What to do when buyer claims sellers item broken?

I recently sold a Bottlehead Paraglows amp with AVVT 2A3 meshplates on Audiogon. The tubes were triple boxed and shipped separately via USPS Priority insured. The amps bases were shipped separately via Fedex Ground insured. I was very careful with all my packaging. I know these amps work perfectly before I shipped them out. Now the buyer received the amp and the tubes, and claims the tubes glow up then died. This is the first time I have had problem with selling my equipment, and I am not sure what to do here. If the amps and tubes arrived without any visible box damage, how can they be broken? There are minimal circuits in the amps to be broken, especially inside a wood box covered by thick foams and double thickness box. Please understand that I am not saying my buyer is doing anything to it, I just need advice on what to do next to rectify the situation. I don't sell a lemon, and I don't want a negative feedback from any buyer, ever.
The first thing I'd do is call each shipper and notify them of your upcoming claim. Presumably you paid the shippers, so their contracts to perform are with you. Each shipper will create a claim number for everyone's reference. Next ask the buyer to get an estimate for repairs. Then ask the buyer to submit the repair estimate to the shipper, referencing the claim number. If all goes well, the offending shipper will settle with you and refund your shipping fee. Then you can settle with the buyer.
I believe that it only happened on one of the amps
Did you ask if he/she accidentally connected wrong speaker?
This is the most horrible situation for the tube amp since in this case time delay of fuse might be greater than tolerance to keep such load for tubes.
This indeed is a sensitive issue. Something similar happened to me, where I shipped off a small amp. I believe I got a phone call from the gentleman claiming the unit did not work. Well, the unit was working when it left, and
I reminded him the meters, (which took bulbs) would need the bulbs replaced to be able to see them. Well, that was not the problem. Needless to say I was very upset and depressed and got no sleep that night. I did not hear from him again so I called him, and it turns out he was trying to use some speaker cables with lugs that just weren't making good contact. But, I thought for sure he had blown it up by messing around with it when all it needed were those little bulbs. I don't know how I would have handled it if he had. The main thing I got out of this was the possibility of something like that happening. Sometimes it can be just the stupidest thing, even for someone who's been around this stuff all their life and hooked up a ton of things. So, all I can really say is "Patience, patience" and don't jump to conclusions, just try and work through it. Another time I got a Marantz receiver that I could't get to work no how. Just on a fluke I put a tape in the vcr that was hooked up to it, and "Viola!" sound came out; and I'll never know why it didn't work prior.
!st you have to realize things do happen in shipping sometimes that aren't seen. Happens all the time. Then you have to eliminate the buyer setting it up wrong,not knowing how to use it, etc. Then you have to consider things like the buyer trying to find a way to get out of the deal after having a free trial. Could be these things and a lot more. THe only thing you can really do is take it back, check it out and sell again.
I recently shipped a preamp that was checked out by a professional just before shipping. The customer claimed problems of which of course there was no way to verify. Since this was a phono preamp, the customer could have caused issues when setting the unit up for his cartridge. I took the unit back and ate the loss involved in the shipping back and forth. As it turned out a regulator had been shorted out. The customer claimed that one channel was amplifying more than the other and he did internal tests to verify. In reality there are pots for each channel which can be adjusted for such problems. Oh well, not worth losing sleep over.
Tubes amps can blow from connecting without a load (speakers) connected. File a claim with shipper. Ask buyer if a local tech can have a look. Shipper may have dropped unit. You have to get them fixed . Ask buyer if he shorted them or damaged them , see what his response is . Otherwise you have to take them back. I once sold a Revox int. amp to a gentleman. I sound checked it , he picked it up! Next day he says it only plays at very low volume! I had to see whats up so I went to this guys apartment in the furthest away from me downtown part of China Town in NYC . He had a new pair of B&W 802's so I thought wow maybe it blew or got a short. So I check it out and he had the -20 mute button depressed ! Another friend of mine got no sound from his new stereo system , until I released the magic (tape monitor) button . Good luck resolving this mess.

This item is up for sale because of the EXACT same scenario. I suggested the buyer have it repaired locally and I would pay for the repairs needed, then I would chase the insurance claim. It's worth noting the item is in perfect cosmetic condition, the buyer claimed that there were gremlins in the tuner and insisted on returning the unit to me for a full refund. I refunded the money, ate all the cost, had the unit checked out thoroughly by the manufacturer. Was the buyer being honest with me? I suspect he thought he was. My integrity is worth more than a few hundred dollars.
Man, what a tough situation. I agree with taking it back and filing an insurance claim. The last thing a good seller needs is negative feedback.
I recently sold a CDP I had for 5 months. The buyer informed me the balanced outs were distorted. My pre is only RCA's so I had no way to know of this situation. I immediately refunded his money via paypal and included money to ship it to the manufacturer. I will pay for the repair, have it shipped back to him, then he will pay me the original price. He was a good sport about it as he could have just sent it back to me and bought somebody elses.
Good Luck,
Thanks for all the suggestions. I will first ask the buyer to check for loose wires, components fallen off, and the little C4 boards for shorts. Then locate a local technician to try and fix it at my expense. Since the circuit is rather straight forward and the all manuals are included, any competent technician should be able to figure it out. It's even easier when they are monoblocks, one working unit should provide good reference to compare against. Worst come to worst, if nothing works out, I will have to refund his money and get back a broken amp. All the shipping expenses and 3% Paypal is kinda painful to swallow.
Did the new owner know how to properly install the 2A3's? If both amps failed upon power up, it would seem to me that they were not (properly installed) and it would not take very long (a few seconds, as described) to trash the amps.

If so, this should be easy to determine upon inspection by a tech.

Sorry I do not have a solution, but this is what I suspect may have happened (based on the new owner's description of the event).

I own the Paramours, by the way, and yes, there is not much to go wrong if they are properly used.
I had a similar situation with a pair of speakers I sold a few months ago. Fortunately the repair cost was relatively cheap ($42.00). Because I wanted to protect my feedback rating, I paid the repair bill on the buyer's promise to cooperate with me in attempting to get the money back from UPS. Two months and a small amount of paperwork later, I got a check!
YES! YOU should arrange a technician who will examine the units and tell YOU what realy happened. If it's the fault of the buyer than you have no worries. Make sure to arrange the telephone conversations while the unit will be examined.
The buyer emailed me and said he already fixed the amps: $150 in parts + free labor. I will have to reimburse the buyer to make him happy with this transaction. I sold the Paraglows with Cobalt transformers, standard transformers, and AVVT 2A3 meshplates for $1325 shipped, net only $1286 after 3% Paypal. I spent $35 on shipping and now $150 for repair, so my net now total $1101. I should have kept the amps!
Link to my Paraglows photos:

Reply email from buyer:
"Thanks for taking the time to look into this problem. Your advice to
contact a competent technician was good. I have been working with electronics for the past 20+ years first teaching and for the past ten years I have been repairing medical lasers.

I was very careful to install the 2A3 tubes with the large cathode pins in the proper holes. After taking the time to examine the amps, I found several problems. On one amp, the 2A3 cathode resistor was open causing excessive voltage across the bypass cap causing it to breakdown. This was the cause of the popping noises.

On the other amp, this same resistor was a high value, 7K versus a
nominal 3K.

I have repaired them both at a cost of about $150 in parts. I used some premium parts but do not feel this is inappropriate. This does not count the cost of my time. I spent the better part of a day repairing them. I do not think it would be possible to get them repaired at this price from a repair shop.

Given what I know about electronics and the condition of these amps, I find it hard to believe that both of these amps were in good condition when they left you. However, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt provided you cover my costs for parts. I will throw in the cost of my labor at no charge. You can send it back via Paypal if you wish."
...it seems like the primary reason on defected cathode resistors were bad tubes i.e. old and the amp needed re-tubing real urgent...
Always make clear that the sale is "as is, where is." That is to say, the buyer either takes your word for the condition it is in or s/he can come verify it personally, but you're not going to hassle with him/her if it isn't what s/he expected. Now, to be ethical, this means that you must be VERY careful that you accurately describe the equipment and its current level of performance. The second thing it means is that if the equipment is damaged in shipping that is entirely a matter between the buyer and the carrier. Again, you must be very clear about how you are going to package and ship but it is up to the buyer to tell you if that isn't satisfactory.

I get the signature of the buyer on an "as is, where is" statement before I accept the money and/or ship the merchandise. Sure avoids a lot of problems.

In the present instance it sounds a bit like the buyer wanted a component upgrade and figured you might as well pay for it. I could be wrong, of course.

By the way:
Did the buyer send you or faxed you or e-mailed you the parts invoices that he spent the money for?
His responce as from the technical point of view seems to look like a responce from a confident person on that issue, but anywhay it needs to be checked for the "gipsy transaction". Being confident sometimes gives you a power to argue and flirt even if there is nothing to argue about and YOU are in the situation that you have to trust to what the buyer sais(pretty odd isn't it?)

Further on to avoid such situations follow Will's advice firmly.
After thinking about the situation for a day, I finally emailed my buyer offering to pay for the standard parts replacements costs or a refund if he sends the amps back to me in its original conditions. Attached is my email reply:

"I'm glad to find out that you are the competent technician for the repair job.

From what I understand, on one amp a resistor is open, on the other, the resistor was of wrong value. So the fix is to solder the open resistor on one amp and replace the wrong value resistor in the other. I can understand that the shipping process can cause a soldier joint to come loose causing the popping noise. I bought these amps preassembled, the wrong resistor can only happened at two places, either Doc B. put the wrong value in the kit when he shipped it out, or the previous technicians error in assembly.

As for the parts upgrade, I find that it is not fair to ask me to pay for the upgrades in place of the originals. It is fair to pay for the standard parts replacements as Doc B. would have included in his kit.

Used equipments are sold as is, that's why they are advertised as used, and the buyers save money buying them used, at the risks of no long term warranty or support. I do my best to describe my used equipment and provide the buyers with plenty of photos to describe its conditions as well as packaging. During my 2 years of using the Paraglows, I have not noticed obvious popping noises or any other side effects. If you think these amps are not in good conditions when I sold them to you, you can packed them up and send them back to me tomorrow in its original conditions for a refund."
Good for you PT999 on your email reply. It is very fair of you. I do not think you should have to pay for Upgraded parts . If the original parts were bad then replace them with the same parts as they were sold with. Anything over that price as upgraded parts is not your responsibility but that of the buyer if he so choses the upgraded parts. It sounds to me like someone is trying to get away with upgrades at your expense.
Buyer should ask before he does work. Something smells a little funny. Bishopwill is a little off with his "as is" comment. I can assure you I would never buy a piece with that disclaimer. I have bought and sold hundreds of pieces of audio gear and 95% + If it worked when it left it worked when it arrived. Also be fair if a piece is a little shaky before it ships UPS can usually finish it off with a bump or two.FYI I think you may be able to save the pay pal fee with the Paypal refund option. Try to work it out either way and move on to the next piece. Remember it's all about the music!
Weiserb makes some good points but I stand by my guns. The responsibility of the seller is limited to communicating accurately and honestly to the buyer the condition and the performance of the equipment. No one can predict when a fault will occur--oh, that we only could!--so the notion that the buyer is entitled to make his own assessment and decide that the equipment is or isn't "good enough." is pretty fallacious.

As my friend Moe, the pawnshop owner, says, "You buy it, you bought it, baby." So long as the seller is ethical and honest, there is absolutely nothing inappropriate about that way of doing business.

I readily admit that I would LOVE to have the privilege to evaluate equipment and shove it back to the buyer if I didn't like it or it didn't perform the way I think it should. But to get that option, I go to a dealer and pay retail.

I fear that if Weiserb can't live with "as is, where is" we just will have to agree to be friends but not do business with each other. On the other hand, should I ever buy from him, I won't hold him responsible for anything other than honesty and accuracy.

I agree with one point, for sure: It's all about the music.


I just agreed with you on another post and now I have to disagree somewhat. First you are absolutely right in used gear from private owners there is no try before you buy. If you want that, pay retail. Assuming the buyer is truthful in the product description.

Now heres's my problem. If seller is ethical, great. What if the buyer is also ethical? Who is to determine who is ethical and not. It becomes one persons word against another.

"...if the equipment is damaged in shipping that is entirely a matter between the buyer and the carrier." In my situation, I bought a pair of B&W Nautilus 803's. Both speakers arrived damage. In one case the entire Nautilus tweeter was ripped off. Carrier dropped the boxes broke 3 inches of styrofoam and even the inspector said he could how the damage could occur. Results? Carrier denies claim for inadequate packaging. Apparently the original boxes weren't good enough. After writing them and also telling them I would file a claim in small claims court. They send me a form letter. It basically says their policy is to deal only with the shipper. ONLY the shipper can appeal the claim, ONLY the shipper gets paid, Only shipper can take us to small claims court etc. So for me I can't even deal with the carrier

What can I do? The shipper deposited my money 3 months ago. I'm sure if he helps me I can get them to pay the claim. As far as I know he is doing something. I am basically in the hands of the seller. Neither one of us are doing anything wrong. As far as I can tell we are both ethical. It is the shipping company that is not. Shouldn't the seller have some responsibility in cases like this? At least to deal with the carrier. Frankly I would prefer to deal with the carrier if they let me, I have more at stake.

Fortunately the repair is only $213. Could have been much worse.
I've always assisted buyers in cases of carrier damage and I'm happy to report that sellers have always helped me. Seems to me that is all part of being ethical.

Before I ship something, I always send the buyer an email or talk by phone. For example: "OK, these will be shipped in the original cartons which will then be placed inside a larger box with at least 4" of bubble wrap on all sides. DO YOU FIND THIS SATISFACTORY? If not, you may specify the manner in which you want it packed and shipped and I will do so at actual cost."

How could I possibly be fairer than that?

Actually, in only one instance have I ever had a buyer contact me to complain and he reported that an LD player was DOA. I had tested it half an hour before packing and it worked fine then, but I told him to go ahead and ship it back to me. When I got it back, it ran fine. I figured he just wanted out of the deal but I called him and he said, "Ship it back to me." I replied, "OK, but this time it's yours, no matter what." And he agreed.

Three days later he called to report that it was AOK. In my heart of hearts, I'm still convinced that he changed his mind twice but what the heck, we're both happy.

A good heart makes the whole process work better, as I know you agree.