Why so many Flaky Buyers?

I have had multiple experiences of buyers who respond to ads for items I have for sale who do the following:

Say they want to "move on this sale", "I'm interested in buying it", and then never respond when I email them back, asking for confirmation of the deal.

I have had numerous 'buyers' who ask "Is is still available?" and then never email back.

Buyers who say in their initial email that they are very interested in the piece, then later say they are not sure what they want to do.

Buyers who insist on lowball offers on a piece advertised as firm, trying to shave hundreds of dollars off, and get free shipping as well.

I'm honest, straightforward, amiable & accommodating, so I see no reason for this.

I'm really sick of this, and wonder if this is a common experience others have.
Bad thing about buying and selling on the web, lag time and catalog shopping. Some of us take forever to answer an email, the net itself is sometimes slow,down, misderecting email, etc. People don't like hurting your feelings,saying they want it, starting out with good intentions etc. Then you have to realize, sombody else may be posting what you have for sale RIGHT NOW at 50 dollars less, and they are going to look. Audio sites are like a big Sears Chanukah/Christmas Wishbook, only better in that the pages get constantly updated
I think I have about 1/3 of what I get inquiries on the Web sites go through, about 90% on Ebay. Of course its a contract on Ebay,and by bidding the buyer feels more commited. Bad thing there is that you have to answer 5241 questions like
"Why is the minumum bid on your 100wpc Mark Levinson $1500, cause my Scott is rated at 200wpc and I only paid $300 for it". I guess what I am saying is"Welcome to the world of retail", and have a little more pity on thise sales guys in the audio store next time you go in, cause there is a lot of rejection before you get any rewards.
... and don't forget the deteriorating economy. Most of us now have less disposable income then before, hence more "window shopping" and fewer firm sales. I have friends in the car business who have a much worse time then what you've cited above... tons of people taking test drives and looking, but no one buying.

We all have to be prepared to take a little less, give a little more and work a little harder for business. Like all things economic, it will change with time. --Lorne
I think Jvia said it really well. I guess when you sell used "stuff" yourself, you have to be prepared to possibly put in a lot of work, & probably deal with a certain amount of jerks. Like, you could sell your components to a used stereo dealer, or put them on consignment, but you would get that much less (but hopefully save the hassles). Have you ever sold a used car yourself? You get way more than trading it in to a dealer, but is a GIGANTIC PITA.

I'd like to hear on this thread from any audiophiles who constantly buy & sell stuff on the web & how they manage.
One thing I've read a lot, & firmly believe myself, is talk to the buyer or seller on the phone before agreeing to any transaction! A great way to weed people out, if not foolproof. However I've done way more buying than selling so far, & that's a whole other topic full of potential pitfalls..... I've been sandbagged a couple of times by sellers (real jerks) who agreed to my offer & then suddenly backed out. However you'd also be amazed at how many truly ethical, conscientious audiophiles are out there. Good luck!
I don't know if there's any more flaky buyers than there are sellers. I would think that anyone who lists equipment on this site runs the risk of getting bothersome questions and lower than expected offers. I don't care whether I'm buying or selling an item, the polite thing to do is to respond to all inquiries. That's the price you pay for trying to sell or buy on line. If the offer that you receive is lower than what you will accept, politely and firmly tell them so. There probably isn't anyone out there who hasn't asked someone if they'll accept a lower price than the one that's been represented as firm. What harm is there in asking? I, for one, am certainly not going to be offended if someone offers less. If the item I were selling were so desirable and priced right on the money, the first one to respond would probably be tickled to death to have the first crack at a deal. Ironically, many of us feel that what we own is worth the same to others as it is to us, which might not be the case. Audiophilia is a hobby for many and considering the current economic conditions, many prices are lower today. I'm in the retail automobile industry and if you want to see some squirrely buyers, you should see what I see every day. There are better deals out there today than I've ever seen before and still the buyers want more. It's a fact of life...everybody wants more for less, probably more so today than ever before.
Have you ever gone into a store or a car dealer and say to the salesperson you are interested in item X and then don't buy it. Or do to you immediately buy everything you're interested in?
Ucmgr- You've nailed it, IMO. Just a part of life and esp. doing business on the web.
I've had over 30 transactions, both buying and selling here on Audiogon, and in general am very pleased with the results. Yes, I've had to put up with some "tire kickers" the "low-ballers", and sometimes many questions, but by far the majority of my transactions have been quick, smooth, and pleasant. Most Audiogon members are class people, and I certainly appreciate the buy/sell services such as Agon provides. I've also had excellent results using Ebay-- over 30 transactions there too.

I live out in the boondocks relatively speaking, and to me on-line buying and selling is the greatest thing that ever happened to my stero system and my associated obsession. It works for me. Cheers. Craig
If you're talking about people asking questions, that's not a big deal. Looky-loos are part of the game. But if you're talking about someone reneging on a verbal commitment to buy, personally I would find that bothersome. I would be very difficult for me to tell someone I am buying something and not do so. Maybe I'm just old fashioned. Anyway, in these times, I would tend to roll with the punches rather than feel any anger toward the person. Just my two cents.
But now at least all of us in this thread know 7 people that would not do that to you. Good luck
Interesting topic, as this has bothered me a bit too. Nothing against a little bargaining. It's the way of business in most of the world. However, it's easy to gauge a market price for an item here just by looking at what others are asking. I then find it offensive to be offered 60%. And many other people must feel oblidged to offer a little less, as if that small amount will make or break them.
Of course it also depends on the item for sale and its demand.
Communication is really the key whether buying or selling, and lots of it.
Hello Kevziek: You have received some good responses to your post here. I would add that the seller has committed to selling an item at a certain price, while the buyer can fall into two categories; those who know exactly what they want and what they are willing to pay, and those who are looking for a general item (i.e. a preamp) and would consider several different pieces, depending on the price and their subsequent research (including asking the seller questions). Also, keep in mind, many buyers do not have the opportunity to actually hear the pieces they are interested in, and rely on reviews, posts on sites like audiogon and audio asylum, and asking questions of sellers. I have found it pays off to be patient with questions, and to try and make sure the deal will be a win-win situation for both you and the buyer. On this basis, my experiences have been good.
A buyer has the right to ask for a price that he will pay. He has the right to change his mind, before a sale. He has the right to waste your time, as you have the right to sell to whom you choose. Just as you cannot make ALL sellers accurately describe their goods, you can not make All buyers, accurately convey their intentions.
Welcome to retail. While the internet has enabled us to buy gear at prices we never dreamed of, the downside is the quantity for sale. There are so many choices you cannot help but run into "shoppers" who are not fully committed to any one item. That is why you get so many "still available" inquiries. I try to limit the amount of tire kickers by posting "serious only please" but it still doesn't get rid of the "are you the original owner? how long have you had the piece? does it have this (insert whatever) when the same information can be gleaned from the manufacturers website, why are you selling?" and it goes on and on. All questions, which in my opinion, have nothing to do with anything. All part of the selling process I guess. I do get annoyed with the lowball offers (20%+ off the market price) and then want you to pay shipping on top of it. I usually tell those people that with their generous offer I will even load the piece in my car and drive across country to deliver it. You just have to take the good with the bad.
Fletch, i'm sorry but i'll have to ask you to leave. Your response is WAY too level-headed and realistic for you to be an audiophile. As such, we have no room for "unbelievers of the mystical arts of audio" : ) Sean
Great responses so far. I would add that there are no widely accepted rules on how to buy/sell on the internet -- it's not something that is taught as part of our culture or growing up -- it's so new. Over time, that will straighten itself out, and there will be more "rules of the road" or commonly accepted behavior. This pertains particularly to the time lapses of the net -- there have been plenty of times when I've asked questions as a buyer, gotten a response, made an offer and was then told that the piece had been sold. Should a buyer complete the transaction with an interested party "in dialog" before selling to a new party? Maybe. What are the right ethics here? Ditto for someone saying "I'm interested" and then buying it somewhere else before the dialog has been fully completed.

I'm with Lancer -- if a commitment has been made, the dialog should be over. But until there are clearer codes of conduct around how to handle the time lapses of dialogs, both buyers and sellers will sometimes suffer. My two cents. Thanks.
My last comment but kind of proves a point. I just received an email from a seller in NY who some will know to be something of a character, and he is. His being 83 tears old and a wealth of knowledge and a joy for me to talk to, I don't get real concerned about it. On this occasion he decided to ship.(Luxman PD 121 TT, That I think I have lost my buyer for, so if there is any interest?) was going to get back to me on shipping costs and such, fine. This was 4 weeks ago. Did not here from him and I assumed he sold it local, as he prefers to do, again no big deal. He made a post yesterday that I answered about 10b glass, and he writes today saying thank goodness I wrote, his computer crashed and he lost my address, do I still want the tt? And this is the kind of thing that happens all the time, lost emails(and they do get lost)put in wrong folder etc. As a seller, we have to sell to the 1st person that says, "I'll takes it." As a buyer, if you want it, get on the phone and do it, helps both parties out. 97% of us are not flakes, and if the non flakes talk to each other, get a feel for each other, you know if you have a firm deal or not. And on the more expensive stuff, and I do mostly selling, I want the buyer to call me, I wani him to know that I don't try to run LS3/5a's with a Phase Linear 700, nor would I. Scares all of us when you hear about something like that. I want them to know I don't and won't use the word mint, cuse unless its new, in my eyes it virtually can't be mint. And so on.
Its just like all relationships, and its one of the few things you gotta like about Oprah when she harps on it, its all about communication.
I'm done, THanks everyone
Jvia: as you point out, communications, or lack of, is the fulcrum that often determines whether or not the buyer or seller can leverage the sale. The communications factor is often as important as price, or more so. I find too many of us rely on email for convenience, when in fact, five back and forth emails usually take a lot longer than 1 phone call. Most of the itmes I have bought have been closed over the phone. This includes $100 cables to $4K amps and preamps. If you are a buyer or a seller, don't be afraid to include your phone number. It really helps. --Lorne
Until someone says sold all is fair. There are many times people do not flag their ads sold. There have been times i have been considering several different peices. The first thing i have to know is are they are sold. I dont try to lowball but when all thinge are equal i use price as the determing factor. I wish i were rich and price was not a factor. As it is i am far better at spending money than makeing it. Live long and prosper
This topic really hits the spot!!!I've bought & sold maybe 40 items of audio gear using the net & if I see something that I want RIGHT NOW I'll email or call the seller to make the deal. If I'm not sure about the item I might ask the seller if they're the original owner=why did they buy it in the first place?, why are they selling?=too bright, too much power, not enough power, etc., to get a better understanding whether or not this piece will fit what I'm looking for.
I'm currently fielding questions from several potential buyers & have no problem answering each & every question with as much detail as possible & simply would like the same from others. Yeah, there are a lot of window shoppers, computers go down, things happen, so if contact gets broken off I'm not too concerned. I do always take the offers in the order received & when I answer my emails I point this out in order to be fair. Even after an item sells (and it always does) I'll have emails weeks later for the item. I just email back it's been sold & maybe add it sure is a nice piece, hope you get one, etc.
Also, I might ask if it's OK to pick up the piece as I travel a lot (I've done 7 FTF's) & also to see what kind of a response I'll get. A few times (on ebay) I requested in person pick up if I won an auction & never did hear back from the seller. Does that say something about the condition of the item or what?
One last thing. In the course of making the deal if something doesn't feel right then take heed & do not complete the transaction. This has been brought up before but is worth repeating.
Flaky BUYERS? So right Lornecherry
You hit it on the head, get on the phone and talk, especially with the way I type. Not only that, if you always looking like I am, you never know what that person on the other end will tell you as far as what else they have. There is really not enough space to tell all the other stuff I have found in the course of finishing a deal and hearing, "Oh yeah, I wish I would post this so and so I never use" and such. Communication works.
Hey, i have to admit that i have "flaked out" a few times. Typically, it is strictly due to an oversight on my part. Between all the spam, communications related to my business, "talkin' jive" with my buddies, audio stuff, etc... I sometimes have as many as 70 - 85 emails waiting for me when i get home!!! Needless to say, i have to skip over some stuff without making immediate responses and come back to it later. If i have a few "downpours" of email in a row, it might take me a couple of days to sort through it all. More than a few times ( unfortunately ), some things have gotten lost in the shuffle.

By the time that i realize what has happened, the product is usually already spoken for or the seller may not feel confident in doing business with someone that "disappears" for several days. This is besides the situations that arise with computers going "haywire", server based problems, phone lines that act up, etc...

While nobody ( buyer or seller ) likes getting "jacked around", I guess that we need to take this type of situation into consideration and realize that some people are not quite as "addicted" ( to both the puter and audio ) as we are. Sean
Something that Driver said about requesting in-person pickup of an item & then never hearing from them again struck me......Usually when I'm buying a used component sight unseen I request the Serial# from the seller. That is so I can call the manufacturer & ask questions about the version, any upgrades, has that unit been in for repairs, etc. You'd be amazed what you can learn from doing that. But a certain # of sellers never respond again, or get really uptight, when I ask them for that info.....I wonder why? Would be like buying a used car without getting the VIN# first in order to obtain a Carfax report......
Lots of thoughtful responses, but I'm sorry I don't agree with the many excuses some have given. Comparing selling used high-end equipment with selling new cars is hardly a valid comparison. Neither is the implication that since you are the buyer, you can do whatever you want, and that is your perogative. What ever happened to common courtesy & some degree of ethics? I guess that's kind of similar to much of the state of our society.

There are lots of 'buyers' out there who don't know what the hell they want to do. It almost seems like it is a game played for its own purpose. You don't email a seller saying you will buy the item, only to follow this with no replies or meaningless excuses not to follow through. Yes, things happen, and I fully understand that, but I can tell you that much of the time, it has nothing to do with this. Rather, there are other, less healthy dynamics in play here.
Sounding a little bitter there. These are facts of life and human nature. And as far as comparing with used car sales, whether you want to admit it or not, it is a lot like selling used cars or used anything, with both parties trying to get the best deal they can, and those are the dynamics at hand. And until the money has exchanged hands, the buyer or the seller will do what ever they want and do. And courtesy goes both ways, don't try to lay this all on the buyer. It is the unethical seller that caused most buyers to be wary. You've heard"good deal, buyer tells 10, bad deal tells 100"? It rings very true, no matter the business.
And on the subject of knowing what they want? Who has always known exactly what they wanted? Seems to me those of us that do the selling have an obligation to do some honest informing as well. And it does cost us a sale and it does change people's mind, but the truth will do that. I get a little fed up with those on theis site and 1 other I visit(rec.audio.markeplace) with those audiophiles among us that want to run off those that ask questions about the Pioneers, Fishers, Bose and what not. And yes, A lot of the questions seem pretty stupid to me too, but I also remember a guy that thought you had to put the microphones in front of the speakers to record to tape. Someone laughed at me and thought it was funny, but he showed me how to do it. We that know have the responsibility to teach.
I turn away sales, not often but often enough that I remember it. And its usually from a not knowing buyer. We as sellers do have an obligation if we are going to be any good at this to occasionally do that, because its the right thing to do. Salespeople, the good ones, close 3 out of 10 deals. That leaves you with the choice of offending the other 7, as I think you are doing here, or learning from them.
How about flaky sellers? I had one deal this last month where we went through a week of settling all the details and all he had to do was send a payment request to PayPal, and he decided he wasn't going to sell the item. This after it had been listed for a month and then relisted. Sigh...
This is a great Post from the past that could have been writen yesterday.

Most of the responces and insights are priceless.
Agree to everything the lowballers want, then tell them they were out bid by a dollar by someone locally. Then let them know you may have another of the same item to list next week.
Audiogon home of many turkeys BIG TIME!!
Kevziek I have been buying and selling on Audiogon since 2000. A lot of guys here have valid points so I would listen to them. Not all but most lol. There are lots of flakes so you just have to accept it. Lots of lowballers and just plain unscrupulous buyers and sellers. Its just that simple but mainly a lot of people do not have common courtesy and ethics. It's easy to screw around with others behind a keyboard.