How far would you go in order to make a sale?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by David Lyga, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    You have a used SLR with a dented top. It looks ugly but functions flawlessly. You have another top from a junked, identical body. Would you make the switch, without disclosure to the buyer, in order to sell it more easily, even if the serial number was now changed? Without hesitation, I would. Why not? There is nothing missing and the camera has not been downgraded.

    But there are other questions that segue from this easy situation. What if, for example, by opening a camera body you damage the meter? Would you simply say that the deter 'does not work', leaving the buyer to wonder if only cleaning the contacts is all that might be necessary to make that meter work? No, I would say that the meter is DAMAGED and that the meter would have to be replaced.

    Strict honesty, per se, might not be the main driving force behind adherence to ethical standards. I think, instead, protraying honest VALUE might be a better approach. The buyer does not need to know that I damaged the meter beyond repair, but needs to know that that meter IS, in fact damaged (so he/she doesn't go on thinking one can simply clean the contacts in order to get it working again).

    Take another example: a lens that has a front element badly acratched. From an identical lens, whose body was badly damaged (but the glass is OK), you have its elements, intact. You switch the front elements and now have a 'perfect' lens using the other len's element. Fine ethically, I say. But what if, instead, two cemented elements came apart and you cemented them back together again. Do you disclose this? My response: don't disclose such ONLY if your ability and experience can be compared with a truly professional job. If not, disclose, saying that you think that there should be no problem with the glass in the long term because "I think that I did an adequate job cementing the elements".

    My question to all: I have an Olympus OM 1.4/50mm that had bad internal foggy glass. I knew that I had to open it up to clean the elements. This is normally a simply thing to do but in this instance, with the 1.4, you have to unscrew a threaded nut and do a few other things before you get to the various elements. Somehow, through a combination of shear ignorance and ultra tight fittings I had to use a vice and I badly, unbelievably actually, scratched the aluminum fittings. If you could see this lens when taken apart you would croak with how bad it looks. It looks as if a car ran over it because of all the scratches and cuts. But the glass is excellent, even perfect, and the mechanics (aperture and helical) are completely unscathed and the body is as rigid as new. Amazingly, when I put it back together, one could not tell that there was any damage. It looks, and acts, perfectly as new. And, mechanically, it will last just as long, as nothing that really matters physically is damaged.

    Would you sell this lens with those facts undlsclosed? My feeling is that I would be veering towards doing that because I know, in my heart, that NOTHING pertaining to either the optics or mechanical durability is compromised. But...if it were ever taken apart again, there would, indeed, be a visual shock. But, again, there is this to consider: after all that work cleaning the lens, you can be absolutely assured that everything inside is nicely tightened and will NOW probably function BETTER than if I had left it unopened. I, personally, would feel that this lens is NOW in better shape, and will last longer now, than before I had opened it. The helical is cleaned and regreased.

    Questions like these seek to bifurcate the concept of honesty into two components: perception vs reality, and force us to at least recognize that there really is a difference between the two. - David Lyga
     
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  2. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I think I might be careful buying from you.

    You seem to have a lot of dodgy stuff.
     
  3. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I'd disclose it---certainly if it changed the apparent serial number. Someone might want to do something that depends on the date of the camera, for instance; maybe they need to replace some weird little part that changed from one year of production to the next, or whatever.

    In general I just think full disclosure is the safest way to do any transaction. It eliminates a lot of opportunities for later ill-feeling if someone's assumptions turn out to be wrong. If a buyer decides to open your Olympus lens for whatever reason, maybe just for their own interest, and discovers that it looks like hell inside, you don't want the result to be an annoyed post that says "This guy sold me a mangled lens", right?

    -NT
     
  4. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    blansky, if you bought from me you would have to come to terms with the FACT that it operated as told to you vs the 'messiness' of the perception when you found out. And I would sleep well knowing that you got value. And there would be nothing you would have to compromise with in your use of such lens, now or in the future. NOTA BENE: as for the serial number being changed: I am not talking about Leica or other items whereby the serial number really matters, as far as date and such.

    First, the Olympus 1.4 is not for sale, but, I am really arguing this scenario in order to see if perception trumps reality, here. The 'damage' in this hypothetical case is, essentially irrelevant but is being treated as if HIGHLY relevant, even to the extent that I might be a shyster. It is an interesting conundrum whereby damage that does NOT matter suddenly matters as if it directly related to the actual functioning of the item. We are not talking about selling a used car that was previously flooded or in an accident: such lack of disclosure really does present an enhanced possibility of future safety problems. I am saying that NOTHING is affected other than 'perception'.

    As analogy: If you had an employee handling food in a restaurant that you told HAD to wash his hands after using the restroom (but then he regularly touched dirty door knobs and handled one of the most filthy, germ laden things in our society, paper currency, would you feel relieved that he 'washed his hands', thus satisfying your percepion that those hands were clean now, even though they decidedly were NOT? Think. Reality is more important than perception. Toilets are 'perceived' as being 'dirty' and money and door knobs not so much. The reality is quite different, and, if I may, moderator: oftentimes I feel that I should wash my hands BEFORE using a restroom because my hands are the dirtiest part of my entire body. After all, they are always touching things and I think that that assessment would pertain not only to me but also to most and stand the test of rigorous scientific scrutiny. It is amazing how some very dirty things get 'cleansed' within our faulty perceptions!

    I knew that this would be attacked here, as most either cannot, or simply refuse, to separate the two very different situations. Perception attacks our sense of propriety but oftentimes fails to stand up to a far more demanding scientific scrutiny. Knee jerk reactions sometimes are not the most coherent but the feedback is priceless because it forces us to come to grips with how perception oftentimes fails to conquer fact. Truth matters more than mere 'feelings'. - David Lyga
     
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  5. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I think best way is to explain what was done - with note that you know what are you doing and that you have X years of experience in handling and fixing photo gear, eventually with additional note "return accepted" or "not accepted".
     
  6. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    From Germany (via Poland) comes a rational response that no one can deny or refute. Bonus, darkosaric. - David Lyga
     
  7. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    If it was my camera, I'd fully disclose it and let the buyer decide fully knowing what was done to it.

    Most people say "CLA'd by such-and-such". Same thing. It concerns the buyer in making his own value judgement and balance it with the risk.

    Hey, you are asking. It already IS concerning you. It'll concern buyer as well.
     
  8. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Having myself sold photographic equipment for a living for more than 20 years David I found that honesty was the best policy in selling used gear, and that any subterfuge could come back and bite you in the ass with disastrous results.
     
  9. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    X2 (except for the part about selling equipment for a living)... but I'd be much less concerned about honesty of not disclosing changing the camera top (basically that is "normal camera repair") than not disclosing the hidden damage of the lens from improper repair efforts... whether the lens appeared to be working fine or not.
     
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  10. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I'm confused why we need a thread to illustrate the obvious.

    Some people are honest and open and others aren't.

    And I'm sure you already know what you are.
     
  11. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    OP also talks about perception and reality.

    I come to realize, his perception and reality is much different from my perception and reality. Do any two people live in exactly the same perception and reality??

    When purchasing something, I depend on my perception and reality. I'll make the value judgement. I want as much detail as possible fully disclosed.
     
  12. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I think every piece of information should be disclosed, regardless of the effect it may have on functionality. In the case of your lens, how do you know the buyer isn't interested in the aluminum fittings, for some reason? Being told that the lens functions perfectly is overlooking a potentially important aspect to the buyer. I would consider not mentioning it a lie of omission.
     
  13. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    It's about being empathetic and compassionate. Even if you are not like everybody else, it's a good exercise to imagine how other people like to receive information.

    If I received an item that is fully functional, but I wasn't told that it's in questionable cosmetic condition when it in fact is, I'd be upset, and I would be asking for a refund. I'd be doing so in a negative tone of voice, because I have to go from a high level of anticipation and excitement, to disappointment and the hassle of sending it back and start looking again.
     
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  15. Barry S

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    If you know something about the equipment, it's best to disclose it. I try to be up front about disclosing all information and always accept returns. If you repaired something, you should be proud to disclose the job you did. If you're not proud of your repair, I'd like to know about your hack job--it may or may not matter to me. A hidden hack job infuriates me--I've found some and consider the sellers unreliable at best and possibly fraudulent.
     
  16. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I would disclose it, and make a generous provision for return. I want everybody to be happy.



    Kent in SD
     
  17. David Lyga

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    Interesting retorts: maybe I will learn something here. But...I have to say this: I would RATHER have the undisclosed, ratty interior that functions perfectly than have an ostensibly perfect lens, shown in a warm environment, that suddenly has a sticky aperture when placed in a cold environment. The seller in the second case has done NOTHING to impair the lens but KNOWS that there is enough, just enough, oil on the aperture blades (not visible) that will cause malfunction when in the cold. He/she also knows that in a cold environment the focus will be mighty stiff but, conveniently, does not 'disclose' that (who does? NO ONE!) Yes, there is MUCH that is routinely not 'disclosed'. That does not necessarily add up to deception. Does the restaurant owner 'disclose' that his staff does not wash up after handling filthy paper currency? NOPE! Why? Because we are accustomed to thinking about fithy lucre as a 'desirable', thus not 'dirty' (even though it is). Facts do not bear this assumption out.

    There are many ways of parsing this issue. We all deceive, some more, some less. Some zooms are a bit wobbly: that is indicative of a problem looming but rarely 'disclosed'. I would rather have my 'ratty interior' lens than such wobbly zoom. I still say that the bottom line is 'will the person get full fuctionality with the lens?'

    And, yes, I was offering an extreme case here: I probably would, out of naked conscience, disclose all, even that which I deemed unimportant. Amazingly to some, I am not a monster. - David Lyga
     
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  18. Dinesh

    Dinesh Subscriber

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    Does it really matter what YOU would "rather"? You're the seller, not the buyer.
     
  19. cliveh

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    +1
     
  20. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Old gear inherently comes with risks based on age and normal wear. Repairs are often made to improve the condition of items before sale, moreso in autos than in cameras or electronics perhaps. The acceptability of that is based primarily on appearance and functionality as much as it does on 'disclosure". A honest return/refund policy can mitigate that (except when the buyer is a lying, scum-sucking, cheat who knowingly breaks a camera and then claims it "broke in the mail"... like one experience I had here.) But when a repair was attempted in an amateurish way and is known to have not been of "resonable quality", and known damage exists (whether it affects functionality or not, and whether it is visible or not) and are knowingly not mentioned, then there are issues that can easily be interpreted as concealment and dishonesty.
     
  21. David Lyga

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    OK Brian, I at least partially agree with you. After all, it IS 'damage'. But you seem to make absolutely no distinction as to whether fuctionality is affected or not. I think (and MOST think) that THAT factor is the MOST important. The other factor is certainly not deemed to be trivial, I agree, but functionality is the main point here.

    But 'factors NOT affecting functionality' are not on a par with the ones that DO affect functionality (although you DO make sense and I do not completely disagree with you) and those other factors must be admitted to be subordinate in importance but, admittedly, are not without any importance, per se. - David Lyga
     
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  22. BrianShaw

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    I can make that distinction for you, David. if I was offered a lens and it worked fine I pay "the going rate" for it. If I was offered a lens and it worked fine but internal damage was disclosed, I pay 50% of the going rate for it. If I bought a lens that didn't work fine (or as advertized), then I'd demand a 100% refund. If I bought a lens that worked fine but later discovered hidden damage that was not disclosed, I'd not only demand a 100% refund; but I'd make it know far and wide that a disreputable transaction happened. If I bought a lens that worked fine but never discovered hidden damage that was not disclosed, then we all sleep well at night... or do we?

    Does that help claify this ethical dilemna?
     
  23. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    The difference is that functionality can be assessed by a buyer. Known but hidden damage - or the future impacts of that damage - cannot be readily assessed by the buyer if it is not disclosed.
     
  24. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Perhaps in your value system. Most people may not share the parsing of honesty to quite that fine of a level. I tend to be binary: a person is either basically honest or not; anmd a business transaction is either honest or not. Yet, I allow for human indiscretion and human failings and human sinning. Odd... isn't it? But too much of that (including too much talk about the difference between honest behavior and dishonesty) tends to make me wonder why the uncertainty exists.
     
  25. Truzi

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    I would disclose what was done (and why), as well as offer the original parts if wanted. That is how I'd want to be treated as well.
    The only other BBS I spent a lot of time on was for old Buicks, and numbers-matching was a big issue for some people, regardless of condition. I don't know if most camera buyers/collectors are that enthusiastic.

    Even if it works as advertised, I'd want to know if the camera/lens was opened up (even for factory service). A coworker bought a FED on ebay. The lens was a bit out of focus, so he disassembled it and found signs the seller had tried to adjust it himself. He really would have wanted to know before the sale.

    Finally, I had my 35mm with stuck shutter and light leak "serviced" by a pro-shop that advertises camera repair. After three tries they did not fix it (I figured it out myself). They did replace the back, but I suspect they did not replace the shutter as claimed - which is good for me. You see, I inherited the camera from my Maternal Grandfather, and it has a lot of sentimental value; there is the whole Theseus' ship issue for me.
     
  26. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    I had a recent purchase go bad, but the seller quickly refunded everything and said to keep the camera. I determined that the camera's lens was usable, so I sent the seller some cash for it.

    Ultimately what matters most to us, in our on little micro-universes, is all that matters. If you want to make a sale then your focus, and justification, are focused on that. In some micro-universes the sale is secondary; sleeping well that night is the primary goal.