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10-16-2009, 08:48 AM   #1
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question on lens sales ethics

Question on buying/selling.

Owner sells mint fully functional SDM lens. Buyer receives carefully packaged lens, says it is in great shape, but says it doesn't focus. Seller suggests cleaning contacts. Buyer does so and says the AF now works.

One month later buyer contacts seller and says the lens doesn't focus. Says he only used it for 10-20 shots. Doesn't want to send it to local Pentax shop for repair, instead asks seller for full refund.

What is a reasonable solution?

10-16-2009, 08:57 AM   #2
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great question.

in my mind, if you can document that the lens is problematic from the onset, then you may have a case to get full refund.

this is especially true if the "mint" lens required some cleaning in the first case,

however, there are some potential downfalls here also. The buyer may be able to claim it's your camera, not the lens, since cleaning contacts may be applied equally to both halves of the contact. Additionally, and I am nervous about cleaning contacts, is that if they are cleaned incorrectly there is potential to do more harm than good, by removing the micro thin gold plating, making the pins prone to oxidizing.

In general they use gold because it is inert, and should not require cleaning at all. I have never ever cleaned the contacts on any of my lenses, or my cameras, and never had an intermittent issue. This experience covers since 1991, my PZ-1 plus SMC FA 28-80 and 28-105 zooms, my SMC-F 1.7x AF TC, since 2003 my *istD, and SIGMA 70-200 F2.8, since 2005 my K10D, Tamron 28-75 F2.8, and Sigma 10-20 and now my K7.

To me, things that need cleaning are simply not "Mint" but defective. You can give the seller 2 options, pay for the repair or refund the money.
10-16-2009, 06:08 PM   #3
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I think I may have a different view. A month is a long time. If it were a new item from a reputable retailer, you likely wouldn't be able to send it back after a month. A used item from a private party should be expected to have an even less generous return policy. Person-to-person sales are typically expected to be final, "as-is" sales with a return only possible in the case of an item that is DOA or misrepresented. And, admittedly, that's where the odd behavior in the beginning complicates things to some degree.

But for the most part, that focusing "hiccup" should have been even more impetus for the buyer to sort out the behaviour right away. It's not the seller's fault the buyer only took 10-20 shots over the course of several weeks. If I had just bought a lens I was even the least bit suspicious about, I'd have run it through its paces right away. That's because anyone should know that time is not your friend when it comes to returning anything. Every moment that passes after the sale adds probability that the lens might be no longer in exactly the same condition as when it was sold.

The longer you sit on an item you bought, the more you lose the right to send it back. If you buy a Christmas present for someone in July, and they discover it's broken when they open it on Christmas morning, you're not going to get the store to take it back. Doesn't matter how little it was really used.
10-16-2009, 07:01 PM   #4
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Tough one, i'd have sent it back right away .... clean contacts or not, it smelt like trouble.

If it was a formal transaction i'd not allow a return, if on this marketplace i'd allow the return as it's a community here.

10-16-2009, 07:24 PM   #5
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Kind of a tough call, but it does seem like a month is kind of a long time to expect a full refund for what is/was presumably a fully functioning lens that just stopped working. If the lens is still under warranty, perhaps the seller could pass along the sales receipt to the buyer so they could have the repair done under warranty and not out of pocket.
10-16-2009, 07:33 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by aerodave Quote
...
But for the most part, that focusing "hiccup" should have been even more impetus for the buyer to sort out the behaviour right away. It's not the seller's fault the buyer only took 10-20 shots over the course of several weeks. ...
i agree with aerodave - if i were the buyer and the problem came up again after a month, i would have a hard time trying to contact the seller at that point. seems by then, the seller has no responsibility for the issue nor can either party prove the issue was the fault of the other party. I'd say you're on your own at that point.

likewise, if you adopt a child who grows up to be an adult of questionable character, you can't really return him/her to the agency.
10-17-2009, 07:08 AM   #7
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I'd have to agree with aerodave and MikeSF.
10-17-2009, 07:18 AM   #8
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I'm in agreement with everyone here. Even most stores are 14 days with new items. I offer 7 days with my used stuff on Ebay. A seller has no idea what has happened with the gear and the buyer is probably telling a white lie that he/she only took 10-20 shots in 30 days. (which is it? 10 or 20 and why don't you know exactly for sure?) If it were me and I had to clean the lens to get it to work, I'd have taken a couple hundred shots in the first 24 hours.

Like Lowell, I've never had trouble with contacts and that's after a lot of cameras and lenses under some hard use. Cleaning is not done with an eraser BTW.

So IMO the buyer needs to send the lens to service and possibly the camera as well.

10-17-2009, 08:06 AM   #9
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I just sold a bunch of lenses. My FA50/1.4 went halfway around the world, where the buyer discovered a flaw that I hadn't noticed. He mailed it back to me, I got it fixed, and now I just have to test it and send it back. He offered to split the repair cost, but I'm not going to hold him to it, as I should have noticed the flaw during my use of the lens.
In your example I think that since the buyer did report a flaw immediately, there is some onus on the seller to do something for the buyer, though the buyer leaving it for a month is rather delinquent.
If the lens is still under manufacturers warranty, then sending the buyer the original bill of sale would allow him to get a warranty repair.
Otherwise I would offer to split the repair cost of the lens.
Note, a lot of this would depend on the relationship I have with the buyer. If it's someone I've "known" for a while on a forum or mail list, that's one thing. A sight unseen buyer who I don't have a feel for would probably be on their own from my POV simply because I have no reason to trust them.
10-17-2009, 08:09 AM   #10
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Good point Wheatfield and if there is a receipt that still has some warranty, then they could work out a solution to split costs for shipping to service or something. But I still think the buyer should have dealt with this right away. That always makes me suspicious that something else is happening.
10-17-2009, 09:40 AM   #11
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As with most disputes, a trusted third party is the best alternative. The buyer should send the body to Pentax for a checkup. If they determine that the camera was at fault, the seller should pay the repair bill and shipping. If the camera checks out, the buyer should simply acknowledge their faulty claim and move on. Seems simple enough to me.
10-17-2009, 09:45 AM   #12
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If I was the seller, I'd accept the return, since an intermittent fault was reported promptly by the buyer and there's no evidence that the buyer is acting in bad faith.

If I was the buyer, my expectations would depend on how the lens was advertised -- for "mint", "like new in box", or "reconditioned" I expect the item to be functionally equivalent to new.

If the item is advertised "as is", I know I'm taking my chances.
10-17-2009, 01:59 PM   #13
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Original Poster
Thanks for the opinions. I also posted this question on a few other boards and got a number of responses. The majority opinion seems to be that once the buyer receives the item and says, "it works great, I love it" the transaction is over. Most indicated that there is an implied window for any return/refund requests, and 3+ weeks is certainly outside of that period.
10-17-2009, 03:59 PM   #14
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What shipping method did you use? I once shipped a lens internationally using EMS/Xpresspost and it had apparently been damaged in transit (this is a premium shipping method). Fortunately, Canada Post was able to pay for the repair and even refunded me shipping (which was a LOT).

I generally do not take responsibility for shipments not purchased with some sort of guarantee. One European ebay buyer left me neutral feedback for taking so long to ship but he had opted for a basic shipment method so all I would consider doing after dropping the box off at the post office is file for insurance if it was purchased.
10-17-2009, 04:54 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by nostatic Quote
Thanks for the opinions. I also posted this question on a few other boards and got a number of responses. The majority opinion seems to be that once the buyer receives the item and says, "it works great, I love it" the transaction is over. Most indicated that there is an implied window for any return/refund requests, and 3+ weeks is certainly outside of that period.
I would agree with this. If I sold a lens and heard back that it arrived safely the buyer has 1 week max to contact me about any concerns. After that it's on there end to follow up on (whether they took 10,000 shots or 2 - it isn't of my concern). It's their responsibility to ensure that the product meets their expectations within a reasonable time frame.

If within the first couple days they come across a concern - I'm not haggling anything either. Sending it back to me for a full return is the only option I will accept - and from that point forward our transaction is over.

I take extensive pics of items I'm selling so the buyer knows exactly what they are receiving, as well as I know the exact condition it was in prior to it leaving my hands. After 700+ ebay auctions I've had zero problems and zero neg. feedback for any item I've ever sold.

In my opinion the concerns with this lens are the sole concerns of the buyer.

c[_]
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