Tips for buying records online, successfully

Tips for buying records online, successfully

Health Warning: there are probably as many opinions as there are people on this one. I can only give my opinion based on my own experience as a buyer of approaching 400 jazz vinyl online purchases, with about a 5% catastrophe rate, which is probably about average. Your mileage may vary.

1. For Newbies only: what you need to start

Buying  records on-line requires access to a number of services . You will need a permanent postal address supported by a national postal system of repute – many sellers will not post to countries where the postal system has a history of items going missing.

Item location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Postage to: United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan
Excludes: Africa, Asia, Central America and Caribbean, Middle East, Oceania, South East Asia, South America, Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Ukraine, Russian Federation

You will need a good internet connection, a permanent email account, an eBay account, and a Paypal account with a verified bank account and two verified credit cards. Verification is carried out by a Paypal-initiated token transaction used to verify you are the card and account owner. You must wait for the transaction to appear on you card statement or bank statement, and provide the code supplied with it to confirm you are the card holder. The latter is important as Paypal is the preferred and most secure means of payment, and Paypal sourced via a credit card gives you a third layer of protection. Some of these services take a while to set up, but once established you are ready to start buying.

2. Where to buy on line?                                                                                                     

Ebay is the biggest, best and most trusted source, the world’s marketplace. No guarantee of being without problems Ebay  sellers are “policed, feedback is transparent  and Ebay guarantees your purchase in the event of problems.

However there are some downsides. Ebay are not effective at preventing shill-bidding, despite claims to the contrary.  They now insist on collecting your countries customs charges in advance, based on the true auction price (used to be up to sellers what they declared), and recommend the highest cost postal services including tracking, which is costly and unnecessary for buyers in coutries with reliable postal services.

Discogs Marketplace sellers operate on an asking price not auction, which can be cheaper, and I have never had a problem with purchases through Discogs, other than the high proportion cancelled  because the item is no longer available (ie they sold it months ago but failed to update their listing) A high proportion are US based and may be amenable to customs workaround.

CDandLP (many French-based  sellers prefer it to Ebay) and Music Stack are two other channel for vinyl sellers. Maybe I was unlucky but  I have had experience of over-grading, refusal of returns, and failure to answer emails. They lack the support and policing of Ebay and basically you buy at your own risk through these channels, which just bring buyers and seller together and leave you to work it out.

3. Your credibility

The whole world has access to the internet, and while many are sensible and of honest intent, there are also  time wasters and criminals. Some sellers will not accept bids from buyers without a minimum number of purchases to their transaction history, usually around ten. Your score and rating is as important as that of sellers and if you are new to buying on-line, you should first establish your credibility as a buyer.

4.Seller Location                                                                                                                 

Mostly I try to buy through eBay from within my own country area, in my case, UK and Europe. No customs charges (20%) , quicker and cheaper postage, proper standards of doing business, less hassle if things go wrong. For rare or much wanted records, however, you may have no choice but to go further afield. I have bought from around the world – Japan, US, Canada, even Croatia once, though I draw the line at freight from Argentina or walkabout from Australia. So far I have never had a problem simply on account of location, provided you have confidence in the seller, see below.

5. Seller experience
Always check the seller’s feedback as seller! Reasonable volume of sales, 100 plus ideally,  and look at what they sell. Almost all vinyl sellers bread and butter is 60s rock and pop, which is fine,  but if it’s all used car spare parts, and you are bidding on expensive jazz, you need the seller to have some level of experience in what you are buying.

6. Seller rating
100% rating based on sale of records, obviously, but a tad lower is not necessarily bad. Have a look at the negative or neutral feedback, especially reasonably articulate complaints of overgrading,  inflated posting charges, or poor communications.

Some buyers have totally unrealistic expectations (“It’s got a mark!!) or are chancers hustling for a discount, so response to feedback is important. Some buyers are trouble, but there are sellers who consistently over-grade and if they have three or four complaints which are plausible, this should be your biggest alarm bell, walk away. Another copy will turn up at some point.

Note: It is not unusual for sellers to say they do not accept returns. A “return” in Ebay-speak Ebay (I’ve changed my mind, don’t like it, don’t want it) is not the same as “Item not as described“, which is a formal claim of misrepresentation, which is very serious stuff. If it is not as described, Ebay rules the seller has to accept its return, though you may have to accept a loss on postage in order to get the deal done.

7. Record Description and value: is it the ‘original’ release? (’50s- ’60s recordings)

There may be many different releases of a recording over the years, only one of which is the most valuable “Original” release, or “first pressing”.This is where it gets a little more difficult. You can get everything else right, but none of it counts  if you don’t get this right.

Strictly, the “original” is the first release/first pressing in the country of origin. First release of recordings from the early ’50s may be in 10″ format, subsequently recompiled for 12″.  The first original is the factory sample/ test pressing, first of the first, of which possibly a dozen or fewer exist. Then a few hundred promotional copies, stamped something like “review copy/audition copy/ promo/ demonstration/ non-returnable” would be sent to radio station disc jockeys –  many of these only mono, the format of radio at the time. Then we see the first commercial release, typically the figure of 4,000 copies has been mentioned for Blue Note, sometimes more, some less. If a record sold well, further copies would be pressed to extend the first release, sometimes with small changes in features, a grey area.

Whilst Blue Note records were manufactured in just the one plant, in New Jersey, other labels  record manufacture moved closer to markets,  and a first release may have been pressed at several different plants in the US, for example, Columbia manufactured from three plants, in New York, Indiana and California, with all three potentially the original “first” pressing but different matrix numbers.

Record label owners  exploited their back catalogue and  many records would be reissued within a few years, especially popular artists. The term “second pressing” is fair description, often using the same original master metalwork, sonically indistinguishable, but with a change of label detail, to some collectors without the “original” cachet. Others consider a second or subsequent pressing by the same label as still “an original”, as in “an original Blue Note” ie. before the company’s sale in 1966. Watch closely for sellers who say the record bears the “original label“. An original labels does not necessarily mean an original pressing. It was common practice to use up inventory stock of early labels on later reissues.

A special category of “original” is the first release in other countries e.g UK or European original release of a US recording. This was usually remastered locally from copy tapes, the exception being Prestige, who for a number of years supplied some countries with US stampers taken from the original master. There are a number of examples eg Rollins Saxophone Colossus where the UK Esquire pressing is said to be superior sonically to the original US pressing (from experience, untrue), but the domestic original will still sell for three times the price. The exception is labels like Riverside and United Artists, where US pressings can be noisy, while the UK/European Interdisk releases pressed by Decca or Philips are superior.

…or is it “a reissue”?

Lower down the scale of desirability and price come what are properly called ” reissues”, recordings re-released over the following thirty or forty years by the new owners of labels, or licensed to other labels, often re-mastered, suffering from the declining quality of vinyl manufacture. To collectors, reissues can be worth less than a tenth of  an original, and reissues passed off as original is one of the biggest hazard of buying on-line. Do not rely wholly on sellers descriptions – I have seen the word “original” on many later pressings and reissues.

Another special case is modern reissues which claim to be “from the original tapes”. Basically, everything is from the original tapes, one way or another, even an MP3 download. Only a small number of trusted persons ever had physical access to the original tapes,  especially not two DJs in Paris who claim their digital transfers are “original analogue sound”, because they are CD transferred onto vinyl, which is an analogue medium, so “sound analog”. There are some pressings actually remastered from original tapes.

Incomplete description hazzard

In the case of reissues of earlier Blue Note releases, the most common description problem is “omission” – as in “RVG! NY! 63rd address! 1957!” Where you would expect the “ear” and it is not mentioned, there is a 90% chance that is because it is not there. It is not an original (pre-1966) Blue Note pressing, though it may still be worth chasing as the first wave of reissues by Liberty using old stock labels and covers contain many very fine quality pressings by Liberty-owned All Disc, Roselle, N.J , just not by Plastylite. There are around forty Blue Note recordings (catalogue number lower than BNLP 4250) released out of catalogue sequence after 1966, without the Plastylite ear There are also over three hundred “Blue Notes” whose first pressing was by Liberty Records Inc after 1966, on the Division of Liberty  label, for whom the ear is not expected either

Sometimes sellers of a reissue – innocently or deliberately – remain silence on it being a reissue or leave a clue buried in the small print, a trick I fell victim to recently, practiced by a seller whose neutral feedback indicated this was not the first time. Emboldened by success, the seller improved the “re-issue” confidence trick by baiting an auction with a high opening price appropriate to an original pressing, and not a cheap reissue, which is what it was, a sting. Ebay will support a dispute case only where there is deliberate misrepresentation.

Watch out for sellers who tell you when the recording was made, not when the record  he is selling was made – ” Hank Mobley Blue Note 1957″  Sure it was recorded in 1957 – so what? He is selling a reissue from 1987, but wants you to think he is selling the 1957 pressing. Strangely this is not against the rules.

8. Asking  questions of sellers

Ebay auction gives you the facility to ask questions of the seller. Ask questions well before close of auction, and thanks the seller in advance for his help. If you get no reply, walk away. However questions may alert the seller he has something more valuable than he thought – I have had items withdrawn from auction for this reason. The seller can also choose to make  public his answer to you, alerting other bidders of its value and pushing up the price. There is a balance of risk and reward and silence may be the key to a bargain.

9. Condition of vinyl

If you intend to play the record – not all collectors do – this is the hard part, with the greatest element of luck. The seller can see the record, you can’t, so we are all depending on words to describe condition. Despite systems like Record Collector grade definitions, many sellers use common expressions such as “in very good condition” or have a different interpretation of the huge grey area of VG and VG plus, or are talking up the grade to get a higher price. Most sellers are reputable and honest, however some are hustlers, inexperienced, or just have a different opinion to you.

I recently returned a record (above) described as “VG plus” which I grade as “Fair” – which means almost unplayable. At the other extreme, some sellers describe every fault in grisly detail, and from experience, the record plays very nicely.

The premium gradings  like “sealed, still in shrink, looks almost unplayed, NM (near mint)and Excellent (as a grade) are obviously the most desirable but can fetch double or even treble a similar copy graded as VG plus. Wealthy collectors, often from overseas, demand NM for the rarest of records, hence prices in thousands of dollars. A look at Popsike is essential  to tell you what you need to know about how scarce an item is, what price top condition copies fetch, and where average price and condition sits. Always look before you bid, because other bidders will have. But at the end of the day, only you can decide how much you are prepared to pay, and what condition is acceptable to you.

VG plus” or VG++ (some sellers only use VG), correctly applied, I consider the lowest grade worth considering. Acceptable wear and tear means with a few clicks and pops, superficial scratches which don’t sound, or if they do, are few in number and of short duration –  no more than three or four rotations. Any needle stick or jump is unacceptable, as are deep feelable scratches of longer duration, and a multiplicity of scratches. If they were not declared, it will go back for a refund, and possibly a loss on postage.

10. Auction or Buy It Now?

Generally, desirable records will be found only in an auction, which can realise the best price for the seller.  Buy-it-now is mainly the preserve of sellers with a large warehouse of  records, who are using eBay as a permanent storefront. The  best will do a buy it now or make an offer: I have found a respectable 15% discount usually hits the spot. People who make silly offers get treated accordingly.

Be warned, Buy-it-now can also be a dumping ground for records with some minor fault, hoping that a lower fixed price buyer will forgive the fault in return for the low price, or won’t be bothered with the hassle of returning it. Some time back I bought a buy-it-now copy of a Mingus from a large seller that was described gushingly as Excellent but had a loud three-minute scratch  through the important first track. I sent it back, but it took a month to get the begrudging refund.

Occasionally an optimistic seller will put up a desirable record on buy-it-now at a sky-high price. An Esquire Saxophone Colossus which sometimes fetches up to £300 turned up recently on Buy it Now at £400, and regularly fails to secure a buyer, only to be relisted. The seller is waiting for someone who just wants it and doesn’t care what it costs. Auction is a better deal, and a lot more fun.

11. Reserve price

Sometimes an auction will have a (undeclared) reserve price to ensure it doesn’t go accidentally too cheaply. There is a minumum reserve price of about £50, but the only way to find where the reserve is on any particular auction is to bid. While you are under the reserve price you will get a “reserve not met” flag from Ebay. There is no room for curiosity. A bid that meets the reserve price is automatically treated as a confirmed purchase bid and you will find  that you have “bought it” unless someone eventually  bids over you. There is no scope for deciding the reserve is “too high” and backing out, except through a formal retraction, which goes on your profile.

12. Bidding tactics: eBay for Dummies

You have found the record you want, you have done your due diligence, it is time for bidding. I don’t understand why anyone bids before the last-minute, apart from whiling away time in the office. You are giving away your own position, giving other bidders the advantage of that knowledge. None of the early pocket-money bids mean a thing. They are a lottery ticket. Usually, the final winner will not have bid at any time before auction close.

Research the market and decide what it is worth to you and leave the “lotto players” to make the early bids.  Use a sniping service, I recommend Gixen, (the free, or better, premium for mirrored bid) and load it with the maximum it is worth to you, bearing in mind all the extras like postage and customs. A glance an hour before close can be a useful check, as the current price may already have overtaken your snipe. Gixen will email you automatically when your snipe has been outbid, so you can increase your snipe if you wish.  It’s a good test of how badly you want it. Update your snipe if necessary, then walk away. Win or lose, you will be content, because you have decided in your own mind what it is worth to you.

If you keep losing, there is a message: you are playing out of your league and need to up your game and start to win. There are no unsuccessful record collectors, any more than there are unsuccessful parachute jumpers.

Or perhaps you are a “Lotto player” hoping one day for a lucky win, or you suffer low self-esteem and need to lose constantly to confirm you are worthless.  Seek professional help.

You may be tempted to put in an “oversize” bid to guarantee you win. I am sure that is how the very wealthy collectors play it, because basically they don’t care how much it costs. Unless you are in that very fortunate position, an XXL bid is dangerous. It leaves you open to “shill-bidding”, an “illegal” practice whereby the price is pushed up by another bidder in collusion with the seller, to maximize the final sale price. Equally, there may be another XXL bidder in the wings, in which case one of you is going to feel some pain on the final price. That’s what happened here:


The market price was settling nicely at $300 when two last second XXL snipes collided in mid-air and doubled the final price. Nice record but no way it is worth $630.

A word of caution: Tokyo record sellers “Disc Union” regularly bid on US and European Ebay auctions of original collectible jazz in excellent condition. Their team of buyers are highly knowledgeable, understand market values,and their budget  can be more than local bidders.  They resell high-end collectibles at eyewatering prices to wealthy  Japanese collectors who can’t be bothered with the hassle of bidding, postage and customs.

The rule remains: never bid over what you are happy to pay.  Know your “house limit”.

Records are still an investment

Records are valuable antiques. They will never make 1957 again. Vintage collectable vinyl should retain its investment value, but even if it doesn’t, you can still have the pleasure of playing them, which is a return on  investment not available to stamp collectors, who can never use them to post letters.


Advanced bidding tactics:

In most cases a  snipe for your maximum price set to a couple of seconds before auction close is the best strategy. Ignore the current price, it is meaningless. Do not bid early because you alert other bidders to your position. Just play your hand when it is too late for other “manual” bidders to respond and leapfrog your snipe.

During the final couple of days, if you are the current highest bidder, say at $100, you can opt to increase that bid and confirm it, at say $500. The price to beat which will be seen on the screen is just one increment above the current highest bid – $110. No-one will know there is a dormant bid of $500 already placed. Except if they throw in $120, or $200, they won’t become the highest bidder. At this point panic sets in, and you see the same bidder escalate bid after bid, unsucessfully, until its too rich for them and they drop out. The dormant bid is a bit like a snipe, but it does reveal your presence if not the amount, and can be beaten.

You can increase your chance of winning at an acceptable price by BOTH sniping AND bidding manually yourself  at the last second.  Here’s how.

Set your sniping service to snipe at somewhere around 10-15 seconds before close, which will smoke out any hidden dormant bid.

A couple of hours before close, open three ebay windows on screen, set up three manual bids, and add an “increase offer” to each for different amounts – say $200, $500 and $800 but hold back the “confirm” click in each case. These are now primed to fire on just one click. Watch the closing minutes countdown.  The price will start to escalate – watch your own snipe kick in. If your snipe hasn’t been high enough to be declared winner, in the closing seconds, you have a window in which you can decide which if any of your  three primed bids you fire off at one second, having seen where the price is appearing to finish.

Nothing is guaranteed, because the highest  bidder  will always win, but it gives you some control in the closing seconds, prevents you losing because your snipe turns out set too low, allows you to bale out if its become too rich, or escalate further if you decide its worth more to you after all. It just requires split-second timing and nerves of steel, that’s all. I hesitate to recommend this play, because you will find yourself at some point up against people who want to win, whatever it costs. And you don’t want to accidentally beat them.

13. Payment

If you have been successful in the auction, it’s time to pay. I always pay straight away, within the hour if possible. It costs exactly the same as paying days or a week later, but you will have given the seller what he wants more than anything, which is money straight away with no hassle. That is the time to ask favours in exchange, like could you please post quickly, or hold back posting till next week, or hold back for further postage savings.

14. Your record arrives… 

Before you do anything else, inspect it closely and play it through on both sides. Some of the things to look for are covered by Inspector Vinyl (link updated)

15. If things go wrong…

With vinyl there is always a degree of luck. Many sellers do not play-grade, and grade only visually. To sellers, ignorance is bliss. Records can look Excellent to the eye but have chronic surface noise, may be manufactured with recycled vinyl, or have a hard to see defect causing needle stick. Or they can look superficially terrible and play absolutely perfectly. Your record cleaning machine may be your best friend at this point.

If you feel the record condition on arrival isn’t acceptable, don’t start with negative feedback. Confrontation is the last and not first resort. Go back to the seller via Ebay “contact seller” using the “not as described” button, put your case reasonably (don’t accuse him of lying – yet!) Propose return for refund, and see what he says. If he doesn’t really want it back he may suggest an adjustment, or just OK a return. If he refuses return and you are confident it has been misrepresented, open a case with eBay and/or Paypal, and expect to wait weeks for an investigation and conclusion, and you will very likely get your money back eventually.

At the conclusion of the process, post feedback. If you have got a refund with no hassle, reward the seller with positive feedback or at worst, neutral. Leave a comment in the text. Mistakes happen. The only time I felt need of negative feedback, the seller who absconded with my money was struck off anyway. I am still pondering what to do with the US seller who just sent me a “Fair” condition record described as “VG+” . What does “Does not affect play” actually mean?

16. If things have gone right…

90-95% of the time things will be fine, so leave good feedback. If you can’t live with 5-10% failure rate, vinyl may not be for you, consider sticking with The Evil Silver Disc: CDs. Alternatively, increase your medication, keep calm, and carry on regardless.



20 thoughts on “Tips for buying records online, successfully

  1. All buyers with experience have their own bidding methods. I use Esnipe to snipe enter my bids. I always research the market, and I set my bids below FMV. I am a knowledgeable buyer, and know how to read between the lines. I can set up to 20-30 snipe bids per week, and most are unsuccessful. But the ones I do win are often very good deals- purchased below FMV, arrive in better condition than expected, are earlier pressings then described etc. I have also determined how accurate several big sellers are in grading LPs. There are a few that under grade in m opinion- and bargains can be found. Slow and steady wins the race.


  2. Old thread, but I’ll chime in to second the “ask questions” advice. It’s saved me a few headaches on Discogs, where sometimes the sellers, even when honest, aren’t always aware of the arcana of the labels. Most recenlty it spared me from purchasing a West Coast Liberty that was adertised as plain ol’ Liberty (the seller had no clue there was a difference – lucky civilian, happy in his ignorance of vintage jazz record label esoterica).

    Most recently I saw a Horace Silver title on eBay today that was advertised as first press, “New York City” label, “ear,” Van Gelder stamp, all the goodies. The seller only posted two photos, neither of which included the dead wax. Reading LJC I knew the importance of confirming whether there was the Plastycite “ear” and asked for a photo.

    The response I recived back was literally: “Why do you need a photo?”

    Hard pass.

    Asking questions will give you not only the details but also the context. If something smells fishy, let it rot.


    • Photographs from discogs for anything original is a must have. Excellent point. I would say that on discogs, most valuable (>$100 or 100 euros) original pressings listed are, in fact, not.


  3. LJC, I don’t understand the deal with the Inspector Vinyl link in the text above. It takes me to a page that says “Sorry, you are not allowed to edit this item.”
    Are you sure the link is correct? Could you post the correct link, please?


  4. GLOBAL SHIPPING PROGRAM (GSP) ALERT. Recently I encountered problems with a U.K. seller who had subscribed to EBay’s GSP. He could not execute my shipping instructions because he had to ship through an EBay dispatch centre. So my precious vinyl would pass the hands of some idiot, checking whether the record was in conformity with seller’s description. This in order to enable them to give EBay’s guarantees to buyer, under their new buyer’s protection program. Further research learnt me that this GSP is operating in the US and the U.K. only. In the US they boast that you have not got to worry about customs in your country: they will make the calculations and you pay upfront. So, no way of instructing your buyer to put a realistic value on the customs declaration. They will just put the purchase price as a basis of their calculation. Many american sellers already prove to be rather unflexible in this respect (“we will not cooperate for you to cheat your national tax authorities” and similar objections, or “it is against EBay Policy”.
    With my U.K. seller I have found a solution: we cancelled the deal, he cancelled his GSP subscription and he put the item on sale for the previous auction price at a pre-arranged date and time. I bought under the “Buy it now” formula. With a rigid american seller I could never have accomplished this.
    I have decided not to bid anymore on items which are offered under the GPS program. These guys (sellers) deserve to be boycotted for their stupidity and EBay for their ever growing intrusion into our collectors’ habits, driven by cupidity (it for sure is not a free program, they are making money on the back of sellers and buyers).
    I invite everybody to look carefully and avoid sellers who adhere to this stupid program.


      • What with obligatory tracking, insurance and sky high postage, this is the final straw for Ebay international commerce – commercial madness, not acting in the interest of buyers and sellers, their customers, but tax revenue collectors. Adding insult to injury, they dish out the usual smarmy – “We are doing this to improve the service for you”. No, they are just putting up the cost of auctions and international sellers will suffer the consequences. Rudolph’s solution seems the only way to go.


        • Ebay appears to be the villain here. In fact it is not Ebay, it is the respective foreign countries. Ebay volume is immense and each shipment across boarders but done in ways that circumvent import duties is lost revenue for the receiving country’s tax collector. Ebay can be threatened with restrictions unless they agree to comply with (local) import regulations. The same here in the US. Ebay now collects Sales Tax on each and every sale. The tax is paid by the buyer, but the seller is also charged a fee because individual states threatened to bar Ebay from doing business in their state unless taxes were collected and remitted. Big Business cares about revenue- and often at the expense of the customer. But there are times when Govt Bureaucracy is the malevolent hand….this is one such time.


  5. Your site is incredible, I work part time at the Jazz Record Center, and I have learned as much as here as browsing Mr Cohen’s book! Anyway, can you tell me how to set the sniping seconds in Gixen? It seems to be set at a default, and I can’t tell what that is. Best and keep up the brilliant work.


    • (Blush) Glad you find it useful. JRC – nice place to work!

      Unfortunately the Gixen free service doesn’t allow you to customize the time of the snipe. That is available only if you subscribe to the mirror service. As I recall its default is five seconds. The mirror service is paltry $6 a year, and guarantees more or less fault-free sniping as it arms two snipes, from independent servers, so if one goes down the other is still placed. ( You don’t bid against yourself, no worries)

      Ebay don’t like Gixen. They would rather you placed your bid, then escalate it. The way I see it, that forces you to declare your interest, and that is not in your interest.

      You need to bid very close to close, as that doesn’t give other bidders enough time to escalate their response. The downside of being a second or two off close is if your bid is very similar to someone elses. If your bid is not at least an increment above theirs, you lose, despite being technically higher. The earlier one wins.

      Fun eh? I haven’t won anything in ages. Some peeps got far too much to play with.


      • I did pay the 6 bucks for the mirror service and I can see it right there on the screen. But no way to change the default snipe time in preferences. I will email the company and thanks for your speedy response.


  6. Having difficulty understanding import duty. Received two Japanese imports and well satisfied. Purchased another couple from the same seller, but got stung for £3.50 plus £8.00 handling charge. Items were declared at 3,000 yen.
    Is it just pot luck?


    • At ease Colonel – import duty kicks in at a round £18 item value, which is just about where 3,000 yen falls. (I read somewhere the Revenue wanted the de minimes limit scrapped, in order to hammer Amazon’s dodging VAT reimporting from the Channel Islands .)

      Most (though not all) US sellers sensibly declare a nominal value. Its no skin off their nose and they don’t see why they should help the British treasury and punish their overseas customer. I have noticed however Japanese sellers seem scrupulously honest (or foolish, in my view) and declare everything. I have had stuff sail through and other times I got whacked. I guess it’s sort of random for small ticket items. They have a Customs and Excise department at Mount Pleasant, the incoming post sorting centre, specially to catch it, I guess it depends how busy they are.

      The £8 Royal Mail tax collection charge is pure evil. I wrote to them to suggest since they are collecting it on behalf of the Treasury, perhaps the Treasury should pay them to collect it, not me. Also it is a criminal offence to interfere with the post, which is what they are doing, and there is no VAT payable on second hand records. Got a snotty letter back which said basically they can do whatever they like. Highway Robbery used to be illegal, Dick Turpin would have agreed with that.


      • Many thanks for the reply.
        I have just rediscovered a passion for vinyl collecting. I sold all my good records for peanuts around 15 years ago! Recently, whilst boxing up my belongings in anticipation of a move, I perused what was left, which was stuff that would never sell. The mere pleasure of just handling albums again sent me straight to eBay and my local North London record store and I have been gradually rebuilding my collection.
        Being a gentleman of limited means, I am probably going to visit Lexington Avenue before purchasing any of its produce, but would still like to confine my buying to items that retain quality and hold their value. I have decided that Kings and Toshibas are most likely to figure in future shopping lists. Perhaps, I should shop from Japan one item at a time.
        I’ve got to say that LJC has become my number one web site (apart from eBay ) being not only informative but laugh-out-loud funny. I often browse through it, whilst enjoying breakfast in bed and attempt to entertain my wife with selected readings whilst she gets ready for work. So far, she is having difficulty in appreciating the humour, but I am sure that she will get it eventually.


    • You are very welcome. I am not sure it is in my interest to give all this advice as I am arming my “competitors”, but I know a lot of sellers check the blog too, and I like to think informed buying and selling works best for everyone in the long run. And at the end of the day, the highest bidder wins.


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