Posted by Lew on April 10, 2002 at 17:23:43:
In Reply to: Re: Tubas on auction site? posted by Chuck(G) on April 10, 2002 at 16:20:34:
I strongly agree. The bargains on that auction site are rare. More often things sell for much more than they would elsewhere. Of course, that's the point of an auction, but as a buyer it is not advantageous. The stores listed on this site are a good place to start. In addition Taylor Music (www.1800usaband.com) and Wichita Music (www.wichitaband.com) often have good used instruments.
If you do want to give the auction route a try there are some rules to keep you somewhat safe:
1. Never buy if you're not sure what it is. That includes brands models, age, key, etc. Those "new" or "bankruptcy" no-name horns are almost always junk.
2. Know the fair market value and don't bid above it. I usually suggest staying at least 20% below the market value. You need to have a good idea of what something would be expected to sell for elsewhere. For example, Conn 20Js generally sell for between $1500 - $2000 in reputable stores. If you really want to bid on one, don't bid any higher than $1200, and then only if you are certain of the condition and playability.
3. Read the sellers feedback carefully. Someone with a large positive feedback can still have many negative ratings. People are generally less willing to leave negative feedback, so if there are more than 1 or 2 negatives DON't BUY!
4. Write to the seller during the auction and ask whatever you can think of that you may want to know about the item. If they don't answer or appear to have no idea of what they are selling, avoid it.
5. Don't get into a bidding war. This relates to number 2, but is somewhat different. If you are outbid on something it is easy to become attached to the concept of buying it and continue to bid even when the price exceeds a reasonable level. Don't do it. I recommend not sniping (bidding within the last couple of seconds), but putting in a proxy bid for your max within the last 5 minutes of the auction. If someone outbids you, let it go.
6. Make sure to insist on insurance during shipping and discuss with the seller how it is to be packaged. This is often the most dangerous part of the transaction. Someone related a story on this board of a helicon that they bought that was shipped from Bulgaria in nothing but a plastic bag. Needless to say the repairs required would have been multiples of the cost of the item. Some sellers have a "trial" period listed. That's often your best recourse in case of poor packaging during shipping.
Good luck with finding a horn and welcome back.