Audiogon Grading Scale - the gold standard?

I recently got duped by an eBay seller's item representation, "...excellent cosmetically." Seller offers no equitable restitution, maintaining we merely have a difference of "opinion" as to the meaning of "excellent." My question is, how effective do you feel the "Audiogon Grading Scale" has been in eliminating misunderstandings/misrepresentations that would otherwise arise by way of subjective characterizations? I am pleased to say it's been working quite well thus far for me. Any suggestions as to how it might be further improved upon? BTW, for those interested, why not get a laugh out of this at my expense (literally). Check out
I visited the link you provided, not to have a laugh, but to read more about your claim before commenting. I assume that you have already consulted Ebay officials and determined that you have no legal or punitive recourse that is acceptable to you. No lawyer I, but I would think that the sellers statements concering his definition of "excellent" false. If the description of an item's condition were solely at the discretion of the seller we would not have lemon laws for automobiles. There are in fact laws to protect consumers. But, as I said, I am not a lawyer, and cannot comment on the legality of this issue.

I can, however, sympathize. And to be honest I don't think a grading scale will prevent such individuals from taking advantage of this new medium called the internet with inaccurate, or just plain deceitful, advertising. To my mind, the problem isn't the grading scales, it's the expense required of the buyer to bring the legal system to bear; expense both in terms of money and time. And businesses such as Ebay seem to go out of their way to make it difficult to contact them about these matters. I've tried to use their system in the past and it just wasn't worth the effort.
It appears that Fam124 has just learned the reason why I don't trade on the ebay site. Having said that however, I don't feel that the grading scale here is any better than the particular "selling individual". Most items that I've bought here do fit the described condition no problem, but some did not. You simply must try to know who you're dealing with. If a seller has enough feedback (here) that they appear to be of good integrity, then the description is likely valid. But in any other case, described condition may be suspect. Two of the "ebay type" individuals with whom I've dealt were clearly not of the typical caliber of an Audiogon member, thus I tend to view these characters with much greater caution. And having been somewhat taken in the past by those types, when I'm selling I tend to describe any existing flaws with accuracy to a fault. I'd much rather have my customer say "that wasn't so bad after all" than to say "what kind of junk are you trying to pass off as mint condition here?".
Gallaine: I appreciate your response. I may be able to recoup $200 (eBay's max coverage) if and when my claim is approved. Moreover, if such comes to pass it may (according to eBay) result in this seller getting the official boot, which is clearly my objective. I wish to ensure other unsuspecting victims do not fall prey. I've filed a fraud report with the NFIC in Washington. Beyond that, cost to litigate too prohibitive + this character's based in Canada.
Its not the grading scale, its the grader. No one could ever describe this as excellent on any kind of objective basis. Sorry you got taken. Your are right, artani is wrong. I've always found everything on this site to be as described, and have had some minor quibbles on ebay, but nothing that remotely approaches this. Bummer.
I feel for you. I can only begin to guess how far your jaw dropped and how heavy your heart was when you took them out of the packaging. Expecting to get something that is "mint" and ending up with something like that is truly a heartbreaking experience. Assholes like that ( pardon my French, but i think that word applies here ) should be made to eat ( literally ) the products that they misrepresent. After all, they taste "excellent". Sean
Fam, I too read the new "auction" you posted for these speakers, and I can't believe your seller described them as anything other than "sounds great, looks terrible." Yet I noticed that even w/all your disclosures, you still had a bid! Here on Audiogon, the grading scale is not a "gold standard." At various times on this site, I have found my eyes and grading abilities questioned. I have had two occasions, selling a tuner and later a SS amp, where I graded the items as excellent, meaning that with close inspection, and even a digital photo that I posted w/my ad, I could see no scratches, dings, or other marks on either of these units, yet both buyers saw what they considered "scratches" on the top plate once they got their items. The differences were amicably resolved, but I learned that even when you post a digital photo someone may see something in the flesh that you never did, and could not, see. Now, I have just described what I consider an honest difference in either opinion or visual acuity, I don't know which. But there are definitely cases where a seller misrepresents the condition of his/her item for sale even here. Don't trust a 10/10 rating unless the unit is literally still sealed new in its box. The most scrupulous sellers rate an item 9/10 if the box has been opened even just to inspect the unit to make sure it is what they think they have to sell. In the case of speakers, scratches, nicks and damage to the finish and/or grilles are very noticeable and must be disclosed! But marks on the black anodized finish of electronics are sometimes hard to see and are subject to very different characterizations and estimates of seriousness among honest people. Your seller was dishonest. I hope you get reimbursed. I would seriously consider returning the speakers to him even w/out reimbursement! just to make a point. With a copy of the text of your new auction, of course.
Last week I saw an ampifier here on Audiogon that interested me. The manufacturer of the amp has been out of business for years, yet the amp was rated 9/10. I called the phone# in the ad as it was a west coast dealer selling a used amp. The person who answered the phone was very upset and nasty when I questioned the age of the amp. Although he sells thru Audiogon, he stated that he does not agree with the rating system and will not adhere to it. If he has an old item in what he feels is mint condition he gives the item a 9/10 as if it were less than 3 years old. Naturally I did'nt buy the item but the incident has made me reluctant to purchase via Audiogon.
Dennis: I must convey I've found the Audiogon community as a whole is composed overwhelmingly of the most forthright individuals I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. If you are considering to trade audio stuff anywhere, I'd have to opine Audiogon is "the gold standard." The notion that the particular seller you mention so much as states he "will not adhere to it [AGS]" warrants his getting the permanent boot, IMHO. For such being the case, if he is allowed to continue to conduct business here, it would seem someone is inevitably going to be defrauded.
Audiogon rating system is not any better. It is solely up to the grader. Audiogon's 10/10 is basically brand new. There are lots of 10/10 ratings on used equipment.
Gold Standard or not, I recently bought a speaker system via Audiogon that was graded 9/l0, arrived at something like 6/l0 and carried other, shall we say, discrepancies from the posted description. Then the seller nagged me for positive feedback, and not just once. But the speakers are great, so the moral of all this is a little cloudy. I guess caveat emptor still covers it.
Let us please be clear...I concur and would further amplify what most have pointed out, namely that AGS is of NO USE whatsoever in deterring the unscrupulous. What it DOES do that I find of value is to establish defined parameters by which abuses/deviations are much more easily, successfully, conclusively demonstrated. This can prove of particular benefit where the injured/defrauded party seeks to make their case—whatever the venue.
Sarah (Sc53): Thanks much for your post. Lo and behold, where my auction merely had "...a bid" as you pointed out at the time of your writing, it NOW has (as of 11/1 - 12:27 PM EST) 7 bids, lol!
I have had two expierences on Ebay, both of which left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth. I bought a trombone that was described as in excellent playing condition ... long story short the horn is unplayable. I also bought an Adcom 585 amp. That unit was described as perfect. Not so. That unit was filthy and required an hour of careful cleaning to reveal that while in excellent condition it was not 'as new'.

Audiogon however has been a joy. I have met some of the most amazing people and have yet to be disappointed by the equipment I have purchased here. I use caution when dealing with a person without any feedback here, but if I am convinced of a persons integrity, will buy anyway.

As a community, Agon is a unique place on the web. I am very comfortable here and hope that we can keep it this nice always.
Your seller is a crook. I had a similar experience and filed a fraud complaint with the feds after buying cables rated a 9/10, but seriously scuffed and not even working. Audiogon was not willing to give me much information about the seller, but he was taken off Audiogon pretty quickly -- he may well have defrauded others. Fraud is pretty rare on Audiogon, where I would say 80% of my experiences have been good. More common, I think, is grade inflation. The AGS is a very strict standard -- one major scratch gives a 6/10, and a few minor scratches give a 7/10. Somehow, though, everything seems to be a 9/10 -- there's quite a bit of puffery that doesn't quite rise to the level of fraud. To try to deal with this, I don't rely solely on the scale, but try to contact the seller and ask directly whether there are any marks or scratches, etc. Also, to create a paper trail, I'll make email offers subject to the piece being cosmetically perfect and free of blemishes. Good luck, and happy listening.
Wow, cosmetically perfect!!! I guess you better buy new. I do agree that the AGS has objective stds, but you can also detect inflation pretty easily. If they rate it a 9 but its 2 years old, they obviously don't follow the scale closely. However, a minor scratch or two or even three on a used piece that is sitting on a rack in a corner, that you bought at 1/2 retail shouldn't be a big issue, as long as its functionally complete.
I'd like to take a different view and applaud at least some of the Audiogon sellers for their rigorous adherence to the grading system. I've purchased two items on Audiogon where the sellers mentioned that the equipment had "minor blemishes", and were both marked 8/10. After careful inspection of both pieces, I was very hard pressed to find any trace of these defects. When I asked about one of them, I was directed to examine the upper corner of the unit where there was about 1/4 inch of mild discoloration, Likely, this was just a normal variation in the color of the paint, but the seller felt compelled to point it out in his ad, and explain that the unit wasn't "perfect".

My hat goes off to those folks that are willing to raise the bar for honesty, and make us all feel a bit easier about doing business on the web. Certainly there will always be dishonest people out there, but its good to know that there's some balance.

Cheers, Ken