Buyer Protection.... ?

I'm looking at buying a heavy and expensive (to me!) piece of equipment.

The item looks legit, seller seems nice, but it has a price tag of over 5K. There is no feedback anywhere and I'm trying to figure out what I can do to protect myself without irritating anyone.

Neither of us has done a large amount of buying/selling online.

Any suggestions?

I'm not sure Fed Ex will ship items of this weight, for what it's worth.
Where is it? Maybe someone in the group would take a look at it for you. Do you have sellers, name, address, phone #, where he bought it to verify that purchase by him? Have you talked to this person on the phone and got a "feel" for him/her? Will he ship with half payment and a "hold" check cashable for the other half on your acceptance.
Overall though, audio people tend to be a very honest lot, your concern is justified, but a couple of precautions as above and what others are going to suggest and you will do fine.
A large measure of trust and honesty is essential for good transactions via such sites as Audiogon, eBay or any other buy/sell i-net site. I agree with Jvia that you should call and talk to the seller and "get to know each other", and work out details of the transaction that are agreeable to you both. If Fed-Ex won't ship it, you may have to go with a freight company, and they can be expensive but with better handling. Cheers. and good luck. Craig
Use Team Air Express. They do GREAT work and don't damage items!

COD is also an option, a great freight company! (877) 601-8070

Good luck,
I personally wouldn't enter into a $5k mail transaction with someone who doesn't have a long clean record as a seller. I've had transactions where things were a little less than advertised, or details you don't think of asking until you get the item were overlooked.

As they say, "Even the Devil can quote scripture." If it's a common item up for sale, have some patience.

If you must buy, however, try an escrow service like and work out the terms of why you'd return the item first. These services essentially hold the money pending your approval of the item, for a modest fee.

On the other hand, as a seller I wouldn't do escrow with a novice buyer. Opens up the possiblilty of monkey-business.
It has to be the deal of the century for me to buy under such circumstances. There may be another come along with a seller whom is close / or has sufficient feedback. Talking for hrs. on the phone hasn't always done it for me.-- Got stuck;in spite-of.
Jason, STOP right now and click on to This is the only way to protect the buyer and the seller. They hold your money until the item is delivered. After you let them know you are satisfied, they pay the seller. The only problem is they charge a 3% fee. Maybe you and the seller can split it. Good luck from one who was burned!
I think that Jvia's idea of having a local Audiogon member with deep feedback go and inspect the unit is a great idea. A little hard to arrange. I would be happy to do this for any items in the Portland, OR area. Heck, I might learn something to boot.
If the seller in LA area,i would be happy to take a look the item this weekend !

If the price is too cheap you gotta be careful !!!
Some ideas:
Try to convince the seller to send it via cod. Perhaps you could offer to send the shipping costs up front so he will know you are a serious buyer.

Try to get as many phone numbers and addresses as possible. If he's a legitimate person he will understand your anxiety and be willing to assist.

An alternative would be to fly out there and get it yourself (since it is so expensive). If you pack it well (and it's in size/weight limits) you could ship it on the airplane. (warning: they WILL drop it from several feet up)(warning2: United Airlines is rough with luggage)
With no feedback on the seller you need to be very careful with such an expensive purchase.
1)Talk to the person on the phone.
2)Ask for proof of ownership. Ask where they bought it and speak with the person that sold it to them.
3)Get good digital photos of all sides of item showing the serial number
4)Call the police in the sellers city and ask if they have a history with this person.
5)Use an escrow service.
If they are legit, they will understand your concerns. Good luck