Any Tips on Buying?

I’ve had only good experiences buying and selling on Audiogon, but need to share an experience and ask for advice.

I found a hot-ticket item on the first day of sale and knew that it would be snatched up quickly (Cardas Golden Ref. PC), but there was a poor description of the item and no photo. So I sent a message to the seller, who had good feedback, for a better description. He responded and I went to click Buy it Now but it was sold at that moment.
(the listing switched to Expired before my very eyes).

Please don’t tell me “snooze you lose” cause I already feel that way.
So would it be better to Make An Offer, and then ask my question? If I don’t like the info regarding the item, then can I just back out of the sale? This is the second time I’ve lost out on an item by using the Ask a Question option.

What would you do?
Maybe so. Better safe than sorry. No deal is binding no matter what anyone says or thinks. It's your money and you can change your mind. Sooner or later there will be another deal. Use paypal with a CC attached to it. If the item is not to your liking, call the CC company and demand a chargeback, before the item is shipped. If the item is as described and the deal is good for both you should stick to the deal, even if you find another for less money. Just trying to be fair. You should never buy something(or be obligated to) with no picture and the seller should understand this. The only way the buyer should take a chance is if they really want the item and accept the fact that the seller stated selling as is.
When buying and selling used gear with individuals online you are trading away the boring certainty of a retail purchase for the chance of getting something exotic, interesting, perhaps no longer available and possibly a real bargain. The certainty is gone, the risk is high but the reward is potentially great. There's also the thrill of the hunt. You can't have it both ways.

To answer your question, no, I would never make an offer and then back out of the deal. Despite a small percentage of people here who don't seem to have the same ethical standards as the rest, this is a community based on trust and honorable intentions.

Far more often than not I've been well rewarded by going with my instincts about what's a good deal and what's not when the feedback of the seller is good. I can't count the number of deals I've missed because I hesitated too long, but I can tell you about quite a few remarkable purchases I made because I just went for it.
I don't like backing out of a deal either, but not all sellers are honest, and I'm not one to get stuck just because of ethics. Ethics can't get you a refund.
Even if you "Made An Offer" the "Buy It Now" takes precedent over that offer. You still would have lost the sale.

No, do not make an offer until all of your questions have been answered and you feel comfortable entering into a deal. Once you do make an offer, see it through. If there is a subsequent problem with the item (it is damaged in shipping, or misrepresented in some way), that is another matter. But backing out of a deal because you want to "secure a place in line" before you have done your homework is absolutely not the right thing to do.

By the way, and for what it's worth, I value a seller's feedback far more than I value photographs. Most folks here--especially experienced members--are meticulously honest. If there is a flaw in an expensive piece of gear, of course I would want to see it. But I do not need to see photographs in most cases on anything but the most expensive gear, such as amps or speakers, and perhaps not then, depending on the seller and the description.

I almost never buy from anyone without a solid record of positive feedback.
03-31-14: Mofimadness
Even if you "Made An Offer" the "Buy It Now" takes precedent over that offer. You still would have lost the sale.

This is true, it just happened to me about a month ago. I made an offer for a local purchase, the seller contacted me and agreed to the sale. Then before he could accept the offer through Audiogon, someone hit the buy it now button and the item was gone. That's just life in the big city. My offer would have saved me about 10% for local pickup, but in the end, the seller got full price and just shipped the item. You want to take the risk of following due diligence, but sometimes it can cost you.

You gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em when playing this game. You also have to realize that you are not always going to win. Just keep on truckin'.
You should never make an offer unless you're willing to go through with the purchase. If you're not sure, you should make inquiries. If you lose the sale by doing that, then so be it and move on.
Hi Jim....first know what you want. If you are anywhere near New Jersey, stop in to Audio Connection in Verona, NJ ....great place. By the way....I hope that Cardas works for was awful in my rig.
Thanks for such consistent and frank advice.
I know that making an offer constitutes an agreement to buy, but I wanted to hear what others have been doing. I'm glad to know how many honest and decent folks are members of Agon.(except for those who slipped thru the cracks during the change in Audiogon ownership). It seems like the best of the lot are the ones who participate on the forums.

Even if you "Made An Offer" the "Buy It Now" takes precedent over that offer. You still would have lost the sale.

Mofi- I realize that's always a possibility when waiting for a reply. Walter said it best when he stated to "secure a place in line" with an offer is the wrong thing to do. I've been wondering how many members are actually doing that; we'll never know because there's no way to give negative feedback unless the sale is made.

Again, I agree with Walter that good feedback says more than a photo, unless it is a big-ticket item.

And thanks all for the replies and helping me realize that it was only a cable and not the deal of a lifetime on an amp or speakers.
Walter and Stringreen nail this.
First do your own research...know what you want, how much it is worth, and how much you are willing to pay for it, and then pulling the trigger will be much easier.
When you find what you are looking for, evaluate the condition, ask your questions and check out the seller and their feedback. Dealing with a bad seller is rarely worth the headache.
When you make an offer, or select "buy it now," you should be ready to purchase since the Audiogon community expects you to honor your offer.
Backing out on offers will quickly earn you the reputation of someone to avoid dealing with.
You have quite a few sales here and excellent feedback so I suggest you keep doing what you have been doing.
BTW, good post as it brought out some good advice that will help everyone who reads it.
Thanks for the advice and the kind words, Mitch.
After we went thru the period of scamming and hacking, I started to wonder if some members were buying and selling using unethical means.
If you want it jump on it ASAP!!

Most of us who have been around these parts for awhile have had the deflating experience of just losing out on something we wanted, as John described so well above. On the other hand--and this is one of the basic truths of the hobby--if you should miss out on a piece of gear you really want, just be patient. Everything in high end audio--and I mean EVERYTHING--comes up for sale sooner or later. It is usually just a matter of being patient.

Just a few years ago, I was hot on the trail of a preamp I had researched and decided to buy. I saw one in the classifieds and contacted the seller, who told me the preamp was mine, only to turn around ten minutes later and tell me I was actually second in line. The first guy ended up getting the preamp, and I could only curse my bad luck. Three weeks later, another one came up and I snapped it up, saving three hundred bucks in the process!

Of course, patience and high end audio are not natural bedfellows, but that's another story. The bottom line is that if you have your heart set on something in audio, it will eventually appear, at least in my experience.