Buying stuff: Amazon with a smile (Plus! Tips!)

Posted on October 20, 2013


It’s been longer than usual since posting anything substantial, but don’t worry – I’m still here, still BTCing.

Over the last few weeks (you know, back when the price had stabilised and everything looked like it had calmed down), I decided to flaunt some coin on a couple of things. Mostly due to something being interesting, or because I needed something. Or because I was slightly drunk.

Anyway, I figure I’ll list what I’ve been doing over a few blog posts, what with this supposed to be a diary-type blog or something.

Most recently, I decided it was time to bite the media bullet, and go for some kind of Apple-TV thing. (Getting MiniDLNA running on a RaspPi was easy, but watching stuff on a tablet wasn’t great.) But we’re retro in our household, and beside the vinyl turntable sits a vintage CRT telly with no digital in.

So I was happy to find the Western Digital Live Player on Amazon, and was about to hit the Buy button, when I wondered if anyone was offering to buy stuff for me. I’d seen people do that on the Bitcoin forums before.


Forum Friendly

One quick search later, and I was in luck – a UK-based user called Patman had posted a few days earlier, offering to buy stuff with his Prime account. Next day delivery for a small fee. Awesome-o.

A quick check of his posts to make sure he was legit (you can tell after a while, but maybe I’ll cover stuff like this in a future post). A few PMs to say hi and send details. I sent the requisite BTC from my phone (also a future post) sitting in a cafe in the park a few minutes before 3pm, and the parcel arrived the next day.

(And I can recommend the Live Player too. Especially when your f***kin Breaking Bad DVD from LoveFilm starts playing up and you need to grab a free Netflix trial to finish an episode quick…)

What’s great about taking people up on personal services like these is just how friendly, almost fluffy the Bitcoin crowd are (if you’re nice and not a dick). There’s a very real one-to-one professionalism I really appreciate. I mean sure, sites that offer automated downloads and checkout are convenient, but no way can they beat that sense of satisfaction from actually talking to someone. (Hey, in this case we even swapped Thunderbird tips.)

Words of Advice

It’s important to remember, of course, to be sensible about all this. Some quick tips for dealing through people rather than webpages:

1. Professional Paranoia. Stay courteous. But at the same time, be sure that you trust who you’re dealing with. Check out previous posts, any form of trust ratings, and how they’ve handled previous arguments if any. Any respectable person will be understand, and be happy to offer links for trust. Keep your wits about you.

2. If you’re uneasy, don’t be afraid to say “thanks, but no thanks.” And especially don’t go through with a deal if you’re either feeling pressured into it, or feel desperate to do it. Scammers prey on both mindsets.

3. If you’re OK with it, then do it. Don’t mess people about. Keep people informed – delay or no delay. Inform when people can expect you to send stuff, confirm when you’ve sent it. Leaving people in the dark after everything’s been agreed is a pain in the butt.

4. Bitcoin-OTC Web of Trust. Always worth an ask… But it’s always good to leave feedback somewhere, whether that’s an official WoT-esque rating, or a comment in a forum thread.

Have fun.

Posted in: How-to, Shopping