Recently, Cob Jockey’s posts about saddle fitting have, in a lot of ways, justified my recent feelings about the whole thing. Most poignant, in my opinion, was her post about how her feelings about the industry have changed. If you haven’t read it yet, it is definitely worth a read here.
However, I wanted to talk about another section of the saddle buying/selling industry: The Used Saddle Merchant (“USM”). Now first, let me say that I get it, selling used saddles is hard, thankless, and not without risk. However, there are a few practices that will 100% keep me from buying the saddles you list for people (or listing with you).
Lack of Transparency
A lot of these sellers have beautiful, sophisticated websites. You know what isn’t had to put on your website? A page of information about the cost of consigning with them, what is expected when you consign, how to take a saddle on trial, the cost of a trial (more on that later), length of a trial, etc etc.
Again, it is a TON of work to sell a saddle. I also get that the industry average is 25%. Some places charge 30% and only accept high end saddles. This doesn’t seam like a big deal, but it means that your $2,500 used saddle only nets you $1,750… Ouch. This also doesn’t include some shops that outline a 30% commission on saddles, and then their contracts come back to you… and its 30% commission + cost of shipping out of saddles for trails…
So your $2,500 went on 2 trials? Here’s the breakdown
$2,500 – $750 (commission) – $120 (shipping out twice) – $75 (cost of shipping it to consignment shop) = $1,555.
I will even do you one better. Some of these places won’t give you an idea of what they are going to LIST your saddle for before you ship it to them. So you might think your saddle is likely going to list for $2,500, then it shows up there, and they say it is worth $2,000. Now it’s looking more like this:
$2,000 – $600 – $120 – $75 = $1,200…. OUCH
Oh and that image that you can’t really read to the left here? That is a shops trial policy. The yellow? Highlighted areas where some extra fees are incurred.
Some restocking fees are nominal fees, and I get them. I saw one place it is about $50, and I assume this is to cover some or all of the shipping. However, I have also seen restocking fees up to $200. And you know where you find these amounts? Buried under the text in the trial and refund policies. Or, even better, buried in a contract that is sent to you AFTER you take the saddle on trial.
So again… Buying a saddle, you are now looking at Shipping to, Shipping back, and a restocking fee: $55 + $55 + $100 = $210… So if you are buying a $2K saddle… there goes 10% of your budget on ONE saddle.
Oh and it gets better… One shop even charges you a $100 fee if you put in a purchase request for a saddle and then cancel the request BEFORE the saddle ships. Also… buried in their terms.
Hidden Purchase Now Options
Most of us saddle shopping expect shops to offer some kind of return/trial policy on used saddles. However, some sites have now moved to a trial-by-request method. Want a trial? You have to email their team.
Which would be fine, except nowhere on the product description page, the checkout page, or the home page does it alert you to this policy. As a result, it is shockingly easy to purchase a final sale on a saddle without even being aware of it.
I get it’s mostly a convenience fee for people that don’t have time to go through the process themselves. But personally, I would rather offer the commission to a local saddle fitter who can earn some extra cash with the sale. On that note, any wonderful online tack sellers that you 100% think are honest, upfront, and worth their fees?