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09-29-2012, 04:36 PM - 7 Likes   #1
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PF Marketplace For Vintage Gear...Safe For Noobs?

Most of of us who are long-time members here at Pentax Forums have used the marketplace and have been grateful for the existence of a selling venue that caters to the Pentax buyer. I think it is safe to say that most of us at one time have offered an item to sell, purchased an item, or referred somebody to an ad and have done so with a high degree of confidence that our marketplace is a fairly safe place to do business.

That being said, I am afraid that my opinion has shifted somewhat in the last few months. For sure the Marketplace has always had the occasional person selling odd goods (remember the storm of dSLR remotes a few years back), but recently things seem to have gotten fairly strange.

Begin Rant
I had a recent purchase of a Spotmatic with two lenses (ST 55/1.8 and ST 28/3.5) that was a disaster. All items were represented as being fully functional and in "like new" condition and were being sold at the high end price-wise. Unfortunately, only the ST 55/1.8 even came close. The camera was filthy inside and out, was quite banged up in areas not visible in the photos and the backside leatherette was literally falling off. The ST 28/3.5 had evidence of dis-assembly and having its inner elements scoured to remove fungus. All of the glass, with the exception of the front element was visibly scratched and no...it did not take good pictures

I was able to settle with the seller by sending the ST 28/3.5 back (he likely sold it to somebody else who was less picky), paying fair value for the 55/1.8, and parts-only value for the Spottie and having him credit me back the difference and the cost to ship back. The bright part of the story is that the 55/1.8 was type appropriate for my SV (reverse direction aperture ring...obviously was not original to the SP), and the Spotmatic was salvageable. Still a bit banged up in places, but I was able to bring it back to working condition for a little more money than it is worth.

I don't have any particular hard-feelings toward the seller, because I realize now that he is one of several people on the marketplace who are in the practice of "turning" garage sale and thrift shop purchases on this site. I won't mention any names, but he is one of about a dozen people whose activity on the site are pretty much limited to the marketplace and who are constantly in the process of "thinning out" their camera/lens collection.

These guys are on the bleeding edge of what might be termed scrupulous. A few days ago I saw a strange listing for a bunch of lenses and cameras that featured a Zenit 17-69/1.4 in M42 mount. Very interesting! I scanned the listing for comments regarding the lens, but found page after page of "bumps" from the seller, and nothing except for a note that the seller figured the lens was made for a rangefinder or other camera without a mirror since the rear element protruded too deep to mount cleanly on an SLR. He suggested that it might work well on a mirrorless camera. Red flags!!! Zooms don't work on non-reflex cameras and it was highly unlikely that it was originally made for one. As it turns out, the lens was made for a KMZ 16mm movie camera and has an image circle appropriate for that format (translation...very small, even smaller than M4/3).

I commented with my research results and the seller responded by saying that he was aware of the len's original purpose, but that he felt it still might work on a Q or M4/3 camera. In case anybody is wondering, his asking price was a little high for something that "might" work. He has edited his posting since my comment and it is a little more accurate, though not by much.

Rant over...
Bottom line is that I don't think the Pentax Forums Marketplace in its current state is any "safer" than eBay. The same rules apply. Unless you know your seller:
  • Know your items
  • Know your market
  • Ask good questions
  • Demand good answers
  • Know how to check a lens/camera on receipt to confirm condition and functionality
  • Be willing to hold a seller to his claims
...and even if you know your seller, be prepared for the chance that one person's concept of "excellent" can be much different than another person's!!!


Steve


Last edited by stevebrot; 09-29-2012 at 04:44 PM.
09-29-2012, 05:28 PM   #2
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Good to know. Thanks!
09-29-2012, 06:16 PM   #3
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That's pretty good advice, Steve. I want to say though, that I've done quite a bit of buying & selling in the marketplace and have never had a bad experience (so far at least.) I was wary as a noob but the more I participated in various threads and got acquainted with the tools and resources PF makes available, the more comfortable I became. Many of my opposites in transactions have been members who I'd already gotten to know and respect in various discussions but if I find myself dealing with someone I've not previously encountered, I can always vet them by referencing their marketplace rep and forum posts.
09-29-2012, 07:10 PM   #4
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Selling can be something of an adventure as well.

09-30-2012, 06:24 AM   #5
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Why no negative feedback? This post is a warning, but it wll be forgotten soon.
09-30-2012, 07:20 AM   #6
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QuoteQuote:
Bottom line is that I don't think the Pentax Forums Marketplace in its current state is any "safer" than eBay.
...and even if you know your seller, be prepared for the chance that one person's concept of "excellent" can be much different than another person's!!!


Steve
1+ on both these points, Stevebrot. We technically have LESS protection than eBay, as they have some form of arbitration where PF has none ... beyond the reputation system. The current marketplace trend of "gifting" a seller your Paypal payment to save him the 3% fee in effect short circuits the buyer's only hope of help should the seller misrepresent the goods. I personally back away from any seller asking for that or any seller that uses the term "net to me" in his price.

I would also add that while my experiences shipping overseas has worked out fine, I won't play games by misrepresenting something as a gift in the documentation. First, it's illegal, and second, as the shipper I hold the lion's share of responsibility if something is lost or questions are asked in customs.

The biggest change I've seen since I joined PF in 2007 has been the tendency of gear to be overrated in quality. As Steve said in his post, we've got more and more people "flipping" gear on the site, and therefore terms like "minty" or "nearly new" are crawling into posts when the gear clearly is not anywhere near mint. I recently saw a post for a M42 lens that described it "like-new" ... except for some brassing on the aperture ring. Huh? That isn't "like-new" in my book. Ask for lots of photos, buyer. Not just a shot of the front optic and the mount, but everything.

Finally, an opinion ... I personally won't buy from multi-listing posts that list 5-10 items. There's too much room for confusion (what's that price? what's that condition?) and too little actual information about condition, which is often limited to a blanket "everything works unless noted" statement at the top of the post.

I have bought and sold a lot of gear on the forums, and it is a great place to buy the gear we want to flesh out our Pentax set ups. But sadly, we're not a small club of enthusiasts anymore and we need to show due caution when visiting the marketplace.
09-30-2012, 07:34 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
1+ on both these points, Stevebrot. We technically have LESS protection than eBay, as they have some form of arbitration where PF has none ... beyond the reputation system. The current marketplace trend of "gifting" a seller your Paypal payment to save him the 3% fee in effect short circuits the buyer's only hope of help should the seller misrepresent the goods. I personally back away from any seller asking for that or any seller that uses the term "net to me" in his price.

I would also add that while my experiences shipping overseas has worked out fine, I won't play games by misrepresenting something as a gift in the documentation. First, it's illegal, and second, as the shipper I hold the lion's share of responsibility if something is lost or questions are asked in customs.

The biggest change I've seen since I joined PF in 2007 has been the tendency of gear to be overrated in quality. As Steve said in his post, we've got more and more people "flipping" gear on the site, and therefore terms like "minty" or "nearly new" are crawling into posts when the gear clearly is not anywhere near mint. I recently saw a post for a M42 lens that described it "like-new" ... except for some brassing on the aperture ring. Huh? That isn't "like-new" in my book. Ask for lots of photos, buyer. Not just a shot of the front optic and the mount, but everything.

Finally, an opinion ... I personally won't buy from multi-listing posts that list 5-10 items. There's too much room for confusion (what's that price? what's that condition?) and too little actual information about condition, which is often limited to a blanket "everything works unless noted" statement at the top of the post.

I have bought and sold a lot of gear on the forums, and it is a great place to buy the gear we want to flesh out our Pentax set ups. But sadly, we're not a small club of enthusiasts anymore and we need to show due caution when visiting the marketplace.
Ebay is a billion dollar corporation and it allows them to have a mechanism. It is far from fool proof though. We have had some long time members with good reputation in the marketplace and photography forums banned for issues in the market place. I nearly got hosed selling a lens that I bought new. I sent it out with an Asahi Optical rear cap instead of the plastic pop top and the buyer told paypal that the lens wasn't as described. I had already mailed the pop top style cap separately. That has made me dread not only buying things, but selling them.
09-30-2012, 07:41 AM   #8
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The thing is, as PF has attracted greater numbers, the spread of types has increased. So this doesn't surprise me. And, speaking with my moderator hat on, we (the management) don't check these and don't get involved, it's entirely up to the buyer. Ie no responsibility for this is assumed.

A proper feedback system wouldn't be the worst of improvements, I agree. Personally I'd never buy from some guy who registers here just to sell stuff, I'll only use names I recognise. That sort of seems like common sense to me.

What I find quite annoying about the marketplace in Pentax specific forums are people who use this to add another 25% onto the same item price that you get them outside. I guess they think we're Pentax anoraks so can fleece us, but... grrrrrrrrrr

09-30-2012, 09:01 AM   #9
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Lately even known members have asked me to do such things as ship to an address different from the registered PayPal address (overseas!), pay as a gift, under-declare the value, etc.

The most annoying thing, though, is the number of PM requests I get to lower the asking price. I always state the price is the price. what makes someone I've never heard of think I'll accommodate a one-off special request?
09-30-2012, 09:34 AM   #10
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I have only had a very few transactions through the market place, but have been happy with both directions so far. I do not discount PayPal fees, I do not ship as "gift" to avoid customs and I do not request either.
09-30-2012, 12:13 PM   #11
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I just spent an hour typing a replay that I lost, so I will try to recreate.

I suppose I could be one of the ones accused of using the PF marketplace for "flipping" gear as I have bought and sold many things both here and on e-bay. I do this mostly because I'm disabled and bored and it gives me something to do. Plus, the nature of my disability means I probably won't be doing photography soon and so I like to try new things while I can. That being said, I am always careful to try and follow the marketplace rules and guidelines, and I usually will price items lower here than I would elsewhere. The marketplace has a great set of rules and guidelines that I always find helpful when selling, especially the item condition key, which is a great guideline for both buyers and sellers so people are on the same page about what an item's condition should be.

As a buyer, here are a few things I always look for.

Return Policy- Unless an item is sold not working for parts, the seller should have a return policy. If it is listed as working but sold as-is the listing should describe in detail why it is listed as such.

Good Photos- Let's face it we are all photographers here at PF so it shouldn't be to hard to post good photos of the item you are selling. If an item has really bad photos or the seller is using stock photos I usually just pass over it.

PayPal Fees- If an item is listed as $X plus 3% or "gift" I usually just pass these by. As a seller it's not hard to figure in these costs or just write them off as the cost of selling. As a buyer paying via paypal by gift is A- against paypal policy. And B- this basically waives your right to take up any action against the seller via paypal.
This is one area where PF could fix up the marketplace a little bit. PF could make it against forum rules to list items this way.

Check the Member's Profile- I would rather not by from, or sell to a New Member with only total posts. As a seller, I get quite a few messages from New Members, often with under 5 total posts, which I reply to but never hear from again.

Buying (and selling) 35+ year old mechanical/electrical instruments carries a certain amount of risk regardless. I bought a MZ-3 from KEH listed as EX+ and it was basically DOA. Not a huge problem since KEH has a great return policy. Conversely, I sold a very clean old camera on ebay and dthe buyer "tested" it by winding and firing it 50 times in a row, then loaded film and then the transport seized. I gave the buyer a full refund and ended up with a dead camera.

All in all, I think the PF marketplace is a great place and overall is pretty safe, but as membership grows, and more people use it, the risk of running across unscrupulous sellers will grow.
09-30-2012, 12:39 PM   #12
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I've bought and sold quite a bit of stuff on the UK based Pentax User Forum and, thankfully, have never had any trouble. My only purchase which was terrible was through a UK "classified ads" site where the camera was in such a bad condition that when I tried to focus the lens it fell off the camera body. The seller had thrown in some filters "as a bonus". One had a hole right through the glass! When I contacted him to return the camera he got very snippy saying that he didn't know I was a "collector" and he had sold the camera for use. In the end I took advice from the Trading Standards Authority and threatened to take him to small claims court. He then relented and refunded the cost minus the shipping. Thankfully, that is the only terrible transaction I have ever had. And I still haven't got a K2...

K.
09-30-2012, 12:43 PM   #13
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Why no negative feedback?
In the case of my purchase, I should have left negative feedback, but did not because the seller was accommodating. In retrospect, I should have left a black mark.


Steve
09-30-2012, 03:16 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
In the case of my purchase, I should have left negative feedback, but did not because the seller was accommodating. In retrospect, I should have left a black mark.
Steve
It's a tough call, not black and white.
09-30-2012, 06:35 PM - 1 Like   #15
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I've only bought a few times here, and have always been lucky. Haven't yet sold anything though I've got a few film bodies in the reconditioning-works for later.

Personally I think of this as an entirely different animal from ebay. I don't pursue the same goals here and there. I go on ebay looking for bargains, frankly hoping to find sellers who don't quite know what they have, or for equipment that is broken and I am pretty sure I can fix. So, there, I'm an adventurous buyer taking chances. But here, I feel like I know people, or want to. If I'm considering a purchase, I look at the seller's posting history. Are they a community member? Are they helpful, interested? Do they take pictures? Are they here trying to learn things? If so, I'm dealing with friends, tending toward trust, and hoping for a reasonable price for both parties. Otherwise I just don't let myself get interested in the merchandise. I don't look for bargains here. I don't WANT bargains here.

Just my views.

Last edited by Sluggo; 09-30-2012 at 06:40 PM.
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