Is Agon becoming the eBay of audio?


I realize that this has been dissed before.
FWIW I'm a regular window shopper on Agon and have noticed a trend by sellers to misrepresent their wares and disregarding Agons condition rating guidelines in higher frequencies.  More listins stating item as"new" when item is obviously not and asking for top dollar. As of late for example an ad was placed for an item as "new" when owner admits that it is 1.5 years old and has at minimum 200+ hours of use. This in itself would be rated a 9/10 at best by the Agon rating system. Sellers are more defining and rating their product based on cosmetics than on functionality. For those buying it is increasingly important to do some deep research and close inspection of represenation pictures by enlarging available pictures to avoid disappointment. 
It is my opinion that buyers should not let emotions or immediate wants sway their common sense. At first sign of questionability be prepared to walk away.
Let the buyer beware

gillatgh
I was looking at a power amplifier on Audiogon. The amp looked okay in the photos, but the boxes looked like they had been shipped numerous times. I asked the seller if he knew how many owners it had. He answered that he was the original owner. When I enquired about the box that looked like it had been in a war, the seller had no answer, but repeated he was the original owner. Bye-bye
Audiogon is no different from ebay in many regards.

Audiogon is smaller, audio focused and the average customer is more interested in audio and sound and probably has more disposable income than the average ebay customer.

Not sure Audiogon does anything special from a quality assurance or customer satisfaction perspective to distinguish itself?   Seems like pretty much anything goes.   


I agree it's annoying that many sellers don't seem to bother reading through the Audiogon Grading Scale rules (also annoying when buyers ask "why the 8/10 rating? are there scratches?"), but is it really that big a deal? 7/10 and 9/10 are mostly the same for my purposes. If it's rated 9/10+, and seller didn't list "first owner, bought yyyy-mm-dd", and it doesn't have great pics that show a pristine unit with packing, then be suspicious and ask questions.
I honestly look at these misrepresented adds as a good indicator of who I am dealing with or might I say, not dealing with.
+1 tooblue.

I've been selling off a bunch, here, AA, USA Audio Mart, and ebay.  Things definitely seem different these days from when I've bought and sold from 1999 - 2016.

For one, it seems there are more folks who flake out than I ever previously experienced.  Next, you list a component at $2000, and receive more and lower (like $350) lowball offers than you'd ever expect or believe.  In all honesty, I'd prefer finding a younger person or someone of more modest means to give these things to for free than some of the people I've received emails from.

And not wanting to disappoint anyone, I rate everything conservatively.  Unless it's new and only had the box opened to check it, I don't rate anything a 9.  An 8/10 to me is something used, but otherwise in very good to excellent condition, something our partners would feel proud of, cosmetically.  These day I rate most things one step lower (maybe I'm in the wrong?) at 7/10, which brings a thousand questions ala, "there's a 9/10 that looks worse than yours...what are you trying to pull here / is this the right person / are these the actual pictures / how did you acquire this item / does the thing even work???"

Best is a guy with ZERO feedback on several sites and I'd never encountered previously who gave me that uh oh feeling from jump street.  I've been on this site, AA, and ebay since 1999, and in the end, he insults me yet again, claiming my "stellar feedback" must have come from people I've fooled (or shilled?)- sorry, Michael / Swampwalker, his words, not mine...  Thankfully, in the end, this one didn't get done with him.  Let's just say sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make
One creep sold me a different Amp than the one pictured and ten years
older . Told me I should have checked the pic myself .
All A-gon did was erase the neg feedback I gave him with zero reply
to my e-mails .
Laughing...

On a serious tip, eBay, will always draw the larger population.
At present, there are equal numbers of Professional and amateur sellers.

Audiogon will always play a smaller role as it does not have the high-visibility factor.
I haven't sold anything on here for awhile but never ran into issues selling, or for that matter buying on A'gon. That said, lately I've been more inclined like trelja and have given amps , speakers, cd players , cables to friends (my age group or younger) to hopefully have them enjoy a better listening experience 
The OP is so correct about the lack of compliance with the grading system in the last couple of years. I get so annoyed that I leave them a message on their ad making sure that it is visible...not private. In fairness, sometimes they thank me and correct their ads. I always say it courteously, but there are others who get nasty and ask me if I'm the Audiogon police, or if I'm actually interested in buying the item. I respond that I am interested in items being accurately graded.   
If that makes me an Audiogon cop, then fine...send me a badge.
I respond that I am interested in items being accurately graded.  
If that makes me an Audiogon cop, then fine...send me a badge.
+1...I do the same thing.
I will say one thing I've noticed is a lot of ads marked new where it's patently obvious the seller wasn't trying to represent the item as new. I've seen enough instances of this that I'm starting to wonder if its some glitch in posting ads. I've seen ads with tons of pics where the seller goes into great detail about the age and condition of the gear. I've seen ads marked new where the seller references the grading scale in his comments. I mean statements like "I rated item Z  8/10 on the Agon grading scale because..." on an ad that states the item is new. Clearly that was not the sellers intention, so I think it is a mix of ad posting errors and of course some bad apples.
What?
looks like good sense of humor behind or am I missing smt?
It's new when it's sealed in the box, period. If the box is opened, then it's virtually new, opened only to take pictures. If you bought it, used it a week, it's not new, period and it's 9/10. I've taken pains to represent everything I've sold accurately. Better to under promise and over deliver if you want a stellar rating. End of rant.
If everyone adhered to values such as integrity and honesty then we wouldn't be having this conversation would we? Values seem to be something that is devoid lately.......hmmmm!
I've been doing it for ~20yrs on Fleabay, and off-&-on  Audiogon for almost as long. About all we can do is stick to the guidelines & be as honest as you would want the other party to be. Communication is, of course, very important. Most on Audiogon seem truly interested in the hobby. Fleabay, not so much...
Being labeled as or becoming an Audiogon “ cop” is something the community of members trading here need not feel insulted by. In fact, those of us with 100% positive feedback ought to, with civility and good intention, point out to the sellers in question their mistakes/errors simply to better the overall tone and demeanor of the site.  

I have personally posed inquiries to a small number of classifieds where errors were glaringly obvious, in all cases maintaining a civil discourse. The only time I had a real problem with a purchase was with a seller who’s classifieds - and he still sells here - state shipping from a NY zip code when in fact the items he sells ship from Pennsylvania. (He has not changed any subsequent classifieds still.) His feedback is awful, which makes me wonder if there is a cutoff point at which a member is suspended or booted.

The feedback score is IMPORTANT as hell. I take mine very seriously. While none of my transactions are in the stratosphere, I have spent thousands of dollars with fellow members over the last five years. Parting with thousands of dollars within a community founded upon trust kind of bestows upon us all a responsibility to sustain the integrity of the site; if questioning a classified’s claims for the benefit of all members is being a “cop”, well...

 


There are a lot dishonest buyers out there as well. I've done over 2,300 transactions on Ebay and have met my fair share of them. 
While there are a certain amount of sellers who are only thinking about how much money they are making, on the other hand I think most Audiogon sellers are pretty honest. I’ve tecently got back into Audio after a 15 year hiatus, kids, college, etc., and have done 4 transactions this month alone. Everyone of the sellers has listed there items the correct way, 9 if it’s trully worth the rating and 8 or 7 if it’s got a few blemishes and so forth. Every item I’ve bought has been almost perfect in appearance and function and well worth the prices paid. As they say, buyer beware. Do your research and you will find good honest people selling there wares.
ebay has saved me a number of times because the product didn't arrive as described and they have their buyers protection.  Aron doesn't have anything like that I don't think?
I always under rate my stuff as I'm honest and want the buyer to be happy.If somone over rates there stuff then you must kick but!!
K600r, I do agree as all my experiences on Agon have been superb to date, but then again I do have time and do my research diligently. Without actually saying but there is a seller on Agon right now selling a piece of equipment that is totally damaged and needs to be replaced. He/she is identifying it as MINT 10/10. Upon real close inspection and knowing what the part is supposed to look like it is quite noticeable defective but the pictures are small and it takes magnification to see the damage. There are those who will not inspect the item closely and will get burned. Seller will say that he did disclose via pictures and buyer accepted. Like I said before I spent a lot of time on Agon window shopping and I look closely. PS also this looks to be a first time seller and has 0 feedback.
Buyers beware and take your time.
Perhaps if an item is obviously rated incorrectly we should notify Audiogon.  They should be responsible for seeing that ads on their site are not misleading or fraudulent.
+ 1 facten for the give-away route . Been doing that for twenty years .
    Able to give whole systems  to young showing interest in Classical .

   As much fun , if not more , than listening in my old age .
Friends,
I used to buy on Audiogon forever-ago, stopped 10-12 years ago for reasons already mentioned.  The last straw was when Agon dropped my very positive ratings as a buyer when they updated the site a few years back. 

What I want to offer is:  IMHO there is no substitute for making the effort to build good relationships with a few authorized dealers who carry the kinds of gear you are interested in.  I tell them what I want, set my parameters clearly and practically and tell them I can wait awhile.  They have always come through for me.  Some of them I met on Agon and have never met in person.

I have not bought new in many years and I have gotten great (sometimes unexpectedly great!) values on high end gear either demos or trade-ins of current products or even new in factory sealed box.  Sometimes they come up with it, sometimes they get a get a great deal from their supplier or another dealer who is a friend of theirs supplies it.

They follow up very conscientiously with their sales to me because they know that sooner or later I will be back for more goodies.  I now also sell off my old gear through dealers.  They handle all the details and send me my $.  For me the transactions have to be win-win and it is well worth the few % if costs me so i do not have to be involved in any of the details of selling.

For someone who has spent their life looking for deals (and honed their haggling skills), now that I am older (quite a bit), I'd rather spend my time listening to my system, tweaking what I have, planning what I want to upgrade next when the $ shows up, and window shopping Agon and occasionally researching its forums.  And I'd rather invest my time, energy and attention into rewarding and satisfying areas other than the connection between my ears, brain & heart.

Please respect and support dealers.  Some have gotten big and very successful at the business side of things, many of then just make a living at something they love. The same thing that has us all on Agon.
Leon


The community needs to take an interest in policing itself to be sure but counting on that kind of policing is not practical or appropriate.  I remember the audio scamming on eBay being so extraordinary once that dozens of ads for high-end gear (often with authentic serial numbers) going for unrealistically bargain prices would be displayed. These sellers would always steal 100% of the money sent. They did something eBay calls "takeovers"  (when scammers would appropriate the feedback from highly rated sellers as theirs). When reported they were kicked off & back up within days. When I complained the audio section needed to be actively policed by eBay they replied they only appreciated my telling them & they only responded to customer complaints.  They were never proactive. I responded that naturally, they were thankful to me, given it was free labour. I asked how happy they would be to work 1 day a week for free in return for such non-compensated thanks. No immediate response but within a few months, I received a hand-signed letter from an eBay VP that informed me that new security procedures were being put in place in certain sections.  I'm sure it was sent out to some others as well. The massive scamming was then absent & only individual items were potentially suspect from then on.

The question then becomes to what extent is eBay responsible for being proactive? Did they have the problems complained about in this thread, to nearly the same extent before they charged more than commercial users?  Also to what degree are there similar issues on US Audiomart? 

I'd like to hear from other AGers on this.

I remember when AG proudly had a manifesto on the site (Directly analogous to the Constitution with the engraved in stone rules & principles of AG).  When they started charging regular audiophiles (& perhaps other infringements) in direct contravention of these published rights, I asked why they were violating their charter which was not changed as they did so? I received a phone call from the owner of AG who couldn't be bothered either to read or change it - to ask where it was in the manifesto/constitution.  I showed him and he then said, "We cannot be expected to know every detail of what's in there ! "  I was so flabbergasted that I was too taken back to reply/ask, "How well would that argument go over in a court of law regarding the actual constitution & metaphorically is there any kind of difference here?  I was then  told, "AG was never meant to be free !" (presumably for non-commercial audiophiles)  - as if that was somehow self-evident.  There was as far as I know no evidence at all for this conveyed.  Perhaps other AGers can more knowledgeably comment. 

Does AG's attitude in any way. shape or form encourage issues to arise?  I know that clicking on what appears to be ads from regular folks selling used gear too often takes one to new that is advertised at retail.  Is this right & proper  & create the feeling of integrity many/most (one hopes) aspires to?  Does it affect the issues complained about here? I'm sure others have valuable experiences & opinions on all of the above.
Are we talking about Arnie?  Arnie owned a bricks and mortar shop in Ann Arbor, Accutronics, high end upstairs, used in the basement.  He started selling more and more stuff on ebay.  Audio selling on ebay was the model that, as I understood it, he adapted to launch A'gon.  Was anybody else around back then?  I was a frequent customer of his at the b&m establishment.
All right, something both salient and interesting to this conversation...

I put an ad up this afternoon, and specifically chose 7/10 rating for this listing. After checking it when it went live, still 7/10. Tonight, come back home to give it another look, and it’s now NEW. Go into the EDIT screen, and that’s the current condition. Demoted back to 7/10, and will keep an eye out to see what happens.

As sure as I’m sitting here, I KNOW I initially listed the item as 7/10. So perhaps some of the sellers have not actually done what we’ve discussed here, just the victim of a bug in the system. I’m sure grade inflation still occurs more than it should, but wanted to let everyone know what happened to me today
john1 - eBay apparently is powerless to permanently stop that scammer(s) that you mentioned. Those bogus listings get put up almost everyday, eBay soon removes them, the bad guys re-list (with the same damn photos of high-end gear every time) - rinse, lather, and Repeat....
Bought quite a few items here pre-’09.

Great sellers and priced fairly! I still have *everything* I bought, albeit in the closet. Got into other interests since then but making a comeback, and window shopping again. It seems like prices are a little high, just like the ’bay and I don’t really hassle with selling (not a flipper) so I try and buy sensibly.

I hate dickering so if something’s priced unfairly (to me) I SMH, RMEs and move on, something else always comes up somewhere. I’m thinking either the fees or hedging against low balling clowns have something to do with it.

"Buy the seller FIRST!" I’m more comfortable making offers knowing the seller did like what they have up for sale, so if I didn’t have to haggle or maybe just a minimum, I bite. If it’s something they paid too much for, live and learn, it’s the reasonable thing to do.

Can’t believe the slimy low balling I read about. What a waste of time and energy, trying to take advantage of whatever situation they perceive the seller is in.

Might a "who’s who" section help the Agon community track scammers and lowballing clowns?

Happy hunting all!

I always grade conservatively,   and appreciate the same of other sellers.   I actually have better luck buying and selling locally, whether its from an ad here or other forums when buying or more commonly Craigslist ,especially when selling.  Sure there's a lot of junk on CL but seeing and hearing before I lay down the cash is worth it.  No shipping to worry about or PayPal hassles,  cash.....  There are occasionally some great components advertised locally.   I bought a really nice Thorens 160 on CL for $60..... that doesn't happen on sites like this....
@trelja Thank you for pointing that out I suspected the same thing in my post above that there is a glitch thank you for confirming it.
While there may indeed be some "slimy low balling " that is hardly a corruptive issue. Negotiation is part of the game here.  The proverbial sliminess from the other direction is more of a concern with too many (but by no means all) I think. Those that well understand that it is time for gear to go out of their life & move on, resisting it in self-sabotaging ways that also pollute AG in the process. Basically, a deliberate misunderstanding that money is only & always 3 things, time, effort & energy & intense willingness to waste all 3 in inappropriately wasteful amounts to get a fixed, chosen & arbitrary no. of dollars. A typical example being an individual that ruefully exclaimed that he wasn't honouring the auction because the bids were obviously (to him) far too low - with no accompanying explanation that if they were too high by the same amount, he would've returned the excess. We all have some irrational, control issues but AG can certainly exacerbate them. 

Does anyone have any enlightening stories as to how US Audiomart compares in any of the criticisms made here by anyone? 
@jond  Good eye there!  You truly sussed it out
Ebay is pure garbage Audiogon is not i sell everything here have no problems.Only sell to people with much feedback.
I've always had good experiences on Audiogon, unlike ebay or Craigslist. However, I recently looked to purchase a tube amp on Audiogon I've been looking for, but have been hesitant since the the seller has zero feedback... What's the general feeling about purchasing a higher end item from someone without feedback? Does Paypal really offer protection if the purchase goes south?
I just had a bad experience with a seller with no feedback. After his failures to follow thru I got that warm and runny feeling and walked away. Glad I did. 
So far I’ve only had good experiences on Audiogon (and on Canuck Audio Mart). With the exception of one foreign seller who turned out to be shady and thankfully I didn’t bite.

I endeavor to be as honest and descriptive as possible when I sell, and I have a decent nose for what to buy.

One thing that drives me nuts is the amount of crappy  pictures in adds. I’m amazed when someone actually wants to sell something, especially a really expensive piece of gear, and takes a picture that makes it look like it’s under water in a pond. And...only one photo at that.

I often buy speakers and the aesthetics are very important to me. I want to see if it’s in excellent condition and I want a good representation of the finish, wood veneer or whatever. But many people’s photos make this almost impossible because they’ve taken it in such poor light a speaker finish could be red...or orange...or brown...you don’t even know.

When I sell my speakers I shoot them in the most accurate, natural light possible, and I compare the photos on my computer screen to the real thing until I see a very accurate representation. That’s when they go on for sale.

BTW, I notice on Ebay today someone selling MBL 121 monitors - which are the small stand mounted MBL speakers. But he has instead pictures of the big full-range MBL 101Es!

Oh..it’s ok...pictures of the 121s are coming...

That’s a good way to send of "trusty vibes" to potential buyers.

I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite that bad on Audiogon.
One of the things that eBay doesn’t offer is being able to research equipment’s pricing history - if there is a track record - as A’gon does.  I use it for everything I buy. 

In doing so I’ve avoided purchases with sellers who are either asking well above the averaged, or offer no reason why that’s so, i.e., replacing/upgrading parts, etc. I’ve avoided making offers because what I would be willing to tender would strike the seller as “low-balling”, even though it would be based upon the research here.  

Case in point - there are two ARC tube preamps being offered now, two different models, and both are asking at least $500 above the average price obtained via the A’gon history.  Hmmm.  Both are from reputable sellers with A’gon history, but neither piece possesses any additional attribute that would have me pay more than what my research revealed.  

I have traded in equipment with bricks and mortar retailers toward the purchase of something else, and those of us who have done so know very well how fast our stuff has depreciated.  I have no issues with paying a fair price for anything, but I find such bloated prices questionable.  

Equally annoying is having a customer pay the additional % for using PayPal here.  If I walked into a store and at checkout was told I was going to pay an additional fee for using PayPal or a credit card. I’d walk out. Period. I’ve sold a fair amount of stuff here without ever asking a buyer to cover my PayPal fee. 

All in all, eBay is a poor place to buy and sell the sort of gear commonly found here. By and large buyers and sellers here have a vested interest in the “hobby” to start with. One of my methods to determine whether an eBay seller is a fellow hobbiest is to look at the other items they may be offering. If it’s shoes. ceramics, or what have you, I run!
I'm new to the Audiogon forums and I've been looking for a subforum for trade/sale as I want to sell 4 NOS (real NOS) RCA 5751 tubes from 1962 (still black/dark chromed plates) but I don't find where can I advertise these to sell them.
Any help please?
@kiko1974    If you contact [email protected], Attn: Tammy,
I can help you sell these items. 

Thank you, I'm contacting her/him right now.
Best regards.
@kiko1974, your best option, far and away, for selling tubes is eBay.

Audiogon secondarily, though the drop off from eBay is huge.  The other sites will not be worth your effort 
I use both eBay and Agon for sales, just depends what I am selling.
High dollar, more unique items usually will do better on Agon and of course the commission is a LOT less here, max is $150 compared to eBay which can run right up to $750! before it is capped which is disgraceful in all honesty.
Now cheaper and lesser goods, cables and similar is pretty much an even wash and I will usually list on both sites as I see a LOT of Agon sellers doing the same.

As far as buying I check both sites but extremely important is the feedback whichever site I check. I have been on eBay since 2002, here since 2012 for sales/buying and 100% feedback is my goal on every single transaction.

Yes there are a lot of misrepresenting when it comes to goods, EBay being worse imho. Its always a case of buyer beware, do your research and homework and use that very rare animal....common sense!
@kiko1974
Tubes are listed in the accessories category !
I prefer USAudiomart.  I get better quality buyers and selling is free.  Audiogon buyers tend to want to haggle forever and tire kick.
I have never tried selling on audiomart but one thing I do know (imho) is the format is horrible and the search functions are pretty low rent.
Those aspects on their own were enough to cause me to give up searching on there.
Plenty of low ballers and tire kickers on both eBay and Agon unfortunately.
I think USAudiomart search works fine.  But I mostly search by manufacturers or types of equipment
The OP states:

" As of late for example an ad was placed for an item as "new" when owner admits that it is 1.5 years old and has at minimum 200+ hours of use. This in itself would be rated a 9/10 at best by the Agon rating system."

I agree this is not a "new item" but just look at all of the forum statements about break -in time. Also, consider that a lot of high end equipment will last for many many years and I judge an item that is 1.5 years old with 200 hours on it to be practically new. As a matter of fact I would wonder why the person is selling it as it is just getting broken in. The only way to demonstrate an item is new is to show the unopened factory carton. Why would anyone sell something that's never been opened (although it does occasionally happen)? I'm not disagreeing with the OP but I have sold equipment that looks brand new without any scratches or imperfections but has some years on it. So how does one determine how to rate it?
Isn't there a 10/10 rating as well as "New"?