geez - no wonder you're getting neg. feedback. You should try to avoid consciously ripping people off. I'm not reaming you out here - but hey - that's a bit excessive in my book!
As someone who has bought and sold quite a bit of photographic gear, including lenses, on ebay I think that when buying extreme caution is advised. There are plenty of bargains to be found but there are also a substantial number of items being dumped on there as a way to get rid of mal-functioing equipment. This particularly applies to SLR's, which usually after 20 years or so need new seals but sellers very rarely mention these, either out of ignorance or because they know only too well that they are life expired. It also amazes me the number of sellers who are unable to test a camera because (a) they haven't got a battery or (b) they know nothing about cameras (and obviously have no intention of finding out either) or (c) the buttons seem to work but they are not sure if it actually works so it's sold "as is".
The issue of postage charges is also a hot one as undoubtedly some people try & make on these but if the actual price you can get the item at is low then sometimes it's worth gritting your teeth and paying these but quite often I've declined to bid when someone is obviously more than doubling what the postage will cost them (even allowing for packing materials which do have a cost).
When it comes to selling anything I go in for overkill and describe the item in great detail. I also try and get the postage & packing materials charge to reflect the true cost as near as I can. I think this pays off because so far with over 300 transactions I've managed to keep a 100% rating. I guess eventually I'll fall foul of someone but at least ebay are going to tighten up the rules for feedback so as to discourage "retaliatory" negative feedback.
The BS postage charges are pretty easy to deal with. I give them a chance to change their minds if I think they're overcharging me - and if the tag on the parcel varies by more than 25% - BINGO. Negative feedback. It's that simple. That's what it's for - right? To keep people honest and aware.
I don't really think there's too much risk involved as long as you know what you're doing. If someone doesn't disclose as much as you think they OUGHT to -or if they don't really seem to know anything about what they're selling... well, that's when you bid accordingly. And for the 20 year old SLR - unless it's an M4 or a Nikon F2 - one should ASSUME there are going to be repair costs involved. Any small body camera that you buy that hasn't seen alot of action in a long time probably ought to be overhauled/rebuilt anyhow.
But I really don't think anyone's out to screw anyone else over. Or at least if there are - they number very few in percentage - and I'm sure their neg. feedback reflects their activities. I, for one, have sold a few EXCELLENT lenses - for a very good price (for both parties). The thing that's really GREAT about ebay is the deals you CAN get. They can be insane.
I have bought a number of lenses on eBay (namely Leitz and Schneiders) and never had a problem. One thing I have found that is good, though, is to have an e-mail conversation with the seller before bidding. If the seller is knowledgeable about the lens and sounds as if he/she has actually used it, can send photos, etc., then it's probably a good one. If the seller cannot talk about it intelligently, then I pass. So far, I've never had a problem and I've bought some pricey equipment on eBay.
Being fairly new to LF, I have bought A LOT of stuff on eBay in the past year - 3 cameras, 3 lenses, enlarger head, etc. and although I have had a couple of problems (out of 30 transactions) the overall experience has been good. Winnipeg's last old fashioned pro shop closed almost 10 years ago and with it went the last of the used LF gear. If it hadn't been for the Internet (for advice and suggestions) and eBay (for parts and pieces) I would not have gone into LF.
If something comes up on eBay that interests me, I read everything that's posted. Usually you can get a feeling for whether the seller is being straight or evasive. You can also get a feeling whether the seller knows much about the item.
The next thing to do is research - find out about the "track record" of the item, whether it's considered good or trash by those who have used it. I also do an Internet search and try to find out what similar items sell for. I consider how important it is for me to acquire that specific item being offered for auction. The last two factors help me determine my maximum bid.
I have a long look at the seller's feedback history, paying particular attention to any neutral or negative feedbacks. If the seller has peddaled a LOT of material on eBay, a few negatives are to be expected (some buyers are idiots or are out to "force a good deal"). Anybody who sells a lot and isn't over 95% positive feedback isn't worth the risk.
If the seller is new (less than 100 items) they had better have 100% positive feedback. I will usually e-mail a new sellers and try to strike up a dialog about the item being offered. If they don't respond to questions in a friendly, open manner, I write the item off.
Sometimes, if there is an item with a "buy it now" that I would like to have NOW (like when the "buy it now" price is reasonable and it's something I need anyway), I always contact the seller and ask some questions to see what kind of reaction I get. If the seller is open and friendly, I'll go for it.
I am too honest to misrepresent "junk" if I were to get stuck with it, so I try to be careful. So far, so good! I have only encountered 1 dishonest person and 1 careless shipper (both items required some repair work but were useable afterwards).
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For any LF lens, you should really assume the shutter needs a CLA, and if it doesn't considered $80 found money.
Same with older SLRs and rangefinders--of course the light seals will need to be replaced and the camera will really need a full CLA. Figure $100-150 usually, and if the camera turns out not to need it, then you're in luck.
That's the difference between buying on eBay and a dealer. Personally, I'd rather buy on eBay and pay for the repair in many cases, because I'll send it to a better repair tech than most dealers will use.
I make a habit of sending EVERY "new" used lens/shutter acquisition out to Carol for a CLA - whether it needs it or not. I don't have the time to tear down shutters anymore, so having a second set of eyes take a look at the mechanism is well worth the small added expense compared to lost revenue if it craps out on a paying job. It's just one less maintenance thing I have to worry about.
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.
Mike, what's your ebay ID? Just so I know never to bid on one of your items!
Originally Posted by MikeS
I usually look over just what is ending today, and that is sometimes too short a time to get an answer to a question. I may also not be able to get to a computer for 12 to 36 hours, so your kind of statement means I will avoid you at all cost (well - because of all cost then!)
I'm well used to high shipping costs - the highest so far were for a set of Condensors for the Durst 138S: Shipping from Australia to Norway is expensive, and I know that. Second to that was a Gandolfi Tripod from the UK. In both cases I had estimated the shipping costs myself, and bid what I thought was a reasonable price after subtracting "worst case" shipping. I consider both good buys, despite shipping being a lot mors expensive than the item.
So don't assume all international buyers are idiots, just because we assume the international sellers are!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Originally Posted by MikeS
They still won't read it. I know one seller that got negative feedback because the MF TLR didn't take 35mm film. :rolleyes: