Safe audiogon transactions; lowering the bar.

It appears to me that a large number of people send bank
checks / money orders to pay for used equipment sight
unseen. Most private sellers insist upon this form of
payment. The culture appears to require buyers to take
significant risk in order to benefit from lower prices.

Although this is not surprising in itself, it seems to me
that Audiogon could preserve the long term health of this
website, and its priviledges with more proactive policies.

e.g. providing guidelines on how to conduct a proper
transaction; a list of important questions to ask,
what the seller / buyer should have in writing before
a transaction should proceed, and perhaps provide a
summary of the most common problems which develop between
sellers and buyers.

There are nagging questions: Who owns the equipment once
it has been shipped? Who should be insured?

Perhaps some experienced sellers and buyers would share
their own approach to transactions on this site and how
they get people to put their best foot forward despite
audigon has already done much of what you suggest. see:
lots of useful information of the sort you seek.

This is a great topic! I will explain my understanding.


Buyer sends payment to the seller for a preowned Velodyne HGS-18 subwoofer.

SELLER has both the sub AND money! ACCORDING TO INSURANCE COMPANIES (AllState, Farmers, etc.) if the unit is stolen from the SELLER at this point, the unit 'does not belong to the SELLER' but the BUYER. At this point, the BUYER is not responsible for an action that they had no control over and must rely on the seller to refund the money. Usually, an acceptable deal, UNLESS the insurance company takes awhile to pay the claim the the SELLER has no cash to pay the BUYER back before hand! NOW, with that said, one would believe that the BUYER is now the legal owner, BUT, this is NOT how UPS, FEDEX, etc. views the situation.
To the shipping companies, the product belongs to the seller UNTIL delivered! This is why as a buyer you should INSIST on insurance, and COD payment option! At this point, NO RESPONSIBILITY is on the BUYER until he/she takes delivery!

This is a FACT, anyone that works in the insurance industry, feel free to correct/comment.


I do most transactions COD or with Paypal. That eases the lost during shipment issue. Paypal in particular offers enhanced "blind" transaction features, and can do so since they have access to both parties credit cards/checking accounts. See their website for details. The idea behind AudioGon is that you know what you want prior to the purchase.

For me many sellers have a tough time adhering to rating scale using 10 and 9 ratings when 7 is more like it. You must have the box and manual to issue a 10 besides the new in-box condition. Enough ranting...

I would like to see an SSL connection when logging in.

The following is the only way, as a buyer (and a seller), I would do business on Audiogon (especially if the product is over a $1,000):

1) Check the sellers feedback, if there is negative feedback or none at all proceed with extreme caution.

2) E-mail seller with the following questions: explanation of rating, why it does not come with obm (if no obm), why they are selling the unit, are they the original owner, and age of unit.

And, most importantly ask if they will do cod with a deposit (either you can send them a money order or you can paypal them). The amount of the deposit would be the amount of the shipping, insurance and cod charges and a little extra for their time. If these terms are not acceptable forget it. LET ME REPEAT, IF THESE TERMS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE FORGET IT. Don't get emotional and make an impulsive decision and lose your money.

3) If all checks out, ask for a phone number to call the seller at. Call and talk about audio, if they have been in the hobby a long time and are knowledgeable, chances are better that they are responsible because they probably would want to use Audiogon again in the future. If they appear to be credible send them the deposit. You've done all you could to ascertain that they are not flaky.

Of course, all of the above is discretionary, where their feedback is abundant and positive and the product is under a couple of hundred bucks you just may prefer to send them the money in advance.
Here is the five minute course in trade law...

The essentials (and the typical manifestations) of an enforceable contract are competent parties (adults), subject matter (something not illegal), legal consideration (money), mutuality of agreement (a meeting of the minds) and mutuality of obligation (duties). Contracts may be oral or written.

Ordinarily a sale occurs when the goods change hands. Businesses use FOB (freight on board) shipping point and FOB destination designations to specify the moment title passes. Insurance requires an insurable interest. You have one if the loss will cost you money to remedy.

Internet deals often involve three contracts, one each for the sale, shipping and insurance. Our sales contracts are seldom commercial ones. As such, the maxim "let the buyer beware" summarizes the rule that a purchaser must examine, judge, and test for himself.
I've never seen anything that addresses the insurance risk for items owned and shipped to a repair facility, which clearly is not the owner, and is returned to the owner from that facility. The shipper of the return item is clearly not the owner, does not have an insurable interest and insures the package for full value. On what basis does the shipper decided to settle a claim with the repair facility which shipped rather than the owner who has the damages??????
To Ulkatraz:

"And, most importantly ask if they will do cod with a deposit (either you can send them a money order or you can paypal them). The amount of the deposit would be the amount of the shipping, insurance and cod charges and a little extra for their time. If these terms are not acceptable forget it. LET ME REPEAT, IF THESE TERMS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE FORGET IT. Don't get emotional and make an impulsive decision and lose your money. "

I have a perfect and flawless feedback rating. I would NEVER accept COD, therefore, i would never have a transaction with someone making those demands. I will tell you about 2 scams. These have never happened to me but, have happened to many others before.

1. COD, crooked buyer. No offense to any FedEx drivers but, they are not bank tellers. Someone could go to their local post office and buy a $700 money order. Take that money order and color laser print multiple copies of it. Someone with just a little talent could scan it and change the serial numbers on each money order. Send the COD package to a local, or out of local Mailboxes Etc., or any other address that is not their home. Fedex comes with the package, you hand him 5 $700 money orders totaling $3500. By the time the driver Fedex's them back to the Seller and he finds out they are phoney, you could be in China.

2. COD, crooked seller. You ask for COD to protect yourself. No problem, you ordered a 100lb Krell amp for $8000, so you want some sort of protection. The crooked seller decides that his local home depot is selling 25lb cinder blocks for $5 each. Go buy 4 and pack them in the Krell box that you found outside the local hi fi shop before you posted your "for sale" ad. All packed up and ready for shipping. By the time you open the box, the driver is gone. They WILL NOT allow you to open the box and inspect it's contents before they have been paid. Once you open it and they have your money orders you are done. Time to call the FBI or sue.

There are specific details that I will not post here for fear of copy cat crooks. Needless to say any flaw in these stories has a simple answer that I will not post. These are true stories that happen everyday. For these reasons, I never do COD but, that is my choice. If I buy from someone, I check feedback, ask for a phone number and email account that isn't linked to Hotmail. As a Seller, I furnish this info to all buyers who ask. Never burned anyone and never been burned, here or on ebay.
As an additional comment on who is the owner during shipping. While Fed Ex and UPS may consider the piece yours once you pick it up, un-inspected of course, if there is anything wrong with it due, to their always delicate handling, they will settle with the shipper and it is up to you to get the money back from the shipper. So far i have had no problems with the shippers sending me the money, which is good because i have yet to recieve something from either of the above shippers where at least something wasn't damaged. For heavy objects i have found shipping by freight trucking companies is cheap and they seem to take care of things..harder to set up though..but then i digress.
I've gone with the Money Order route since I read (here somewhere) that using a USPS money order and sending it via USPS allows you the protection of the USPS and their mail fraud laws. I don't think this would cover a unit rated a 10 when it should have been an 8, but it should protect the buyer when they receive no merchandise at all. The last time I used PayPal they had very little protection for anyone, but that was awhile ago...maybe things have changed??
Interesting info so far, I would like to point out especially in the comments made by Ultrakaz, that there are reasons why I would require payment up front. I tend to underprice much of the things I sell here for various reasons:

1. to sell it fast
2. to reduce hassles in the sale
3. to get funds fast
4. to not lose a sale to someone else who may list the same thing the next day at a lower price
I would not underprice my gear if I was required to wait for funds and just recd a deposit
to blanket and say never buy unless only a deposit is made is not a guideline I would sell here on. I have 72 poisitive deals here and 0 bad or neutral ones, I took each one on an individual case. When a deal smelled bad I walked a few times. It appears you have no feedback here on Agon, however, as someone who is active in Forums w/no feedback, I would take the plunge in most cases. \
I've done few transactions on a-gon but have bought tons of stuff on ebay. Certainly the culture there is that the seller is entitled to call all the shots. Some sellers burden you with screen after screen of their personal rules and regulations. Don't do business with these people. Without exception, I have found them rigid, demanding, and extremely hard to work with. One seller went out of his way to bomb me with negative feedback because I didn't immediately answer his emails when I was, in fact, in the very act of burying my mother!

Tell the seller that you will deal one and only one way: COD. Period. Negotiate on a deposit to cover shipping if that is a high-cost issue. NEVER send the money in advance. If the seller wants to make the sale, he'll let FedEx collect the payment. If not, bye-bye, there'll be another one for sale soon.
Although shippers may gather info from the injured owner, they pay damages to the party who paid them to do the shipping. They have no contract with the recipient.

When a repair place accepts your unit into its care, custody and control it creates a bailment from which their insurable interest flows. Some carry bailee's insurance coverage to protect themselves from losses. A good example bailee is a dry cleaner.
All of the above comments re: protection are appropriate, but IMO, there is no substitute for a long track record of impeccable feedback. Also verfied status here, and long record of forum posting means they use this site as an avocation as well as for commercial purposes, and would be unlikely to foul it up for one or even a few transactions. I have made about 30 purchases here over the last 3 years and have always had a satisfactory experience. However, I would also recommend calling and talking just to get the right vibe.
I bought an item on Ebay and needed it in a hurry so I paid "Buy it now" price. The seller didn't ship and wouldn't answer his emails. His phone was disconnected. I contacted Ebay--there is a 30 day period where you can't even file a complaint. I contacted PayPal and received their response 30 days later (today) stating the Seller was at fault but had no money in a PayPal account, so I was out of luck. Fortunately the seller eventually came through after I sent him a half dozen very threatening emails. Moral: PayPal offers nothing to the buyer.
I just want to say this thread has a real currency for me as an admittedly highly suspicious newcomer with a number of marginal buys on eBay.

I just walked away from an ideal audiogon purchase (as it was described, anyway) because something made me nervous. I didn't bid but spoke on the phone with the seller about potential ftf audition arrangements, which he seemed to have later suggested skipping. Since the item in question is now marked as sold, I will watch the seller's feedback for new entries, and possibly post exact details later about what made me shy away.

The predominant theme around here seems to be, "there are many pitfalls, but I've never been totally burned myself." This frankly astonishes me, and I personally wrestle with questions of whether trust or caution/suspicion is the best karmic way to filter the good from the bad - it is clearly at root an act of faith to buy used equipment over the net, despite the shared safeguards covered in this thread....
Swampwalker nailed it.

About COD-I never use it & if the other party insisted on it that would be a red flag to me. The transaction should be a compromise & communication is the key. Phone calls are good. One of the tools you should use with these net audio deals is your gut feeling. I've made some deals based on it & walked away from others. So far so good.

One more thing. The transfer of money. Registered mail is the most secure way to send something through the mail. I use various electronic money transfers just because it's easy. Again, so far so good.

OK, one more thing. I picked up an SF2 amp at the main UPS center. I asked the clerk if she minded if I checked it out on the spot because if there was damage I wanted it documented. She said they couldn't process damages there but I explained to her what it was, how much it cost, etc. & all I wanted was documentation IF there was a problem. Once I talked to her for awhile she understood what I was after & was accommodating. I know sometimes it's hard to make a trip to the center but it beats the horror stories I've read of amps being rolled out of the truck & other stuff left out in the rain. You can request they hold the item for you at the center. You get to check the package out on the spot & the item is saved a trip in the back of the truck.
Driver, I understand your point of view but I cannot agree. The refusal of a seller to accept COD payment is, to me, a much larger red flag than my insistence that it be the means of payment.

COD has some disadvantages and, yes, fraud is possible. But by and large all it does is to level the playing field, which is ordinarily very much tilted in favor of the seller. It assures that money and goods change hands at the same time; that is the most important part. Beyond that:

(1) It gets sellers off their bottoms and down to the shipper with the goods. I have consistently found that COD transactions are shipped faster than prepaid ones.
(2) It assures a quality job of packing and labeling. When I make clear to the seller that I will NOT accept a damaged parcel, the seller understands better his responsibility to pack carefully and securely. I'm sorry, sellers, but pushing the responsibility for safe arrival off on the carrier is a cop-out. We all know how UPS and FedEx handle their parcels and they aren't going to change because MY parcel happens to contain a Levinson amp. So it is incumbent upon the seller to pack defensively. If he knows that failure to do so will result in (a) no money and (b) the return of the goods for HIM to fight with UPS about, the quality of the packaging goes way up. I always make clear that I will pay for quality packaging and I never balk at packing charges that are anything like reasonable.

This is a personal choice. I have had some sellers accuse me of being unreasonable and others tell me to take it or leave it on their terms. I invariably leave it and I've never been sorry to do so.

As always, YMMV!

I've read with interest the preceeding posts. I'm confused on(at least) this one thing:

If paypal takes compensation from one party to a transaction but not another or the conveyer, is it(Paypal) more beholden to the party that paid its fee?
Does Paypal use escrow as a euphamism? What am I missing?
What does Paypal provide and to whom does it provide it for its 3 % skim off the top?
Good points Will. I never thought of COD as a vehicle to provide quicker shipping & better packing. I'm always open to another way to approach something, be it use COD or switch from the SS camp to tubes. Open to but not ready to jump ship, I might add.

I read your post & thought it had valid points. I put myself in the seller's shoes to you & asked myself if I would have a problem doing a COD deal. First I would check your feedback-there is none. That in itself is not a problem as you've been posting for awhile. I would then look through your posts, which I did, to see what kind of person I was dealing with. From that I would not have a problem dealing with you & I did enjoy reading the "fishing" post the other day. The iconoclastic position intrigues me as I long ago read Thomas Szazz but that is a topic for another time. I would then follow up with a phone call to get a feel for how you conduct business and that would give you a chance to also make a decision.

Bottom line is every transaction needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis & there are several methods to ensure a safe & positive outcome for both parties. COD has been abused & is therefore suspect in a lot of peoples minds. Used properly I can see the benefits but that can be said of any number of so called "programs".
Thanks for your comments, Driver. I agree that a phone call or two is extremely useful. Also, when a seller feels awkward about COD, I always offer to pay a non-refundable deposit equal to the shipping and insurance. That means that the most that the seller can lose is the time that the equipment is away from home....

I've heard--perhaps someone here can confirm or deny--that ebay gets 2-3 times as many complaints from buyers as they do from sellers. I mean SERIOUS complaints, not junk about how someone took 24 hours to reply to an email or oh my God there was a fly speck on page 48 of manual and the seller didn't tell me.
It's fun to see how suspicious minds deal with risk. The truth for everyone here who trades cash for goods is that there are no guarantees. Cod does present the risk of there being A.......s like that thief last summer from San Diego who paid cod's with forged certified checks to the tune of 100k+ and those who speak about boxes with no goods in them. I'll never understand those who have little or no transaction history and are untrusting of others who have substantial immaculate transaction history, and believe that cod is the answer. It kinda makes me suspicious of them!!!

Even in the box, in person transactions can be tainted. In person only assures the players that there is an item and that there is cash. NO more!

The protection under Paypal is only concerning verified members up to $200??? And when shipped to a verified address and when the claim is made within 30 days of payment. I have been clipped twice on ebay by CD/R sales which I thought Ebay would handle and by the time I didn?t get re-payment, it was over the 30 days. Not much money involved, but no repayment. Paypal has no guarantee against chargebacks when the purchaser uses a credit card as payment method. BIG RISK!

Wire transfers have clear advantages. Initially, banks have verifiability of accounts with tax id's and other bank references, generally including credit histories. Additionally, in order to wire funds, the seller has to provide verification of who, where and telephone confirmation numbers all of which can be checked. Reverse look up phone numbers for addresses and if not satisfied, ask for the audio shop the piece was purchased at and then look up the number and call the shop. Sellers can provide their bankers names and phone numbers as well. There is at a minimum very little likelihood of fraud by anonymity.

With the above available, I?d never ship cod to anyone with low feedback. EVER! Yes, anyone who does buy from me is taking a risk. But that risk isn?t that I won?t ship or that the goods aren?t as advertised, only that they won?t like what they thought they would.

Wires can't be stopped once received except for bank error. So, at least one half of the risk is removed. No method other than in person exchange completely eliminates the risk to the second party of not receiving the goods.

It?s unfortunate that only one side of the risk can be eliminated. But, given that fact, it?s 100% better than both sides being at risk.

Bill E.
Interesting point of view, Bill, in that you detail all the steps you take to protect yourself from uscrupulous buyers yet bristle at the idea that buyers might desire to protect themselves from unscrupulous sellers, as well.

This isn't about paranoia, it is about playing on a level field. I'm dubious about sellers who say "trust me" but obviously don't trust their customers.
Bill, what you said...
"I'll never understand those who have little or no transaction history and are untrusting of others who have substantial immaculate transaction history, and believe that cod is the answer. It kinda makes me suspicious of them!!! "
I once had the pleasure of dealing with exactly that type of buyer & under those same circumstances; yes I was suspicious of someone who wouldn't even trust a seller with immaculate credentials. This guy wouldn't trust his own mother! I tried to accomodate him initially but the COD became such a hassle that I rescinded the offer. I then got slammed with 3 illegal neg. feedback postings (Audiogon fixed that of course). Later I found out from 2 other sellers that they had experienced significant problems with this clown. I was sure glad that I listened to my gut feelings; I could just tell that he was a jerk from the very beginning.
Bishopwill is correct re: leveling the playing field. I have always wondered why it's usually taken for granted that buyer take risk by sending $ on trust. I have and continue to urge Agon to set up a relationship with an escrow service to try and make it a more even and safe relationship for both buyer and seller. IMO, this is a very serious deficiency in the net transaction model. However, so far, I've been OK on all counts. Made a few mistakes, due to lack of research or not carefully reading ads. Ebay is way more of a risk than here, IMO.
Hi Bishopwill,

I read your Ebay feedback; 6 positives, 1 neutral, 3 negatives and your Audiogon feedback; zero. I think I understand the value of your experience on this subject.

Another proof that a logical extension of an illogical premise is still bull!

The playing field can never be level, it's always tilted to one side. Only question to me, irrespective of position, is can risk be eliminated? I did mention I'm an actuary, didn't I?

Best wishes,
Bill E. Not trying to turn this into a major battle, but I agree with Bishopwill and my feedback here and on ebay is all + as a buyer only (over 50 completed TRANSACTIONS). I'm not so sure if the playing field will ever be completely level, but us buyers are putting our $$ on the line with NO risk to the seller when we send M.O.s, cashiers check, paypal, whatever. Luckily I'm not talking from bitter experience but it IS appropriate to discuss ways to protect the buyer more.
i will do what ever i can to make the buyer happy. i also want the seller to do the same. I will NEVER buy or sell COD. Exchange telephone numbers and ask as many questions as needed. I will not deal with anyone who is not an Audiogon member. I also like to see the member as being verified. I will give any money back to the buyer if the item is not as described. As far as the sound of the item, I expect the buyer to do his/her homework. COD is the best way of getting ripped off. No offence my friend Bishopwell.
Hi Swampwalker,

I'm curious what part of what Bishopwill wrote you agree with? I for one am more usually a buyer not a seller. I am not in the audio business and never will be. I write only as an interested party who wishes to reduce risk in transactions to the extent possible. The emotionalizing of buyer vs. seller seems a waste of time to me. Rather, risk reduction would be more useful.

Unless buyer/seller meet in person, there is no way I can think of to eliminate the possibility that one or the other potentially is acting in bad faith and that is still not foolproof. But, even in cash in person transactions, it is also remotely likely that the transfer takes place in a parking lot alongside a highway, the goods are stolen, or one or the other is a thief. Certainly possible as well given that large amounts of cash can be involved.

Unless one side can be certain of the other sides history and character, a risk is being taken.

I was speaking with my wife, a lawyer, about this a few minutes ago. We considered what we thought were all possibilities. Then I pondered whether I would send $60,000 for a pair of speakers(an exceptionally large amount of money) I want by wire to someone, dealer or otherwise or go in person to inspect first prior to delivery of payment. My conclusion is that I would only trust one person here on Audiogon with that much money and that's Jonathan Tinn. Anyone else and I go in person. And that's independent of wealth, history or contribution to this site.

I clearly understand and appreciate the risks we all take. Most of us who have spent large amounts here know them all too well. But, gut feelings, bank references and verification are the yardsticks to reduce risk by not which side of the transaction is more righteous.

Every arrangement has faults and risks. Imagine selling your pair of Levinson 33's for a bargain $16,000 and agreeing to an escrow. The "buyer" sends a legitimate certified check to the escrow agent, it is deposited and clears. You're notified of good funds and you ship to the "buyer". He then notifies the escrow agent upon receipt not to release the escrow. He alleges fraud, misrepresentation, condition reduction, you're a liar or whatever. He has your amps and you don't have your money and your not going to get it! Anyone here prepared to sue in Federal Court to recover $16,000? I'm not! I'm reasonably certain that no lawyer here is. Just what would we do?

Any arrangement other than payment to seller up front is seller at risk period. Perhaps someone here can find a hole in that logic? If so, please post.

Other side, buyer at risk. Buyer sends payment, seller doesn't ship or ships stuffed box or sends goods in lesser condition that represented. Unless we can arrange buyer insurance??? buyer is not protected as would be in a credit card transaction to a dealer. Maybe that's the answer. Induce a insurer to be willing to guaranty against fraud for a fee with due diligence being on the part of the insurer.

Now the $$$$$ question. Who here is prepared to pay the premium to insure the purchase or sale of the items they buy or sell presuming a cost factor of say 2%?

If we want absolute protection, then we've got to pay for it.
Lakefrontroad, I'm not sure what the point is in your ad hominem argument. As to my negative feedback on ebay, I make no secret of it, or the reason for it. In fact, I made that reason clear a while back.

Email me privately, if you're interested, and I'll fill you in. In the meantime, attack my arguments if you like but don't attack me.


Hi Bill E.- I was agreeing with Bishopwill's statement: "Interesting point of view, Bill, in that you detail all the steps you take to protect yourself from uscrupulous buyers yet bristle at the idea that buyers might desire to protect themselves from unscrupulous sellers, as well."

Perhaps we both misunderstood you. I agree with most of the analysis in your most recent post. And if your statement about how escrow works is correct, then I guess I agree with all of it. However, in your example, I believe that escrow agent would not release funds back to buyer until seller verfied that the goods had been returned. Since I've not had a problem such as you describe, I cannot say which scenario is correct, yours or mine.

With regard to the $60K transaction; if I'm spending that much money you damn well better believe that I will inspect and accept goods in person ( my first house cost $55K.) The one time I make a $2K+ deal, I had a friend in the seller's city go check it out.

I do think that you are missing the boat in not feeling comfortable making a deal based on substantial feedback. If the guy has done 50 or 100 transactions, all to good reports, why would you be the one that went bad? Anyone can disagree on condition and if you're going to get cranked about 1 AGS point, then maybe internet is not the way for you to buy. However, if your concern is deliberate misrepresentation, then a significant feedback profile, followed by a phone call or two should do the trick for most items. Check the feedback and forum history of the 10 most recent feedback posters for the guy or gal you are considering doing business with. Drop them a line. My point is that since $ are often untraceable while goods are more so, the buyer is actually all of a risk when he sends an m.o./cashiers check out to buy.

BTW, I agree that a 3rd party insurer is worth a fee (1% each to buyer and seller, I would say is fair). How about it Audiogon? Also remember I said that so far, I have not felt a need to post negative feedback for any deal here or on ebay.
Hi again Swampwalker,

We seem to be getting closer on our ideas. I wonder why you think that I don't trust buyers/sellers with substantial feedback. If I read correctly, that's Bishopwill and others. I personally have 270+ positives with no negatives between here and Ebay while doing deals for well into 6 figures. Me?
I trust anyone with virtually all positives, who sounds and acts solid. Act flaky and scare the hell out of me. I don't need to buy or sell so, make me nervous and we've got no deal to do. Easy. Your personal choice to look only at recent feedback doesn't work for me. I care about character and history and subtance. I buy substantial items regularly and work to be cost effective but not be scammed.

I'm certain that Audiogon could expand the verification system and combined with verification and documentation enter into an insurance arrangement with a 3rd party provider to insure transactions.

BUT and I really mean BUT, if a thief wants to steal, it's going to happen. Maybe to me, maybe not, but certainly he'll find willing participants.

I'd really like to see the feedback include the amount of the sale, if buyer or seller and type of payment. It makes evaluating the prior transactions more effective.
I agree with Lakefrontroad that if buyer or seller is out to rip off their counterpart, it's going to happen. Furthermore, as his $16K example shows, if it does happen, don't kid yourself that you're going to somehow use the arms of justice to rectify the situation. You're going to find a way to deal with losing $16K.

I lost $1800 to DSSMAN last summer with the phony COD check. It taught me that 1)a phony COD check looks pretty darn good if you only glance at it, 2) that anybody who wants to pass off a phony cashiers check for COD can, and 3) if you receive a phony cashiers check as payment for COD, the only real retribution you have is to spend a lot of time talking to law enforcement agencies about how they can't do anything for you. Mind you, they were very attentive and responsive, they just truly couldn't do anything about it.

I probably won't do COD as a seller again, based on the fact that I have positive feedback here and on ebay established over a couple years and that I'm easily contactable and verifiable that I am who I say I am. That said, I might do it again as well - in retrospect, I probably broke every rule about insuring a positive transaction that I have ever defined in getting burned. Almost any of them, if self-enforced, would have allowed me to avoid that. IOW, shame on me.

I didn't have a transaction for many months after DSSMAN, largely because I didn't want to buy or sell anything, but partially because it left an obvious bad taste in my mouth. Recently, I both bought and sold items over $1K and both transactions went totally smoothly and were very satisfying. Once again capturing the good feeling of getting great performance for a fraction of the cost and remembering that I've saved oh so much more than $1800 through this type of transaction.

The bottom line, for me, is protect yourself every way you can, recognize that there will always be risk, and never make a deal that puts you in a situation that you can't absorb if you do happen into a rip-off. -Kirk

I just bought a very expensive piece of gear on Audiogon. I sent a personal check and after it cleared drove a couple hundred miles to pick up the pre-amp/
CD player and had a great day in the seller's listening room. We both brought some of our favorite music and both of us learned some new music. The equipment was exactly as sold. Brand new/un-opened and the experience could not have been more of a pleasure. Too bad the world is not always like that.