There are other fairly extensive threads on this topic on A'gon if you are looking for more information. At any rate,
I buy frequently from ebay / A'gon. Ebay is absolutely a "roll of the dice" as far as buying used vinyl. I have not received items, I have on at least 2 occasions received items rated "mint" or "Ex" and simply thrown them away after playing them because their condition rendered them unlistenable. I have also found some highly desireable l.p.s in mint shape for reasonable prices. My interests are rather "specialized" - that is,I buy traditional folk music (Ir., English, Scandanavian, etc.). In that respect, ebay is an invaluable resource.
Some sellers provide a great service by explaining their grading systems in fine detail. Other sellers just pick a grade. In either case, there is no guarantee unless the seller notes it on their auction. I use the Goldmine Grading system when I sell records. Any interested buyer can easily locate the details of that system on-line.
In general, when buying from either ebay or A'gon record sellers, I check feedback and once I have established that an individual grades accurately and is reliable, I peruse their offerings whenever possible. When buying on ebay I always look for sellers who specialize in music and who have limited interest / knpwledge and who may simply be trying to sell l.p.s they came across at a garage sale.
In the end, when you buy used vinly unseen, you pays your money and you takes your chances!
Best of luck,
I've had reasonably good experience on ebay. The shops that are honest and know how to rate LP quality are somewhat easy to spot. I had one or 2 buys that didn't meet the quality level rated, but the price in that case was about right so I didn't feel bad.
I had one case where I bought an LP from a guy selling his personal collection. He said it was "excellent condition" and I paid $22 for it. I received a really dirty, and somewhat worn LP. I immediately sent him an email telling him how disapointed I was. He offered to take it back for a full refund, or let me keep it and he'd give me a $20 refund. The LP was worth $2, and the guy was straight up honest.
I've given up buying vinyl via Ebay. The final straw was when I bought an original pressing of a Judy Collins LP that the seller describes as "near mint - excellent condition." When I received it, it was visually scuffed and obviously historically mishandled. Upon playing, the surface noise was louder than the recording itself.
I wrote back to the seller and described it. His only response was "what do you expect for a 35 year old record?"
Well, when a seller describes a 35 year old LP as "near mint," that's what I expect. Many of my LPs are that old, and many of them are mint or near mint.
I stick with Agon now...I've had much better luck here, especially with the regular sellers of LPs.
I have to agree with Coffe nudge. If somone says the record is near mint then it better be, just like if you sell a piece of gear on audiogon and rate it a 10/10 it better not have any scratches. I don't think it's too much to expect to get what was advertised and you paid for.
I've had pretty good luck on Ebay and a few instances where the record was stated as NM and was a piece of junk. Any record rated at VG+ or better should basically be pretty clean playing. If you buy any record rated VG, then in my opinion you are taking your chances and can't expect much. I stay away from anything below VG+. Also beware of sellers who offer records and call them excellent, that can mean just about anything. Just remember that as far as Goldmine is concerned a record at VG+ or better should play pretty darn good.
Ebay can have it's problems as stated, but without it you are minimizing your choices greatly.
eBay vinyl buying can be quite good, the most important issue being, dealing with a seller who SPECIALIZES in vinyl and has the feedback to prove they know how to grade properly. If in doubt, email the seller with questions. If you don't get a knowledgeable response, you are taking a big risk if you bid. eBay has alot of sellers who pick up a box of junk albums at a yard sale and don't have a clue about proper grading. In other words, you have to become a knowledgeable buyer. It will lead to alot less frustration.
I don't buy records here, as most seem to be priced way too high for what they are. In my opinion.
There is a huge gap between VG and NM. VG can be garage sale records that look like they were tap danced on. NM should be just that, near mint. While VG might = Very Good, it sounds much better than it actually is. I would never buy a used VG record unless I could hold it in my hands first.
My experience in general has beemn similar to what Ozzzy62 says - I have had nothing but good results, whether here or on eBay, when I buy stuff described as NM from a reputable buyer. This often means paying more that what some people think one should for used vinyl, but with records, as in life, you get what you pay for.
the standard for rating used vinyl has always been a'visual'one. anything less than m-(thats even a step up from near mint)is always a risk unless the seller's standards are the same as yours......in record collecting, a description of excellent or vg etc usually isn't worth 'collecting' unless the item is rare beyond belief.
I'd say nearly three quarters of my Ebay purchases which were listed at VG+ to VG++ have been grossly mis-described. Most are either VG or VG-. And you have to keep in mind that VG is really a pretty weak rating on the Goldmine scale.
This lp, for a recent example, was described as VG++/VG++. It was, on inspection, completely trashed with many feelable scratches and mildew stains and odor inside the gatefold:
Classical Ragas Ebay
With Mint, NM and NM-, the ripoff ratio drops down to about one third. Probably because those ratings are less open to interpretation.
"Sealed" has been a total disaster considering the premium price, with probably half showing obvious signs of prior use once I opened them. This one had hair, spindle marks and scratches:
Stan Kenton Ebay
Unfortunately, the Ebay sellers have you over a barrel for a few reasons:
- They usually won't refund shipping costs (which were, of course, inflated with "handling" charges) on returns.
- Then add on the cost/trouble of the return shipping itself and it makes no economic sense on a record that was under $20.
-Many Sellers now hold off leaving feedback until you do, so they can leave retaliatory Negative for anyone who "dares" to post the truth about them. So you can't judge from a Seller's feedback how reliable they actually are. My feeling is that Negatives are understated by a factor of 10!!! So anything under 99% (given a statistically significant total to begin with) is truly a horrendous figure.
There are some trustworthy sellers on Ebay, and I'm too much of an addict to give up entirely (yet). The uncertainty about condition just has to be factored into your personal price equation before bidding.
The html Hyperlinks in my post above don't work. Here they are more explicitly:
Classical Ragas: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=4834684787
Stan Kenton: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=4829623430
p.s. Can someone explain how to include hyperlinks in an Audiogon post? Standard HTML was apparently useless.
Opalchip makes an excellent point about the reluctance of buyers to give negative feedback on ebay. Of course, that might compound the problem because then a seller who has sold misgraded l.p.s but has not received negative feeback can use the fact that they have limited or no negative feeback as "proof" their grading is honest and accurate. As I stated in an previous post, if you buy used vinly sight unseen, you are always taking a gamble of some measure.
I am in the UK, but I have to say, I have found E Bay grading to be acceptable, particularly from the on line specialist shops. You can of course search these offers through www.ebay.co.uk where for you classical lovers, you will find more HMV ASD's, Decca SXL's, Argo's etc, than you can shake a stick at. Many of the online shops clearly offer overseas sales at reasonable postage