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Stratis

AstroBuySell is getting silly...

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I like many people have used both the Classified ads on this site as well as AstroBuySell for much of my gear, particularly the kind that is from outside the EU and therefore incurs an import penalty to buy new.

Over the last two years I have accumulated thousands of pounds worth of gear, and tend to rely on it for esoteric stuff no longer listed. Always, I have proceeded from the principle of 'first come, first served', if you respond to the ad first in good faith, you are given first refusal; this has been the case for countless transactions.

Recently though, things have taken a strange turn with several sellers.

In one instance, a seller went to another buyer because I asked for his details in order to make payment; apparently that made me look like a 'scammer'.

In another, an £850 transaction went elsewhere because the buyer felt I 'wasn't serious' despite a 20-email conversation about courier arrangements etc.

Just today, I was told that merely registering interest wasn't enough, but instead I was now in a 'race to pay' with others. Attending a work meeting meant I had no ability to do this in time, but crucially, it was a strong inducement to spend several hundred pounds with no opportunity given to inspect the goods properly or to iron out any wrinkles.

This is becoming difficult for me to deal with because I don't understand the reason for it, nor why it is happening so much more frequently now when I initiate all my transactions the exact same way.

Even my most recent purchase of a QSI camera was fraught with anxiety due to the seller suffering from 'timewasters' last time he tried to sell it on ABS.

Is it simply naïveté on my part to expect a registration of interest to be honoured? Are there dozens of invisible dishonourable timewasters lurking on ABS, making everyone extremely anxious with larger purchases and thus seeking the fastest payment?

Clearly a seller is entitled to do whatever they like with their property, but I hope it hasn't reached the stage where no time is permitted to be prudent and cautious, and instead a competition of who can get the dough out fast enough. In the end second-hand buys are about trust, and if someone is wanting a large lump sum and applying pressure to get it in the shortest possible order, that makes me very wary indeed. :(

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You could just buy new, get a warranty, no hassle as to its condition, with most suppliers you get get a 30 day send it back if it's not want you wanted, if you want it cheaper then second hand it what it is, with all its pitfalls...

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Have noticed that there are a number of people that are in effect traders on ABSUK, their details come up too often to be otherwise.

As to register an interest I must ask why that is present, it just seems a little superfluous.

They post and you ask for details, is that not the same ?

From a sellers point I see little point in the option either.

If you register and interest what are they supposed to do if 20 minutes later someone says "I'll have that."

Turning it down and waiting for the registered interest to possibly develop is nonsensible.

Registering an interest would appear to mean the interested party is not actually sure, as in thanks for the information, I'll go and think about it for a while.

"Timewasters" may be either side of the deal.

Possible buyer pulling out at the last minute, or seller not supplying key and relevant information.

A seller will not say they were the likely problem.

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No, indeed a seller will not say they were the problem, particularly as from their perspective the problem is 'solved'.

In my vocabulary, registering interest means "Yes I'd like that item, please send me more details"... perhaps this understanding is not shared.

"I'll have that" is fine for something that's fairly cheap, but is anyone really comfortable spending £1000 on something with only a few lines of text and 75kb photos to go on?

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I agree with you completely Stratis. If someone makes an enquiry it is theirs on first refusal. If I get a subsequent offer they wait usually less than a day for the original party to confirm either way. If they won't wait then so what. I don't like rude impatient people. I'd rather be me.

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I entirely agree with the principle that the first in should be given first refusal, which is entirely how I operate when selling items on ABS-UK or here on SGL.

Unfortunately, not everyone behaves in the same way and I have had a few instances where I have reserved an item for buyers who have subsequently pulled out. Perhaps some people find that too frustrating and just go with the first buyer to offer to send the cash but I don't think that is an honourable way to do business.

That said, I find that the vast majority of transactions go extremely smoothly and I just choose to shrug off those that don't.

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Personally I've never bought or sold on ABSUK but to me "register an interest" means no more than that, registering an interest does not, to me at least, equate to any sort of commitment to buy. If you walk into a shop to get details of an item and the shop sold that item between registering and interest and coming back with the cash I don't think anyone would complain unless they had given a firm commitment to buy, possibly by way of a deposit.

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That's the core dilemma though isn't it;

Should an interested party be expected to 'commit to buy' based on two or three tiny photographs and a four-line ad?

Nobody would buy a car based on those restrictions, despite the items we buy often costing far more than any cheap car and being just as (if not more) prone to barely-visible damage.

Registration of interest is perhaps a quaint and dying concept to some, but to me it seems extremely presumptious to expect more from someone who knows so little about the item. Before purchasing anything of significant value, I always ask for higher-resolution shots by email and try to strike up a conversation just to make sure I'm not talking to some dodgy trader shuffling things off eBay and onto ABS with the usual "Selling my beloved.....", "...hard to let it go but...." platitudes copy-pasted in. If I'm buying a scope, let me see the lens; if it's a filter, let's see both sides and an example FITS, if it's a sensor, does it have a CCDInspector chart?

Seems a bit more reasonable than "Omg great deal I'll have that" on my first email or it's "Sorry chum, someone paid 40 minutes after you emailed me".

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I'm afraid that this is where ebay is better. AB&S should really tighten up on terms and conditions. Unfortunately both market places are rife with greed and idiocy. A somewhat dangerous lake to get into.

There are great bargains and genuine folk out there. It's very much buyer be very very aware.

Nick.

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I stick to the guide line that if some one shows strong interest, i like to give them the chance to complete the deal and yes there are one or two names that are clearly trading on there, i reported one such person but it did no good

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I buy and sell a lot on UKABS and to be honest some-one registering an interest would to me say they "might buy it, but maybe not, they are thinking about it".  

I would expect a more positive discussion like, "I would like to buy this but can I just clarify a few things before finalising the deal", or something along those lines.  I would then give that person first refusal but I wouldn't expect to go back and forth for ages while that person made up their mind if I had other potential buyers being kept on hold.  But I would mention that was the case and probably give them a deadline to make a decision.

On paying I would ask how do you want me to pay and let them make the decision.  I would not choose Paypal as a gift though, no security and mis-use of paypal.  If I know and trust the person I would pay direct into their bank account.  If i didn't know the person I would want to pay via some more secure means.  

Carole 

Edited by carastro
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Hmmm. Interesting thread, this.

I have bought items via SGL and ABS and, thankfully, have had no problem. If I 'register interest' I always include a message saying I would like to buy the item and, usually, ask for a phone number so that we can talk. An exception would be - as it was with my latest purchase on ABS - if the vendor/seller is a member of SGL. Rightly or wrongly, that gives me enough confidence to go ahead without actually having to talk on the phone.

Obviously, the higher the value of the transaction the more one is nervous and I would likely always want to talk. In fact, ABS states on its site that one should never complete a transaction without speaking in person to the vendor.

But, I suppose, at the first sign of any 'messing around' I'd back off.

Any transaction must always be based on trust and given 'caveat emptor', if that trust is not there (home address, phone number, etc.,), then I would be outta there qick.

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I always ask for the sellers telephone number & have a chat directly.  If this can't happen then I usually don't bother with the seller.  I see it as, if chatting can reveal too much they don't want you to know then remain at a distance.  I have never made a single purchase above £300 on ABS.  If I were to be interested in speeding more I would want to pick it up. 

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I'm afraid that this is where ebay is better. AB&S should really tighten up on terms and conditions.

I think that is an interesting point, Nick, but we must remember that Ebay is a business that takes commission from the sales (and therefore has legal obligations and a duty of care) whereas ABS is a free-to-use service that acts like a dating agency putting like minded individuals in touch with one another. They have no involvement in the transaction other than to provide a notice board and a single one-way contact. The rest is up to the buyer and seller to sort out between themselves.

I think if people take care and accept ABS for what it is they will have a good experience. If they look at it as being a professional service and expect someone else to be vigilant on their behalf or provide protection like Ebay or online retailers do they are likely to be disappointed at some point.

As Gordon says, "Caveat Emptor" is a good way to approach using that site - and if you do you will more than likely have a good experience.

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i've bought a few thins theough ABS. Very useful site.

I suspect sellers of useful things often get plenty interest. If that was me I'd preferentially sell to the person who was first to offer the money, rather than entertain protracted conversations. The seller hust wants to shift the item for the most amount of money and least amount of hassle. But then I'd make sure the description of the item didn't leave anything out, so wouldn't need numerous questions to be addressed first.

I have to be honest also, and no criticism of anyone, but if I was a seller and I'd had a 20 email conversation about the courier details, I would be pulling my hair out and be tempted to write "are you having a laugh, do you want this or not?!?!"

James

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I have used ABSUK over quite a few years for dozens of transactions.

For the most part, everything has gone well. I have been dealing with honest people UK and overseas.

As for how the individual transactions go, well we are all individuals and respond differently.

I have met up with people to swap kit/money. Shipped UK and overseas, and had people collect from my home.

One person was so worried I would sell elsewhere, he put the money into my bank account before seeing the goods!

Unfortunately the number of 'unregistered kit traders' on there is spoiling things for everyone else.

These people are usually readily identifiable by them having a history of lots of 'for sale' adverts over a short time.

I tend to avoid buying from them, and don't knowingly sell to them.

Anyone who is trading kit for money should declare their activity.

If they don't, they can't in my view, be trusted.

Buying & selling astro kit is like any other trading. A good trader wants people to know who he is and remember him.

Then there are a few scammers who come and go. Which is why there is sometimes an element of suspicion.

I have only once been scammed on ABS. Actually about 6 of us were taken in by the same person. He was an SGL member at the time with significant posting activity, so gave the impression of being honest. Fortunately he was not too bright and left a bit of a trail. The combined efforts of his victims working together brought him to account.

We all got our money back eventually. He, and two members of his family became 'known to the police'. Their local bank was made aware of the fraudulent account activity. Every Astro Soc for a hundred miles around his home was made aware of the activity and notified of a scope he tried advertising. ABSUK blacklisted him, and he was restricted on SGL.

Scammers don't always win!

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Absolutely right, Derek.

I have been nervous as a kitten with some transactions. On one occasion I upset a perfectly honourable seller 'cos I was so 'determined not to be turned over'. It was a fairly high value deal - well for me, anyhow. But, in the end, when we had talked and I had explained why I was so nervous, everything went smoothly and the transaction was extremely satisfactory for us both.

As before, if you don't like something, if you get a 'bad feeling', just walk away. It won't be the end of the world.

But I'd hate it if the used market became poisoned, so it is worth being careful and communicating among ourselves.

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I have purchased a few items off ABS and also sold a couple. In one instance I was asked why I needed the seller's address and contact number when at the bottom of the automated email from ABS it clearly states:

Never complete a transaction entirely via email.
Speak to the buyer/seller on the phone and obtain full contact information.
It is expected that buyer and seller exchange real first and last names, home addresses, and land line phone numbers.
When using Paypal, never use the gift option for buying or selling goods.

After pointing out the obvious (the above message), he was happy to comply, and the transaction progressed smoothly. I suppose since there is potentially a scummy parasitic scammer around the corner, people assume the worst in other people...which is a perfectly sane thing to do.

If he hadn't provided me his details, I would have walked away...would you send any amount of £'s to someone at the other end of the country with no more than an email address such as HuggyBear1955@splatmail.com?

One thing I don't do is haggle if I am really interested in the item and it is priced sensibly, I just put forward my interest for the stated amount. This makes it an easier decision for the seller not hanging about waiting for a better offer.

I'd prefer to buy from SGL classifieds as there is the possibility of the seller having a reputation (though not always as above in Dave's instance). Whereas on ABS it is almost completely anonymous, unfortunately the classifieds on SGL can be quite sparse.

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I too have experienced the same.

I don't buy much second hand kit and when I have tried to on ABS it has been a poor show. I now only buy off SGL members.

Selling is a mixed bag I am afraid. I have been let down 3 times by giving the first interested party priority even though they said they definitely wanted the item.(Sadly, one of them even thought it was funny to string me along and taunt me afterwards by sending insulting e-mails) However, even with these 3 tainted experiences I will still continue to give first refusal to the initial responder as I believe on the whole the vast majority of people who follow this hobby are sincere :laugh:

Edited by Pig
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I've bought and sold plenty (probably over a hundred items) on ABS. I'm not a trader in any shape or form, I just enjoy trying lots of different kit.

To cover off earlier comments, I think this is just a matter of definition here, but if by 'registering an interest' you mean saying 'I want to buy the item but just need to check out a few things to be sure', then I think that is perfectly valid. I would walk away from any seller who is uncomfortable with this, just as I would walk away from anyone who would not share full name, address and contact details with me.

I always treat enquiries in time order and give first refusal to the first enquiry, even if they just ask a question. If they don't come back within a reasonable time frame then I let them know a deadline before moving on. I've never really had any issues.

I think you do need to be careful about taking up too much of someone's time over arrangements though, a 20 mail exchange sounds quite intense and if they have a more simple sale elsewhere I can see the attraction of taking that.

I do think it is relatively easy to spot scammers. I've only once experienced that when I placed a wanted ad, it was obvious after a number of emails that it was fake.

I've also had an experience with a well known buyer who spent ages trying to beat me down on price for a zoom eyepiece. I ended up selling it cheaper to someone else simply because I did not want to sell it to this annoying person!!

If the seller does not put 'offers considered' or ono in their ad, then I will either buy or not buy at the advertised price. If offers are invited then I may consider one, or may stick to full price if I want it or consider it fair.

I've bought and sold both within the UK and within Europe. My scariest purchase was a Televue 85 from Europe, an expensive buy but it all went smoothly and the scope was beautiful, just as described.

As a final 'grumpy old man' statement, I think that as astronomy becomes more popular, it attracts people from all walks of life and with other interests. Buying and selling behaviour in other areas (perhaps gaming or phones etc) is probably much more cut throat and some of those tendencies will inevitably come into our hobby unfortunately. That's the price of populism!!

So, buyer beware will become ever more important, but aswell, just roll with the punches and go with your instinct. If something does feel right, buy from or sell to someone else, it's your choice.

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I've also had an experience with a well known buyer who spent ages trying to beat me down on price for a zoom eyepiece. I ended up selling it cheaper to someone else simply because I did not want to sell it to this annoying person!!

Without wanting to derail this thread - I think I know who you mean :lol:

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I like ABS and find it the same as any other classified site.

Simple steps to ensure safety work.

If I was selling I would sell to whoever had the cash and wanted it soonest with no obvious issues. Thats seems reasonable to me.

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As someone who has only used it a couple of times, I guess the problem with Astrobuy sell is that it doesn't have any guidance as to site etiquette.

Most people are used to ebay where you can make enquiries with no obligation, and the sale is either the winning bidder or whoever clicks 'buy now' first. It may not be perfect, especially for those wanting to make a big second-hand purchase where they would like to check it out first (such as a scope or a car), but at least the 'rules' are clear and also automated to a great extent which levels the playing field for both sides.

ABS just introduces buyers to sellers and unless purchase is straightforward all it does is initiate a process of negotiation. I guess there are two sides to almost every example given above. The OP mentioned being told they were a timewaster after 20 exchanges about couriers - I can easily see how the buyer sees that as evidence they were serious while the seller thinks things are just being dragged out!

Perhaps one answer to these problems is horribly simple - the telephone! Speaking to someone is far less lilely to create misunderstandings.

The other is, where possible, to collect and pay in cash - that is good for the seller and also allows you to back out if an item is significantly not as described.

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Without wanting to derail this thread - I think I know who you mean :lol:

Me too ! :rolleyes2:

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Perhaps one answer to these problems is horribly simple - the telephone! Speaking to someone is far less lilely to create misunderstandings.

The other is, where possible, to collect and pay in cash - that is good for the seller and also allows you to back out if an item is significantly not as described.

The first 'answer' is, indeed, 'simple' and, as I and others have pointed out earlier, ABS state quite specifically that a prospective buyer should always speak to the vendor. So, to that extent, there is guidance on the site. And let's face it: when you hit the buy button for any web transaction there is an element of nervousness, albeit usually with the added assurance of some route for compensation if things go wrong. But even with that, there is no copper-bottomed guarantee of success.

The second 'answer' is, undoubtedly, the best ... but usually would involve a long journey for me. Rare is the occasion when something I'm interested in is for sale in Scotland. (Something that was, I missed by a day!) And the prospect of driving a round trip of 1000 miles tends to dampen any enthusiasm I might have had!!

The other side of the coin is that even vendors who state 'collection only' can see my reluctance when I talk to them and give my location. This has resulted in agreement to ship on more than one occasion and the deal has gone successfully.

To sum up: talk to one another; get a 'feel' for what's going on and keep email traffic to a minimum - using that medium as little more than a courtesy and to provide confirmation that certain stages of the transaction have been completed.

p.s. I'm somewhat dismayed to learn that all Loungers are not entirely honourable and individuals of the highest probity. How disagreeable! Bring back the birch, I say! :-))

Edited by Floater
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