The best way to "win the eBay game" is not to buy on it and buy from a reputable retailer who gives you a warranty, because what appears to be cheap can prove to be very costly in money and aggravation the long run.
Unfortunately I have to say that gamble is so not worth it. I'm glad it worked out for you but as an owner of a Rollei 6008i I can't imagine what I would do if my camera went on the fritz. If I determined it was a fault with the body and not the magazine as was the case with you I would sell the malfunctioning body and get a working one. Seriously you only need that gamble to fail once to wipe out the profits from numerous previous purchases. A price way outside the norm is usually a big red flag. Not always but a lot.
I got my Rollei 6008i off of ebay in a killer bundle. It came with two backs and showed virtually no signs of use. It came with all kinds of accessories. I was astonished when I go the whole kit for the opening price. I probably saved a couple of hundred dollars for such a mint item. But it wasn't anything like $400 below market.
I find if an item is niche enough you just have to keep checking. Eventually an auction will pop up on a day when your competitors are on vacation. I notice on a lot of auctions the serious bidding only occurs between 2-3 bidders a lot of the time. It's not like 10 people flood in to snipe in the last 15 seconds.
As far as dealers are concerned... I don't know. Often they don't have inventory if you aren't looking for a Hasselblad. Although I picked up 4 genuine Rollie Bay VI B&W filters from a local photo store for five bucks a pop. And while I find there are risks on eprey the mark up some dealers charge is way too much. I've bought tons of camera equipment over the years and my worst experience was with a pretty big name store. Lets just say they should change the wording of their rating system. Instead of "may" they should use "will." As in the camera will have numerous scratches.
I've made a fair number of eBay purchases, and very few have been disappointing. But, I always read the feedback, check to see if the seller normally sells this type of item, and if it says untested assume immediately that it is broken.
I've found a screaming good deal here and there, but can say I have only had one real issue with a seller. Amazingly enough, that was over a $10 deal.
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For me the amazingly good ones offsets the bad ones. Recently I purchased a Canon A1 for very little and when it arrived they a forgotten to mention that it came with a MA power winder as well as a 50/1.4. The "not arrived as indicated" was not used but I did mention it to the seller and they told me "you have the camera so we can't use it anyway. I hope you don't mind" But needless to say that is a very rare occurrence. You just need to ask the right questions and don't ask any stupid ones everything seems to work out on a one to one communication. And you do have back-up with Paypal.
BTW I'm really liking the 6008i. Film is held much flatter than my 1974-designed SLX which tented to allow some films to bulge in the center. Also, mirror slap is much more controlled, improving hand held sharpness compared to my SLX. In fact, as soon as I noticed the improvement in the negatives, the reliable SLX I had owned for over 25 years was sold to prevent me from using it any more.:)
I've bought a couple cameras that the sellers said didn't work, only to find that the cameras were loaded with film, and wound to the end of the the roll.
A Couple of Recent Good eBay Deals:
(1) A Canon EOS A2E with VG-10 originally owned by a tinkerer, pictured with a cord and quarter-inch phone plug extending from its right-hand grip/battery cover, offered by the owner's son or daughter, who wasn't familiar with dad's hobby or equipment. Got it for $5.50 plus shipping; turns out he'd taken apart a 2CR5 battery and wired the plug to its contacts to mate with a homemade D battery pack a la the Canon BP-5. The date code indicates the A2E was built in December, 1992, and other than the notch cut into the grip/battery cover, it looks and works great [good Command dial], with only a loose neck strap lug on its left [film canister] side, that is starting to fracture of the top cover. I really like the vertical grip and Eye Controlled Focus. One day, I'll take off the top cover to see if I can repair the strap lug.
(2) A gently used Nikon N90s with Battery Grip and Op-Tech neck strap and partially-completed [6 exposures taken] roll of Kodak Gold 400 for $25 plus shipping. This one had the common sticky film door issue, but I found a NOS replacement at an eBay dealer for around $20, and now the N90s is nearly mint.
For Balance, A Recent Not-so-good eBay Deal:
Feeling flush after running a second roll of film through the N90s, and reading that the Nikon F100's control layout is the prototype for Nikon's D-SLRs [I confess, I have a D70, D200, and D7000], I decided to put in a bid on one that was described as working when it was put away, but the seller was told by someone who tested the camera after it came out of storage that it didn't work - no ther details [Red Flag time!]. I took the chance anyway, and won the auction for $40 plus shipping; once in hand, the LCD display flashed 'ERR' when I pressed either the stop-down or shutter buttons, and the estimate by the shop I sent it to came back with a total repair cost of $279 for shutter and aperture control replacement. I pt it up for bids on eBay with shipping included, disclosing the details of the estimate report, and sold it for close to what I paid for it, but I'm eating the original shipping and $10 for the repair estimate.
Oh, well, win some, lose some . . . . .
Thanks and regards,
If ther seller doesn't allow returns, doesn't provide good photos, good description, etc, I factor that into the price. If the auction goes for more than the item is worth in 50/50 chance of having to be repaired, I move on. I've gotten some great deals on cameras with lenses because the photos were horriable.