want to insure you that my experience with swaps has been very different than Doulton’s. I have only one time had a weird experience but it wasn’t nearly bad enough for me not to swap and the reason I wanted to let you know this is because I love my “regular” swap partners. So don’t let this thread keep you from swapping should you ever decide to. Just swap with the regular steepster reviewers on here and you won’t be disappointed. It’s alot of fun once you find a swap partner with similar tea tastes to your own! :)

Thanks Soccermom. My no. 1 reason is time. Or maybe more accurately, my no. 1 reason is the amount of anxiety that adding things to my daily to do list adds to my life when I’m already anxious about getting everything done I need to get done, and my no. 2 reason is the actual time it takes do to it. ;-)

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I should add that for some of the things you mentioned, I think people just have so much tea from so many sources, they get confused and forget. Unless it’s clear that they’re not confused. So if they said “I got a free sample from Doulton” they might think you’re a company. But if they just said “free sample” without mentioning your name, they probably forgot who it came from.

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Doulton:

To answer your first question… what I expect when I engage in a swap – well, I hope when I send out a package, it’s received in good condition. I hope that Bruno at the post office didn’t use the package for sparring practice. Aside from that, I hope that the person I send the package to enjoys the tea.

I’d like to say that I expect more than that… but, I really don’t anymore. I have been in too many swaps where the package goes unacknowledged, or that the package goes un-reciprocated. So, I’ve come to the point where I expect nothing back from someone when I send something to them. If I do happen to receive something, then I’m happy. But, if I don’t, I’m not overly disappointed. Know what I mean? It’s a healthier approach for me, I try not to let it get me upset when someone takes advantage of me in that way.

I’m sorry that some swaps don’t go off well. I wouldn’t attribute it to “old age” or anything except that there are some people who simply choose to take advantage of the kindness of others. And that’s sad. It’s not your fault though, or your age, it’s the fault of the person who took advantage of you. Next time, you should not indulge that person in a swap… keep a note of it, so that you remember that is a person that does not deserve that bit of kindness from you.

And for the record YES absolutely, if someone doesn’t have money for postage, they should have known that they wouldn’t have money for postage when they first engaged in the swap and should have pulled out of it before it began. To me, it’s deceptive and dishonest to engage in a swap when you KNOW you don’t have money to fulfill your end of the bargain. Now, if a person needs to wait until payday before getting the package in the mail – that’s understandable. We all have financial obligations, and sometimes things have to wait. There is a difference though between waiting for a week or two or even three … and the package never arriving because it was never sent. If a person knows they can’t afford to send the package, that person should have never entered into the swap arrangement. It’s deceptive. And it’s despicable of them to take advantage of anyone like that.

To close… I would just like to add that I have absolutely no interest in the following tea: Tizzie Lizzie Kumquat Earthworm Tea. Frank… if you’re reading this… DON’T get any ideas.

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Lori said

I would like to second Liberteas comments and emphasize really people should acknowledge receipt of the package and if someone claims they are going to swap, then they should follow thru… …Also, maybe I am a cynic, but the fact that the swapping thing works occasionally is a suprise. When I first started this tea swapping, my friends/family thought the whole idea was odd. Mailing tea to strangers? Getting tea from strangers?

And I would like to one other point: If I offer a tea in the Take It Away thread and someone does not offer to reciprocate, I am still OK w/that. Maybe, they can’t afford as many teas as I have and/or just don’t have that many teas that are interesting for me to try anyway. So then I just look at it as a “good karma” thing and just glad to share the “joy of teas” w/others.

Kristin said

I always assume that the Take it Away thread is just that. You take it away. No one should expect and offer to swap there unless the indicate that they wanted to swap. But, if you use Take it Away to get tea, you should then turn around at some later date and offer up some tea that you no longer want. Everyone gets some tea sometime that they don’t like (but you may not have anything to trade at the time that the tea is offered up for take it away).

denisend said

Yes, I started the “Take it Away” thread, and that was my intent. I wanted to get rid of stuff without anyone feeling any obligation to send me anything in return (because I have enough!). I have received tea in return from conversations that have started in that thread, but I would have sent out the stuff that I sent even without receiving anything.

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Lori said

Of course, this could go on the Steepster Suggestions thread- but if Steepster wants to get “fancy” they could assign swapping “ratings” similar to ratings assigned on Ebay.

Also, I would love if Steepster added a function in the cupboard where we could mark that we want to offer samples of teas that we own or browse others cupboards and click that we are interested in a sample…

denisend said

On the official Discussion Guidelines thread, it states:
Also, Steepster does not monitor or moderate users participating in mail exchanges, so swap at your own risk! But let us know if someone isn’t keeping their end of the bargain.

Lori said

ok true..

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I am going to fess up to being an awful swapper

When a package arrives, if there isn’t a note in it – i can never tell who it’s from and don’t tell them it’s arrived

I would say ideally when I try and swap I aim for:

Putting tracking on the package ($0.19) so i know it arrived
I would like them to say it arrived in a non-abused state (my packing jobs aren’t fabulous)

Swap should be a fair trade about the same time, unless communicated and OK’d, otherwise they are a twink, and yes they should know if they are broke ahead of time, that’s just sneaky, waiting on a pay period as others have said isn’t though

“take it away” or “send you a sample” or “contest” do NOT need to adhere to these rules IMO, they’re gifts and you get good tea karma, just send and move on. people can send samples to be nice, they don’t need to be companies. (unless contest specifies else-wise)

“What if you’ve been cursing the post office for mis-managing a package and then you suddenly see a person review the tea that you sent? Does that mean that the package might have arrived or does that mean that the person might have procured the tea elsewhere?” – ask in a PM if you can, i sometimes end up buying a tea i swapped for forgetting i swapped for it

“What if a person thanks you in a tasting note and you know for a fact that you never had that tea and you never sent the person that tea?” let them know! then they can figure out who to thank – probably a mix up of notes on their part

“Do you treat a person differently or have different expectations than you would a company?” i expect companies to send me free or cheap samples or include them in an order so i can decide if i shop with them, i consider people to be generous and awesome if they do the same – i try to confirm receipt of packages with people, and not w/companies

I am very very sad so many have gone poorly. I would say to try to do smaller swaps with “new” to you swappers, i always go into as i have enough of this tea to trade or give away so i try not to take it too badly when things go wrong, and once you find a few good swap buddies (i really might as well move into SoccerMom’s tea closet!) hold on to them

How much room has SoccerMom in her tea closet? Perhaps we can set up camp…

as seen in this lovely thread: http://steepster.com/discuss/497-show-us-your-tea-cupboard i think it would be a little cramped, but delicious ;)

you hear that SoccerMom we’re grabbing plane tickets and coming to see you!

SoccerMom said

LOL I have been so busy the past few days and hadn’t seen this post until today, I needed the laugh you two! Come on down I have plenty of room and you would not have to stay in my lil cupboard I have two available guestrooms! I’d love to have you two over!! ;)

You just might end up with me on your doorstep! i have 40,000 frequent flier miles! but apparently that won’t get me to san francisco (seriously!!!)

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Ricky admin said

Stopping by to respond to Doulton’s questions =]

What if the person never signals that he or she has received the package?
I’m guilty of this one. I rarely if ever reply that I receive a package, what I do try to do is make a post within a day or two of receiving the package.

If the person asks for a swap and you send first, does that mean you are an idiot and the person gets to gleefully waltz off with the tea?
Hmm, that has never happened to me, but I suppose this is a honor system thing. If the swap isn’t successful, it’s fine with me. My cupboard got a bit emptier and now I can purchase more tea =]. I still see it as a win even though I secretly lost.

What if you send the person a tea sample and s/he writes that she got a “free sample”? Does that mean the person thinks you are a company?
I suppose =]

What if you’ve been cursing the post office for mis-managing a package and then you suddenly see a person review the tea that you sent? Does that mean that the package might have arrived or does that mean that the person might have procured the tea elsewhere?
See above? Forgive and forget? I figure they just got it elsewhere.

What if a person thanks you in a tasting note and you know for a fact that you never had that tea and you never sent the person that tea?
I’d scratch my head and blame it on old age. Then I’d go, oh you’re welcome!

If you give a tea as a “giveaway” should the recipient acknowledge receipt or is a giveaway just that?
I thank who ever sends me tea regardless if it was a free / giveaway, sampler, etc. That is unless I really forgot who I receive it from. I’m pretty good with remembering who sent me what tea.

Do you treat a person differently or have different expectations than you would a company?
Nope.

What do you say if a person asks to do a swap and says s/he will send you Tizzie Lizzie Kumquat Earthworm Tea in exchange and then when the person gets the tea from you says words to the effect that “I’m just a poor college student and cannot afford postage”? Wouldn’t that person have been aware of this condition a week or two previously when making the original swap deal?
Haha, poor college student or not, I’m sure one can spare two dollars for postage if they really wanted to. If they want to initialize a swap, they should be prepared to reciprocate. It was a swap after all, not a give away.

First off, I must say that about 55% or 60% of the swap deals I have been in have gone off swimmingly. But almost 50% have not. Should I chalk it up to experience? Should I just go by the motto “Caveat Swapper”? Or should I blame my elderly condition?
Poor Doulton :(


I’m with LiberTEAS when it comes to swaps. I don’t mind not getting acknowledge, I don’t mind not getting anything in return. I actually don’t expect anything in return. Less expectations, less disappointment. I give away tea so that others could get a chance to sample them. I figure since we’re all on Steepster, we all want to try and sample as many teas as we possibly can. No one wants to buy a large tin of tea only to find out they hate it. Basically I send out tea for two reasons. One, so I can clear out my tea cabinet quicker so I can justify purchasing more tea. Secondly, it gives people a chance to try out teas they’ve been meaning to purchase without wasting more money.

Doulton said

I most certainly want to make it clear that I am not referring to “Take It Away” or to a couple of “give-aways” that I’ve had on the boards. I don’t consider those to be swaps and I’m delighted when people get something that they like. It’s nice when they acknowledge receipt, but I did not ask it of them. Nor do I expect anything in return at all and really don’t want it. I hope that it’s fun for people to “win” a prize or to be the first one to catch a “give-away”.

I’m talking about a swap situation where promises are made and not delivered upon. In the general scheme of things none of this is a big deal, except that I’ll be less willing to send out a “swap” to somebody. I’ve had a couple of people ask for samples, and that is perfectly fine with me too. I have no problem with that.

I’m really just talking about the “I’ll give you X if you give me Y” situations.

Lori said

Funny- about the tea cupboard purge- that is why I love to send out tea….

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