Availability protocol?

When first joining Audiogon, I learned quickly never to ask a member if their listed piece was, in fact, "still available". This was viewed as 'tire kicking' or disrespectful of their time and patience. I came to empathize after I had sold a few pieces myself and waded through the myriad requests that typically went nowhere.

In the last month or two, however, on three separate occasions I have written to a member saying I wanted to buy a piece, only to be told it was sold already. These were pieces that were listed as available and I was offering full ask price. I also have perfect feedback, so I am assuming the pieces were, in fact, sold. I understand it may take a little time to update their listings as we are all busy and can't keep 100% current on everything, yet even weeks later, they were still listed as available.

Point being, I am making several changes to my system, and was considering several pieces on Agon which I checked daily to ensure availability. After spending valuable time doing research, I finally made up my mind, only to be told they were sold, despite their listed status. Yet asking about availability gets one tarred and feathered, so what's the solution in order to avoid the aforementioned frustration and wasted time?
The items are not being marked sold because the seller doesn't want to pay the 1% transaction fee.
I have never been "tarred and feathered" for asking if an item was still available? I've been on here a very long time and think most members are pretty darn nice.

I don't even mind if my ad clearly states "sale pending" or "sold" and someone asks if I still have it, but I can see that some sellers might, under this scenario.
Don't be so sensitive. First of all, what you experienced isn't typical "AGon behavior." Secondly, anyone with a properly functioning brain understands that effective communication is key to conducting efficient business transactions. If someone doesn't want to answer a simple question regarding the item that they listed for sale, then said person(s) shouldn't list their items in a public forum. The opposite is true too however, in that those persons who have no real intension of buying an item shouldn't initiate....or "fain" interest - but, really, what kind of an idiot would do that anyway?

Bottom line - toughen up my friend, don't take it personally, and if "they" can't take a joke.....
"is it still available" is a perfectly valid initial question. For items that are somewhat in demand you will receive multiple offers,often quickly. It's not unusual for me to commit to a buyer, but while I'm waiting for payment I will not yet mark the item sold or pending. I will reply to anyone interested explaining what the situation is though.

If a seller is offended by inquiries maybe he/she is too temperamental to be a trading partner. I've been trading here and on ebay for several years now and have never been overwhelmed by "tire kickers". It's usually pretty easy to see how much time you need to put into a reply, and how long does it take to reply to a simple email like "is it available?". I agree with 2chnlben and mofi.
In my view, if someone asks if something is available, I answer them. In truth, being nice in the face of annoying questions is still the right thing to do. If someone is rude in an email you should consider not purchasing from them. What goes around comes around. Along with that, when I sell something I list it as "sale pending" as soon as someone sends me money and "sold" as soon as they receive it in good condition. I don't want to cancel an ad until everyone is happy. I do not think that Audiogon deserves the 1% fee after I have already paid for the listing, but they are "the man" and I pay it anyway. I adjust the selling price accordingly. I understand your question, but hopefully you can look past this and realize that most of the folks here are pretty nice people and deserve your respect until they prove otherwise.
Maybe try the " Wanted " section of Audiogon..This way they will contact you and you know they want to sell..Just list the pieces your looking for and hope for the best.........
I can only say from exerience that marking an item "sold" before the transaction is complete comes back to bite you. I have had inquiries past an agreement with another buyer and have the original buyer back out or somehow "vaporize" as you can never get a response. So having a back up deal is good in my opinion. When some one asks is it available and wants to negotiate a price and not buy is probably a part of this we could all do with out. But as Mofi mentions I have never been "t&f'd" for asking. Bdgregory makes a valid point as well. I have been in sales for more than half my life (*sigh*) and I can't tell you how many times when I ask "can i help you?" I have received "just looking" as a response. Most of those wound up being a sale. People carry their buying habits anywhere they are spending their money. I would just be happy someone answered the ad. At least you know that it is being considered. I will add one last note here and that is when I am approached with rude inquiries and offers. I prefer not to do business that individual. God Bless America and Capitalism, long may it live!
Want a tip ?? This is how I do it. "If it is still available send paypal request for payment to xxxxx." This works very well for in your own words, full asking price.
Audiogon is a buyer's market. If you encounter a seller that is a primadonna, thinking they have an irresistable
classic or a price that represents a "sacrifice" to them,
punish them by not doing business with them. Life is too
short to complain to them and hope they will see the error of their rude ways-they won't! Just ignore their e-mail response and look elsewhere.
Hell, Good Morning, and Aloha from New York City. I agree with virtually all responses to my post. Thank you in earnest for your time. My post was meant more as benign venting against this new fee structure, one which discourages members, understandably, from marking items correctly. I was frustrated on three occasions of late when offering to buy an item, I was told it was sold. I was curious if others had similar experiences, and what protocol, if any, they followed in light of this. Fear not the pillory!
It's a pain when most items have been sold but aren't listed as such for a month.
Bottom line It's dishonest not to pay the fee!!! If you feel the fee is robbery sell somewhere else. I happen to like what AgoN has made available to me and so far am happy to pay what they ask. I don't run a stop signs because I disagree with it's necessity. I entered into an agreement with society when I got a license and I honor it. A $600 sale = $6 quit crying, man up and pay YOUR fee!!!!!
When is a sale actually made might be the question. For me it is when the buyer's funds have been received and are fully collected and available to me and I actually ship the goods. Until then, I answer additional offers/queries with 'sale pending'.

As many know, sometimes using the paypal system can get a 21 day hold put on the availability of funds. I prefer a check, so the process generally takes 15 days.