Is ebay a safe place to sell expensive cameras?
November 25, 2009 1:21 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering selling my Leica, M-6 camera on Ebay and was wondering if Ebay is a safe, reliable place to sell expensive gear like this?
posted by tangyraspberry to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is, you can spot most of the scammers from miles out. That said, you might get a better price somewhere dedicated to camera selling: RFF, Fred Miranda or APUG. Each of these places is more likely to have people interested in buying an M6 and they're usually very safe.
posted by jedrek at 1:26 PM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

my 2c.

there are a lot of good and legitimate eBay users ... but there are also bad eggs.

If your buyer receives the goods, does a paypal chargeback and claims you sent them a brick, what will you do? Who will paypal side with?
posted by jannw at 1:32 PM on November 25, 2009

Use tracked shipping with full insurance.

Retain all proof of postage.

Send to a confirmed Paypal address.

Use common sense and avoid selling to high risk countries or to anyone who arouses suspicion.

Your set.

It's very safe, what you will find is that the tiny minority who have had bad experiences (rightly) like to broadcast it loudly. I've sold high value goods on eBay for the past 7 years and have never encountered someone trying to do me over. It may give you peace of mind to track your brand of camera selling on eBay over a month or so - see the prices, see what kind of person is buying and selling them, what type of listing gets the best price. If you are new to eBay and have a low feeback score, expect buyers to be wary of you and to achieve a lower price than you would if you had a good reputation.
posted by fire&wings at 1:33 PM on November 25, 2009

I have sold expensive gear on eBay in the past without problems, but I have always done it without using PayPal. I have insisted on nothing but USPS Money Orders.*

I have heard more recently that eBay has made it harder to refuse PayPal, and if that is the case I would not do business with them. PayPal is a shifty operation if there ever was one, and all it takes for them to hoover money out of your account is for the buyer to lie and say they never received the item — which happens all too frequently. And they will always side with the buyer rather than you, it seems.

I haven't had a need for eBay recently because I live near a major city and just use Craigslist. Although prices are lower than eBay, I have found that the lack of any transaction/listing fees or packaging and shipping costs make it equally profitable for the occasional seller.

Since CL is free (in most areas), I would at least try listing your gear there before putting it on the 'bay.

* Rationale being: they are very difficult to forge successfully, and there is an entire law enforcement apparatus which can be brought to bear on someone who does try to forge one, versus your typical Western Union or WalMart money order, where you are on your own detecting forgeries and if you get one, more likely than not you're just going to be S.O.L.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:34 PM on November 25, 2009

As jedrek indicated, a website focussed exclusively on the specialized gear you are looking to sell may be a better answer.

I personally buy&sell camera gear, and often have better luck off-ebay, and many of my most recent purchases/sales have been on RFF.
posted by gomess at 2:45 PM on November 25, 2009

the trouble is that you have no feedback...and therefore you will be viewed by buyers with a jaundiced have such a nice item that people wanting it will likely take the chance on you. If you go ahead, make certain you look at prospective bidder's feedback. The feedback thing is a flawed system..but it has been in place since eBay's inception and you wouldn't do business with someone who has feedback like: "didn't pay!" (this is an unlikely scenario..but still). ALSO you would be wary of someone with zero feedback. Get the funds before sending. With camera gear you might want to avoid pay pal and demand cashier's check or personal check that clears before sending. With a nice item you can make these types of demands. Check old auctions for what others have done.
posted by naplesyellow at 3:00 PM on November 25, 2009

Personally, I never buy anything on eBay over $50. It's just not worth the risk. And as naplesyellow said, I'm one of those people who would never buy anything for any price from someone without tons of excellent feedback. Again, it's just not worth the risk.
posted by wherever, whatever at 3:09 PM on November 25, 2009

Based on your question I can only assume you will be a new Ebay seller.

If that's the case, as a potential buyer, there's no way I'd roll the dice on you being an honest seller for what an M6 costs.

If you had even a couple of dozen feedback records and a 99% positive rating, that would not be an issue for me.

I'd do as others have suggested and try advertising it locally first, especially if you're near a a major metropolitan area.

Ebay seems to be increasing buyer protection measures at the expense of decreasing seller protection.
posted by imjustsaying at 4:16 PM on November 25, 2009

I would not sell on Ebay, personally. I would post ads to try to sell locally, or perhaps talk to local (used?) camera shops to see if they do consignment.
posted by ishotjr at 4:25 PM on November 25, 2009

No. It is absolutely not safe.
posted by procrastination at 5:04 PM on November 25, 2009

I buy and sell rather expensive things on ebay. (mostly in the $200-$1000 range). I'd still term myself a casual seller and the recent policy changes have made me feel a lot less confident about remaining a seller on ebay. Buyers have all of the leverage and power, and more and more frequently buyers are using this advantage to demand things that they do not deserve, holding the threat of a charge-back or disput over your head.

If you are new to ebay, I absolutely would not sell your expensive camera online. Your lack of feedback is the first danger sign I'm looking for when considering a large purchase. If you know someone with a healthy feedback background, or better yet, someone with a healthy amount of positive feedback as a seller, perhaps they could sell it for you.

If you have plenty of feedback, just no experience selling: require that the bidders have confirmed paypal accounts. This, at least means they are more likely to be real. You are no longer allowed to mention money orders on ebay transaction, fyi.

The best choice is selling locally or on one of the options mentioned above. At least try for a few weeks before listing it on ebay. Calculate your fees ahead of time here and search completed auctions to get an idea of how much you'd make selling it.

If you do sell it on ebay, good pictures, clear and descriptive prose, and offer to let potential bidders inspect the camera if they are local (e.g., say "If you're in the L.A. area, feel free to stop by and check it out yourself") increases my sense of trustworthiness.
posted by arnicae at 6:34 PM on November 25, 2009

arnicae is correct that the recent changes to eBay are a drawback to sellers. Sellers cannot leave negative feedback for buyers anymore, and their seller protection requires that you very specifically adhere to a bunch of steps. That said, I used to buy and sell expensive items on eBay, and now do so on Bonanzle, and there are things you can do to protect yourself in your seller settings, such as restricting bids to people who have x number of feedbacks, and restricting bids to bidders in your own country (as shipping expensive items internationally can be a nightmare).

But really, just go join the Rangefinder Forum if you're not already a member and post it there. My husband is a member and he buys and sells regularly there, and at least you'll have an audience that is specifically looking for what you're selling.
posted by bedhead at 10:36 PM on November 25, 2009

memail me. I may be interested...
posted by xammerboy at 11:45 PM on November 25, 2009

If you don't have ebay feedback, if you do sell your camera, at the very least you likely won't get as much as you could if you were a long time user.

Considering this, and the risk involved with selling on ebay, if you still want to go that route, you might want to look into using a listing service for you. I've never tried one, but they should be able to tell you the steps they take to make sure that they don't get scammed, and their fees might be around the extra money you'll get because of their positive feedback.

Personally, while I buy from ebay all the time, and have been a member for nearly 10 years, all the horror stories and rule changes have made me leery of selling anything expensive in the past year or two.
posted by drezdn at 5:05 AM on November 26, 2009

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