View Full Version : No approval period - opinions?

Avi Ziv
May-11-2008, 8:36pm
How would you feel if you saw a rare high-end instrument on ebay, made by a "top shelf" luthier, but no approval period was offered. The sale would be final. Let's assume that this is not a scam but just the seller's preference. Seller is offering local people to come try out the instrument.

I know that every person's comfort level is different but I'm curious - how would you feel about bidding? I have to admit that I feel very nervous but eager at the same time. Tough one.


May-11-2008, 8:55pm
This subject was beat to death a few months ago but hey, it's a new day and there's no sense in stopping a lively subject. I will ask one thing though. Please discuss the concept and not the builders or retailers involved.

Avi Ziv
May-11-2008, 9:03pm
Of course no names will be mentioned. Just the concept. I must have missed the discussion last time but then again I was probably not looking for it either at the time.

Just to clarify - the seller is not the luthier. It's the current owner.


May-11-2008, 9:14pm
Just a object on ebay, I rarely receive a approval period.

If you want a approval period buy off our classifieds.

I do laugh when sellers mention the waranty card included thou. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

May-11-2008, 10:25pm
If you don't like what you bought you can always sell it on ebay. I won't take back an instrument because the buyer just doesn't like it. I'll take one back if there is something wrong with it.

May-12-2008, 7:16am
If I sell a mandolin on eBay, I don't offer an approval period, and it's been rare that I've bought one that way. That said, I did buy one that way on eBay and return it because it looked great but sounded mediocre, and the seller had promised that he'd take it back if it wasn't the finest mandolin I'd ever played.

I try hard to advertise fairly and to not make the instrument sound in the description like something it isn't. Some sellers know almost nothing about mandolins, and that can be a problem. They'll say the neck is straight, and a quick glance says it is, but a ruler says there's 1/16th inch of relief in the neck. That's very common.

There are several reasons why some of us don't want to deal with approval periods on eBay. Some people get lots of mandolins that way and send them all back. It's a relatively inexpensive way to search for the perfect mandolin. But between a week for the ad, shipping, return, and all, it eats up a month of my time, I don't have the money, I spend a couple hours packing and shipping, it's always a bit risky shipping. Also, putting an ad on eBay often costs me around $25 or $30, and I also pay a good deal when I sell. It can be difficult to get that money back from eBay.

I'd be more likely to allow an approval period if I were selling something on the MandolinCafe classifieds and had a sense that the buyer was a serious person. I've also had approval periods on both sides for trades.

May-12-2008, 7:35am
No such thing as an approval period with a live auction, no reason to expect one with an ebay auction. If you want an approval period buy from a dealer who offers an approval period.

Jim Garber
May-12-2008, 7:39am
As a buyer, I always ask if the item is a few grand. I try to get as much info as possible. If the seller offers an approval period or agrees to one, so much the better.

A few years ago there was a National tricone guitar and I was interested but the seller said as is. You can never tell what is going on inside those -- for all I know the cones could be missing altogether -- and the seller was an antique dealer with no music knowledge so I bowed out of bidding on that one. On top of that, the seller had a real attitude and my gut said walk away.

OTOH I bought my F4 from a guy who also didn't want to deal with an approval period but he was willing to talk on the phone with me with mandolin in hand and gave me contact info for his luthier who also worked on the instrument. I was a little nervous but I knew it was a decent deal in the end and the mandolin was quite playable.

Mr. Loar
May-12-2008, 9:10am
If I buy an instrument, new or old, and there's something wrong with it when I first get it I'll call the vendor. During that conversation I'll try to work something out. I've only ever once had a bad instrument shipped to me. The store I bought it from wanted pics of the defects. In the case of a new instrument, it had better be perfect aside from minor manufacturing defects. If the instrument is over $500 it had better be cosmetically perfect in every way.

May-12-2008, 9:19am
...If the instrument is over $500 it had better be cosmetically perfect in every way.
If it was a signed Loar and I got it for $600.00 I'd accept the fact that it had some minor pick scratches and maybe some buckle rash but that's just me.

Bob A
May-12-2008, 10:29am
I've bought a few ebay violins from a guy who will refund everything - including shipping - if I don't like the instrument. Pretty good deal, and he gets a good price for his fiddles because of his policy.

May-12-2008, 6:21pm
Personally, I would have no problem if I was reasonably sure of what I was getting and the seller was honest. If I was not sure of these two things, then the instrument would need to be a potential "great" deal and worth the risk.

Any seller that offers a liberal return policy, is inviting people to "rent" their instruments for the cost of shipping. The higher the value, the more common this becomes. Not all buyers will take advantage of this, but it only takes a small percentage to make a return policy less than profitable.

May-12-2008, 8:19pm
If it was a signed Loar and I got it for $600.00 I'd accept the fact that it had some minor pick scratches and maybe some buckle rash but that's just me.
Mike, you're too damned easygoing...

Here is one of the previous threads (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=12;t=52161;hl=approval+and+ period) on approval periods;

Here's another. (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=13;t=48434;hl=approval+and+ period)

It's very rare that I'll put up any money on an instrument I haven't played first, and never any serious money. #I've bought a few through eBay, but never went over $500 for a Chinese-made Johnson tri-cone guitar. #(And, interestingly enough, that was one of the few instruments I've traded away, on a '30's vintage National Havana).

The seller's reputation is obviously a factor, and of course if you have very limited opportunities to find a particular instrument, you may make some compromises. #(I'm stalking an Orthey autoharp on eBay right now, and you see one of those only every couple years.) #But overall, if you're going into significant bucks, I think you need some opportunity to inspect and play an instrument, just to make sure it lives up to the seller's description, and it's what you really want.

May-13-2008, 8:06pm
Ebay has become just another selling venue, but I still think of it as an auction when I buy or sell, and neither expect nor give an approval period. You take your chances at an auction, and I think the prices reflect that. As a buyer, I am either willing to take that chance or I don't bid or buy. I do give an approval on non-auction sales, and have only had a couple returns in more than 60 sales. I suspect they were either extremely fussy (but didn't feel bad about returning an instrument in a different condition than received) or just trying them out. Most people have been pretty good.

May-13-2008, 9:07pm
Some will offer an approval and some won't. No reason to be suspicious if someone won't but everything else checks out.

Every instrument I ever sold I think I offered a 48 hour approval period. I try to be dead on and honest in the description so the buyer knows exactly what they are getting.

Shipping a mandolin with insurance is about $50.00 and not worth it to me for renting a mandolin for 48 hours. I've never had one sent back and I''ve sold dozens on eBay and the Cafe classifieds.

Someone who makes a bad habit of sending back mandolins a lot is gonna have some bad feedback. I don't deal with sellers OR buyres with bad feedback on eBay.

May-17-2008, 8:34am
I bought a guitar on ebay with no return, but received it with two back cracks from shipping damage. The seller couldn't replace it, but shipping insurance paid for the repair (took 3 months to get the cash, though), and I got a better deal.

Stephen Perry
May-18-2008, 12:10pm
EBay mainly serves as an advertising venue for some of us. Put up an eBay store. People call and buy direct. Sometimes they say they saw on eBay, mostly not, but the level of calls about a particular thing goes up when it's listed on a store.

Listed on an auction, very few calls but lots of watchers. Weird.

Jun-16-2008, 6:17pm
I do not like the idea of approval periods as it pertains to "trying" the instrument to see if you like it. I do like approval periods for defects and to assure that the instrument was "as advertised."

This can get kinda touch

Jun-16-2008, 6:49pm
After I had a seller's "100% money back guarantee" turn into smoke (as did his contact info and email address, despite excellent feedback with a lot of instrument deals) when I tried to return a mandolin that came with the fretboard separating from the neck, a huge neck bow, and a chipped nut, I think I would only bid on an item from an actual store. I'm pretty laid back, and I've bought 2 other instruments online from stores without issue (my banjo from JDMC and a guitar from a store in Florida...I think maybe Guitar Loft, but it's been a while). The guitar was a great deal because of some finish checking, the seller was up front about it, sent photos, and assured me via email and over the phone that it was playable and sounded great, and it is/does. Ironically, I passed on a good deal on an Epiphone MM-50 from the same dealer to buy the all-solid Kentucky that's the source of my remorse (the defects in this case were NOT Saga's fault, by the way). I've also had some good luck with golf clubs and toys from actual stores on Ebay as well.

BUT, I consider Ebay to be very much a "buyer beware" environment, and I would not think, given the auction nature of the market, that an approval period would be expected. Also, if you're selling "as-is," particularly if you're up front about defects, then I have no issue with that, either. If you offer a return policy on defective items, however, you should be prepared to honor it.