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Old March 11th, 2003, 09:21 PM   #1
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Ebay opinions? reliable?


I'm in the market for a camera and have been doing oodles of research. I've basically decided on the GL2. I notice the prices on Ebay vary greatly. Some are in the 1500-1700 range and include a bunch of accessories. Now I know that the included accessories are probably worth about as much as they can be tossed and I've seen other threads saying just that. However, say the seller does appear to be reliable (arguably) because of a significant history and apparent sense of professionalism (as professional as vendors get on Ebay) and I can actually get the GL2 for 1600 +/-, wouldn't it still be a prudent decision, given that other vendors are charging in the 2000 + range for the same camera. I mean, if the camera is factory new, and it comes at a good price, who really cares what quality of the included accessories are? I might get some use out of them, especially being a novice I'd rather screw up a cheapo lens than an expensive one.

Any opinions?


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Old March 11th, 2003, 10:07 PM   #2
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My experiences on Ebay have been pretty positive. I've managed to acquire several Mackie mixers and M-audio speakers for quite a bit less than the best deals on Pricewatch. I will offer one piece of advice. Check on the sellers ratings. Disreputable sellers use floating names and have no references. The more references a seller has, the better. Also, no matter how trustworthy, you don't want to get a camera that has been heavily used. Worn tape transport can be almost as expensive as the camera to replace. Always use something like PAYPAL to pay with...it protects you and it's convenient. Paypal has a return policy.

Hope this helps some.
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Old March 11th, 2003, 10:07 PM   #3
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Hello Eric,
I have to first disclaim that I detest eBay, based on personal experience and experiences of friends and aquaintences. It's fine for risking $20 for a pair of bunny slippers but not fine for much else.

That said, there are legitimate sellers on eBay. Zotz Digital, one of our sponsors and a first-class outfit, occasionally sells gear on eBay.

But when it comes to a $2,000+ camera that's widely available for competitive prices whay in the world would anyone bother? How long did it take to earn or save that money? Our site's sponsors, ZGC and Zotz for example, price that GL2 extremely competitively and they support their sales extremely well.

If you just can't help yourself, make sure that you only buy from an authorized Canon dealer on eBay. Spend the time to do some due diligence. You can bet that all of the low-ball eBay prices are come-on's and scams. There are no "incredible" deals on this equipment.

Read through the experience that Michael Midddleton posted here this week. Read through Dylan Couper's article on the Watchdog portion of this site. Realize that the low-ballers that offer big accessory packages are scammers such as Broadway that are just waiting for the very young or the very uninformed to bring cash into their doors.

My advice: buy from a reputable dealer.
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Old March 11th, 2003, 10:15 PM   #4
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Thanks Ken, I was just about to post a link to my experience. They guy that I was working with is still out there, and somehow manages to change his username, and assign completed auctions to unsuspecting other ebay members, making it very difficult to keep track of him. I emailed him from another bogus addy today to try to get info on another auction that he has listed.

It seems he has a pattern of selling under a username with "Member" followed by a number (ie. member888732). I've seen at least three he used in this format. However, when you send an email and he replies, it comes from ebay@uslaptop.net. I notified Ebay, but haven't received a response, and I he changes so much it's imposible to keep track of him. I'm hoping to continue dialogue with him, though. If I see him, I've registered another bogus name, and I'm going to put a rediculously high bid amount on all his auctions. See if he's stupid enough to file a complaint. Don't worry, I'll make sure it's really him.

If anybody requests Western Union or wire transfer, forget about it! Ask if they'll accept COD, and you might have a little protection. At least you'll be able to inspect the packaging before you accept.

Ebay is fine, but be very cautious on high-ticket items.

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Old March 12th, 2003, 05:30 AM   #5
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Ebay sale prices appear to be a bit higher than you might pay elsewhere, espeically for used gear. A number of retailers use Ebay as well. Like any auction, the bidding fever can drive prices up higher than the street market. But ther also is risk in buying something you can't see. So buyer beware.

Does PayPal provide the buyer any protection?
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Old March 12th, 2003, 11:31 AM   #6
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I'm 100% satisfied with about 60% of the Ebay purchases I make. P.O.'ed with the other 40%. For me, buying a GL2 would not be worth the roll of the dice.

Despite all the signs of fraudulent auctions, things like this one still happen...
Happened to one of our members actually, and is a frighteningly realistic scenario.
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Old March 12th, 2003, 02:00 PM   #7
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Ouch. Just read through that entire webpage about Lawrence Anderson. Sounds like poor Charles got stung pretty badly.

I hope that he will eventually get his money back, and it certainly scared me away from buying something as large as a camera from E-bay.

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Old March 12th, 2003, 09:21 PM   #8
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Have both bought and sold on eBay--low end and high end items (cameras, etc.). Not one problem to date. Like everything else, few creeps give the whole thing a bad name (and we're talking about millions of transactions).

The bottom line is just use some basic common sense. If it looks too good to be true, it is!
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Old March 12th, 2003, 10:10 PM   #9
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I've had about 100 Ebay purchases. Of those, I've had 3 complete rip-offs, totaling about $800, none of which were camera related. One the person sold me a non-functioning item, and then dissapeared. And the other two just kept my money. This was before I had Paypal and was paying via money order.

Most of the other complaints I have stem from items that are in worse shape than described, or electronic items that have bugs, but still work.
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Old March 12th, 2003, 11:35 PM   #10
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I have got around 50 auctions under my belt and all have been sucessful do to a little paranoia and research. Making sure that the seller has a good reputation is key, but dont rely totaly on the reputaiton because it is becoming more common for scammers to post auctions under reputable sellers id's. I agree with Michael if they ask for a Western Union wire transfer stay clear, every single auction that i have followed that will only accept WU transfers has turned out to be bogus.
Western Union=Scammers Paradise. Another thing look at how the item description is layed out. If it is a cut and paste description and does not have personal photos of the item you might want to be a little leary too. Most of the time people trying to scam others will not invest the time to make the auction personalized. Just use common sense when looking at stuff on ebay.

Good Luck
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Old March 13th, 2003, 01:54 AM   #11
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ebay purchase??

I look at the feedback and make a judgment call from that i.e. if you can afford to loose five bucks on an item that you want, not need, then it's fine to buy something from someone with little or no feedback. Be wary of hotmail, Yahoo or other freebie email accounts, you'll have no way to trace a person. Get a PayPal account too, they'll back you up in a dispute. Call & email people, ask lots of questions, the good sellers will be glad to talk to you / email you. Auctions with cut and paste pictures of high end stuff are always questionable. Ultimately itís just like a yard sale, if you buy it at a yard sale and itís broken when you get it home...oh well, better luck next time.

If you are going to drop some serious money on a high end piece of electronics (camera etc.) then pony up the bucks and buy from a reputable dealer, like site sponsor Zotz or B&H etc. and you will also be assured of getting a warranty & support if / when you need it, and most of the freebies you get in those cheap packages are second rate fluff anyway. I try to buy locally that way I have local support on the non send-it-back stuff.

And for the eBay haters... I'm sick of hearing how BAD eBay is!

If while in New Orleans, someone asks you to pay them to tell you "where you got your shoes" It will probably cost you $5-$10 to have a local scam artist tell you "you got them on your feet", You can't hate New Orleans, you just pay the money, and chalk it up to experience.

I have been using eBay for over five years, and I'm an eBay "power seller" I have never lost a cent or been screwed. I have bought and sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods on eBay on / from every continent with no trouble at all. I believe the eBay credo that "People are basically good". In fact, I supported myself almost entirly on eBay income last year.

Ebay is not inherently bad, it's not possible, it's a company that provides an on-line auction site. Nothing more nothing less.

There are bad people on eBay though, and as the old sayings go; 1. If it sounds too good to be true it is, 2. there is a sucker born every minute, and 3. buyer beware. I know there are plenty of people who just got screwed, but so many times I canít help wonder why some people didnít see the problems with the deal when itís so easy to see it coming reading the stories. I read the story posted earlier (see item 1. too good to be true). There is a reason no one else bid it up, they knew the guy was a high risk!

The world is filled with creeps, and if there is money involved you can be sure there are always going to be some of the creeps involved, and I don't give a damn what organization it is. Look at TV and all the phony auto and food products, hair, makeup, diet, health (ad nauseam..) products for sale there and the totally dishonest claims they make! Why then don't we bash all the networks that allow them to proliferate?

Case in point; people have died from the (totally ineffective) diet pill Matabolife 356 in the USA popularized from television advertising, I say if you or someone you know only lost a few hundred bucks you are still way luckier than those folks, and the networks are STILL advertising that crap!

Donít bash eBay unless you are going to bash the entire media world for the same thing, they all allow bad advertisers just as eBay does. At least eBay tries to police the creeps, and with the help of people like me creeps have actually gone to jail for rip-offs conducted there, but the media networks just keep on collecting the money and looking the other way with no accountability, responsibility or guilt!

My 25 cents, I'll shut up now ;-)

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Old March 13th, 2003, 06:04 AM   #12
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Great write-up Mark!
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Old March 13th, 2003, 08:05 AM   #13
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eBay reliable? Yes. PayPal reliable? Yes. These services work as advertised. But both are just in the middle. The bottom line is that eBay and PayPal facilitate a transaction between a seller and a buyer, taking almost no responsibility for the outcome.

That means the real question is are eBay sellers reliable? The answer is mostly yes; I've been very pleased with all my low-ticket transactions. But the number of big-ticket scams "facilitated" by eBay seems to be growing. Camcorders, for whatever reason, seem to be a popular item for scammers.

I think we all have a false sense of security about eBay when compared to other online transactions. We're very used to the safety of credit cards brought about by legislation put in place 35 years ago. PayPal isn't a credit card and therefore doesn't have the same safety net, but when you are doing a PayPal transaction online it "feels" like a credit card transaction. How could it not be safe? PayPal provides incentives for folks to use their checking accounts and some sellers state up front, in contravention of eBay policy, that the buyer has to pay the fees for PayPal transactions coming from credit cards rather than checking accounts.

As for checking an eBay seller's rating, that can be tricky, too. My plan was to wait for the seller to rate me, then rate the seller once the goods had arrived. I always pay immediately, so I expect almost instant feedback from the seller. That usually happened.

In one case, the seller did not give me feedback and did not ship the goods. I had to pester the guy with email and register a mild threat before he shipped. He had promised to ship ground and claimed he did, just a day or two after I paid, but in reality he shipped express at his expense two weeks later. I still hadn't gotten feedback, so I pestered him about that. No feedback.

So I had gotten the item, it was acceptable and as advertised, but I was irritated at the transaction. I wanted to leave negative feedback, but because the guy hadn't left me feedback I was worried that he would pan me after I panned him just to get even. Ultimately, I decided to give him a rating of positive, but when I wrote the comment I used the language I had intended to use for the negative rating. A week later he left what could only be termed reluctant feedback with a positive rating.

This experience made me realize that the feedback system is pre-disposed toward positive ratings and, therefore, not as objective as it should be.

I think eBay is great for small sales. I would hesitate to buy a big-ticket item this way unless the repuation of the seller was unquestioned and I paid with a credit card. Even then, I think I would be nervous.
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Old March 13th, 2003, 11:53 AM   #14
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It's as good or as bad as you make it

<<<-- Originally posted by Will Fastie : eBay reliable? The bottom line is that eBay and PayPal facilitate a transaction between a seller and a buyer, taking almost no responsibility for the outcome. -->>>

It's a flea market, if you have ever been to a flea market, you know you need to be careful of scammers. Do the organizations that provide space for sellers at flea markets try to weed out the deadbeats? Yes, just as eBay does. But I make my point again, eBay provides a virtual parking lot for buyers and sellers, just like a flea market, it's not up to them to babysit every transaction. The rest is up to the people who use it. I have never been screwed because I'm overly cautious, and understand the sometimes lousy human nature, and I don't get caught in the heat of the moment. Trading on eBay is as good or as bad as you make it. eBay is NOT an on line store, so if people think they are shopping at Sears or Amazon, and they get burned it's because THEY don't understand the basic principle of eBay and haven't read the thousands of pages of material on safe trading posted by eBay and it's users.

On feedback; if you don't have the guts to leave negative feedback for someone who didn't follow trough on a transaction you are part of the problem! I have left lots of negative feedback on traders, and consider it my responsibilty to warn other users. I know someone who got a couple of negative feedbacks for doing that, he was pretty concerned about it at first, but when you do the research you see that the good guy has 300(+) and 2(-) both from a guy that has 3(-) and 3(+) so who are you going to believe? It's just common sense, follow the feedback thread, and you'll see who the loosers are.

If you buy something from a TV (or any) ad that is junk do you blame the TV? The network? The advertising agency? The actors in the commercial? The camera operator? The cable or satelite company? The mail man who delivers it? No you blame A. youself for buying a piece of junk, or B. the company you bought it from. To say that eBay is at fault for facilitating the transaction is akin to blaming the mail man for delivering the junk you ordered from a TV ad because he/she should have "protected" from the inferior products that you ordered.

If you have never purchased an inferior product, or gotten a raw deal in your life then you are the exception not the rule. And if you did who did you blame then? I'm not saying that I have been totally happy with every purchase I have made on eBay, (or from any other source for that matter) that's not the case, I too have gotten some lemons, but overall I have saved thousand of dollars on products that I wouldn't have been able to afford at retail prices. I have gotten some stinkers, but I have also gotten some once in a lifetime deals. Ever play a card or board game? Not every hand or roll of the dice is a winner, but that's life.

My advise about eBay, flea markets, used cars, wifes etc.. know the rules of engagement, do your homework, be optimistically cautious, don't do something stupid, and be accountable if you do and don't blame someone else (like eBay).

You have the greatest gift of any being on this planet - free will, use it wisely!
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Old March 13th, 2003, 12:17 PM   #15
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A lot of really good, practical advice coming up on this thread.

The flea market analogy is apt. I suppose Ebay is no different than any marketplace. Prices and quality will vary, along with with the morals of vendors. The majority are well-intentioned people who operate a legitimate business who treat their customers with respect and expect the same in return. But there are always those types out there who have less than admirable standards when it comes to ethics. Since ebay is a new, relatively untested technology for facilitating transactions (as opposed to say, a basket of nuts on the street with a small sign next to it) it must appeal to scammers who busy themselves finding loopholes and cracks in the system through which they slide their sticky fingers. The owners do their best do patch up the holes but the creeps are persistent. It's akin to an arms race. But such is human nature. We are in no drought when it comes to selfish motivations, typically at the expense of others, which is just plain wrong.

I think it is important to distinguish between Ebay itself and those who abuse it for their own gain. In my opinion, it is a well-operated, well-managed company that provides a very valuble service to the internet economy. Its one of the rare websites that actually MAKES money. From what I've seen, they do everything they can be reasonably expected to do to to ensure a satisfaction among its users but no complex machine is without its flaws, which means some of the responsibility rests on our shoulders to keep it rolling along safely. The scammers are the pests that need to be fogged out. They are the wrinkles in a dress shirt, the stain on the tie, the loose piece of elastic on a pair of underwear! We can iron them out, wash them away, or trim them off but there will always be more.

I'm new to this forum. Is it frowned upon to post a link to an auction on ebay for evaluation?

I remember when that elian gonzalez thing was going on in Miami, someone was selling a jar of air from outside the home he was staying at. And there was that baseball player recently who was gonna sell his bone chips that he had removed because they were extraneous growths of bone (don't know the medical term for that). Ebay removed that auction. Anyone ever run across some really nutty things on Ebay?
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