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Tips for trading
Many new players get quite a surprise the first time they enter a capital city, when they see all of the colorful item names that pop up when clicked in the chat window. For the newbie, it can be more than confusing to figure out what's in-demand, what's cheap, and how to make money.
This guide isn't written completely NPOV, because it contains a lot of firsthand experience on how WoW economy is used and misused. Most newcomers to this market can literally be harassed by other players, get ripped off, or even made the laughingstock of the trade channel.
I will call buying/selling in the Trade channel "the direct market" because it is different from Auction House in that you can interact with others.
The basics in trading
When you first come into this world, you will notice that people are trying to sell all kinds of items in the Trade channel. Mostly it's users offering their services, such as enchanting, leather-working, blacksmithing, etc., but you will notice a lot of blue and even purple item named too. The item names are clickable, so you can see the details on that specific item such as level requirements, stats, the DPS, etc.
If you are new to WoW, or just new to using the direct market, often you will find it difficult to evaluate a specific item's worth, and in many ways this is perhaps the beauty about it, as some would say. The reason is to make you buy quickly without a second thought, instead of having plenty of time to look up an item on the web. Another reason is if you have difficulties in selling a item on the Auction House and are tired of losing deposits every time, the trade channel is a good way to sell your items if you are in short supply of cash.
The trade channel can be a seller's as well as a buyer's market, depending solely on whether you know what price each item can be sold for!
Tip: start looking for the prices on Cloth (, , , , and ) and if you have mining, skinning or herbalism - look up what they get sold for, ex: , or . Keep track of things you know from ordinary drops or gathering skills, items you are familiar with.
First things first
There are 3 kinds of direct marketing in trade channel.
- WTS <the item link>
- WTS <the item link> Cheap!
- WTS <the item link> its good for a mid 40 lvl feral druid
- WTS <the item link> only 1G!
There are many ways to mark your items on the trading channel and none of them are wrong - the question is how many whispers can you handle? Most people will whisper you the rarer the item is, except if its trade items and especially if you sell at a very low price and are announcing it.
Word of advice is try not to use words like "free" or "cheap" or any other words that indicate "salesmanship", just "WTS" plus the link to the item. Cheap is relative so often you will attract Plzz'er, Goldfish and Sharks (see below) with too much salesmanship. It can though be a good idea to write if a given item has an enchant on it, not everyone notices if it does.
- ex: WTS <the item link> with crusader
How to behave
You are going to meet a lot of people in the Trade channel and have some odd and funny conversations, but you might also encounter mean or annoying people. These are words of advice for both sellers and buyers.
When you are dealing in the Trade channel, be fair and helpful with any questions that buyers might ask you. Try not to brag about other sales or deals you've made; there is no reason to /flex your salesmanship, because it will only backfire and make people jealous.
It's a good idea to do a bit of research to get to know which items are used for which professionss or classes: Especially if you sell those items, so you can advise others on if it's an item they actually can use, or at least point them in the right direction. For example, if you are trying to sell a 2H weapon to a Warrior at level 55, and he isn't going to use it for his alt, tell him he might have a difficult time keeping aggro and that he should go with dual wield. You lose a potential customer if he's reasonable, but at least he knows whom to ask for items in the future and you will gain respect. If the customer wants it anyway, sell it, because it's not up to you to tell others how to play their characters.
If you sell an item and 5 minutes later that person's trying to sell it for a higher price than you sold it for, don't be angry and start harassing the person; it's part of the game. Be glad you got the money you wanted. There's always a chance that person won't be able to sell it for a profit anyway.
Trader personalities list
This list is a stereotype of personalities you may encounter. It can help you understand more easily each type of person's intentions before you really get to know them. Many of these personalities come out in the light when you are selling epic items
- This person often whines about having no money, and wants everything for free. They are easily recognized with their sudden whispers: "plzzz i only have 50", they are even willing to pay the next day or when they finally get their drop of . These are not serious and generally want everything for free. Don't trade with these people. They need to earn their items and gold instead of begging.
- They start off by politely asking about an item's price, and when they find out it's too expensive for their wallet, they respond with: "LOL nOOOb" or "stop playing wow". They always try to bargain with "i'll pay you 10", even though you have evaluated item to 300. In many ways, they are like you, except they only want deals where they can make profit and they're rude about it. Do not answer them back when you get a "LOL" which is usually their second reply. Sometimes their first Whisper is a very low bid, even though they don't know what you actually are selling it for. Some of the goldfish can eventually become sharks. These guys can be really fun to run around in circles with, because they have a sense of item's value, but don't have salesmanship or think everyone is a noob or chinese farmer.
- Sharks are goldfish except that they have tried this tactic a lot, and with success. They are like goldfish, immature in their language, but it does not show off at first. They are often quite friendly at first and can switch characters fast, so you never know who you actually dealing with. In the end, they will become very rude and often begin harassing you. Some of these people actually remind you of an F16 Pilot in their persuasive personalities, but will fall back at immature language. Even though they have evolved from the goldfish stadium, they are still looking for the 400% profit, which often leads to their failure in this practice. However, sometimes they are quite good at jacking up prices for the entire community by making others believe their made-up prices. Their tactic can be to "flush out" your confidence and make fun of you in the Trade channel. Don't ever jump at that game, it lowers your standards as a seller and that is a part of tactic.
- Word of advise: Don't ever believe what they are saying and never deal with someone who is insulting you. If it becomes too much to handle, contact a GM for harassment.
The Monkey Scratcher
- This person wants the item but doesn't have the money-- however, they are often willing to trade with all kinds of random stuff. Sometimes the value of the items he wants to trade with actually make up for the price you have set, but more often than not it's far below. They are not rude in any way, they just want the item you got. Make it clear to them that you don't trade items for items unless they're worthwhile.
Only got 1G
- This personality resembles the Plzz'ers except that although they never have the money, they usually aren't rude but are sometimes sneaky. If you say a specific item costs 215 they will constantly say: "I want it!" and then try to back down your price in the trade constantly no matter how often you tell them it's 215. When you meet up with this person, they insist on the price. It's like they ignore what you are telling them. They can take some of your time, but thats general the only thing they "steal".
- This is the fun guy, who is on the hunt for a good deal, expert humor is their weapon and it can be very charming and fun too. They are not always trying to scam other traders, but are looking for good deals. These are rare personalities and can be very funny to cut a deal with and sincerity goes a long way when dealing with these persons. Often you will find that they have added you on their friendslist and can wisecrack you on a daily basis for some time. These persons makes the trading worthwhile.
- The kid is like the Plzz'er except the don't have a large vocabulary and often if they write a long sentence its doesn't make any sense. However they have no perception of prices but they can count to 100. They can be difficult to bargain with, often they deal never goes through. They talk often in oneletter words like "k","y" or "n". If can easily spot them this way so don't be surprised if the deal does not go through. Often its actually difficult to find out whether they want a given item or not.
- The Kid is not necessarily a child, but can also be someone who does not have a good level of English.
- Always opens with "how much" and no matter how high a price you tell them, they say "deal" or "I want it". Great, you are thinking, until they say, "can you C.O.D it too me?". Usually this shouldn't be a problem, but these guys hope that you make a mistake and send the item in mail without C.O.D., perhaps even with money it. Often when you look up these persons up they use a alt at level 1 or 5. Sometimes they will want to meet in a major capital for the trading and hopes for you will bring up the trade window, lay the item in the window and hope you will push trade, without they put the money up. That way they have gotten your item for free. They thrive on human error to make a living, and they're yet another reason you should always pay careful attention while trading with others.
Grand Theft Auto
- These people should be called stalkers because they use many ways to get to you. They will target you. They switch characters fast, use the C.O.D. scam, and even the trade scam in hopes that you will eventually fall for it. They can stalk you for days and are very difficult too spot, only their misspelling and general behavior is the only indication of identity. If you're unlucky enough to find a talented stalker, they will even change the way they talk just to seem like different people.
The F16 Pilot
- These guys know everything about the market; they can list the curves on price inflation for any item. They have an information list on everything and can pinpoint at what times of the day prices will go up and down. They know what items cost down to the last copper and are more than difficult to trade with. They are very active and will often use their main character for dealing. They don't scam people, because they make a lot of money anyway and can be a good source of information if you are unsure of a specific item's worth.
- If you're into selling twink items for a very high price, sometimes you can run into a GM personality. They have a set price of what items should cost inside their heads and they hold that price to others. They generally want items to reflect the item level. If you are selling a rare level 20 item for about 80, they will try to reason with you, arguing that such item shouldn't be sold for such a high amount. Because newbies don't have that amount of money, no one should have to pay that much for it. This type of thinking is wrong, of course, considering an item is worth what people will pay for it. However, be aware because some of these people can show characteristics of a shark if you talk to them long enough.
- Also known as "the mirror". This is a person who has read this guide too. They are often open and willing to bargain and have fun with it. The conversation can rapidly turn into price discussion on the Auction House and tips giving good deals. It can be difficult to bargain with these persons, because they know the prices as well as you. Keep good relations with these people, and even if a deal isn't struck, at least you might have found a new friend.
How to price
This is the difficult part of trading, unless you use outside sources. If you're still a newbie, and you haven't spent years memorizing your server's economy, you can always download an appropriate price addon (such as Auctioneer) or visit fansites that help you outline prices. Remember, every server has its own economy.
If you don't want to trust outside sources, here are some tips on learning how to price:
- 1: Spend a lot of time looking at the Auction House, notice what sells, how long it's up and most importantly, what price it's listed at.
- 2: Memorize the prices on things you know from common drops, no matter what level you are on.
- 3: Start getting a sense of buyout prices
When you are come this far, you will soon figure out that there are a lot of money too be made on auction hall, same goes for trading channel. The only problem is that often it is not white trading items that are sold in trading channel, but rather blue and purple items and "enchanter spammers".
The "right" price
Players often don't know the value of their sellable items, resulting in these items being either over- or under-priced. Indeed, a good deal of skill and knowledge is required in identifying unreasonable prices.
In the real world prices are controlled by different economic factors, including the value of a country's currency, wages and the buying power of the consumer. The WoW economy, however, is very similar to economies in the real world, particularly in that prices are determined by Supply and Demand. If an item is common, it is easier to find and therefore not likely to fetch a high price. If it is rare and in high demand, it is likely to fetch a higher price than a common item. This law of supply and demand is common to all economies, whether specific to MMORPGs or real-world. One difference, however, between WoW economics and real-world economics is that in WoW there is only one currency and therefore the factor of foreign exchange is irrelevant in WoW economics. Some factors that are perhaps unique to WoW are:
- The proportion of different character types on the server compared to other servers
- Population on the server
- Vendor items
- Age of the realm
With regard to the first point, if Server A has more Paladins and Warriors than Server B, and both servers have the same overall population, then the price of Plate Armour on Server A will likely be higher than on Server B. This is because Plate Armour will drop just as often on each server, but on Server A more players will want those items. That is to say more players will be vying for a limited supply of Plate Armor, forcing the price on Plate Armor upwards.
There has been much speculation on how server population affects item prices, with such theories often yielding the equation:
- Low Population -> Low prices and thus High Population -> High Prices
Some argue that if the population is low then items are dropped as rarer less often than on a fully populated server. Some argue that this makes items much more expensive, because high-quality items are dropped more rarely. On the other hand, if the server is sparsely populated then fewer players will be in demand for those few rare items, resulting in lower prices.
Theoretically the server population should make little or no difference to the real value of any item. If the server population is high, then demand will be higher and prices will rise. In this case, however, rare items will drop more often, creating a greater supply to satisfy the increased demand. In the end the two forces should balance out and server population should be irrelevant in determining the price of rare items.
One thing thats is definitely true of low-population servers is that prices tend to fluctuate rapidly giving way to lots of trading. On highly populated server prices tend to be more stable, at least in theory, because players will notice underpriced items more quickly and resell them for a higher price, forcing the overall price of the item back up to "normal" levels.
Another factor that is interesting but very difficult to quantify is the effect of so-called "chinese farmers". Some say they have a enormous effect on the economy, while others claim the effect is minimal. This can be hard to monitor and there is really no way to figure out.
Yet another factor to account for is the age of the realm, on a newer realm prices tend to be fairer where rare and epic items are involved. While on older realms the prices for (low level) rare and epic items are usual very high because of the large number of twinks on the realm.
Disclaimer: This theory and can vary from server to server and may not be accurate
Figuring out the right price
When you are looking for good deals, you have to not only know about the prices on many items beforehand, but have to make proper estimations on buyout.
Finding "the right price" these rules should be applied for sell price:
- The sell should be reasonable and this means, it should be sold at a price that makes possible to resell the item with profit.
- It is better to "test" the marked with a high price and then slowly go down in price over days or weeks, rather than the other way around.
- Always make sure you can sell Epic items for 5-10 higher than you bought it for and Rare items 2-3's higher than the price you bought it for.
- Always set two prices on items: one you tell others and one which is the minimum you want for the item (and is of course your secret).
- Ex: if you want to sell a given item for 50 (you bought it 40), than perhaps 43 is the minimum price you are willing to sell a given item too. This makes room for bargains and haggling which is essential for the trading.
If you are about to buy something and you aren't sure about the price, don't buy it no matter how much you crave it until you're sure it's a good price. Be careful about an item's worth.