Sellers Who "Didn't Know" or the Convenient Excuse

I was about to purchase a BAT VK60 amp from a very nice guy who only owned it a month. He advertised it as a Rev. E. There were six versions of this amp, and it is important to know which one you are getting for reliability, hum, noise & upgradability factors. When I told him how to double check the version by looking through the bottom rear slits for the letter on the corner of the circuit board, he discovered it was a Rev. C. The seller he bought from represented it as a Rev. E. He then contacted the original seller to tell him, and the seller's reply was, "I didn't know. The dealer I bought it from told me it was a Rev. E."

Hogwash! If you buy a piece of this caliber and have the intellect to deal with a tube amplifier, I find it impossible to believe that you would buy an amp like this, and not even verify the version on the unit itself, or call the manufacturer to have the serial number looked up. I have experienced similar situations where sellers "didn't know" there was a problem, i.e. tubes that were noisy or on their way out, wrong versions, incorrect manufacture dates, nicks and scratches, etc., ad nauseum. Always the convenient excuse of "I didn't know," serves to disavow the seller of any responsibility. I realize things do happen randomly, but quite frankly, it is clear to me that there are sellers out there who just want to dump their problems onto someone else.

The Rev. C cannot be easily upgraded because it has older boards. To revise it is prohibitively costly, and BAT informed me that no one has chosen to do so on the older versions.
Unfortunately, the sale to the Audiogon guy was not done on Audiogon, so he has little recourse. The maxim, "Caveat emptor" (Buyer beware) is certainly as applicable in high end stereo purchasing as it is in buying anything else.

Audiogoners, let's hear your similar experiences.......
Just as bad is the seller who leaves out some important tid-bit about the equipment. For example the heavy (not sure if HE was heavy, but his habit sure was) cigar smoker who sold me his Magnepan MG 1.6/QRs. Like it never occurred to him that some (most) people would find this unacceptable and certainly reduces the value of the equipment that was otherwise in "mint" condition.

How about the guy who sold an amp that had a broken handle on the front. At first, I thought that maybe it was a result of UPS not being careful, but later found that the broken piece of the bolt was nowhere in the box. Obviously, it was like this before it was sold, packed and shipped.

Fortunately, none of my experiences have been catastrophic, but certainly the sellers could have done a better job of disclosure.

On one occasion, I sold an amp to a gentleman which worked fine, but had a few cosmetic flaws (all of which were disclosed prior to sale) including some fading on the heat sinks. In this case, it was a local sale, so the buyer even had a chance to check everything out before buying. I checked back with him a few weeks after the sale to make sure that everything was working fine and it was. Great! Well....4 months later, I get an email from him stating that the reason for the heat sinks being discolored was because the amp was out of bias and it cost him $35 to get it fixed. He requested that I pay for the repair since it was like that when I sold it to him. For additional perspective...I should mention that the selling price of the amp was only $295! So, compared to the selling price, that's a pretty significant percentage of the original sale to ask for. Under the opinion of "what goes around comes around" I willingly mailed off a check the next day.

Of course, there was (is) another deal that I'm still working out where the seller reported the condition as 10/10 and what arrived would be lucky to receive a 5/10!

Bottom line is that it's virtually impossible to buy, sell and trade as frequently as many of us do w/o getting burned and buy should DEFINITELY beware.

I wish that I could say that my bad experiences were with sellers who didn't have any feedback, but that's not the case. In fact, many of my more "questionable" transactions were with sellers with LOTS of great feedback.

I think that many of us are too hesitant to call sellers to task for fear of retalliation by way of negative feedback posted back on us.

Overall, though, I find that buyers and sellers here on the 'goN are some of the most honest, trustworthy and respectable bunch of folks I've had the pleasure to deal with. Additionally, I think that the AudiogoN staff definitely has our collective best interest in mind and does an outstanding job of monitoring and investigating activity on the site.
It could be worse. A few years back I purchased a new version of an imported amplifier that I bought from a dealer, but it was shipped directly to me by the U.S. importer / distributor. The U.S. distributor shipped me the old version. Both the dealer and I contacted the distributor. We were both told by the distributor, and the distributor's sales rep. that there was only one version of this amplifier, which of course was incorrect. I promptly returned it and bought something else. Pretty scary when the distributor and their sales rep. don't even know what they are selling. I should have notified the manufacturer, but I didn't. I thought they could have had old stock they were trying to dump, which would be fraud, but who knows?
I have been luckly that almost all of my oline audio deals have went OK . Once in a while a get a piece inspected in the dark. Most people are honest and respect the magic of high end audio and don't want to ruin that. I even had a guy send me a Tigris amp in trade up front . I hope this gentleman continues to have good fortune. Back to business I strongly reccomend that you get on the phone and ask all of the right questions before you send payment. Put aside that "Kid in the candystore feeling " and listen carefully to the answers and listen to what the person is also saying when avoiding or giving Bill Clinton answers to important issues. Follow your instincts , If your not sure or get a bad vibe ... Pass or you may regret that your hunch was right. When I sell a high ticket item I always offer my address and telephone number up front, which matches my audiogon and ebay records.
I have been waiting for a chance to tell this story. Recently I responded to an ad on Audiogon for a center channel speaker. Seller said speaker is in mint condition. We agreed upon a price. Then seller writes email to confirm when my bank check will arrive and says,
"you understand that the speaker is "as is" ". So I emailed back and said, I am not a nitpicker, but I need to understand "as is". I am expecting a speaker with no scratches, no defects electronically or acoustically, with speaker grilles and terminals in good shape. Seller writes back and says, I have just made this terrible discovery. One of the terminals on this speaker is damaged. I am sorry for this very unfortunate discovery.

This felt, after the fact, like a close encounter with dishonesty.
I had a more than happy ending with a golf club. Bought a used Taylor Made Burner Bubble Driver a few years ago for only $75 shipped. They cost new about $250++. The shaft was loose in the club head (obviously not shipping damage).

I took it to a local golf dealer who sold Taylor Made. They said this should not happen, so the store sent it back to Taylor Made for a warranty repair, no questions asked, not even where I got it. It ended up that it could not be repaired; and since that model was discontinued, Taylor Made sent me a brand new Burner Bubble II for free.

I laugh because the guy who thought he was ripping me off selling me his broken club, must have dished out hundreds for a new driver, when he could have gotten a newer model as a replacement for free.

several years ago, I bought what was advertised as Martin Logan CLS2's. After owning them for several years, I advertised them again as CLS2's. As this was a local sale, a knowledgeable prospective buyer showed me via the serial number that they were in fact CLS. I, Now knowing what I was selling, relisted the item (at a lower price I might add). I have no doubt that the previous owner pulled a fast one. The lesson I learned, is to call the seller and ask for the serial numbers and check them out before the trip to audition or negotiate. The same principal can be applied here on Audiogon and Ebay as well. Just be sure to have it in writing what the actual serial number is. This way, you have a legal foundation if you receive otherwise. The overall lesson I learned: Ignorance is costly.
The ultimate claim is "XX years left on the warranty". Many companies do not have transferable warranties, so the claim is not valid.

Regarding Bryston's 20 year transferable warranty, if you email Bryston the serial number, they will tell you how old the amp is. Just remember purchase date is later than their record of manufacture date, but it shows they back their warranty even without the receipt, and lets you get a rough estimate on a sellers claim.

PM - the irony is the CLS I is regarded by most ML afficionados as the better of the series, I prefer it over the CLS II, IIA, IIZ, etc. :/

As far as I know, Levinson and Bryston are the only companies with free, transferable warranties.
Many, many companies have transferable warranties. Three additional ones that come to mind right off the top of my head are Plinius, Pass and Von Schweikert.
Recently, I placed an ad on Audiogon to sell my Bel Canto DAC1.1. The DAC says "1" on it, but nowhere does it have "1.1", not even on the back. I bought this from a very reputable Audiogon merchant, so I never questioned it and forgot about it. However, when I was contacted by an interested buyer, I panicked because I realized that I never truly verified that it was 1.1, so I sent off an e-mail to Bel Canto with my serial number. Gladly they told me that the "U" in my serial number indicated that it indeed was a DAC1.1 and not to worry. In the end the buyer was very happy with the unit and it's condition. I always feel much more anxiety and pressure to have a good transaction when I'm selling as opposed to buying on Audiogon. When I buy something I pretty much rely on the Audiogon feedback system, so it's less stressful and always [so far] a fun experience.