My Dad's Postage Stamps

My Dad's Postage Stamps (Photo credit: Susan Sharpless Smith)

There are no stupid questions. Unless you’re selling something online.

I’m reading an email from a buyer who’s the high bidder on some of my items.

I just found a bunch of old stamps at my grandfather’s house.

I’m assuming at this point she’s emailing me to hire me as a Trading Assistant to sell these old stamps so I really wasn’t expecting the plot twist that happened in the next sentence.

Can I pay for my items with these stamps?

Ah. Old stamps. Possibly stolenĀ from aging relatives. The other… other payment method.

Just replying, “No.” to an email like this seems curt and rude to me even if that is my gut reaction. I still want this buyer to become a repeat customer and leave me good feedback, even if she does have some misguided impression that we are still using the barter system for goods.

This is a real buyer email that I got a few weeks ago but I’m curious how you would reply if this was your customer? Or if you had a customer that replied with what you thought of as a stupid question?

  • Would you go for the single word answer and not worry about how the buyer reads it? For that matter, would you fire off reply without stopping and thinking about it like we’re doing here? (Tell the truth…)
  • Would you go into a long explanation of why you’re replying the way you are?
  • Would you try to convert this into another opportunity? (This didn’t even occur to me when I replied but I could have declined her offer to pay with the stamps, but then offered to sell the stamps for her as a Trading Assistant.)
  • Would you blame your answer on external factors? (“I’d love to take your stamps but, shucks, it’s against eBay’s policies!”) I’m not gonna lie, I shamelessly use eBay for a scapegoat a lot. Sorry, eBay. šŸ˜‰
  • Or would you intentionally be a little strong in your reply to make it clear to the buyer that what they are asking is unreasonable?
  • Or maybe you sell stamps and would feel like this was your lucky day!

I’m going to turn this post over to you. “Can I pay with old stamps?” lady just emailed you instead of me. How do you reply and why?