You may have misunderstood me or I may have misspoke. I didn't mean to say that their site may not represent what they have in inventory. Although, I've heard the website is not a complete listing and it seems to me when I bought a mamiya 6 body off of them they had more than the site listed.
I've never had a problem. And 4 out of 5 times I was surprised at the condition and felt that the bargain equipment was truly a bargain. Plus they were easily reachable via email and offered a phone number 'just in case' if I needed it. Very good to work with.
ya, KEH is great to buy from...but don't plan on getting much from them if trading up! The days of a 20-30% markup is over. They're going for 80-90% profit.
Overall I have had good experience with KEH over the years. Almost always, their cosmetic rating is conservative. But several items I have bought have definitely been in need of a CLA, or immediate replacement of mirror foam. I have concluded that is fine with me—as I have come to factor in a CLA, and feel that a fine camera deserves it.
In my experience, the salesman will not preview the equipment before sending it out. If there is a disagreement over cosmetic condition, the buyer gets a hassle free, prompt refund, despite the fact that their website warns of refunds taking up to two billing cycles. The price to inspect the equipment is postage two ways. If there is an undisclosed clear mechanical problem, they will take the item back and pay the postage.
But once I ordered an OM-1n in EX or EX+ condition from them. It was a beauty, but upon the first firing the mirror stuck to the foam cushion, which was gummy. KEH gladly took the camera back, did not offer to simply replace the foam, and I paid postage.
With tempered expectations in mind, I view KEH as a good value for the buyer. I have never been tempted by their offers to sell to them, however.
I've had two minor problems with KEH (a lens with a seized diaphragm and a Nikon F4 that ate batteries), but overall I am very happy with KEH. The prices are fair, shipping is fast, and the gear is always as expected or better. I got a 220 back for my Bronica SQ-AI recently that was EX+ rated; it was indistinguishable from new. (In fact it had a Bronica film spool in it.)
1) I personally would rather buy equipment which has been checked, even if it costs more
2) Given the fact that goods may need to be returned to KEH quite often, I feel it does not make economic sense for me in the UK to buy from this company.
I can see that it does make sense for others, primarily, it seems, people who live in the US and don't like e-bay. I'm the other way round on both counts! I would only observe that APUGers are routinely scathing about e-bay sellers who say "I don't know much about cameras but this one looks OK" and as far as I can see, KEH doesn't tell me much more than this either. For me, and I emphasize I speak only for myself, and am not criticizing others for what they do, my general preference is to buy on e-bay, making sure that I pay trade price (the price that a full-service dealer would buy in for). In the case of a typical Leica, for example, this might mean that I pay £200 - £225 for a camera that the dealer would sell for £450 to £500. I buy only cameras which are definitely described as working, without physical damage (dents, etc.) and with totally clean glass (I have learned the hard way that having scratched moldy lenses overhauled is not cost effective). Almost always, unless the camera is question is described as recently CLA'd, I send it to Newton Ellis in Liverpool for servicing.
This way, I end up paying mid-way between e-bay and retail prices for a camera which has been fully serviced and will be reliable for quite a while, and is in fact much better than the typical camera from a dealer's shelf. In the case of lenses, I only buy specimens described as totally clean - if they're not, they go back. I have upset quite a few sellers in my time by telling them to inspect their lenses with a torch ("How CAN anyone be so fussy?" they obviously think) and have done so without a qualm. My lifestyle and workload are such that I very much begrudge any time spent testing cameras, diagnosing faults and making returns, no matter how accommodating sellers may be.
Have made many purchases from KEH and always came away pleased. :)