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Yes it is arbitrage. I would think it is usually the other way. eBay seems to get higher prices most of the time if it is a well know brand. Rotel, B&W, NAD, MSB, Adcom, Nordost and high end Yamaha, Marantz, Onkyo, etc.
I agree with the points made, and support the mechanism of the free market. On the other hand it misleads buyers who make offers in good faith and are either mucked about while the auction concludes, or stood up when the eBay bid price closes the margin. Personally I would post feedback if I believed I was misled in this way, simply to let others know that they should be aware of the seller's lack of authenticity. Free markets operate better with better information.
Welcome to the internet!
It should come as no surprise that great buys on Ebay end up here. I recently observed a BAT VK500 amplfier sell for $2125 on Ebay that is a tough find below $2500 here, and also observed a real steal on a BAT VK200 that went for $1200, which are a tough find below $1600. If the market wasn't so volatile I'd have acquired both of those pieces just to resell, but times have changed since I used to buy and resell. There was a time not long ago that I upgraded my entire system at no cost to me simply by buying a piece here and there and reselling it. I must have made over $15k profit over a 6 year period. But of course all the profit was absorbed back into the system. The internet was good to me for quite a while. I've since moved on from the hobby, and have sold off most of my former gear, but it was fun while it lasted. I know of several audiophiles that have done, or are currently buying/reselling/ profiting from used audio buys. Dealers do it, so why shouldn't the average person?
I agree that Ebay prices are generally higher than can be found elsewhere, but if you keep an eye out regularly you can find an occasional steal! I think the best price I ever scored was a $1700 asking price for a Pass Aleph 5 amp and Aleph P preamp combo. Of course both pieces sold to Audiogoner's for regular market prices. And it would not surprise me a bit if both of those BAT amp steals I just mentioned didn't end up here on Audiogon! There's no shame in buying and reselling. Half of the fun in this hobby is buying a piece just to bring it in and trying it out in your system for a while, and then moving it on the internet at a profit later on. This would not have been possible to do ten years ago, but now that the internet is commonplace why not take advantage of it...especially if you live in a smaller area with limited access to high end retailer's. But as always, buyer beware.
What is really shady, is where a BUYER shows interest in an item, then jerks the SELLER around for a few days, while the BUYER lists the item on eBay. (Note the BUYER does even own the item he's auctioning). The BUYER's hoping the current bid exceeds the asking price for the item. If it does, the BUYER, then (After jerking the SELLER around to stall him) buys the item from the SELLER. Then the BUYER receives the item, and forwards it to he highest bidder from ebay. The buyer pockets the profit from the quick turn around. Had the BUYER not been able to turn the item around on ebay for a profit, he'll cancel his agreement with the SELLER and then cancel his ebay auction (again, for an item he didn't even own yet).
Now that's shady.
Coltrane1, you are missing the point that people are advertising stuff for sale on Audiogon that they do not own, and are merely a bidder on at Ebay (and other variations). There is indeed nothing wrong with buying and selling stuff. It's a free world but serious buyers are often jerked around here by a seller that may or may not have the item to sell.
There is no question in my mind that people play the arbitrage game and the selling what you don't own game both here and on ebay. That's why you have to be very careful about auctions. I've seen lots of auctions terminated early and then re-listed with different reserves, etc. Its a wild market out there, so lets be careful boys and girls. Of course there is nothing wrong with buying low and selling high, as long as you buy first and sell later. Otherwise it IS fraud (unless of course you are selling stock short or buying futures). Oops, there's the "f" word. Maybe its only deceptive, unless you accept $ and don't deliver the goods. I'm not a lawyer. My 0.02.
I think what you are seeing more and more is people buying things off of ubid.com and selling them here and on ebay. I was recently looking to purchase an amp (parasound 855HCA), processor (Harman Kardon Signature 2.0 or Sony 9000), and usb audio device (Onkyo SE55). Looking through the classifieds here I ran across 3 different people selling these items they purchased off of ubid stating full warranty. But who really has the warranty? The person who bought it from ubid or the person who buys it from the person who bought it from ubid? I know that you can make money doing this, but I think that they should identify these items as such or be listed under a dealer. I use audiogon to purchase upgrades and to learn more, not make money off fellow members. I always thought that is what ebay was for.
If its an item you want at the price you want what does it really matter? If its to much leave it for someone else. Is it really any different from buying something yourself and then selling it when you want to upgrade?
If the person is being fraudulant then thats a different case entirly but as long as they stick by there product. Who cares.