note: scroll to the end for FAQ about using CES (our online trading system)
- Who can join SydneyLETS?
- Who SHOULD join SydneyLETS
- Who SHOULD NOT join SydneyLETS
- What can I contribute?
- Are there any members in my area?
- Is there a LETS system in my town/city?
- Are there limits applied to my trading?
- Must I trade?
- What happens if someone goes away leaving a negative balance?
- How do people value goods and services within a LETSystem?
- I value myself, but don’t I have to be measured by market rates?
- Can people profit from our trading?
- What about potential abuse?
- Are there any risks?
- What about Centrelink?
- What about the Taxation Department?
- Who guarantees the goods and services offered?
- What charges are applied?
- What if I move away from the area?
- Moving? Want to transfer your current balance to another LETSystem?
- Inappropriate behaviour
Who can join a Letsystem?
Anyone can join a LETSystem:
aged people, builders, unemployed, sole parents, lawyers, craftspeople, people with disabilities, teachers, small business operators, healers, shops, children.
Anyone who abandons thoughts of “what’s in it for me” and instead thinks “what can I contribute to society”.
Who SHOULD join a LETSystem
Anybody who is time rich and cash poor.
Anybody who has the ability to think outside the square.
Anybody who would like to see a greater sense of time-value placed on their skills.
Anybody who has a sense of social justice.
Anybody who would like to increase their network of friends and interact with like-minded people.
Who SHOULD NOT join a LETSystem
People who want to get something for “free”.
People looking to exploit others.
(The committee has the right to veto any membership which they consider not be to in the best interests of the group.)
What can I contribute?
Your time and energy will be the greatest contribution. An unskilled worker will be just as valuable as a trained professional. Think about what skills and abilities you have and enjoy using that a community could appreciate. What are your hobbies and interests? Do you want to spend more time outdoors; walking dogs, gardening or mowing lawns? Do you enjoy sewing? Or shopping? Are you willing to do ironing while you watch TV? Are there good clothes your children have outgrown? For more ideas look at the Register to see what other people are contributing, as well as what they are looking for.
Are there any members in my area?
Take a look at our map of members to see where you can find other Sydney LETS members. If there aren’t many in your area yet, why not invite a few friends to join as well?
Is there a LETS system in my town/city?
Community Exchange Australia has a map and list of Australian LETS and Community Exchange groups: http://communityexchange.net.au/ are:
Cooloola & SthBurnett Qld Community Exchange (QLD)
Access via communityexchange.net.au
Melbourne Eastern Region LETS (VIC)
Are there limits applied to my trading?
There are no limits on account holder’s local currency and no repayment or spending schedule is applied to members. However if the committee considers that a member is abusing their membership, it may take appropriate action to rectify the situation.
Must I trade?
There is never an obligation to trade if it is not in your interest to do so.
What happens if someone goes away leaving a negative balance?
Not much, provided that the rest of the members carry on trading with each other. Members can’t take local units with them and can’t spend them outside the system. This question reflects a justifiable concern about cheating within a co-operative activity. They have simply taken more goods and services from the trading community than they have given. However, with conventional money this would be a problem – if a cheque bounces, the money is not available to the payee. With local units, even though the member leaving is in the negative, the member who they traded with is in the positive and they have those units readily available for their next trade. Turnover is the key to a successful system, not the level of credits or commitments. Turnover reflects the amount of transfers happening within the community and also reflects the efficiency of administration in facilitating these trades.
How do people value goods and services within a LETSystem?
As LETS uses a philosophy of “time” and “energy” and each members time is equally valuable, Sydney LETS suggests a base rate of 35 operas per hour regardless of skilled or non skilled labour. In this way activities which are traditionally low-paid tend to be rewarded more generously. As there is never an obligation to trade, if you consider the market value to be too high or too low you can decline to trade. By using a ‘local currency’ that is abundant, people are able to value each other’s time, skills and energy more appropriately.
I value myself, but don’t I have to be measured by market rates?
When you use LETS, you are participating in an internal market, which is subtly different from the national or regional markets, which use conventional money. Everyone is still keen to get as much cash as possible. But the ability to earn LETS money is enhanced and there is pressure to spend it rather than hoard it. These factors can combine to give a much lower spread between low price and high price services. People who overcharge find that their trading slows up dramatically and their ability to earn is reduced.
Can people profit from our trading?
LETS is an ethically based trading systems in that they are community based and controlled and no person can profit from the LETS itself, though anyone can benefit from any trading they do in the system. Local currency is also ethically driven in that its worth is derived from a member’s commitment to return the value of goods and services received to other members of the LETS. If a person attempts to “rip off” a LETS group, other account holders can simply refuse to trade with them. To ensure this, each member is allowed to know the balance and turnover of any other member, but no other trading information. LETSystems are cost-of-service, not-for-profit systems run and operated by the members. No person or organisation outside the system can profit or benefit from the system, either in dollars or local currency.
What about potential abuse?
The potential exists for an individual to take and not return. However, even if this does take place, the people who have received payment will be able to trade unimpaired. This has no effect on the structural integrity of SydneyLETS. If too many people do this the others will simply slow their trading down, as their ability to spend will be reduced.
Are there any risks?
Not unless you want to take some. Participation does not make you liable for the affairs of the other members or for the SydneyLETS itself. Treat LETS work as if you were obtaining a quote from a trades-person from the Yellow Pages. If it is a major household project, ask for a written quote for work, prior to the work being done. As with all business dealings, it is advisable to negotiate an exchange of operas prior to the trade taking place. Members are advised to take out Work Care cover (approx $10.00 per year), as household liability insurance may not cover household workers employed on your property.
What about Centrelink?
If you are concerned about LETS trading causing problems with a Centrelink payment please discuss with your Centrelink officer. If they have any questions we are happy to talk to them to explain that no federal currency is involved and that LETS is a great way to stay active in the community.
There is a clause that allows income from government approved LETS based job training trading systems to be exempt. Sydney LETS doesn’t have an official exemption.
What about the Taxation Department?
NOTE: This info may be outdated – please ask your tax professional to check the ruling for Community Barter Systems
Accountability for taxes incurred by members is the obligation of those involved in an exchange. The official ruling states that if you earn local units whilst providing a service which is your main profession you must pay tax on all profits OVER 300 units as if you had earned dollars. Units are also deductible so if you spend operas on your business expenses you may declare it. For example: if your main profession is a plumber and you do some plumbing work to the value of 700 operas then 400 operas is considered taxable at the normal rate. If however you spend those 400 operas on bookkeeping or other business expenses then the profit you have made in that year is only 300 operas and the tax department don’t want to know about it. Also if you earn operas as a handy-person (ie put up a chook shed) then this is not considered as earnings under your main profession (plumber) and is exempt from income tax.
Who guarantees the goods and services offered?
There is no control, or monitoring by SydneyLETS, of either the rates people charge or of the quality of work performed. However normal consumer affairs and small claims tribunal rules do apply and if there is conventional protection for services performed (eg. Law Society, Master Builders Assoc. etc.), these also apply with local currency trading. SydneyLETS provides no warranty or undertaking as to value, condition or quality of the items exchanged is expressed or implied for claims for injury or damages of any nature arising from trade between members.
What charges are applied?
See the Join page for details.
If you are going to be out of the area for a period of time, and do not wish to receive newsletters or registers, please notify the office in writing before you leave. If your membership has lapsed you may renew it at any time within two years and retain your original balance.
What if I move away from the area?
You should try to bring your account as close as possible to zero. If you intend to move from the area permanently, please advise the office before the move.
Moving? Want to transfer your current balance to another LETSystem?
Permission from the other LETS group will be required but usually a simple balance transfer is all that is required. You may be asked to pay membership fees to the new system.
You can control the display of your contact details when you are logged in to CES,. Any account holder may know the balance and turnover of another. This enables everyone to participate in regulating the system.
Should any member behave in an abusive, improper or inappropriate manner, toward another member, the committee could invoke cancellation of memberships. The members concerned are encouraged to employ a mediator, but should this process fail to reconcile the issue, cancellation of membership may occur. Any behaviour which may fall in the jurisdiction of the Police Dept. should be reported.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about using our online trading system – Community Exchange System (CES)
- Ho do I sign in to Sydney LETS Community Exchange System (CES)?
- How do I find out what my password is?
- How do I change my password?
- How do I update my contact information, or hide some of my contact details?
- How do I add or update my OFFERS and WANTS?
- How do I find out what’s on OFFER or what is WANTED by other traders>
- How do I enter a transaction after selling goods or services to another trader?
- What do I do if someone has over-charged me by mistake, or charged me for something I didn’t purchase?
- I accidentally charged someone twice, or charged the wrong person. Can I undo one of the transactions?
Ho do I sign in to Sydney LETS Community Exchange System (CES)?
– Go to: http://www.auslets.org/sydney
– Enter your account number (this will look something like SYCE0999) and password into the Member Login panel (top right hand side)
– Then click the [Enter] button
How do I find out what my password is?
If ever you forget your password it can be retrieved from http://www.communityexchange.net.au
– Click “Forgotten your password?” (top right-hand corner)
– Enter your account number and your password will be emailed to you. If you forget your account number too, you will have to email the Administrator email@example.com
How do I change my password?
Changing your password
– Login to the online trading system using your account number and current password. (top right-hand corner)
– Click on the [My Record] button at the top and your personal details will come up. Simply delete the password that is there and put in your own password. It needs to be at least 8 characters long, and try to include some non-alphabet characters too.
– To save the change click the [Update Record] button (on the dark green strip near the bottom)
How do I update my contact information, or hide some of my contact details?
– Login to the online trading system using your account number and current password.
– Click on the [My Record] button at the top to access you contact details.
– Edit any of your information
– Clicking the box to the right of any detail will hide that from members
Note: Your contact details are only available to LETS members.
To facilitate trading we encourage listing an email address and a phone number and suburb.
– To save the changes click the [Update Record] button (on the dark green strip near the bottom)
How do I add or update my OFFERS and WANTS?
Update your OFFERINGS and WANTS
– Login to the online trading system using your account number and current password. (top right-hand side)
– Click on the [My Record] button at the top
– Scroll down to the “Personal Actions” section
– There you will see options to View, Edit or Add new OFFERINGS and WANTS
– You may add as many offerings as you like
– SydneyLETS philosophy is that ‘all time is of equal value’, so services are traded at 35 ops/hr
– $$ or opera cost may be charged to cover the cost of ingredients or materials required, just make a note of any $$ or operas in your OFFER
– Listing your WANTS is a great way to stimulate trade, think of it as offering someone an opportunity to trade
– You can also upload a photograph of yourself so that other traders can see what you look like.
How do I find out what’s on OFFER or what is WANTED by other traders>
To see what’s on offer / wanted
– Login to the online trading system using your account number and current password. (top right-hand side)
– Click on [Offerings] to view the directory of goods and services on offer.
– Click on [Wants] to see what other members are looking for.
– Feel free to contact any participant who has advertised in the ‘Offerings List’ to purchase any goods and services offered. Please don’t wait for someone to buy from you before you use the system. You don’t need to be in credit before making a purchase; going into debit is part of the system and simply represents your commitment to the community.
How do I enter a transaction after selling goods or services to another trader?
Transactions are entered by the SELLER of the goods or services.
If you have sold something to another LETS member:
– Click [Home]
– Click [Enter Single Transaction]
– Select the name of the BUYER from the dropdown list
– Enter details of trade
– Click [Submit]
For more tips and tricks you can click read “How does this work? An introduction for beginners” (link from the right hand column of the CES). The [Help] button on every page gives contextual help. There is also a User Guide available from the site.
What do I do if someone has over-charged me by mistake, or charged me for something I didn’t purchase?
– If you have been charged by mistake you can dispute the charge by contacting the seller. The seller can view their transactions and delete / edit the transaction to correct the error.
– If you don’t get a satisfactory response within a week, please contact us so we can look into it for you firstname.lastname@example.org
I accidentally charged someone twice, or charged the wrong person. Can I undo one of the transactions?
No worries at all.
To delete a transaction you have entered:
– Login to trading system’
– Click on “10. My Statement of Account” (link in centre column in “Querying” section)
You should see the transactions you entered.
– Click the trades you wish to delete
– Click “Delete”