A selection of life’s low points in buying records through eBay.
- Another ebay seller with a different understanding of “VG+” vinyl grade (added 14th Dececember 2012)
That deep scratch across the last track clicked loudly for about 3 – 4 minutes. The surface showed a previous owner who took no care with his records. I hesitate to say it but its French. It went back.
- E bay Seller WLTM naïve buyer (added 15th October 2012)
An Ebay seller is offering a copy of Lee Morgan “Indeed!”:
“I am going to tell you a lot of things that don’t matter, like the track listing, which artists plays on it, where it was recorded, and such like. Everything you would get buying a CD. I a NOT going to tell you anything important for buying a record that would allow you to put a value on it, like when it was manufactured and by whom. I am also not going to show you anything that would enable you to value it, like letting you see the label or jacket detail. I’ll use a generic cover photo, trimmed-off edges.”
“Its in near mint condition!” And it is “Used” apparently. I bet if you were to ask you would get: “ I don’t know much about records, I’m selling it for a friend” Here is the value of auctions for the “real thing”:
Amazingly, three bids, standing at £10, and seven minutes to go. By the time you have added the postage, you have paid twice more than the shop price of a Scorpio, which is almost certainly what it is: a digital to vinyl transfer. The seller has not said anything wrong, all factually correct. They have just omitted to tell you it is a reissue.
Extraordinarily, Ebay do not consider this misleading or fraud.
Lee Morgan Indeed! Mona Lisa, painted in Florence by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1506, in beautiful condition!” opening bid £10m.
On the same basis as the Lee Morgan, you could sell a copy of the Mona Lisa. As long as you don’t say whether it is a copy or the original. ” Sorry, I don’t know much about art, I’m selling for a friend”.
- “Bringing a whole new meaning to VGplus”
(posted 2nd August 2012)
In many ways this has been a good week, but the experimental return to buying records from the US has just crashed and burned. This was the baby – Roy Haynes Cracklin’ on New Jazz (1962 original) – and this was the lure:
Conoisseurs of exclamation marks and hype will say: Watch out!. But it is very rare and an incredible record (needless to say, all but unobtainable on CD. Useless record companies!) The promise of VG+, despite “light scratches that do not affect play” was too strong – note 12 bidders felt the same. So this morning, the postman knocked twice and moment of truth arrived:
Track One, Side one, “Scoochie” – what you see above is what you hear below
I’ll let you judge for yourself how you would grade and describe this record, after use of the word “RARE!!!” ofcourse. I think the grade is “FAIR” – significant surface noise and not well cared for. 1950s owner with heavy tracking weight radiogram arm and propensity to jogging it, or early onset of Parkinsons at a guess. It prompted me to ponder the meaning of “Does not affect play” and “sounds great”. . I fear this one will have to fly all the way home to the US, leaving me out of pocket to the tune of UK-US both ways. I really don’t understand why US sellers chance this kind of selling.
UPDATE (15/8/12): Seller issued a full refund on return of the record, but he’s a game lad, it’s gone straight back on eBay with a new photo and quietly amended mis-description that owns up only to light crackling. You have to admit, its an appropriately named record. The search for a decent copy continues.
- “Damaged in transit”
The inglorious end of a fantastic ebay score, damaged in transit as a result of the seller’s careless packing. A very rare record just got rarer, with one less in circulation.
The seller packed the record with the bare unprotected vinyl surface against the surface of an old dirty polythene jacket which had probably an old office metal staple loose in side it. The damage was fatal, resulting in needle sticks and multiple deep scratches, rendering this previously excellent copy of Tubby Hayes “Down in the Village” worthless. So sad.
Tubby Hayes “But Beautiful”, complete with needle-stick finale at 5:25 – perfect for repeating breakbeats
- Sellers grading of vinyl condition
Not this sellers finest moment. He claims to adhere to Record Collector grading standards, sort of. “Would be Ex but for the scratches”. One of the “this puppy would make a happy and lively family pet were it not dead” school of seller. Perfect but for the faults.
- Communications with Sellers
Or this aspiring eBay seller making his first sale. Zero feedback, no reputation score, a newbie. We’ve all been there, you have to start somewhere, it’s coming up to Christmas, perhaps he needs the money, so I took pity on him and decided to give him his first big break into the glamorous world of big-time jazz selling:
He took the big break, and fell flat on his face. Some people you just can’t help. First basic principle of selling records is do not break them, especially not after you have just sold them to someone else. An eBay auction is a legally binding contract, to buy and to sell.
One day I hope to sell on eBay, but all my friends who have done it give just one word of advice only. “Don’t” The consensus seems to be that buyers are awful. Who, me?
Don’t like records which are expensive
The search for an affordable copy of certain records which figure highly in the trophy hunters sights. Everybody digs Bill Evans? Apparently so.
These three copies of Bill Evan’s finest record came and went in the space of one week in the run up to Christmas. Santa! Are you listening!! Four times I have been second-placed in auctions for more sensibly priced copies of Bill Evans “Waltz for Debby”. One day, one day..
UPDATE The day finally came – a second chance offer scooped it up at around $200, near mint cover and record, though UK Riverside and mono. I’m happy.
- Taxing Experience What is a used record worth?
Its just a lump of old plastic. Is it an original pressing holy grail collectors item? Or just a scratched and dusty disc to hang on a wall as a little retro chic. You know what you paid for it, but what is it worth? Most ebay sellers are content to enter a nominal amount – it means nothing to them but can mean a lot to the buyer in another country, at the mercy of customs officials employed in the postal distribution depot. However one new York seller casually declared the auction price, $170.
The UK threshold for tax on imports is £18 – around $25 declared value. Any more than that and state-sponsored robbery starts – 20% of the declared value “Value Added Tax” (adding value to who exactly?) plus an outrageous £8 /$12 “administration charge” by the Royal Mail for collecting the tax on behalf of the government. Your record is held hostage until you pay
The ugly face of petty administration, chasing pennies.This package from Japan was held up for a week in order to levy a few pounds of “Value Added Tax”. I wrote to them these were second hand records on which VAT did not apply, and value added to whom exactly?
The bureaucracy eventually replied negatively, but I got some small satisfaction knowing they had spent more money collecting and corresponding with me than it was worth.