Market Moderation Policies

Market Moderation Policies

The MorphMarket Team fields a number of different kinds of disputes, complaints and concerns, including:

  • Transaction Disputes
  • Ratings Disputes
  • Ads reported for misleading information (either accidentally or deliberately), sick animals, legal issues, or rule violations
  • Alerts to possible scammers
  • Abusive or spammy inquiries
  • And more...

The following sections explain these different situations and how we respond to them.

Transaction Disputes

A Transaction Dispute occurs when a buyer (or seller) believes they have been wronged by the other party and have lost money because of this, and all attempts to work things out with the other party have failed. MorphMarket staff will mediate this dispute with the intent to ensure that both parties are living up to their sides of the agreement.

This dispute is initiated by one party (usually the buyer, but not always) by filling out the Dispute Form. As soon as possible (typically within 24 hours, unless over a weekend or holiday) MorphMarket staff will reach out to the party initiating the dispute, acknowledge receipt of the form, and ask more questions as necessary.

Once staff have reviewed all the documents provided and received as many answers as they need to understand the first party's side of the story, they will reach out to the other party, inform them of the dispute, and ask for their side, including whatever documentation they can provide.

We will usually give the second party 48 hours to respond, sometimes longer or shorter, depending on circumstances. Once we hear back from them, we'll ask questions and compare stories and evidence from both sides and come to a conclusion with the intent to ensure that both parties are living up to their sides of the agreement. Once we have reached this step, we expect both parties to abide by our ruling.

MorphMarket will not mediate disputes centered on mites, genetic claims, or when the disputing party fails to follow proper notification procedures as laid out in their agreement with the other party. The specifics of these issues can be found in the MorphMarket Default Store Policy and/or in the seller's Store Policy.

Criteria for Resolution

  • Statute of Limitations
    • There are time limits in place to have a dispute mediated by the MorphMarket team, which vary by the type of claim. These timeframes are outlined in the Default Store Policy. Claims submitted beyond this time will still be entered into our records and could weigh into future action for or against parties involved.
  • MorphMarket Rules
    • The rules set for sellers and the MorphMarket Terms of Service must be followed.
    • If either party has acted outside of the rules, we may rule against them in a dispute.
  • Seller Store Policy
    • We look at the seller's Store Policy as it is written on their MorphMarket Seller Profile.
    • Sellers may customize their policy, and buyers have agreed to abide by that policy by checking a box when they send an inquiry through our site.
    • If either party has acted outside of this Store Policy, we may rule against them in a dispute.
  • Prior Written Agreement
    • Sometimes the two parties come to some agreement that overrides or is in addition to existing Store Policy, but is clearly laid out in written communication prior to the exchange of money.
    • If either party has broken this agreement, we may rule against them in a dispute.
  • MorphMarket Default Store Policy
    • If the seller's store policy is silent or vague on a particular point that is central to the current dispute, we will refer to the Default Store Policy.
    • If either party has acted outside of the Default Policy, we may rule against them.

      Note: International shipping can come with huge delays due to paperwork. MorphMarket will not mediate disputes regarding international shipping timeframes."

  • Demeanor during Dispute
    • Well-worded, reasonable, and unemotional communication adds weight to the dispute.
    • It's not proof of anything, but it will be received with a different consideration than belligerence, defensiveness, anger, cursing, or any otherwise uncooperative communication.
  • Reputation & History
    • A party's personal reputation and MorphMarket ratings and history will weigh in our judgments when necessary.
    • The amount of weight will depend on the circumstances of the dispute.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if the second party never responds to MorphMarket?

If they fail to respond within a reasonable amount of time, we will suspend their store or account with the intention of getting their attention. It's possible our initial email was sent to spam or otherwise lost and therefore not seen. The suspension of their account is sometimes the only way we have to get their attention. Once we have it, we will resume the conversation we'd initiated.

If they fail to respond to their store/account being suspended, there is nothing further we can do to reach them. Their account will remain suspended until such time as they reach out to us and the current dispute is resolved to MorphMarket's satisfaction.

What if one of the parties does not agree to the resolution?

It's rare that both sides will walk away happy from an issue that required mediation. Usually one party, and sometimes both, will feel our ruling is unfair. That's fine, so long as the parties abide by them.

If one party refuses to abide by MorphMarket's ruling on a dispute, their account may be suspended until the issue is resolved, or permanently banned.

How does MorphMarket hold users accountable?

  • Warnings - an email sent out to a user to warn them against specific violations or negative behavior
  • Probation - an account is flagged and any additional violations during that period will result in suspension or ban
    • Store and ads are still visible and there are no restrictions on communication
  • Temporary suspension - an account is suspended for either a set amount of time (typically 30 days) or until a specific action is taken (typically resolving a dispute)
    • Store and ads are turned off
    • Current inquiries (both incoming and outgoing) can still be replied to and transactions completed, but new inquiries cannot come in or go out
  • Permanent suspension - account remains in the suspended status indefinitely, but may one day be turned back on under certain circumstances
    • Store and ads are turned off
    • Current inquiries (both incoming and outgoing) can still be replied to and transactions completed, but new inquiries cannot come in or go out
  • Banned - user is permanently blocked from MorphMarket
    • Store and ads are turned off
    • All communication is blocked, including current inquiries
  • Public Ratings - a way for buyers to hold sellers accountable for proper customer service
    • Buyers may leave a rating as Positive, Neutral, or Negative, and share a brief description of their experience with the seller
    • A set of criteria must be met in order to leave a rating (as explained in the next section) and so long as those criteria are met, MorphMarket rarely intervenes with the rating system

Ratings Disputes

Ratings Dispute occurs when a seller (or buyer) objects to a public review that has been left for their store (or User Profile). MorphMarket staff will moderate this dispute and decide whether or not the review should remain.

This dispute is initiated by clicking View/Reply on the review and then clicking on the "Dispute" button at the top of that page. If the rating is disputed before it is replied to, this will cause the rating to be hidden until MorphMarket staff has reviewed it. At this stage, MorphMarket staff might ask either party additional questions if we feel more information is needed to make this determination.

  • For the most part, MorphMarket's practice is to keep review moderation to a bare minimum, only doing so when it's proven the rating was left against MorphMarket Rating Policy.
  • The following is a quick summary of what we most commonly moderate:
    • No money changed hands.
      • A rating may not be left for a seller if no money ever changed hands.
      • These will be removed by staff.
    • Money was sent, but the buyer changed their mind and received a refund.
      • If the buyer cancels the transaction through no fault of the seller, they may not leave a review.
      • These will be removed by staff.
    • Money was sent, but the seller backed out of the deal.
      • Even if the seller issues a full refund, if they are the one who breached the contract of the transaction, the buyer may be allowed to leave a review of their experience.
    • Money was sent and the animal delivered, but the seller is unhappy with the rating they received.
      • We will rarely intervene on these kinds of ratings, but we WILL investigate.
      • If it can be clearly proven that the buyer left the rating fraudulently (lied about the circumstances of the review) the rating will be removed by staff.

Reported Ads

With tens of thousands of ads active at any given time, it's impossible for us to monitor them individually. We count on our users to let us know when there is a significant issue. When you run across an ad that you are concerned about, you should use the "Report" button found on the ad's page.

When you report an ad, please tell us why. When a report comes in that just says "scammer", it's not helpful. Please tell us what it is about that ad that makes you draw that conclusion. If the traits are mislabeled, please tell us what you believe is wrong and what it should be. These are just examples. The more information you can share in a report, the better and faster we can do our job to fix it.

What kinds of things should the Report Button be used for?

  • Red Flags - If something about the ad makes you genuinely suspicious of a scam, please tell us why and provide evidence
    • For example, they are using someone else's pictures (which is also a rule violation)
  • Ad Errors
    • Ads placed in the wrong category
    • Conflicting information (i.e., age and size don't line up, or title suggests one thing while the description says something else)
    • Mislabeled traits, such as obvious visual discrepancies (i.e., a claim of "Albino" on a black and brown animal with dark eyes). In these cases the ad will be expired, and the seller notified of the need to fix it.  
      • Note that many morphs (especially in combos) can be very difficult to identify based solely on photographs and cause even experts to disagree. MorphMarket may not involve itself in cases where the genetic traits are not obviously true or false based on the available
    • It's very helpful if you can just let the seller know (via the Inquiry button) about errors so they can fix right away!
  • Rule Violations
    • Fake prices such as $1.00 or $1,000,000
    • Animal looks sick or injured
      • Please note that this can be a subjective issue and difficult to assess or moderate
    • Animal being sold illegally
    • Feeding pictures
  • Spam - The image or content is inappropriate
    • The image doesn't match what's being sold
    • The ad is not relevant for our site

What kinds of things should it NOT be used for?

  • Disagreements with the seller
  • Negative feedback about an inquiry on that ad
    • You will receive an email a few days after your inquiry where you may record your feedback officially and have it reviewed by staff.
  • Unhappy with the listed price
  • Don't like a particular morph
  • Don't like the seller

What happens when an ad gets reported?

  • The MorphMarket Staff gets an email with your message
  • We'll look at the ad and see if we see the same thing you do
  • If necessary, we may write back to you for more information or clarification
  • In most cases, when the problem with the ad is obvious we will:
    • Expire the ad
    • Write to the seller to let them know what happened, why, and how they can fix it
  • In less obvious cases, we may reach out to the seller for more information about the ad
  • We may reach out to a team of experts in a particular species to help with morph identification or judging health concerns
  • For very serious cases (i.e., using someone else's photos) we may suspend the seller's store immediately, then alert them with an email or do more investigating
  • We thank the person reporting the ad

Scammer Alerts

We take scammers extremely seriously, but it can be very difficult to detect them initially and differentiate them from a legitimate new seller. For this reason we recommend additional caution when buying from new sellers, and they are clearly marked as such on our site.

We have a number of useful tools and catch a lot of them before they get past the door, but nothing is 100%. If you know, or suspect someone of scamming, please reach out to us and give us as much information as you can, including links to other sites, screenshots, and anything else you think might help us investigate.

When we receive a credible report of a possible scammer, we drop whatever else we are doing and take action immediately.  Investigating and stopping scammers is our #1 top priority the instant they pop up.

Catching a Scammer

The moment we are confident we have found a scammer, this is what we do:

  • Close their store and take down all their ads
  • Block new inquiries from coming in
  • Send an email warning to everyone who has made an inquiry to them
  • Ban the user
  • If any user(s) choose to file legal action against a scammer, we will cooperate with authorities if/when they reach out to us for more information

Inquiry Abuse

If someone is abusing our Message System, you can use the Block feature so that they cannot send any additional inquiries or messages to you. But please also report them to us so we can check for a history or pattern of abuse. Typically, we'll give someone one warning to reform their behavior. If they ignore that warning, their account may be suspended or banned.

What constitutes abuse?

  • Cursing, vulgar language, discriminative or other personal slurs/insults
  • Threats of physical or emotional harm
  • Opening fresh inquiries to continue an argument that has been closed
  • Asking for freebies, handouts, or charity
  • Using the inquiry button to solicit business
  • Using the inquiry button for self-promotion

What is NOT abuse?

  • Using the inquiry system to let a seller know there's something wrong with their ad
  • Asking for more pictures and/or information
  • Terse or "impolite" answers
  • An angry response to a low-ball offer
  • Threatening to report someone

Negative Feedback

In addition to our public ratings system, we also take in Inquiry Feedback Surveys. These are private but visible to the MorphMarket staff. If enough negative feedback comes in on a single seller, we may investigate and take action.

  • Look for a pattern of negative behavior
  • Send a warning
  • Suspend or ban a seller if the behavior continues

If a seller consistently fails to respond to inquiries, our system will send them reminder emails and their Responsiveness Score, as shown to the public on their Store page, will reflect this pattern. If the seller continues to be non-responsive for a long while, their ads will be automatically expired. We do make an effort to contact our supporting members before this happens.

What We Do & Do Not Do

When it comes to both types of disputes and all complaints, there are some things that MorphMarket will always do, and some that we will never do.

  • We will ALWAYS investigate.
    • We don't automatically trust anyone.
    • We look for and ask for evidence.
    • We can only judge a situation based on the evidence that we're given.
    • We will consider the person's history on MorphMarket.
    • Our investigation has limits.
      • We do not usually search outside of the MorphMarket website for additional evidence.
      • If you have links to evidence in other locations, you must find and send those to us.
      • We won't prove your case for you.
  • We will NEVER act without evidence.
    • It doesn't matter how passionately or vehemently someone proclaims another party to be a "bad guy" or "scammer", we won't act based on those words alone.
    • We will consider evidence from outside of MorphMarket, but only if you give us the links or send the files.
  • We will NEVER offer or guarantee money back.
    • If someone tells you MorphMarket will give you your money back if you get scammed, they are scamming you.
    • We will do all we can to convince the offending party to return money that is owed, bringing what pressure we have to bear on that.
    • We are not a buffer against scammers or belligerent sellers who refuse to resolve disputes.

Comparisons to Other Services

For anyone that says, "You should be more like Amazon" or "You guys are no better than Craigslist/Google/Facebook", we wholeheartedly disagree.

Here are some examples of how we are different and/or better than other sites some might compare us to:

  • Amazon
    • Amazon is a massive corporation with untold resources at their disposal and thousands of customer service reps and developers.
    • We are a small business with a small customer service team.
    • Even with all of their resources, scammers still scam on Amazon.
    • Even with all of their resources, ratings/reviews cannot always be trusted. Fake positive ratings and vindictive or fraudulent negative ratings run rampant.
      • Amazon does not support the sale of live animals.
      • We provide personal customer service.
      • We keep a close eye on our sellers' ratings to weed out fake positives and fraudulent negatives.
  • Craigslist
    • Craigslist offers zero customer service and zero oversight of the quality of people and ads being placed. So long as the ad isn't blatantly illegal, it can be placed.
      • We provide personalized customer service and attention to every email we receive.
      • We have quality requirements for ads and high expectations for sellers.
      • We actively work to keep scammers and bad people from selling on our site.
  • Other Forum-Based Reptile Classifieds Sites
    • Decades old websites with ancient, clunky interface and limited search capabilities.
      • Our site is cutting edge and constantly growing and evolving to meet the needs of both buyers and sellers.
  • Social Media
    • Some social media platforms will ban you for trying to sell animals. Others are more lenient.
    • Groups and accounts can be shut down with virtually no notice, sometimes losing years of valuable content.
    • Little to no search capabilities and poor information retention.
    • None of them provide any customer service or mediation in the event of a transaction gone wrong.
      • We provide a robust and granular search engine, stellar customer service, and a willingness to moderate and mediate as needed.
      • Our marketplace and community forums keep information available and searchable for all keepers.
  • Google
    • A robust search engine that can find you all sorts of animals for sale. It's also a good resource for researching various breeders/sellers.
    • It does not provide the kind of animal-specific customized search that we offer.
    • It does not moderate the quality or accuracy of content of the sites which it returns.
    • It does not offer any support. You can find ads via Google and reach out to the seller, but if something goes wrong with that sale, Google is not going to help you with it in any way.
      • We provide a robust and granular search engine, monitored seller ratings, stellar customer service, and a willingness to moderate and mediate as needed.
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