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General Business Discussions This is a general purpose forum open to business related topics concerning Reptiles and Amphibians that are neither appropriate for the Board of Inquiry, nor sales, purchase, or trade solicitations.

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Old 05-03-2004, 08:18 PM   #1
The BoidSmith
Whose to blame for sexing mistakes?

This is something that has been bothering for a while. In some TOS the buyer has a period of time to determine the sex of an animal he bought for the guarantee to be in effect. Who is the one that needs to know to accurately sex the animal, the seller or the buyer.

Let's assume I don't know how to sex. As a buyer, am I supposed to line up a proficient person to sex my animal upon arrival? I paid more already because the animal was advertised as female for example. Am I supposed to go through the trouble and maybe the expense of having to verify if the seller knows how to sex?

In my opinion the seller should be held responsible to ensuring that what he advertises was what it was, regardless of the time elapsed. Furthermore, if I was sold a male instead, raised it to maturity, and provided both parties can recognize the same animal a year down the road, I still believe the guarantee should be in effect.

Best regards.
Old 05-03-2004, 10:11 PM   #2
The seller makes his TOS to cover the length of time that they wished to be held responsible for sale. As a buyer you need to read the seller's TOS and figure out whether that TOS is acceptable to you. There is a level of risk for both the buyer and seller in any transaction. The TOS sets the levels which are acceptable to both parties.

So as a buyer that wants a life time guarantee on the animal's sex, ask for it in writing or find a seller that has that as a standard stipulation of the deal. If all (or large portion) of buyers demand certain conditions then the market will adapt to handle that demand.

I have an issue with the buyer deciding after the fact what a seller's TOS should be. I also have an issue with buyers that don't even look until after the purchase.
Old 05-03-2004, 10:46 PM   #3
The BoidSmith
So as a buyer that wants a life time guarantee on the animal's sex, ask for it in writing or find a seller that has that as a standard stipulation of the deal.

I understand what you are saying but now that you are into ball pythons let's use them as an example.

A dealer has a 100% hetero for baby albino female for $800. You know males go for $250 but you pay the premium because you need a female. Let's assume you don't know how to sex a snake (as probably the majority of herp keepers).

One month later a friend helps you out and determines the "she" is a "he". You contact the seller and he says you had one week to determine the sex. He made the initial "mistake" in determining the sex but it is you that are now stuck with a $800 male. Who of the two is at fault. The seller for not knowing how to properly sex an animal or the buyer for having trusted the seller and the original ad?

Bear in mind this is just an opinion. Wouldn't you agree that a person that is in the business of selling animals should be responsible for what they sell no matter what? A health issue is a different thing, probably 24-48 h guarantee is more than plenty.

But should a sexing mistake that was clearly the sellers fault be transfered to the buyer? He is puting a time limit in his TOS so the buyer can double check if the seller's sexing skills are up to par? Doesn't that sound odd?

Old 05-04-2004, 12:21 AM   #4
Clay Davenport
The fact is mistakes do happen occasionally when sexing snakes. This is particularly true of some species more than others. Given enough time, everyone will at some point missex a snake. The more you produce, the higher this possibility is.
It's not necessarily a matter of not knowing how to do it properly, mistakes happen. Some species have overlapping scale counts on the probe depth. Sometimes it's a matter of accidentally putting the wrong label on a cup, not hard to do when you're caring for 100 hatchlings.

I believe it is unrealistic for a buyer to expect a lifetime guarantee of the correct sex. Frankly, if you are unable to sex a snake nor do you have anyone handy who can, I'm not so sure you should be undertaking a breeding project in the first place. What do you expect to do with the hatchlings, just sell them as unsexed? (I use "you" in the general sense, not directed at you personally Alvaro.)
Breeding reptiles isn't particularly difficult for most people. This results in every Tom Dick and Harry who keeps a pair of something to decide they'll breed them, often without bothering with the related necessary knowledge. I'm not going to be held responsible indefinately for the lack of initiative on the part of the wannabe breeder who makes no effort to acquire a means of sexing his snakes.

The problem I have is this. Say a buyer takes a snake and never bothers to sex it. Two years pass and due to lack of breeding activity, he finally locates someone to sex the animal and they determine it to be the opposite sex from what they purchased.
What is to happen now? The buyer is obviously not pleased, he has wasted two years on his breeding project.
The seller cannot be expected to replace the animal with an adult of the opposite sex that is ready to breed. The buyer will probably not be much happier with a replacement hatchling of the correct sex, since he still has two years more years to wait.
If a refund is requested, should the seller be expected to refund the value of the adult animal at the current market rate, or the purchase price paid two years before?
I see nothing feasible that will fully satisfy the buyer.

I do have a time limit on my guarantee of proper sexing. I have so far never had anyone report back to me that I made a mistake, but it's bound to happen eventually.
I used 7 days sort of as an arbitrary number when writing up the terms. In the instance you outlined above, of course I would go ahead and replace the animal if possible, or refund the money, but if the buyer decides to wait two years before contacting me, then I'm sorry, at some point the buyer has to assume responsibility for his animal. I'm not a nursemaid. I have no problem with those who lack knowledge, as long as they are actively trying to remedy that situation, but someone who is content to be lacking in a basic skill of reptile keeping doesn't benefit from much sympathy from me.

I can understand people keeping lower end animals not bothering learning how to sex them. At the same time however, a responsible prospective breeder of lower end animals should not be maintaining a single pair in my opinion either.
Those who are hoping to breed the higher end animals, where single pairs are common, or there is a significant price difference between the sexes should learn to probe. There's really no excuse for not doing it.
I want everyone who buys a snake from me to be completely happy with the purchase. At the same time however, I am not going to be shackled to every sale indefinately, just waiting for someone to show back up in 2 or 3 years or more claiming I sold them the wrong sex.
Unless it's a high end het or something for which there would be a reason for me to retain pictures of the animal with a record of the buyer, there's no chance of my recognizing it anyway.
Old 05-04-2004, 08:38 AM   #5
The BoidSmith
I believe it is unrealistic for a buyer to expect a lifetime guarantee of the correct sex. Frankly, if you are unable to sex a snake nor do you have anyone handy who can, I'm not so sure you should be undertaking a breeding project in the first place.

I certainly understand that mistakes happen, and they can and should be corrected. A similar argument to the quote above could be made with regards to the seller. If one is unable to sex a snake properly (or misexed by mistake and not stand behind it) should one be selling sexed snakes? It is the seller that's offering a product. He is not offering a "most likely" female, he states is the proper sex and pricing it accordingly.

Old 05-04-2004, 08:57 AM   #6
Excellent post Clay. That covers the major points.


If you are spending that type of money on a snake shouldn't a vet visit be a priority within the health guarantee time frame (especially if your not experienced) since this is an investment purchase. Have it sexed while you are there.

Also an as example. We produce bearded dragons in the thousands each year. It would be difficult to keep pictures of each one for 1, 2 ...4 years in any type of filing system that would be easily workable (or cost efficient). What about someone like Rich Z that produces the large amounts of corn snakes every year? Your talking about a full time employee just to cover paperwork. I'd rather put that man power focus on customer service or animal care.

On the subject of TOS. For us this is our protection. We commonly go beyond our stated TOS to satisfy the customer. But when we smell something funny with a complaint this gives us a clearly stated line we can fall back on.

This is my stated point of view as a seller.

As a buyer I check when they come in (now that I know how to sex snakes). Before I knew I'd grab someone that knew how to do it and have them double check. Just like I do with every product that UPS delivers so I can get any issues resolved right away.
Old 05-04-2004, 09:24 AM   #7
Seamus Haley
I can see both sides of the argument...

On the one hand, if an animal is sold using specific terms and a specific description, any aspects of the description which are false would then become misrepresentation of the animal for sale. While it's certainly hoped that the misrepresentation was inadvertant, there are some species which are easier to make a mistake on and, as Clay said, eventually it's inevitable when a dealer is selling a certain volume.

On the other hand, there is a certain responsibility on the part of the buyer as well, to verify within a reasonable period of time that the animal they purchased is actually the animal they recieved. While there are some genetic traits which can't be verified until the animal is of breeding age, sexing really isn't such a difficult thing and, as was stated, anyone who can't sex the type of snake they are keeping really has no business needing to know the gender. There are thousands of small time hobbiests who make most their purchases in their local shops and may try out an internet sale or two to boost their collection from two animals to three... The majority can't sex snakes but they don't NEED to sex snakes, they just want a family pet. If someone chooses to undertake the responsibility involved with adding to the captive population, they also choose to accept the responsibility for doing so in an educated and appropriate manner. Can't do that without knowing the basics of reptile reproduction, at least a primer for the genetics involved with whatever species they choose to work with and simple things such as sexing.

Personally I've always been more of a consumer than a seller, having sold very few animals online (Er... six as of this date, all to the same individual) but I have worked with the public on and off in assorted retail situations so I can see both sides. I feel, simply as an opinion... that there should be a reasonable time frame worked into the TOS of any seller who's going to be moving animals and using their gender as a description, I also feel that this should be a slightly longer period of time than is given for health (poor care can cause health to change, Gender really shouldn't in most species). A couple months for someone to verify, by themselves and/or with an outside source doesn't seem unreasonable, unless a seller makes a regular habit of deliberately misrepresenting gender to jack up a price, but there really does need to be a finite and agreed upon limit to just how far a seller needs to go to babysit a customer. While the best of the good guys will go extra steps or work with a buyer outside of a guarantee period (If an animal keels over dead the day after a guarantee ends, most sellers would be sympathetic) given reasonable justification, there is a point that's simply too much, too far, too long after the fact.
Old 05-04-2004, 10:06 AM   #8
BTW, In reviewing our TOS (an ongoing thing we do) I've spent time researching other companies TOS standards in and out of this industry. Every other industry and large corporations have limiting statements in their liability clauses. If you ship a package via UPS you have a set period of time to report damage. So if I order something and it sets in the box for 3 months until I use it. I then find out UPS broke it in transport I'm SOL. Also most companies limit their financial liability to the amount of the sale (so no offspring, no feeding charges etc).
Old 05-04-2004, 10:12 AM   #9
Clay Davenport
Originally posted by alvaro
If one is unable to sex a snake properly (or misexed by mistake and not stand behind it) should one be selling sexed snakes?
In my opinion there's a definate difference between standing behind your animals and being chained to any given sale for the lifetime of the snake.
What exactly do you consider an adequate means of backing up a determination of sex?
Do you feel if after two years I should refund or replace an animal I made a mistake with?
If so, what should be the refund amount, the purchase price, the current value of that animal, the value of an adult of the opposite sex?
What about the snake itself, is it returned?
If returned does the buyer just lose the cost of raising the snake for those two years?
If a replacement, then what age?
What about after 5 years, in the case of some species which take a longer time to mature sexually?

I feel that if after a failed breeding attempt they take the snake to someone and discover it was missexed, then they most likely had that ability when the snake was still a hatchling. Why wait? If the sex of the snake is of utmost importance, then the buyer should feel compelled to take any steps necessary to ensure he did indeed get what he paid for regardless of who sold it to him. The more expensive the animal the more this is true.
If the issue were the genetics of a het, then there's a big difference there as that cannot be determined without breeding. The sex however can.

Two or even three months down the road if a mistake was discovered in my sexing, I would have no problem refunding or replacing the animal if I had others available. Much longer than that though and it's time for the buyer to assume some responsibility.

If someone is going to be breeding snakes, then they need to either be able to sex snakes themselves, or have someone readily available who can.
I refuse to hold the hand of prospective breeders for years to come when they just want to breed the snakes and put no effort at all into learning the related skills that I feel are required of any breeder.
Old 05-04-2004, 10:54 AM   #10
Plain and simple if the sex matters and one is buying/paying extra, based on sex, they should be able to determine sex upon arrival. If they can't do it themselves, they should hire someone to do it for them. But cmon, it's not that hard to learn how to do it. If you're doing all the research required to breed animals, certainly part of that research would be how to determine sex.

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