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Fighting For The Best Deal - Is It Worth It?


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Well after exhausting all my options of creating my own holder for the webcam, I've gone from the masking tape as in the first image to buying a proper threaded holder in the second image.

Now I'm not usually one to stop hunting around for a bargain, in this case the cheaper options were on eBay. However at what point is a bargain actually still a bargain?

The adapter I bought was going on an auction every 3 or 4 days, I think the starting price was 99p with a delivery charge. The same shop was selling the same item on a Buy It Now price of £14.99 and no carriage. Some of you may be thinking that this is not cheap, but if you hunt around various websites sell these for far more.

Back to the eBay story. I watched one of the auctions come to an end and basically the winning bid with their delivery price won the item for less that £1 cheaper. Now some may say that was a good buy, but you have to get that winning bid in the final seconds at the cheaper price. If you miss then the next item is already listed and it will be another 3 days before it ends. To finally win one of these at the cheaper price could well take you quite a few items going through the system, now if you are not in any rush for one as you just need to replace an existing working setup or just buy a spare then you could argue the case that yes, I will wait until I win one.

By me using the Buy it Now price, yes I paid less than £1 extra but had it delivered to me at work within 3 days of seeing the item on eBay. Would it really be worth the hassle to any of you to having to keep an eye on an item and make sure you try and get the winning bid 5 seconds before the item ends and maybe have to have several attempts to save a few pennies?

Just thought I would raise the point as eBay can work well for you, yes you can get some bargains. One quick website to find a whole host of items. The main problem is that people do not always research the price of an item you can buy new elsewhere, where they end up in a bidding war and pay more in the end. It's almost like gambling, have a limit of what you want to pay and stick to it. If you lose, you lose, but you won really because you didn't end up paying more than you would have done had you been parting with that cash directly out of your wallet.

One final note, I've just tested the holder with setting the scope up at my front door (still inside with door open and tripod at lowest). Found a fuzzy cloud hidden moon with the 20mm EP, replaced with webcam on holder and the moon was spot on center of the frame. £14.99 well spent in my books as it has resolved so many hassles and does exactly what it should do. Just a shame the moon was hidden behind clouds as I could not record anything worthwhile.

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It all depends on the price, IMHO. On something like a £14 item, its worth saving a bob or two (though in the great scheme of things one or two £s really means nothing).

On bigger items I will go with the vendor that I trust. I received a new Starlight Xpress filterwheel and filter set this week. I might have been able to save a couple of quid by hunting around and buying from different vendors, but I used Ian King Imaging. Why? Because Ian is a top bloke, will always give advise and he delivers exactly when he says he will. I placed the order on Tuesday later afternoon, was told that I would have it on Thursday, and it arrived Thursday AM. Ian's prices are very competitive too....sometimes the cheapest. I've spent over £5K with him in the  last 12 months and I trust his service absolutely.

Even if he was a couple of quid more expensive, I would still use him. Good vendors deserve support IMHO.

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I agree with you both about using the local retailer. However there are a few points to be made here. Years ago when I started out in Photography I used my local independent supplier. Their stock range was limited and I had to move on to Jessops. Every shop was different but I got great service from the small one in Ipswich. They were far better than Tekno which had a shop 5 times bigger and was always empty. Jessops bought out Tekno and kept all the shops. The old Tekno shop was still the same poor service. Eventually the Ipswich one went down hill with change of management and I used the Bury St Edmunds one which was small and felt like a small independent the way you got your service. Jessops has now gone other than online. When I was spending £400+ on my first digital compact, DSLR and then finally CamCorder for my 40th I wanted the service and piece of mind from the Jessops store. They even price matched online prices to get my business. Doing this I could just call them, take the item in if there was a problem and get it resolved. For Canon repairs they still had to send it off to Colchester to the approved repairer.

The world has moved on so quickly that most independent stores have gone because they can't compete with online prices and can't hold the stock. Which is why we now have to resort to the likes of Amazon and eBay to mention a couple of a vast amount of websites. Since moving to Cumbria 20 months ago and only recently taking up this hobby there isn't a proper dedicated shop about the area for buying items. When I bought my scope I got it through Maplins (yes some may laugh) but the reason I did that than buying it £20 cheaper off eBay was because even though I did it online and got a reasonable price, if I had a major fault I can walk into any store of theirs and take it back.

I think we will all pay that extra little bit for the service and piece of mind.

I raised this post to show how good or bad something like eBay can be, in that people get in their bidding wars and either spend too much, miss out on the item because it gets too expensive and spends days if not weeks before they finally get the item to save pennies, compared to hitting that Buy It Now button and have the item in a couple of days by spending an extra few pennies. I know some people who have literally spent thousands buying items on eBay, but even I don't have that much trust on big items with the hassle you can get with a small fault.

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I always compare fleabay prices with other retailers, and look for the best overall deal including P&P. Sometimes ebay is more expensive, sometimes it's the only place to find what you want.

For small price items often I can't be bothered to bid, waiting and watching isn't worth the effort. However sometimes it's great, I've got various things including bits of musical gear for far less than you pay in a second hand music shop. Even found good pricing on software.

It's one of those usual things, if you're not in a rush and don't mind spending the time you can usually save, but a balance has to be struck. For me it's not worth spending potentially hours to save a few pounds and often when I want something I want it asap, so I look at buyitnow options with low postage.

That's the other thing, once you've bid on one item you're sort of in limbo against going elsewhere or bidding on other newer listings. My GSO tube was listed on ebay and that's how I first learnt about it, but I contacted the supplier direct and got it for a good price with other things, so ebay is also a great way to advertise and discover suppliers.

Problem is most people know what stuff is worth on ebay, so there are few bargains to be had.

Very please with things like BST eyepieces (free P&P) and other such gems on ebay though :)

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For new kit I'd go to a reputable supplier unless there was a vast difference in price, even then I'd wonder why that was the case. Sometimes second hand kit is a bargain on e-bay but I put in a bid for what I'm prepared to pay and let the auction run, it's too easy to keep chasing an item 'cos its only another quid and end up paying over the odds. I use paypal and a combination of that and e-bay's "guarantee" gives you some comfort if your reasonably careful who you deal with.

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It's all relative really to what you can afford, how much time you're prepared to wait for an item, what level of reliability you want from a seller, and your disposition towards "taking a punt".

To me it's just not worth waiting for an auction for several days for a cheap item that saves me only a quid or two. However, I'm happy to wait several months for a good goto mount, a triplet refractor, or an expensive ccd camera, etc, which saves me three or four hundred quid in the end - or gives me a great deal on new items, or near new second hand items.

But I wouldn't be waiting for an auction for cheap stuff - nor for expensive stuff. Simply because, when buying new gear I'd rather have the assurances and expertise/advice of a good astro retailer, or for second hand stuff, negotiate with an experienced astronomer (preferably known) who's looked after their gear.

In fact - because descriptions are often dubious, guarantees are rarely worthwhile, and it's nearly always a boring waste of time, I rarely use auction sites at all. :)

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I've not really found that many astro bargains on ebay tbh.

One problem with telescopes is also they end up most often being buyer collects, cash on delivery - and again I'm not often inclined to spend hours driving to save a few $ unless it's a must have bargain. 

For small accessories and eyepieces it can be great though. I've had a lot of success finding bargain camera lenses etc, new or used near-new that shops always put a premium on. I've not yet purchased any second hand OTA or eyepiece, only new.

However, http://www.astrobuysell.com/ is a good place to keep an eye on, I got my HEQ5 pro as new ex-demo there for a very good saving, delivered too in the price - happy days.

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Like all things in life it is more complex than it first appears.  Take EBay.  A seller is not just a seller.  Some are private individuals selling an unwanted christmas present, some are Del boy sell anything types, some are specialist sellers with online shops.  Some have thousands of happy trades behind them.  Others created an EBay account two days ago.  Some communicate really quickly and professionally and others don't.  And EBay make all this info available so we can pick and choose.  And offer a third party type of protection not offered by many retailers.

You could do the same type of analysis for physical retailers but it is not always quite so easy as history is hard to find and their locations lead to large cost variations.  

But as said sometimes a punt on EBay can back fire or it can be good.  My from manufacturer Bresser 127/635 refractor cost me £306 incl. P&P on EBay.  The guy had been EBay trading since 2006 and has sold several of these scopes.  He communicated in detail.  He even apologised for a delay in despatch that led to the scope arriving 3 days early :laugh:   Many outlets want over £700 for the same scope.

As for the little stuff I did get a Buy now £22 for £7 on EBay but as you say Langy more often than not the final seconds lead to a price so close to the fixed price it is irrelevant.

I can't agree it takes time though.  Just throw in you highest bid and leave it.  You'll get an email or as I have twice receive a second chance on your highest bid thus leading to you getting it cheaper than the winner  :rolleyes:   My Bresser was won at £327 - poor winner  :grin:

I can't see the specialist retail demise not continuing.  I wonder if the future will go like specialist furniture and aids for the older less mobile.  When my parents had problems we went to a centre in Southampton where we could try dozens of products from numerous manufacturers. And get expert independent advice. They sold nothing.  I guess funded by the industry, safety council and/or government.   Very useful for my parents, no sales pressure, and once decided we were free to scour the internet for best service and prices.

Now a telescope advice centre within 20 miles of my home!  I wonder how much time I would spend there?   :cool:

Happy shopping one and all  :laugh:

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yes it's not black and white, never is - otherwise everyone would use the same place and everything else would fail.

Best thing is just to shop around. I like to know I've got a good deal regardless of what I can afford and I'm often happy with second hand with the knowledge I can use it and later sell it on for about the same price I paid, rather than an instant loss. But it all depends, some things I definitely want to own from new. The fact that a site like eBay offers ease of discovering complete cost with P&P and the fact it by definition searches potentially many suppliers certainly makes it convenient place to look and if the new buy-it-now with P&P is as good as from a retail outlet I've no qualms hitting that buyitnow button (it gets pressed a lot!).

The other thing is though, I do appreciate local shops. There's a couple of astro centres near (ish) where I am and one near where I work. If I go in for a chat and advice I'm more than happy to pay their RRP even if slightly more than I can find in 'bargain-hunt' mode, to support them - providing it's not a rip off. I really appreciate having shops available for a) the advice and b ) the instant nature of being able to collect there and then and c) being supported if there are problems, so for those reasons I'm always happy to try and support them.

Shopping around is healthy, I've made payments to many different astro retailers and suppliers and I think it's good. If you offer something at a good price and have a good reputation then you can expect to take my money when I want that thing you're selling :)

Edited by LouisJB
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