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Insider Trader: Fair wages

Amanda Miller

Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.

If you ever listen in on trade channel, you might have noticed just how little trading actually gets done. Amidst the ego trips, show-offs, begging, insults, whining, wooting, and the like, you may notice another trend; that of complaining about prices for goods and services.

I often see people harassing others about the price of twink gear, crafted items, enchants, gathered materials, or even dungeon and world drops. Sometimes, the criticism is warranted, to protect the more naive members of the community. Most of the time, unfortunately, the comments begin to flow because players have not caught up to, and accepted, the cost of things.

Why would this be? After all, as I was leveling, I don't recall feeling as though I had bags full of money and nothing to spend it on. I had to save, and farm, and do without enchants and blue gear and consumables, if I wanted to train, to level my leatherworking, and purchase a mount.

So why should some feel so resentful towards crafters for the prices of their goods and services? Why does several hundred gold for an enchant or a leg armor patch seem like highway robbery? Shouldn't we be used to these things feeling slightly out of reach, and requiring some time to finance?

When I was leveling, I recall that my server was still settling into the existence of Outland, and stories were trickling down from those friends who had leveled faster. I remember one of my guildmates saying, dreamily, "and soon we'll be in Outland, where riches flow like wine."

Outland felt like the promised land. It was so shiny and new, and right out of the gate, raiders were disenchanting their purples and picking up greens off of hellboar. Quests gave an unprecedented amount of money, gathering items sold like hotcakes, and the mobs weren't too poor either.

One might think that our senses of the reasonable costs of items inflated with the amount of money that that it was possible to make in the normal course of adventuring. Still, many of us who spent months leveling without the help of guildmates, siblings, partners, or anyone else who sped us through it, sometimes choke on the idea that a few stat points are worth several level 40 mounts.

What might feel worse, is spending weeks farming, or emptying your virtual wallet, for the materials for a new enchant or piece of gear, and then being asked for, or feeling obligated to, tip for 20-50g or more. Sure, we can each make that back with a couple of dailies, but that doesn't mean that everyone's mentality has readjusted to seeing double-digit numbers before the little symbol of 'gold' as chump change.

Unfortunately, the result is often underpaid craftsmen, who are either insistent about their prices, and thus earn a reputation, or give in to avoid the incessant conflict, either accepting less gold, or refusing to serve the public at all.

To "V" who always haunts my LFG with such gems as "WTF why does nobody ever run ANYTHING on this server?" and "don't even ask it's lame, nobody does anything" I will say, perhaps it is just that no one is inviting you? In fact, I often run up to four PuGs a day, and get tells for many more.

To the countless popping into trade demanding "chanters" for Mongoose, then soon making exclamations such as "why are there never any chanters on? You guys all suck" and that is assuming that these people can spell, and refrain from profanity. Perhaps it is not a lack of enchanters, but merely a lack of enchanters wanting to deal with you, your attitude, and the hassle you will probably give regarding tips and fees.

I advocate looking into the prices of the goods and services you need on your server, including the collective total of the materials should you, or your craftsman, be purchasing them, to ensure you are getting a fair deal. Once you have done this, it is advisable to suck back that feeling of incredulousness and pay a fair price with a smile. Otherwise, you might one day find that you are 'that guy' talking and whining to himself in trade.

Of course, there will always be people who feel a sense of entitlement that they are not owed, and who will complain about the idea of having to pay anyone for anything someone might do for them. Here is a look at some of the things that your friendly neighborhood craftsperson has done to actually be entitled to a fair price:
  • Spent considerable time farming materials, leveling the skill, being available for customers, and even going out of their way to travel for them.
  • Spent money at the trainer, and at the auction house in order to reach the level necessary to make these things and perform those services.
  • Spent either a lot of time and money, or a boatload of money, acquiring the rare and desirable patterns, designs, or recipes so that they can provide an important service to the server.
Another trend that I see often in the trade channel is that of discussions about raiders, their fat wallets, and eagerness to pay or "overpay" in order to get items quickly. I find the notion that players who spend most of their time raiding, and who sink the most gold into gear, enchants and consumables, are the moneybags of the server most intriguing.

After all, with limited play time, a raider's time is valuable if they want to actually raid. Not only do they need to show up on time, but they need to be prepared, which means fully gemmed, enchanted, and sporting the proper consumables. When not raiding, they are often farming just to keep their habit, or passion, afloat. Being willing to pay a fair wage, a generous tip, or even a bonus incentive, allows them to achieve their goals in the amount of play time they have.

While it is important to provide service with a smile, it is equally important to be a polite and friendly client. Do you solicit and tip fairly, or do you have a regular beef with the cost of things? As a craftsperson, are you eager and willing to serve the public, or have you given that up? Do you ask a fee or a tip, or just hope that you are given your fair dues?

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