Should Escrow be Required?

I've noticed alot of expensive high end stuff from sellers with no feedback lately. Most don't post pictures but some do cut and paste from manufacturer's websites. I've also noticed that many, but not all, of these listings have poor grammer. Shouldn't an owner of a $5,000 component be able to construct an intelligent description of the item? Here's an example: "it s a excellent piece from Aragon,barely used . Give it to the best offer. Paypal plus%". (Don't flame me now!) Personally I won't buy an expensive item from a seller with no feedback unless they accept escrow. Should escrow be a requirement for no feedback sellers selling expensive goods? What does everyone think?

You spelled "grammar" wrong.

I would not buy anything sight unseen for over about $1,000. Escrow protects both parties. There is some talk about fraud over at AA.
I think it should be up to the buyer to decide that. If a buyer is skeptical of a seller, then he should be the one to require it.
By the way, positive feedback is absolutely no guarantee of a good seller. It is very easy to fake a good feedback rating, as Audiogon (and Ebay for that matter) have no way of truly verifying that the buyer actually paid the seller any money. (Although, since Ebay takes a "cut" of the selling price, theirs is slightly better).
A better suggestion is that the seller should be required to give a phone number so that the buyer can speak with them directly, as opposed to only via email corespondance.
And as far as the poor English is concerned, I do not sweat that too much either. I work with enough foreign born "Americans", (not to mention that non-English speaking people also use Audiogon), that if their english is not perfect, I do not hold that against them. Having a good command of the english language does not preclude a person from being an audiophile.

These are my thoughts on the matter anyway.

PS Don't flame me for my poor grammatical sentence structuring and spelling errors. (I was born and raised in the USA, and I am an engineer, so naturally I couldn't spell my way past a 2nd grade spelling bee!)
I love these ads, they scare everyone away. I have purchased some really great gear at rock bottom prices from sellers with bad grammar or, better yet, strange descriptions of the gear. Little or no feedback helps too. It's a free country, stay away, please. I'm comfy asking the questions and taking the risk. If you're not, then don't. But don't require sellers to do anything that they don't want to do, as long as the item is graded appropriately and the text is accurate, the game is on.
NO, buyers and sellers should have freedom to negotiate their own terms.
I don't know about "requiring" escrow, since AudioGon, like E-bay is "only a venue." A good start,however, would be a valid credit card (that is cross-referenced with the billing address and telephone number of the holder) in order to register, buy and sell.

Secondly, I agree with Mike. I personally only buy with a credit card through PayPal or COD. I know that these payment methods are not full proof, but there is at least some form of protection from scam sellers. COD with a bank money order actually works very well. If the seller sends you a box of bricks, you can open it in front of the courier and then refuse it. If the product looks good, you still have a few days to make sure it works and the condition is as advertised, because you can put a stop payment on a bank money order as a last resort.(Don't try to scam someone with this method if everything is as described, because you will go to jail!)

Most important, try to get as much info about the seller as possible....address, home and work #'s etc...Call the number to make sure that person really lives or works there. I use the reverse phone directory or check out the address with his/her countys' property records through the recorders office online. Of course, not all counties have this on-line info available nor does everyone own property, but every bit of information helps to confirm the seller is legit.

Finally, as we all know, if the deal is too good to be true, it's not.
How does escrow protect the seller? I have never used escrow, but it seems like the buyer has all the control in the matter. Aside from the fact that the money is in place, there's a number of things that could go wrong, and now the person that owns the gear (the seller) has less control than the buyer. I like to ask for a phone number, call them and ask all the questions I want. If everything sounds good to me, I go online and do a reverse lookup to verify that the phone number they gave me comes up registered to the same name and address that I'm sending the money to. I'll also confirm everything the we agreed to (on the phone) in writing via email just to be sure that everything is understood by both parties. It's no guarantee that I won't get ripped off, but neither is escrow.
I think you need to talk to the seller and be comfortable. It goes both ways. I bought two items recently. One expensive by your standards, one not that pricey. The expensive item involved some discussion and the seller shipped after I told him my payment was on the way. For the less expensive item, I told the seller I would purchase the item after I after I got home (1 week)from vacation. He received my payment by check and waited for it to clear, then shipped.

Both transactions involved a different level of trust. One for shipping early, and one for holdong an item that could have been sold sooner

In both cases I had good feedback and talked to the person about myself, and more importantly them.

It all amounts to knowing your buyer or seller. All that being said I would never send a cashier's check as payment in advance. Escrow services give help to both parties in expensive transactions.

You caught me! ;-P

If you are going to use escrow, be wary of such sites as :

These are fraudulent sites. Ebay recommends if you are in the US or Canada.
No,Escrow should not be required. I also agree with Viridian. Feedback or not Get sellers Phone number and talk to him. I will not buy any expensive gear unless I speak to the seller and ask the importent questions and get a positive feeling for the seller. Its no gurantee but its better that emails.
Dear Buyer. Of course it is not your fault that you have no feedback,everybody has to start someplace. I would prefer to make payment into your bank account so there is a record in the federal reserve system functioning as a bill of sale. As soon as I receive the piece,I'll give you good feedback.
((1.It's easy for a crook to create his/her own fraudulant good feedback using fake names.2.If you make the payment into a bank account,for the cost of a phone call,you can talk to a bank officer and find out what the officer thinks about the bank's customer.(Read between the lines.)
how about health insurance ? please don't ask to buy any things from me..
I think that the advice from those suggesting phone contact with the seller is prudent however, realize that written verification of all claims made in a transaction is very important if the matter ends up either as a dispute, in Audigon dispute resolution, or even court. Putting it all down in writing, before money changes hands, protects both buyer and seller.
I was recently burned for about $2400 on Audiogon, from a guy with no feedback. I thought, well, at one time I had no feedback, this guy is just getting going on Audiogon, I can help him out and we will do a deal.

From now on I will only use an escrow service for anything over $1000. If the buyer doesn't accept that then too bad, I will wait for a buyer who is willing to use escrow.

I talked to the buyer of my Denon AVR-5800 two or three times on his cell phone and he was an accomplished scam artist, very personable. I should have been more thorough in my research. After the burn I looked up apartment buildings in the Arlington, VA. area and found the address and phone number of the apartment complex that the buyer had the FedEx COD shipment sent to. When I called the apartment manager she said she had never heard of the buyer before, he had never lived there. If I only would have done that when the package was on the way then we could have set a trap for the ***hole. The buyer had me send the receiver by FedEx COD overnight. Shipping approx. $240. Story: his son was coming to town the next day for his birthday and so he wanted to surprise him with a nice receiver. FedEx attempted to deliver the package to the front desk of the apartments, couldn't find the recipient's name as a resident, package sent back to the local FedEx terminal listed as incorrect address. Next morning (busiest time of the day for shipping centers) someone shows up at FedEx, presents a forged Cashiers Check, and there goes my receiver. The check was well done, with the typical endorsement and security wording on the back of the check, etc. It was written from a fictitous Credit Union. Since the COD and shipping charges had been put on my FedEx account, then I was required to pay those to FedEx also.

My stupid bank took three weeks before they notified me of the fraudulent check, after I noticed a deduction from my account online in the amount of the Cashiers Check. FedEx only saves their security tapes for two weeks, so we could not get a photo of the guy, only a description by the clerk.

I did not do more research at the right time because I own my own business and am usually very pressed for time. I thought, hey, it's a COD shipment with a request for a Cashiers Check, what could possibly go wrong. I will never again be so naive (stupid). All you guys who are honest and forthright in your dealings and think of Audiogon as a cool community place where all the Audiophiles hang out and groove with each other need to wake up and smell the ca-ca.

There are people out there whose sole mission in life is to constantly think of ways to screw over other people. The internet gives them a wonderful opportunity to do that in countless different ways.

Buyer and seller beware!

Sign me burned and burning.
I have only conducted two private purchases on Audiogon and my experience was stellar. In each case i did have a conversation with the seller.

There are no guarantees and we are looking for something that does not have local dealer-reinforced guarantees. We must remember that the cheaper we want things, the cheaper the guarantees.

"However cheap you want it might be just how 'CHEAP' you get it.

I suppose you could contact a local 'agent' be he a Security Company, local used stereo store, whatever to 'broker' it for you. But, Hell, I am hoping that the true scam is jsut not that common.
I have purchased over $35000 worth of gear on the gon and sold close to as much, always pay by M/O ,always buy from members with good feedback .All items I sell are M/O only paypal charges much and pays slow. escrow is the same great for the buyer terible for the seller .If you are so worried about buying used online buy new gear from a dealer .Never been burned just was sold 1 item that was grossly miss represented .Be carefull and smart you will be fine.JK
We each have a different tolerance for risk. That said, there are certain common rules of common sense that should be universal. I appreciate those of you who have shared your cautionary tales above. I've bought $1000's on the 'gon and eBay, and each one was a judgment call. I've never been intentionally ripped off. Sellers have made honest mistakes, and fixed them when pointed out. I've walked away from offers that sounded too good to be true. They probably were.

I've also sent M/O's for up to $800 to total strangers and received beautiful gear. Overall, my eBay/Audiogon experience has been better and more fair than other mail order experience.

When in doubt, I ask the seller if he's willing to use escrow. If he balks, forget it!

How about these guys cut-n-pasting not just the manufacturer's pix, but 'gon members' pix? I recently saw speakers from an ebay seller in Texas. I recognized the background furniture from a 'gon seller in NJ. I asked the Texas seller, "What, is one speaker in TX and the other in NJ?"

No reply. I didn't bid.

Good luck