The issue of lowballing... What does that mean?

I LOVE Audiogon. I have purchased and sold many items here and it is a wonderful resource for audio nuts of every variety. Big solid state, tubes, analog, vinyl? Sure it all goes.

So I see posts that are make offer but the seller says "lowballers" will be ignored, vilified, cursed and cussed. So why have a make offer sale? Something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. It doesn't matter what you paid for it, or how much you love it. And why be upset? Declining requires one mouse click. Countering maybe five or six clicks or keystrokes. Just curious as this is a commerce site.

I have received offers that seemed really low to me, but I am still happy to have interest and I always counter offer. I recently sold a Clearaudio TT for a lot less than I thought it was worth. But all the offers were low and I had to rethink my view. It ultimately sold as a real bargin but I'm happy and so is the buyer.

Your thoughts?
I agree, I don't know why people get upset at lowballers. Ignoring them requires even less than one mouse click. A lot of lowballers (not so much on Audiogon but more on Ebay and Craigslist) are people who want to pick up your item at a low price, then flip it at a higher price. Nothing wrong with that as such, but it's not the kind of buyer I want to deal with. What does annoy me somewhat is people who string you along for a while like they are really interested but you can never quite close the deal with them. I wish these people would be a bit more decisive.
Simple. The seller doesn't want to sell for a bargain price and doesn't want to deal with lowballers. So why don't you just respect his wishes and just move on.
I am in total agreement with you and don't understand the comment of ignoring offers when it is so easy just to decline the offer and move on. Don't take offers low or otherwise personally it is what it is buying and selling. Actually the comment (ignored) turns me off but that's me. I have sold a few things on this site and I just figure offers (low) are just a part of the game of buying and selling.

I have wondered about that myself. If a seller wants a certain price and doesn't wish to field offers all he has to do is put "Firm"! in the ad. Otherwise how can a buyer possibly know what the seller means by "reasonable offers only" and the ubiquitous low balls will be ignored (or worse)?
I started a thread just like this on Audio Asylum and it was well recieved. You are not the only one wondering how low is low, people had a bunch of ideas but none of it was clearly logical. Thanks for bringing it up here.
BTW The next time you are about to give away some good stuff send me an email first.
Some folks think they are minor gods and do not want to deal with anything which lessens that opinion of themselves.
Getting a 'lowball' offer angers them because they think they are 'better' than that.
Just my opinion.
I await the nasty rebuttals defending thier right to think they ARE superior.

Personally I would ignore any comment which does not want a 'lowball' offer and just go ahead and MAKE your offer. Who cares if the person does not want it. that is thier problem, not yours. They may ignore your offer or send you a nasty note back. so what?
In general I agree that staying "lowballers will be ignored" doesn't make sense but I wouldn't get upset over it. Please realize that many people here aren't professional sales. They most likely do buying much more often than selling. I know I am. Sometimes they may put in words without thinking too much about the net effect. So don't take that too seriously. If you like the item, just make an offer for the amount you are willing to pay. Most members here are very nice people. I am sure they won't send you a nasty email. If they did, well, at least you know who not to do business with.
I have found the vast majority of offers made to me on this site to be very fair and I probably accepted most of the them, if not all. However, I think we've all had annoying people who are more interested in bargaining than actually purchasing something. You could put up a pair of Magico Q1s for $20 and they'll offer you $10. When I get an offer from one of these types, I will just reply "No thank you" and leave it at that. Sometimes they will raise their offers, but I honestly would rather not deal with them at all. I think that once they get the item, they will attempt to start re-negotiating the price, because that's what they live for. I just don't need the aggravation when there are so many people here who are a pleasure to deal with.
I grew up in the antique business. (school of hard knocks). A women came in and made an offer on an item marked 325-. She said (to my mother) would you take 2 dollars? My mother said "this is marked 325 dollars. The women walked out embarrassed. It sold very shortly after for 300-.
Another time a women came in and fell IN LOVE with a rocking chair saying "it is JUST what I have been looking for!!", and how much? While I called for the price she was sitting in it and loving it!! I came back and told her 125-. She looked funny and replied "I am really looking for something much nicer"!! That one sold very shortly afterward as well.
It goes both ways and every which way.
Fortunately, whenever I sold items on Audiogon, I have never been "desperate". So, I investigated the "market price" for the item, remembered how long I have owned it or how old it was to determine how much to mark it down or mark it up in the event that it was worth more and started from there. I always have a price point whereby I will not go lower so, when some send extremely low offers, I always respond and tell that person that it is wayyyyy to low. If their offer is close to my price, I may compromise, spit the difference if it isn't too much, etc. But, all buyers and sellers can check the blue book values of items. It also shows trends, average prices, low and high prices also. I always try to price my items to sell, so I typically price lower than average blue book prices anyway. Some may think that I'm desperate when they see my listings because it is lower than average blue book prices (unless it is a rare jem and I won't lower it), but when they submit their offers, and it is too low, I simply tell them thus and that is it. I will not respond to a stupidly low offer with a counter offer. It (to me) is up to the buyer to present a reasonable offer. I will not haggle when selling. As long as I'm within the respectable used sale price range for the item, I can dance a little. I'm not trying to make money here, but I do want to get what the item is worth. Yes, it is worth what a person is willing to pay for it, I've said that here many times. But we have agreed to establish a rating/pricing system (blue book, etc.) and I use that. Most stereo stores definitely use it for demo and used equipment for sale.

When someone sends a "lowball" offer, they know it. I don't really think anyone ever sells for that kind of price. Here is an example. A $7000 pre/pro, (current model) with a warranty. Offer comes in for $800. Does anyone really think the seller might take that? I highly doubt they think there is any chance of that, so why even do it? Its a waste of time for both. Granted, its not any effort to ignore it, or simply decline it. Usually these are zero feedback members. If people would try to be realistic, this wouldn't even be a topic for discussion. This is Audiogon, not fantasy island. I don't do it, and I personally find it irritating.
The most accurate way to determine price when you are the seller, is to ask YOURSELF, "what would I pay for this". Ask for that amount. That's fair.

Thanks for all the very thoughtful responses. I agree with the consensus, if you like something make an offer you are willing to pay. Simple. If the seller (including me) doesn't like the offer they are free to decline or ignore. Again, simple. If you don't want offers make the price firm.

As far is Markpao's comment... I still don't know what constitues a "lowball" offer. What is a bargin price? The prices on Audiogon for the same basic product sometimes vary wildly. Today there are two MD tuners for the same model differentiated by a 70% price variance. It's like my boss saying we need to cut expenses - does that mean I need to fire half the sales guys - or stop letting them expense Starbucks coffee?

I do want to respect peoples wishes. Many of the people I have bought from or sold to, I am still in contact with discussing music, product or life...

Thanks again for the feedback.

I don't give those admonitions a second thought, if I want to make an offer, I make it. Anyone is free to ignore, or acknowledge it as they see fit.

If it's something that I really want, I might offer above market, if I would kind of like it, maybe below market, if it has cosmetic issues and three of the last owners' license plate numbers carved into what is left of the paint, ya, I'm goin down, down, down.

I will also offer much less to people with no feedback, very bad grammar and no photos. Most folks would never even make offers on these types of ads, and yes, it's a gamble, but that kind of folderol will cost the seller big time.
Well, if I was crazy enough to make an offer on these I'd have to lowball!:
ZYDO nailed it:

IN partcular:

" ... When someone sends a "lowball" offer, they know it. I don't really think anyone ever sells for that kind of price. .. Its a waste of time for both. ...I don't do it, and I personally find it irritating...."

IMO it goes well past simply "irritating" and takes it into "insulting" by all-too-many time-wasting bottom-feeders.

There used to be an honor code and an accepted /expected sense of fairplay in this hobby that is frequently now being ignored. These latter types also ignore the time honoured axion that says that if you are a pig you get fat, but if you are a hog you get slaughtered.

Result: I ignore the lowballers, also take note of them and brand them as such, and keep them out ad infinitum.
Well there certainly is a difference of opinion. And I guess in a sense that is the joy and mystery of Audiogon.

ZYDO and AKG take offense to those who would offer less than the value they believe appropriate. AKG to the extent that he notes the offender and brands them! (I'll bet he is hoot at parties).

Both posts fail to address the original questions of the post. If you are offended by offers why not make it a fixed price sale? And please don't say because some discount is OK but more than the mythical number you have in mind is offensive. That's just silly. Either you demand a certain price or you don't. The effort in not responding is ZERO.

I love Agon and it's been a great resource for me. It allows me a great forum to sell items I no longer need and to look for things my local dealer does not have. But first and foremost it is a COMMERCE web site. You PAY to use it. It's not a secret society and your ad, nor your affinity for something you are selling makes you better or worse than anyone else.

If someone offers you 1/10th of a current model product (and I've never seen anything resembling such an offer on the items I've sold), I'd suggest ignoring it, and maybe having a nice glass of wine or an ice cold martini (or heck fruit juice). Because in the final analysis it's the internet and life is too short to be cranky.

I think fixed price items tend to get way less offers then negotiable items. Plus, there's something fun about the act of the haggle.

Truthfully, I look forward to haggling when I sell something. I remember a while ago I listed Rogue monoblocks and got an email a day later with the message, "I'll take 'em." No haggling, no initial lower offer; just a straight up offer for the going price. Of course I sold them, but that's the only time that's ever happened. Other than that, there's always the give-and-take element. That's half the fun.

I just find it odd that someone would see something offered for, say, $950, and make an offer of $600 or something like that. I mean, really? At least pretend you know how to play the game.
Most expensive items have a flexible price up to a certain extent. Car prices are not fixed, real estate prices are not fixed, luxury items are always Have a sale going on so there is a gray area which is fair game. I think we all have an internal sense of what is right and what is wrong. We are here for fun and not To make money.
For me, Viridian and others with a similar take got it right. I also think we conveniently overlook our tendency (hipocracy?) to want the best possible price when selling, and the lowest possible when buying; that's human nature, with nothing insidious about it. Sure, some buyers get pretty ridiculous with ridiculously low offers; just ignore them. But, for some (me), buying used, sight unseen, on-line is a huge gamble with, potentially, little recourse if something is or goes wrong. The potential for something going wrong, regardless of the seller's feedback, is much much greater than when buying from a reputable dealer (duh!). Consequently, the price of a used piece needs to reflect what is a very substantial discount over buying new to make up for the potential hassle/loss. What that mount of discount needs to be, to make the purchase worthwhile to any given seller varies widely. It's called aversion to risk; its very different for each of us. So don't assume that a buyer is just being an unreasonable ahole. If you don't like the offer, just move on.
I recently got a low offer on an amp I'm selling. When I declined the offer as being too low, I was berated for being one of the reasons why audiogon is now ruined.

good times!
Great responses - thank you all.... A couple of hypothetical questions to come!
So recently I made an offer on a VPI-27 record cleaner. New retail is $2200. The add was for $1675. I offered $1300. Now hold Akg_ca don't brand me yet! Let me offer my logic and then feel free to brand away. Why $1300? It was situational. I have aVPI 16.5. I didn't really need a better cleaner but I kind of want one. I figured I could get $3-400 for mine so a delta of $900-1000 seemed OK. The seller declined and sold the unit in the next few days. My point is I offered the value the VPI-27 had for ME. Is that lowballing? Do you think the seller was offended? Would it have helped for me to explain my offer - not to sell them on the idea but to be sure it was not taken as an insult?

Yesterday I purchased a Magnum Dynalab MD-90 tuner in silver on a make offer ad. It was listed at $849, no PayPal fee, shipping included. I hit the buy it now and paid full price. Why? Because I really wanted it. I love the silver, I love Prairie Home Companion, Alec Baldwin and the NY Phil, and Wait, Wait don't tell me. Yes I am a nerd. It was silver and looked immaculate. Again I bought on the value to me, not to the seller, not based on blue book. As a matter of practice, would you have offered less?

Cheers, SB
WOW, Simao that is kooky. Never had that happen. So you "ruined" it by not giving it away? That is kooky.
Hello Superbike,
Your idea of making an offer with explanation seems very reasonable to me. It may have actually helped you get it at your offer as some buyers always automatically try to get the price down.
I bought a Magnum Dynalab 160T here some time ago. Mine was the usual blackface and it worked visually with my system. The silver face are much rarer and very handsome. Mine came with the MD Signal Sleuth which really helps. I then purchased the MD ST-2 antenna. I am located on a top floor apartment and have the antenna mounted with a hose clamp to a terrace railing. My main station is WQXR which I love. I don't quite love Alec Baldwin, tho. HA! Enjoy your GREAT your tuner!!
superbike, its got nothing to do with what I think is a fair price. (I already know that) I'm talking about the drop dead ridiculous offers. Even the items I list as firm still get these offers. I'd love a $50,000 pair of speakers, or a $30,000 amp. I still won't send an offer of $5,000, or $3,000 to someone trying to sell them. I think my first post sums it up. If I list an item at $2,000, OBO, $1,600 is reasonable. (I still won't take it, but legit) $400, that's a lowball, and they know it. I can't make up my mind if these people are that dumb, or if they think I, or any other seller might be.

Apparently, yes. Because I wasn't willing to take 60% off the asking price, I had "ruined" audiogon for all those who wanted good stuff at far below market value.

About ten years ago I sold off most of my first primary system as my divorce unfolded. Maggies, ARC's, Blue Circles, Wadias -- all sold for either the asking price or maybe ten percent below.

Was it the booming (but about to stop booming) economy that caused people to pay the asking price or close to it? I don't know. I do know, though, that I never received a ridiculous lowball offer like I have recently.
Lowballers just want to be in the same league as people that can afford things, only they think they are above paying the price whether they have the funds or not. Just pay the price (reasonable or not) or just butt out. 1st time offenders should get a warning (to properly guage an offer the next time) 2nd time offenders should be kicked off of agon ebay clist or any other places they can buy. Let them go lowball the brick and morter stores.
Thanks again to all who posted! Couple of thoughts:

There are some good ideas here and I plan to use them. If I make an offer at less than asking price I plan to send a short note along with it. Again not to sell my position but explain myself.

I have never had, or received an offer at 10% of the original retail price. I'd ignore it but I understand it would be annoying.

I am always surprised by those responses that ignore the questions or thoughts of a post and disparage people based on some weird and likely unjustified sense of superiority. The fact that someone offers less than what you want doesn't mean that they "can't afford things". Can you imagine a business concept that's "Just pay the price (reasonable or not) or just butt out". WOW, really. I am very happy not to be in that league.

I'm also surprised by the few posts that want to actively target people they perceive as a lowballer based on an undefined standard of their own making. What hubris is this? :-)

Simao - sorry man, there's no accounting for kooky people. Hope it sold and BTW I know the feeling of liquidating based on divorce. Not fun at the time (about 10 years ago) but the rebuilding has been slow and truthfully really fun. First system after the divorce was JBL 110's, a flogged Luxman integrated, and old Phillips TT and it ROCKED (metaphorically).

Isochronism - As they say on the internets... Y U NO LIKE ALEC B??? I mean I don't think I'd want to go drinking with him but as a music moderator he's pretty good... OK I probably would go drinking with him.

Anyway thanks and happy listening! Hooking up the MD tuner later today can't wait listen.
Just pay the price or butt out? Why don't we hear from the Lowballers that don't agree with Highballers that seem to charge too much? Paying the price means that a RESPECTABLE offer has been made on an item. No reputable business's cater to bums that think they can pay whatever they'd like. If you're weaving down the highway and get stopped by the Police, a Lowballer would probably use the excuse that they are a member of Damm. Drunks Against Mad Mothers.
Just a note: It's always better to read and try to understand a post before responding...
I'm not a "reputable business" I'm a hobbyist and I am happy to entertain any offers that come my way, no matter how low. And I enjoy communicating with other hobbyists even if they don't sell to me or buy from me. If you are running a business, that's one thing. If you are enjoying your hobby, that's another.

Likewise, if I feel that something is worth five cents on the dollar, to me, then I will forward that offer. No need to respond, or get your panties in a knot if it doesn't suit you. I also feel, based on my feedback, that I have a better handle on market prices than most.
I forget who said "Something's worth whatever the buyer pays for it" (and I guess I could google it, but whatever), but it's completely true. If I found good ARC Vs-110 and I had funds, I'd simply click-on the "Buy Now" button without a second thought.

But here's another question - which may be better suited to its own thread. Did dealers selling products for the full retail price always exist on audiogon? I don't seem to remember them having as much of a presence 5 or 8 years ago.

However, Viridian has a point inasmuch as most of us aren't businesses. We're private owners and hobbyists who are always looking for something new or a different sound, etc. Again, it's the art of the deal, of the haggle, of the "hey, here's something I want; what're you willing to accept?". But it should never devolve into moronic name calling.
I do understand. There are a few bums that want something for nothing. If the price isn't worth it to them, why would they buy it for less or want the item at all? Lowballers can keep movin'.
Being a business, or hobbyist, is irrelevant. Granted, the business is normally not going to take a loss. The hobbyist will, to a certain degree. I don't think a hobbyist is going to take 10 cents, (or less) on the dollar either. Why would they? Anyone so desperate that they want to give stuff away for even 30 cents on the dollar can contact me. I'll take it all, and quit my day job. It just DOESN'T happen. EVER. If you think it does, you probably think you have a date with a "French model" this weekend too.
You have to love people who take simple things an make them combative. Fundamentally the basic tenants of the post have gone completely unanswered by the "lowballers are scum" crowd.

The value of something is different for different people based on a variety of reasons. One persons view of lowballing is completely different than the next and we have all seen prices for the same item vary wildly. Much of what is offered on AGon is 50% of the original list and there are absolutely items on AGon at 30% of the original list. Zydo, time to quit your job and start buying!

This makes a standard for lowballing impossible to define. The easy answer is if you don't want offers don't allow them. Then you'll see if your assessment of the item your selling matches the market. Or allow offers and if you don't like an offer just ignore it or counter it but leave the histrionics and name calling out. You have a choice.

I particularly love this gem "If the price isn't worth it to them, why would they buy it for less or want the item at all?" Does this mean the poster wouldn't offer less on a house or a car, because you know if the price isn't worth it why buy at all? YIKES! I would not buy a Audi A6 for $100K but I would for $50K...

The value of things is relative. A guy recently had a Moto Guzzi Eldorado for sale for 7 months with no luck in part because he was firm on price. I had been looking for a unmolested version for years and purchased at full price. Why? Because I put a much higher value on it (both emotional and financial). I've also walked away from deals where I could not get a substantial discount. Niether of these makes me a good or bad guy just a person who sets a value based on my needs and frame of reference.

Finally I really did think she was a French model I mean I found her on the internet!
I buy on this site for ten cents on the dollar with some regularity, so perhaps there are some sellers much more interested in moving gear on than worrying about its worth. So I don't think that it does; I have practical experience with it. You'll look nice in that dress; be here by six.
If you have an item for sale buy it now for 5K and some lowballer offers you 850.00 for it, there's something wrong with you if you take it. I may entertain 4700.00 but nothing less. I would just keep it before giving it to someone that has a self entitlement additude. Bon-jore!

Your idea of the value of a product, regardless of audio, or motor vehicle, or whatever, is realistic. You strike me as a good person to deal with.

Just for the record, I'm not talking about 30 cents on the dollar for what something was new. Most people are pretty realistic about what they ask for things. I was speaking of the offers for 10% of that price. For example, a $7500 pre/pro. (original MSRP) listed at $2500, and maybe the guy has 2k in his head for bottom dollar. Then an offer of $299 comes in. What would you call that? I'm not opposed to someone that's looking for a deal. I do it myself, but, IMO, when offers that low come in, there is no chance we can reach an agreement. I simply can't believe anyone really thinks they can get something for those kind of offers.

I don't mean to be combative. If my comments are perceived that way, I'm sorry. I list a fair amount of items, and get so many crazy offers these days that its something I deal with on a daily basis.
Well we still haven't decided what the definition of a lowball is beyond the most blantant examples and virtually anything below the asking. (Less than 10% below asking see Polk's last post)
I tried to think of a good way to put a price on something but was only able to return to the oft said, anything no matter what it is -is worth what someone will pay for it. There are too many variables. Even my own thinking that a used item should be priced at its wholesale price of approx 50% of full retail is challenged by scarcity, condition, age ,product support, ease of shiping, etc. etc. That such offers are not lowballs in my mind but clearly are to others.
If our auctions functioned as well as they possibly could then perhaps that would answer the question. However the seller would put a reserve on anything of substantial value to him and lowballs would be all the bids below that figure.
So we have yet to agree on any convention in this regard. Given that how can you fault some one for an offer that is anything not patently ridiculous.
Thanks All!
Sorry if this is a dupe posting to this thread. I'm trying to get this out there as I'm tired of getting hit with lowballers.


Audiogon has now defined lowball offers to be 55%.

I don’t know if you all saw this but I got an e-mail from A’gon stating they have a new feature in place to hinder insane lowball offers.

After you log in go to your Account and select Edit Account. Then scroll down in the Policies section there is a check box to automatically reject lowball offers.


Lowball offers

Automatically reject offers below 55% of your asking price.

I wish this could be user specific. I would have set this to 45% off of listing price for my tastes but it is a start for Audiogon. I hope this button works and deters the stupidity of the lowball offers some people send.

Post removed 
@ Jedinite is it 55% off the listing price or  55% off the regular? or suggested  retail price??  The 2nd part makes some sense, but asking some of the people around here to tolerate 55% off what they think is the already discounted listing price does seem a bit much.  But all it takes for rejecting an offer is a few clicks it shouldn't be overly onerous. 
It's a disease unique to high end audio apparently.   Lowballers should not insult people who expect good money for their stuff and expect the same I suppose.  Not much tolerance for that.  Very insulting!

I think its reasonable to expect market value for an item fairly priced.   That's about it.

But is expecting only good offers a form of entitlement?   Just wondering.  What if the asking price is extreme?   It happens, no?   I know I may tend to overvalue the stuff I own and like from time to time.
Let's face it. Most people don't know how to negotiate. Most people don't know what the item they are trying to buy or sell is really worth. We all just have an idea of what we will take or what we will give. Even that is subject to change. I suggest using "firm" or "offer" depending on what you as a seller are comfortable with. And above all, let's not take all of this so personally. 

At the end of the item is worth what someone is willing to pay. The blue book is simply a guide.
Hi Mechans,

I read the new functionality as offers of 55% below your listing price will automatically be declined. For me I have to get better at the games some buyers will play. I get thin skinned sometimes because I really try to list what I'm selling at a fair MV prices. Then I get these really low offers that I interpret as a slap in the face. It is an issue I have to deal with. As I'm back to selling more now I'm getting used to the low offering process and have to let them slide.

Here is an example of what I've been dealing with. I was selling Shunyata Venom 3 power cords at around $90 per cable plus shipping. The $90 price was in the range of comparable Venom 3 cables that had recently sold on Ebay's sold listings search query. I kept getting offers for $35 to $40 per cable. I guess I was expecting more professionalism from the enthusiasts. 
Whenever I've purchased an item here I'll always make what I believe is a fair offer based on recent completed sales not what I feel I should pay.

I will have to start adding the wording that Ziff says. Pricing is firm.

Thanks again.
sign of the times...Something for nothing crowd WITH AN ATTITUDE!
Thirteen years on the Gon and yes the slide has started about three years ago...
One ethnic group seems to take a particular pleasure in EXTREME lowballing or ,perhaps, they have no soul!
There, i said what a lot of you are thinking...:-)
Truth in the statement that a repost with "no offers" may eliminate SOME of the problems but still you will get those that don't read the ad for information before asking stupid questions already answered in the ad!

Well there it is...the inevitable rude and nasty prejudice that has no business being in this forum or anywhere else. Please go crawl back in your hole or where ever you came from and let the people here enjoy a quality environment. 
I've been an active member on Audiogon since 2001 but this is one reason I've never been too involved in the discussions. Sad. 

Well... he’s got a point... most, if not all, maybe EVERY single one, of my ridiculous  low ball offers have seemed to come come from a characteristic of last names, mostly from California (and NO, It’s not Spanish speaking people, the’re awesome!) ....maybe you’re so open’re oblivious.... liberal guilt at its finest.

That’s what’s wrecking this country...the inability to tell it like it is. Other cultures laugh at our political correctness. Grow a pair! I think you need to stay out of the proverbial kitchen if you are so easily offended.