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7.1 Marketplace hints/guidelines


This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.

7.1 Marketplace hints/guidelines

From: Jim Siler <ksi@panix.com>

: Are people really willing to pay 10% less for a "nearly new" MTB when
: they
: a) often have no assurance that it really hasn't been used
: (except of course someone's word)

: b) may have to buy, unseen.

: c) may not get a transferable waranty on the MTB

I think that in general, many people are acutely aware of what they
spent for a thing and are woefully unaware of how much value that thing
lost when they walked out of the store. Let's assume for a moment
that I buy an XTR rear derailleur in my local shop (good practice,
worth some added cost) for $100. I use it for a week, and trash my
frame and want to part it out. Hmmm... this was $100 new and its only
a week old, virtually new. Let's ask $90 o.b.o. and see what happens.

Now I change roles and become the buyer.

I go to my local bike shop, where I trust the owner and am willing
to pay a premium, but no XTR rear derailleur. Next stop mail order.
Everyone but everyone has it for $80, plus shipping, but less tax.
They will take a credit card. The unit is warrantied, in the box,
with instructions (the value of which should not be underesimated).

Given this I am unlikeley to even consider the used part. But let's
suppose I offer $75, and send off my money order, sight unseen.
What can happen?

1 -- It never arrives. After a number of hassles and excuses I
realize that there is a major problem. Email stops being
returned. I contact his sysadm, who can't do much. I
publicly flame him, starting one more interminable flame
war. Eventually I either get my $75 bucks back or not.
Even if I get the derailleur (remeber, the original
object was the derailleur) I have bought myself
hundreds of dollars worth of aggravation.

2 -- It arrives and looks like hell. C'est la vie.

3 -- I arrives and one week later it is obvious that something
is seriously wrong. No amount of adjustment will cause
it to shift reliably for any length of time. See 2, above.

4 -- While waiting for arrival i trash MY frame. Derailleur
arrives. Sadly, I have nothing to hang it on. See 2,

Let's run through the same scenarios having purchased through mail
order, using a credit card.

1 -- I don't pay. If they get pissy about it I do too. As most
mail order houses have, at best, a fragile relationship
with Mastecard/Visa (it is VERY difficult to open a merchant
account to accept credit cards over the phone for mail order,
so difficult that many use their in store accounts, faking
signatures) and are dependent on that relationship to stay
in business, they tend to become most reasonable when you
make real noise with the credit card company.

2 -- Unlikely, as goods should be new. See 1, above.

3 -- Warranty problem. If you have a good local dealer, you
would have been better off there. If you have a so-so
dealer you may well be better off through mail order.
Worse comes to worst, see 1, above.

4 -- Worst case, you eat a restocking fee.

In general, I would be hesitant to buy anything here for much more
than 60% of its mail order price, unless the product is exactly
what I want and all else is right.

I have bought two things this year through this group, a GT Zaskar LE
frame, new in the box with slight cosmetic ding for $350 (negotiated
from $375) and a Flashlite 2 tent with a tiny hole, professionally
repaired, for $100. Both carried resonable prices in the original
post, offered to pay the shipping, and clearly spelled out the
possible problems with the product for sale. Both sales were
satisfactory to all involved, and I am delighted with both.

I have seen many other Items for sale that I have wanted and bought
elsewhere because the posted prices were so ridiculous that I
had no basis for negotiation. Typically, these are reposted with
sad wonderings as to why no one has responded. C'est la vie.

In general, I think that anyone wanting to move something quickly
through posting should do the following:

Be realistic with price. Look at the true market value of
your goods. It is not what you paid. You are going to take
a loss. If your fork, which was the hottest thing in July
of this year, cost you $600 in a store is not any better
than the new $375 fork that is available in December, its
market value is certainly no more than $375, if it is new.
Unless limited availability takes it out of the commodity
realm (e.g., my Zaskar frame with blemish had only limited
availibility) knock off 40% of the realistic market value.
Our fork is now down to $225. If this makes you too
queasy, up it a bit and throw in shipping, say $275 with
U.P.S. ground shipping, hmmm... not too bad.

Clearly state everything of importance to the buyer, good
and bad. This will avoid later hassles, and greatly increase
your trust factor.

Don't initially offer at an inflated price, thinking to
negotiate down (remember back to Onza Clipless Pedals for
sale flame war). It just makes it clear to an intellegent
buyer that you are hoping to find a sucker, and will take
whatever advantage you can. This may not be true, but it
will be clear, nonetheless. Trust factor goes down the

Make phone contact as soon as possible. A human voice is
often more comforting than an email address.

To anyoune who has read this far, thanks for putting up with my
rambling and opining.


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