Two more second-hand record shops I frequent regularly in London are in the process of closing their doors due to rent increases. The story is the same each time: the business is moving online as the only way to survive. We are rapidly approaching the time when you will only be able to buy online, so I thought I might establish an “LJC Boot camp”, to help everyone get match-fit for dealing with issues with buying second-hand records online, and on Ebay in particular.
“Hi, I’m a Search Engine. How may I not help you today”?
Wading through results of an Ebay search for original “Blue Note”, even after you have carefully customised to exclude CDs, 7 inch singles, new records, Buy It Now, and (forgive me) from Japan, it is still like searching for a pearl on a huge stony beach. Somewhere among all those re-issues are one or two original pressings, in decent condition, from a credible seller, whose current auction price is not already three times over your house limit. You just have to find them.
Ebay seller would like to meet naïve buyer, with a view to “e-commerce”
No getting away from it, buying and selling online is a battle of wits.
One record I spied typified the sort of ambiguous offerings you see in their hundreds, but its artful barefaced-cheek managed to entertain me long enough to adopt it for the introductory training course. But first, everyone has to introduced themselves to the group, and tell them one thing about themselves no one else knows.
Online Boot camp Day One
An Ebay seller is offering an L.P: “Lee Morgan “Indeed!”: This is a real life case, which auction closed yesterday, screencaptured below.
The sellers unspoken dialogue: I am going to tell you a lot of things to describe the content of the LP , like the track listing, which artists plays on it, where it was recorded, and such like. Everything you would get when buying a CD. I am 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 yourself, like letting you see the label or jacket detail. I’ll use a generic cover photo with the edges trimmed-off.
“It’s 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” Below is the value of auctions for the “real” Lee Morgan Indeed!, as battle-hardened collectors know only too well to their cost:
Amazingly, our cheeky Ebay seller has three bids, standing at £10, and seven minutes to go. I am sure those bidders know it is not an original pressing but all the same, by the time they have added the postage, they will have paid getting on for twice the shop price of a Scorpio, which is almost certainly what it is: a digital to vinyl transfer. The principle is what matters. The seller has not said anything wrong, it is all factually correct – they have just omitted to tell you it is a reissue. Not against any rules. If they had been really clever, they would have a start price of £100, implying it is an original. That is not against any rules either.
Extraordinarily, Ebay do not consider this misleading or fraud.
On the same basis as the Lee Morgan, you could sell a copy of the Mona Lisa, as long as you don’t say it is a copy or say it is the original.
Lee Morgan Indeed! Da Vinci Mona Lisa, Recorded at Van Gelder Studios Painted at Da Vinci Studio, Florence – in near mint condition!” Opening bid £10m.
Question to seller: Does it have the artist’s signature LdV at the bottom corner of the canvas please? Thanks for looking.
” Sorry, I don’t know much about art, I’m selling it for a friend. I’m afraid it’s packed up and ready to go, sorry. It’s a really nice painting“.