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Steve Grisetti

Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Jul, 2006 6:06 pm    Post subject: Merits of Internet Auctions         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
...I think any more discussions about the merits of internet auctions might be better discussed in a separate thread.

I think Chad's suggestion for a new thread is a good one.

I tend to lurk on ebay, myself. While I have found myself oggling at antiques, I must admit that I don't feel comfortable buying anything truly expensive. At this point, I have made only 4-5 purchases on ebay. All but one purchase was for arms & armor books, including a set of the Wallace Collection catalogues in very nice condition. The non-book purchase was for an Albion Landgraf, which has some flaws, but the price was excellent, and the flaws, in my opinion, turned out to be minor compared to the auction description, and I consider this my best sword value ever purchased.

I have made all of my purchases with PayPal, mostly for the convenience, but it also gives me a (perhaps false) sense of security. Obviously, I have limited my purchase values, so not much is at risk with any auction. I have also paid close attention to seller's feedback, looking for close to 100% positive.

But, what if you see an antique sword out there that, if it is truly as described, is well worth a "high" winning bid, and you feel you must have it. (what does "high" mean? How about a value that you feel you can afford as an investment, but you can't afford to just lose?) What other recommendations do folks out there have for how to follow through with a purchase, while controlling your risk?

"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Jul, 2006 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've made over 150 purchases through eBay and have not lost any money. Save two transactions, every one of them was without problem.

The first flawed transaction involved paying for a home theater item that was never delivered. After two months, PayPal settled the issue and refunded my money. eBay kicked the seller of their site. This was several years ago and I was not accustomed to doing my research. The seller had no reputation (very little feedback) and I wasn't being smart in doing a high-dollar transaction with them. Live and learn.

The second flawed transaction was an instance where a person in London was selling a very large and heavy book. He put it up and listed a shipping price without considering the weight. When the auction closed, he was surprised by the actual shipping cost. I didn't want to push the issue, so we just agreed to let the auction slide and he was welcome to relist the item without his mistake. No biggie.

The other 150 transactions were smooth. I consistently buy merchandise on eBay and have been happy with the prices and ease of communication for every transaction.

PayPal offers insurance on every item should you wish to purchase it. For items costing several hundreds of dollars, insurance cost is a mere few bucks. I've used this option on high-dollar purchases. Luckily I have not made a claim, but I know others who have made PayPal claims both on items insured and not insured. Of the 10 or so claims of which I am aware, all but 1 ended up successfully refunded.

The key to auction sites such as eBay is that you're not buying merchandise from eBay, but from individual sellers. Is the risk greater than buying from a reputable source such as,, etc? Of course! The bottom line is how you weigh these things. In my instance, I've saved literally thousands upon thousands of dollars buying the items I've bought. Even if I had lost a few things in the mix, the end result would have been overwhelmingly favorable to me. This, to me, is an acceptable risk.

eBay and other 'third-party brokers' -- such as,, -- know full well of the uncertainty surrounding such a model. As such, they have put forth many programs that attempt to alleviate any concern. Amazon has their "A-to-Z guarantee" on merchandise purchased from their affiliate network. eBay and PayPal have similar programs that also serve this purposes well. Don't underestimate the value of a vendor staying in good standing with these brokers. The loss of customer exposure from losing one's affiliate status is devastating.

On really high dollar transactions or on purchases that are not “known quantities”, there are several online (and offline) escrow services that can be brought in to add yet another layer of comfort and security to the buyer.

Let’s also not forget that one's credit card company and bank are yet another ally to the buyer and perhaps the most useful and successful of them all!

This, to me, is a lot of things working in the favor of the buyer.

Selling is a completely different story. I've sold over 300 items on eBay through an online store I once had and I would not say that it was the most efficient method of doing business. It did, however, offer a degree of exposure I would not have been able to obtain in any other way at the time.

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Chris Goerner

Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Fri 28 Jul, 2006 4:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Nathan. I have bought and sold about 200 items on eBay over the years. My worst experience was a purchase that the seller was slow in shipping. But the item finally did arive and was even better than I had expected.

As an 18th century reenactor living in south-west Virginia, I have a very limited market to buy and sell quality items pertaining to my hobby. EBay gives me exposure to items I would never find at local reenactments, and visibility to items that I am selling that goes beyond the local trading post newspaper. I have bought and sold items from as far away as New Zealand! That never could have happened except through an on-line auction. In fact, thinking about my current gear, at least half of my items have come from on-line auctions.

Are there risks? Sure. Are there ways to mitigate the risks? Definitely -- Nathan did a great job explaining them. Are on-line auctions worth it? They definitely have been for me.

By the way, I am expecting delivery of a Williamsburg reproduction model 1742 British Infantry hanger today. Guess where I bought it. Wink

Sic Semper Tyranus
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Ken Rankin

Location: North Carolina
Joined: 12 Mar 2006

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PostPosted: Fri 28 Jul, 2006 6:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My wife is the Ebayer in the family. She's been using Ebay for years and out of all her transactions we only had one problem with a guy in SC (we're in NC) who said he had the item ready to ship and then admitted he had to order it first. Sheesh! We didn't get Ebay involved but she needled the guy until we got the item (30 Days of Night Graphic Novel) and he has since left Ebay. My wife should get paid to needle Laughing Out Loud As a rule of thumb, we don't deal with anyone who doesn't have 100% feedback. No negatives, no neutrals. If we do find something and the rating is around 99.7 we check out why it's like that. There are alot of buyers who love to leave crappy feedback, no matter what. So, it's buyer beware. We're just getting into looking for swords and daggers beyond wall-hangers, and try to keep a critical eye out if we can. This list has been really helpful (especially with the Ebay thread) in identifying possible buys and bargins, and the flood of fakes and rip-offs. It's nice to know some experts Laughing Out Loud

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Peter Bosman

Location: Andalucia
Joined: 22 May 2006

Posts: 598

PostPosted: Fri 04 Aug, 2006 12:38 am    Post subject: The Good, The Bad and the E-Bay         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
I think any more discussions about the merits of internet auctions might be better discussed in a separate thread.

Right so let us have it then Laughing Out Loud

Obviously it is buyer beware like everywhere.
This rymes so must be true Wink

For me ebay has made just about any market transparent. Availebility and prices.
Personally I do not actually buy a lot as most times savings in price get ruined by shipping costs.
That said I have bought some specialist stuff I could not easily have encountered anywhere else and most certainly not at the prices I paid including shipping. All examples of the transparency.
For the rest the only certainty we have is that we WILL die Cool

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Sean Flynt
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Location: Birmingham, Alabama
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PostPosted: Fri 04 Aug, 2006 11:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll also chime in for Ebay. I've used it primarily for ephemera and used photo equipment and gotten some amazing bargains. Only one problem, and that was just a matter of a non-communicative, new-item, high-volume seller who wouldn't respond to email (I got the item, just not as fast as I needed it for a birthday gift).

My feeling is that if the item up for auction is used, of relatively low value and sold by the owner, you'll probably be fine. If you're after a high-dollar popular item advertised as new and sold by a dealer at discount prices (Canon Digital Rebel, flat screen t.v., cheese hat, etc.) you may be more likely to run into minor problems or inconveniences. As always, it's good to use common sense about too-good-to-be-true deals. If you're not sure, pay close attention to the number of bidders and speed of bidding. Benefit from the collective wisdom. Cons often run on the fuel of the victim's greed for a bargain. If you're bidding on a "Real Midevil Knigt Sword NO RESERVE!!!!!" or "Original Daguerretype of Confederate Soldier" you may be beyond the help of ordinary advice. A physical intervention may be required. Big Grin Personally, I'd never bid on a valuable antique without being able to personally examine the piece. Just me....

Here's a cold shower for potential Ebay bidders for valuable antiques:

The Civil War seems to be a particularly popular theme for online auction cons.


"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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