Audiogon Ethics

I have been an Audiogon member for a couple of years and am very fond of the idea that we are building a community of audiophiles based on trust and honesty. I recently saw a sales ad for a piece by a member who I sold an identical piece to a few months ago (I can't say it is my original piece but it would strike me as odd that someone would own two identical units). If the seller is indeed advertising the unit I initially sold him, he is misrepresenting the condition of the unit (e.g., implying that he purchased it new and that its age is less than it actually is). My question to everybody on this list is what, if anything, to do about this?

I am concerned about the implications of dishonesty for our community of audiophiles in general. I believe this question merits discussion among members. I look forward to your responses. Thanks.

It really is hard to tell I guess. I am an audio pack rat. I currently have 5 tuners in my possession and among them there are on 3 different models. I just sold one of my two MSB P1000 power bases. I have 3 pairs of the same Siltech cables, some I bought new, some used, and I don't know which is which. I have two Conrad Johnson Motif MC-8 preamps. I have two Aiwa XC-37M CD changers modified by Stan Warren. They're so cheap, I wanted a spare; and since they are now discontinued I am glad I have two if one breaks. I have 3 pairs of B&W 302 speakers.

Of the tuners, I bought one for $35 only because it was so cheap; it worked fine and was in a place where I could care less how it looks; so I sold a near mint one I had for $150. I am sure the seller of the $35 one thinks I am a crook if you noticed my ad and thought it was his I was selling.

So you see, anything is possible. But I do share your concern.

Yes,it may well be your unit. We all have our own separate inner guidlines. Our template is ours;for others,it will differ.--Now if you could only communicate with his prospective buyer;but alas,you can't. I am curious how many + feedbacks this person might have./ or any -'s.--? (Please post--just the # of ea. ) The net is a large community, mostly of good people;but NOT ALL!
lol, I have a story non audio related but its about the same thing as this. ok, we built a house and then somebody came along and decided to offer us money for it we couldnt refuse, so before it was done they bought it.. we lived in it and finished it .. we lived there for close to 6 months after it was done, and another 6 months before that. Well after we moved out we had company over and they wanted to see the house and it was back on the market.. so we went and toured it during the open house and as soon as we walk into the house we lived in for over a year the realator says " this home is brand new. never been lived in" ha,my ass i was soo pissed and i HIGHLY doubt that he didnt know we lived there. maybe the moron that bought it from us left out that little detail..cheatin son of a.. lol oh well. thats my story of how people lie just to make a buck.
Most of us here are honest and stand behind what we trade. On used gear, unless the seller provides you with their original receipt, you have no idea how many owners there has been. There are some terrible original owners, who don't take care of things, so what does it really mean? When I buy used, I don't think I have ever asked if the seller is the original owner. I care more about whether they smoke in their room with the gear. Most warranties are void and if it is Bryston gear with a 20 year transferable warranty does not matter as much.

Last year I sold some Nordost speaker cables. I send them to the buyer in a plain DHL/UPS type box that had Nordost logo tape on it, that was from a pair of interconnects I had changed from RCA to XLR. He sold them later and claimed he had the original box. (He probably though he did.) When I sold them I claimed they were in very good condition, he claimed excellent condition. I was probably being conservative, so maybe he was not making an exagerated claim (or maybe he was)? He did an auction and he only got $15 more than I sold them for, so no harm done.

Contact the seller to share your concerns and see what he has to say.

People Person:

Speaking only for myself,not a community,I'd express my concerns in his feedback and let other individuals draw their own inferences from the whole body of his feedback.

I strongly believe that the information contained in an individual's Audiogon ratings is critical in determining whether you want to do business with that individual. Over time, the rating should reflect the integrity of that individual which, to me, is the ultimate safeguard all of us have on this site.
That is a bit strange - why would the person be an original owner of something they also bought a used copy of? Sometimes I think people shop these sites enough to buy and sell pieces they feel they can make a profit on, and it would be quite possible to have bought more than one copy of something used that is turned around and sold. The situation you describe is hard to come up with an explanation for other than that the seller is mis-representing the piece

That said, I don't think there's much you can do or should try to do about it. As much as we all want this to be a completely honest environment, it probably isn't, and every buyer needs to do everything possible to protect themselves. If somebody claims to be the original owner and a buyer really cares about that, there are ways to verify the claim. -Kirk

I don't sell anything here but I have made some purchases. I am very capable of investigating an item before I buy it. I don't really like the idea of other people trying to protect me or trying to police other people's ads. I don't think you should be concerned about what someone is selling unless you want to buy it. Everyone on this site should be an adult and able to handle their own transactions. If you sold the item it isn't yours anymore and really none of your concern.
Perhaps we can all protect ourselves by posting serial numbers on all items listed for sale or auction? This would also monitor items that have mysteriously disappeared. In those cases where someone has had an item refurbished by the factory or other means, let them provide documentation.
It seems the first place to start is to simply ask the seller if it is the same. I haven't read anywhere in this thread that this has happened. All the guessing and assuming guilt - is wasted, negative energy, to me.
Just my 2 cents.... aj
I agree w/those who say you can't be sure the guy doesn't have two, or even more, of the same units. I have met at least two guys on this site who constantly buy and sell stuff and make a little money in the switch. I'm sure they have owned the same piece twice or have had two of the same pieces at one time, some people really enjoy the experimenting w/new stuff and the bargaining and small profit-making they may be able to pull off. I myself have bought and sold quite a few pieces, large and small, over the last year, but have not made ANY money in the transfer, oh well. I haven't lost too much, and every piece was something I wanted to try.
The foundation of our community is built on trust. We are lucky in that our hobby is limited in so far as the high end audio community is limited. Having had the opportunity to participate I have found, as most of us have, that my 9/10 is another participants 10/10 and that, for the most part, the descriptions of products that I have purchased or traded for are within a reasonable variance of their stated descriptions.

As far as outright lying is concerned, this should be first verified, then the participant should be given an opportunity to retract his or her statements or reconfigure price on the product to bring it in line with the actual condition of the component. If no solution is found, then it should be reported in negative feedback in the individual's my feedback section. I have sold equipment to people who immediately list it for a higher price than I sold it at. This does not bother me because I was satisfied with my deal, or I would not have completed the transaction. That is different from outright lying, assuming that their is no outright lying in the new sellers advertisement.
What is the guy's username? I'll ask him.
Last year, I got well and thoroughly ripped by several A-gon members when I made a post that pointed out a misleading ad by a dealer. I nevertheless agree strongly with you that we, as fellow audiophiles, need to maintain a level of fairness and integrity in our dealings with one another.

My suggestion is to first contact the person in point and share your concerns. Tell the person that you feel ethically obligated to others who use A-gon to make the truth known. Give the person a fair chance to respond to your E-mail, because it is possible that the person may have another unit for sale, and not the one you sold to this individual.

If the person makes no attempt to be forthcoming and honest about this matter, then I believe you are quite correct to inform your fellow Audiogon readers.
It is all about ethics and threshold of ones moral convictions. I recently bought a unit from a member at a price considerably less than its value. I had all intentions of keeping it based on reviews. It turned out to have terrible synergy with my current pieces and now getting ready to sell at its current value and will end out making a profit on it. I felt guilty and contacted the seller to ask if he would be offended by my placing the unit for more than I bought it for. The point is I needed his approval to clear my concience because of the integrity I have for myself as well as others. I would contact that individual and warn other members accordingly if I am indeed CERTAIN that it was my unit.
In the past year I've gone through a lot of equipment in my pursuit of finding a particular component that I'm happy with. A lot of the items I bought I simply turned right around & sold when I determined they were simply not what I was looking for. Conversely, a few of the items I sold were very soon back up for sale. Every single item had a higher asking price which doesn't necessarily mean it sold for that amount.

Here's another example. I had for sale an item & advertised it for the fair market price. Somebody emailed me & asked me if it was the same item I had bought from somebody else that this particular person knew about at xxx price. I said yes, offered him the same price & never heard a word from him again. Was he really interested in this item? Was he working on his Jr. private dick's license? Most of the time the asking price is on the high side & it is expected that a little bargaining take place. Lowballing is totally different & I won't even go there.

Another deal I made involved trading amps. Originally I had no desire for this trade but the other party contacted me a second time after a few weeks of "will buys" & "gotta haves" so I decided to try it out. Well, to make a long story seem that way, while I was waiting for delivery of this amp I made a deal with a dealer to trade it in on some new speakers. I got the same money that I paid for it because it was at fair market price. I noticed shortly thereafter the other party had the traded item up for sale also. Did I care? No. Would I deal with this person again? Absolutely. We both got what we wanted or thought we wanted at the time.

Thing is, there's not a lot that can be done. The only action you can take is directly ask this person if it is indeed the same item & if so ask that the ad be modified. Otherwise you can report the situation to A-gon, as you have first hand verifiable knowledge of said discrepancies. You do have this information, i.e. SN, copy of receipt to prove age, etc., correct? I bring all this up not to agitate you but to point out just some of the frustrations. If they say it's not the same item there's nothing you can do.

The only thing I can say is do indeed stick to your values while at the same time not get too bogged down in the inanity of it all.

There's an current thread in "Disputes" regarding counterfeit ProAc speakers. I think the serial # should be added as a required field in in ad. To me it is just as important as condition. With all the current questions over transferrable warranties, anyone who is selling or buying should think of the serial # as one of the deciding factors in a transaction, I do! As far as the manufacturers are concerned, that number is more important than any description or condition claim in an internet ad.
Selling or buying a legitimate audio piece should be like
doing the same with a vehicle. At least there you match the VIN # to the title...

You also have to be leary (not Timothy if Tireguy is around) on buying tubes on this site - go to Upscale Audio's web and he points out a few cases which have occurred both here and ebay where fakes are presented as rare NOS.
Ljgj is right about tubes but that is not limited to Audiogon. Lots of relabeling going on. Check carefully unless you buy from an established supplier.
I think we all need to remember that much of the equipment for sale on Audiogon is priced on the low side. No, not all of it, but many deals are out there, and if a person buys it and for whatever reason doesn't like it, he is free to ask whatever price the market will bear.

This recently happened to me on a Power 2SE amp. It sold for a very low $2300 to the first replier. I was the second, so I lost it. Immediately upon receiving the amp, the new buyer posted it for $2650 and sold it immediately. Was I and the original Seller pissed? Yes. Should we be? The answer is open to interpretation. The Seller wished I had gotten the amp because he knew I wanted it for myself, not for resale. I wish I had the amp. But this is a capitalist society, and that's the ballgame.

It is comforting to see that there are many Audiogon members who have strong moral codes that prevent them from engaging in these sort of transactions. On the other side of the coin, there are those who lie about and misrepresent condition, who then can use the excuse that "everyone's perception of mint is different." Personally, I'm tired of that hogwash. It's similar to the general decline in quality, pride of workmanship, respect of others, and, above all, shirking of personal responsibility that is so prevalent in societal decline.

On another note, I'm all for SERIAL NUMBERS IN AUDIOGON ADS!! Audiogon, let's do it.
If you sold something and got what you asked for it or are willing to settle for, then that is your primary concern as a seller. If you are acting as a buyer and you do not research as completely as possible what you are buying before you have made a purchase then that is your fault as a consumer. If you think that you have recieved something that was not as advertised then contact the seller. You can not expect Audiogon or any other company to act as your protector. If you trade in a car to a dealership do you go back a try to find out how much they are trying to sell it for? If they misrepresent the milage, thats fraud. If they misrepresent the condition( brakes are worn out). That's your fault.
DRV, did you ask yet?
jax - I'm not an attorney, but I do believe that not knowing about and not disclosing a serious flaw with the item you're selling, especially one that would effect its safety or operation is still fraud. From what I understand, consumer laws are set up to protect buyers from having to ask, and sellers having to answer a thousand discrete questions about an item just to assure themselves that the equipment is in the condition advertised. I believe that this comes under the heading of transacting in good faith.
Thanks to all of you who have responded to my query. I have taken the advise of some of you and emailed the seller directly who, in his response, claimed that it was not the unit I sold him, but rather one he was selling for a friend. Still, not what the ad said, but I think that the more general question about honesty merits a discussion on this list. I agree that the audiogon market, like the market in general, is about willingness to pay and if buyer and seller agree on a price no one should criticize this. I also like the idea of posting serial numbers, since that would add some certainty to our transactions. Thanks again for all your responses.
Kjg: Well, I are an attorney and in my state fraud requires an intent to mislead. If you do know about a flaw you cannot be charged w/ intentionally misleadin someone about it. In some instances, if there were representations that all was well with the item, it could be a breach of contract.

Most consumer laws apply only to commercial sellers and not private parties. Remember ... buyer beware. If all you have is phone conversations it makes it hard to prove that it was not an "as is" buy.

One thing I do on the web is I e-mail the seller with a few questions about the product. Basic stuff about its shape and performance, age, ect... I have several standard notes I use. That way, I have the response in writing. If a seller refuses to answer and will only talk on the phone I'm out of the transaction. This has killed one deal for me here at Agon and , indeed, I found that the product was a little fishy from another Agoner at a later date.

Sincerely, I remain
an attorney named clueless.... ya gotta love it! Thanks for having a sense of humor and not taking yourself tooooo seriously. We could all learn a lesson here. Thanks for making my day. - aj
It's a detective that has to be embarrassed about being Clueless, not an attorney.