Originally Posted: Sat, 16 December 2006
A client asked my advice and kept me abreast on his bidding of a beautiful looking U47. Then he became the high bidder, at over $6,000.- Then he received the following notice from eBay:
We're writing to let you know that eBay has ended the following item you were bidding on because the item appears to have been listed without the account holder's permission:
Item Number - 20005735xxxx
Item Title - Neumann U47 Kondensator-Mikrofon (Long Body)
We are now working to restore the account to its original owner as soon as possible.
When the auction first came up, the client asked me what he should do.
After I looked at the site, and saw the rather strange combo of vintage parts on this seemingly pristine looking mic (the vintages of electronics, housing tube and transformer varied, and did not match up to the serial number), I advised that if he is the high bidder, to NOT pay the client remotely, for security reasons, but drive up to his location, look at the mic in person and, if the mic and the seller looked trustworthy, pay him cash.
That strategy in the end saved his money and peace of mind.
Another method of relieving a buyer of his money was recently featured in the L.A. Times. I quote:
'Second chance' scams
A classic Romanian scam is the "second chance auction." The mark: an EBay user who has narrowly lost an auction. The scammers can see that the user was prepared to spend, say, $145 on a particular item. They will then try to guess the user's e-mail address so that they can make contact off the EBay platform to offer a second chance to buy the item. Users commonly have the same e-mail address as their EBay user name, so the scammers may send out 50 e-mail messages using an EBay user name and the most common domain names such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo.
The Romanian scammers then cook up elaborate stories to persuade their victims to send money via unrecoverable methods such as Western Union -- even instructing people not to tell Western Union the payment is for an EBay transaction, claiming Western Union will charge them an EBay surcharge of 10% (it doesn't), and instead to say they're sending money to their Romanian cousin.
eBay gets less and less exciting as a place to shop for expensive mics. Not only is it yet another realm on the internet where our innate desire and ability to trust one another is betrayed, and more and more so every day, but where a seemingly easy way for a clean and fair transaction between a willing seller and buyer is shifting unacceptably in favor of the seller:
* frauds like the ones above increase, to the point where I hear at least of one of these cases every week
* scams, like shill games get more frequent, and more profitable in the $3,000 plus range- right at the price range of our beloved vintage mics:
a friend of the seller bids up the price, thus creating the impression of a higher value for the item than its actual or average market value, all the while monitoring, through his access to the bidding progress and history, the bidding pattern.
I am sure there are other scams going and they are probably only growing more frequent, as the market for vintage mics tightens up more, and, because of the seeming ease of transactions, is shifting from reputable, or at least reachable, brick+mortar sellers to the virtual, anonymous market of eBay.
I have warned, again and again, against bidding when no personal contact to the seller can be established, or where the personal contact seems suspicious (late, insufficient or no responses to questions during bidding, ambiguous or contradictory language in the item description, etc.)
As buyers we must find a better way to exchange our money for vintage or other high priced professional mics.
I welcome your tips and strategies, and may include them in a new sticky.