Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)

Author Subject: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
Bob & Cecelia Conover Posted At 18:03:56 08/05/2001
I felt I needed to post this to educate future buyers of what your supposed to do and not do after you make your purchase.

We were vendors at the Hamburg PA show yesterday sharing a table with a friend.
We took 42 snakes with us and 4 Leopard Geckos. The Leopard Geckos were displayed in large rectangular plastic display boxes with paper towel as substrate. The snakes were displayed in 1 lb deli cups with a little bit of pine chips as substrate.
We would have preferred to use Aspen but our local supplier was out at the time. Years ago (when our collection was small) we kept our snakes on pine chips with no ill effects. We have since changed to newspaper for ease of cleaning and manageabiltiy. We also have kept our mice on pine chips for years without any problems. The pine chips we used were from a bag that had been open for a couple of weeks so the odor was pretty much non existent. We made the hour and a half trip with no problems. Upon arrival and setup, a well known vendor stopped by our table. He asked if he could purchase some of the Western Hognose snakes we brought with us. He expressed no reservations that they were in deli cups with pine chips as bedding. We sold him 12 of the hognose snakes.
We also brought Amel Corns and Anery Corns with us. It was a very busy show with lots of people, which if anyone knows tends to make a building very uncomfortably HOT! We and many other vendors packed up about 3:00 due to the heat and the crowd numbers getting low. We made the trip back home and put the remaining babies that didn't sell back in the hatchling rack.
None of the snakes showed any signs of being any worse for the wear!
About 1:30 am this morning I received an email from a friend of a person who bought a hatchling Anery Corn from us at the show. He said the snake died in transit to their house, and he asked if I would replace it. I replied to him immediately and said no problem as long as I get the deceased snake back. We made arrangements to meet today at 12:00 to exchange the snake. He lives in New York and we live near the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pa. area. This was a 68+ mile round trip for us. We met him at a hotel off an exit of the interstate. All the while since the email early in the morning, I was concerned and dismayed that the snake had died. They had all hatched on 7/7, shed and ate either 3 or 4 times. This snake had even shed right there at the show. They all seemed to be the picture of health. I did however have an idea what may have happened due to the long trip back home for the buyer but did not question him on my idea. When we met at the hotel, he indeed had the snake I sold to him and it was dead. His reasoning for the death was due to the fact the snake was on wood chips and the wood chip companies spray the wood chips with Formaldehyde as a preservative and to control urine odor. I never heard of this or experienced any deaths of snakes or mice because of this. It didn't really matter I just wanted to replace the snake and make the customer happy. While his girlfriend was looking at her replacement snake he and I were talking. I asked him if he thought the snake may have got overheated on the drive home, maybe placed in the back seat or on the dash and exposed to sunlight. He said NO, we drove home from the show only stopping once for LUNCH!
He said they went in to eat and when they were done they got in the car and the girlfriend said somethings wrong with this snake, it's not moving. He also had two adult Kingsnakes but they were OK.
I explained to him that there is a great difference between an adult snake handling high temps versus a one month old hatchling. In all reality he cooked this poor snake by stopping for lunch and leaving it in the car on a hot day. I'm sure most of you know how hot the inside of a car can get even if it is parked in the shade when you leave it to have lunch. Also the sun does move during the day and shade spots disappear leaving anything live inside the car to be vulnerable to the heat.
I could have easily said to him at this point that he was not getting a repalcement snake and probably should have. It may have been a learning experience for them. I did however give him the snake and take the deceased snake. I told him to take the snake directly home and not to stop anywhere and leave the snake in the car again.
We drove home looking at an animal that 12 hours earlier was a beautiful healthy baby that we spent a lot of time and effort on bringing into this world, on getting it to eat and to make a great pet for someone. All this was ruined by someone's ignorance.

The information gleaned from this post is for future buyers to think with their heads after their purchase. When you leave the show take the animal straight home. Don't make any stops for anything and leave your new snake in the car. If you and your wife were driving home from the hospital, would you leave your newborn baby in the car so you could go have lunch? I don't think so. When you're at a Reptile show you're not at a Kmart buying plastic lawn furniture, your buying a living animal. You should treat it as such.
We're not upset that we had to replace a snake that died because of no fault of ours, we're very upset that this poor snake had to suffer the way it did.

Bob & Cecelia Conover
Happy Herps

P.S. Rich, I know this doesn't really fit into an Inquiry, Good Guy or Bad Guy post but maybe leaving this up will prevent this from happening again. Thanks!
Neil Gubitz - The Snake Pit Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6828.html Posted At 18:39:52 08/05/2001

Bob, You are absolutely correct!! It's happened to me a couple of times..I sold some baby snakes from my shop that I had for over a month each, and (after a little questioning) found out the same thing! They left it in the hot car when they went into a diner for lunch! did the right thing!! Don't argue over pennies! I replaced BOTH animals, also...without question! I did, however, give them the same bit of advice for their return trip as you did! I hope it worked for the next time! Neil
JERRY TRESSER Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6829.html Posted At 19:10:39 08/05/2001

I am just curious if the generosity would have been extended if the snake was not a baby. Would you replace a $ 300. snake under the same circumstance. I can appreciate the good will thats provided under these condlitions, but the babies that we produce are starting at $ 250 to $ 300. ea. and our liability ceases upon rceipt. I realize it can be a touchy situation, but , this is not a question of " live delivery guaranteed " since they chose the animal in question, and left with it. I think your responsibility is nil. In good faith you replaced it, and thats commendable, but in order to do that you have to be able to afford it. That certainly leaves alot of room for thought.
Neil Gubitz - The Snake Pit Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6833.html Posted At 19:49:32 08/05/2001

Jrry, Most people might not agree with me, BUT....YOU ARE CORRECT! I would NOT replace a $300 snake because of their stupidity!! As I said in my last thread...Don't sweat the pennies!! You've got to know when to pick your fights....Both parties went away happy in this case, and it cost you basically nothing! So you swollowed a little pride knowing that you did something that the BUYER totally unexpected (and THAT makes you a hero in their eyes!), and probably repeat customers! But, again...there's got to be a limit to your generosity! I mean, obviously, if the snake died because of something the SELLER did wrong, then by all means, you've GOT TO replace the snake, but....., well you know the rest!
In essence, I'm just saying that if it only costs you a couple of bucks (NO MATTER WHO'S FAULT IT IS), it's better to let the customer be right, then to have a problem over PENNIES!! I hope somebody out there understands what I'm trying to say??
Brian Conley Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6834.html Posted At 19:57:10 08/05/2001

Same exact thing happened to me today. A lady bought three turtles, put them in the back seat of her car, and went to a cat show! She brought them back to me about an hour later and said, "My babies died already." When I opened the cup I could feel the heat coming off the bodies. One of the three, a larger turtle was ok. I replaced one of the turtles and warned her about how hot the cups can get. Jerry, I agree wholehearted with you that responsibility ends upon the change of hand, but if I hadn't at least met this lady half way, she would have had a bad reptile experience, and would have blamed me. I see your point about cost. There is no way I could have replaced a two or three hundred dollar animal so I guess I'll just have to hope no one is careless enough to kill any of those they get from me.
Bob & Cecelia Conover Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6835.html Posted At 20:11:18 08/05/2001

My wife and I discussed this already. If it were a higher dollar snake he would have been SOL. I don't want it to sound like a Cornsnake is an expendable low dollar value animal (it's still a living, breathing creature) but at this point we were able to do what we did. Trust me though, the more I think about it and the more angry I get, I wish I would have done the opposite, not to be beligerant but to prove a point to them.
We are going to make a special caresheet to go along with the individual species caresheets we give out now with every animal purchased. These will give information on how to properly transport a newly purchased snake to the owners house. As silly as this seems, I guess it needs to be done. Maybe it will prevent a situation like this from happening again, maybe it won't, but it will make us feel a little better.

Bob C
John Hedger Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6839.html Posted At 22:33:35 08/05/2001

"We are going to make a special caresheet to go along with the individual species caresheets we give out now with every animal purchased.These will give information on how to properly transport a newly purchased snake "
Bob, that is exactly what I was going to suggest for you in the future. Unfortunatey,people need to be educated about such basic things and realize they cannot throw these errors of ignorance back on the breeder and expect unconditional refunds. After all, it's not like returning an appliance to Walmart. If the baby was healthy and they could see that it was healthy when they purchased it, there should be no question that it should survive the trip home.
Jess Jones Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6845.html Posted At 00:14:26 08/06/2001

I also bought snake's at the Hamburg show but unlike them I was smart enough to leave the air on and the car running while having lunch. I alway's carry an extra key just so I can keep my animal's safe on the way home.
Tom Hill-T.C. Serpents Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6847.html Posted At 00:37:33 08/06/2001

Thanks guys. I didn't even think of a transportation care guide. I think I'm going to write one up.
I also want to say it was a pleasure to finally have met you both.
JERRY TRESSER Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6851.html Posted At 05:32:20 08/06/2001

Good will is certainly the essence of being in business, and from time to time, I guess these replacements are going to happen. I think the major difference lies in the price factor. What you did was the best thing to do under these circumstances. But if you hand out a policy sheet at the point of purchase, I would add, Our responsibility ceases once the sale has been consummated. At that point whether the seller , as an act of kindness decides to replace an animal is at his discretion, not based on the fact that their was No Policy in place when the purchase was made.
Ritchie Luna Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6852.html Posted At 06:06:32 08/06/2001

Just to make a comment to the people who read this post and think that the seller was at fault or it was the wood chips or something.

I was on vacation and went to a show in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. I bought two baby snakes. Stayed on vacaiton for another week and drove home. It is an eight hour drive home. My snakes were in delicups and they also had pine chips. My snakes are fine. It is not the seller or the wood chips. Those buyers cooked the poor snakes. They should not have been buying since they didn't have a clue. The seller lost time, gas, mileage, money and inventory due to the buyers ignorance. Please don't cook your snakes. I kept mine shaded the entire trip home. I also kept the air running in the car when I went to the rest stops. Please use common sense. Those delicups have a green house effect. They let heat in and not out. After a while they cook>
sue frederick Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6853.html Posted At 07:06:53 08/06/2001

As a buyer, we either eat at a drive-thru or take the snakes in with us to the restaurant (which is much easier when it is a small snake such as a corn or milk). You can put the deli cup into a paper bag (or even your purse if it is a hatchling). Ditto with the rest stops. If it is a larger snake, you would have to opt for the drive-thru restaurants only, obviously. I drive my son crazy asking him every 15 minutes or so to look into the back seat and see if the sun is on the snakes. And of course, we have air conditioning in the car. That buyer was really thoughtless about the snakes. Perhaps in your transportation sheet (which you might want to post right at your table in BIG LETTERS) you could put a statement about "Don't leave your snake anywhere you wouldn't leave your child." And then put examples - in the car, in the hot sun, etc.
Just my opinion.
sue frederick
Chris Thompson Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6855.html Posted At 10:17:22 08/06/2001

Why not suggest Styrofoam coolers, with a ice pack. Have them for sale for small price even at cost. For those that may need them? We always take several to shows with us, and in the winter we take the Styrofoam with heat packs. Coolers work well also with few small holes drilled in them we keep several in our closet. So even in the event that the heat at our store goes down in the winter we may protect the most fragile. Till it can be fixed.
Rodney Malmquist Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6860.html Posted At 13:23:30 08/06/2001

Just a note-it's not just animals. Here, in California, we have had 3 different cases where people have killed their childern by leaving them in a hot car. This has happened in just the last couple of weeks. One man left a baby in car while he was watching cartoons at a relatives house. One lady even left her children in the car (in the sun) with the windows rolled up while she took a 4 hour nap inside the house-- according to police and the news reports. I certainly understand you settling with the customer like you did to avoid a hassle, but I would not. It was their fault and they should take the loss (even if it is a small one). I would not replace the snake on principal alone-they were responsible for the transportation of the snake-not you. It would be a totally different story if you had shipped the snake. Then the life of the snake would depend on the quality of YOUR packing/tranportation method, etc. I think people learn from their mistakes. If there are consequences for their mistakes, such as their loss of the snake, they learn and remember their mistakes more than they would if there are no consequences. I would think that they could even be prosecuted for animal cruelty if the authorities could prove that is what actually happened. I understand that all the people that were mentioned above are all being prosecuted for either manslaughter or murder for doing basically the same thing. When you think about it, what's the difference really? One person goes to jail for a long time and the other gets a free snake for doing the same stupid thing! In both cases it is extreme negligence at best. I would have asked them if they would leave a newborn baby in the car. How about a teenager?-Big difference.
john albrecht Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6864.html Posted At 14:32:52 08/06/2001

if you had charged $300 for those baby snakes i bet they would not have left them in the car!!!
Bob Fisher Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6866.html Posted At 16:43:49 08/06/2001

Sorry for the loss happy herps. It's amazing how some people just can't get it through their thick heads how hot it gets inside a car in the summer heat. We have seen people leave animals in their car in the summer with the window cracked an inch or so, WHY BOTHER! Take a few of these people and lock them in the car in the summer heat and maybe they will learn the consequences of such a stupid act. If anyone ever sees a child or an animal in a locked car in the heat, CALL THE COPS! They will remove them and the person who did such an act will be held fully responsible. Just my thoughts on this...
Margaret Gandolfo Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
6896.html Posted At 22:16:17 08/06/2001

We went to this show and boy, was it HOT! We were sweltering both in the building and in the car due to my air conditioning NOT working. We purchased several hatchlings, had a 3 hour drive home, and all made it in good condition. But common sense would indicate that it was not a day to leave ANY live animal in the car-- so we did the drive-thru thing. It is sad that the animal died because of their ignorance, but I commend you for going out of your way to replace the hatchling at your expense (and time). I think that says a lot about your concern and commitment to your reptiles. Let's hope they take better care of the replacement snake!
Christine Harney Re: Buying an animal at Reptile Expos (Informational)
7220.html Posted At 16:56:02 08/12/2001

Wow! I'm preparing for my first show next weekend and was writing out all kinds of info for signs I want to have at my table and I thought I was getting a little carried away, but I can see that I'm not! One of my signs is, "Do not leave your animal in the car, even for a mintue. It absolutely will die." What really worries me is that I'm in PHOENIX!

I always try to keep in mind the wise words I saw on a t-shirt one time, "Never underestimate the stupidity of large groups of people".

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