Dissapointed buyer, item malfunctions experience?

I sold a nice CD player that functioned perfectly up to the time I shipped. Buyer plugs it in and only one channel works. Box looks like no mishandling occured during shipping.
I spoke to the buyer, ( really nice guy). I also felt really bad about the item not functioning properly. I was going to refund all ship cost and payment.

He actually wanted to keep the unit so we agreed to have the unit fixed at my cost and I pay for ship to and from authorized repair shop.

This is the first time I have had to pay to have anything fixed that I have sold. I have been lucky and should be grateful because every transaction is a gamble.

I am curious as to what others have done in this situation and what possible pitfalls might occur during the repair process.

What has been your experience and is there actually a set of rules we should follow when this happens?
I always hold my breath. All the gear I have sold has been in near-perfect condition and everything has worked out. But, it would be just my luck to have a piece malfunction just when it gets to the buyer. I sold a piece two months ago, contacted the buyer, he had not plugged it in because the rest of his gear hadn't arrived. I still haven't heard from him, but wondered, "what would I do if two months later he said it didn't work?". It is always a gamble. But, frequent contact with the buyer, his/her posts, his/her selling history and feedback are all we have. Your buyer should be grateful it was you, and it wasn't eBay!
What happens is totally dependent on the type of buyer you get. Some people don't want to deal with anything so then a refund is in order, one guy fixed it himself, another split the repair costs with me, etc. Many buyers realize that things won't always be perfect and that buying used gear can have some consequences that must be dealt with. That is the tradeoff for the good price. :)

Pitfalls are everywhere - whether you fall in them or not is dumb luck. In my experience, there are no rules - every situation and problem is different. Most of the time it works out smoothly but it can drag on for a while before finally arriving at that point. Be happy you ended up with a nice and communicative buyer.

I had the same situation happen to me but I was the buyer. If I had to do it all over again, I would have promptly shipped the unit back to the seller for a refund and allow the seller to arrange for the repairs to be made, as per Audiogon buyer/seller recommendations.

In my case, I bought a DAC from someone who is no longer here on Audiogon. When I received the unit, I connected it to my system and found that one channel was dead. I immediately contacted the seller who was surprised to here of the dead channel which was later found not to be from shipping damage. The seller then asked that I have the DAC repaired by the DAC's manufacturer and send him the bill. To make a long story short, I did as he asked, and the bill, which shocked the heck out of me, was over $800.00, but the seller decided the he would only pay me $500.00 for the repair. All and all, I guess that I'm lucky to received that much, since seller could have told me to take a hike.

Again, if you read the Audiogon recommendations, somewhere in there it is stated that if equipment is receive by the buyer in a condition that is not as advertised (i.e.: doa, dead channel, etc.), that piece should be promptly shipped back to the sell for a refund. At that point, the seller takes control of the situation. Which I think would be a good thing in your case.
You did the right thing. Did you try insurance from the shipper? They might cover it.
I actually sold a cd player once and the repair was more than it was worth. I refunded the entire amount and let the buyer keep it (not worth shipping back).
It's nice you all appear willing to refund payment and shipping immediately if something malfunctions after it has arrived at the buyer--but we are NOT dealers who have an obligation to refund and accept the unit back! I would file a claim with the shipping company or have the buyer get an estimate on repairs then offer to split the cost of repairs. But take the unit back, when it was fine when it left me? That's a risk buyers assume, I thought! At least that's what I have thought the couple of times I've had gear malfunction after buying it used on Audiogon. I knew I had to get it repaired; if it was a major repair I might ask the seller for help but he's really not obligated at all. Providing money back guarantee is not something I do or feel equipped to do. Anything can and has happened with FedEx, USPS, UPS etc.
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if people are reasonable, then most problems can be solved.

it might be a good idea to have a "what if" discussion between buyer and seller before the sale. the contingencies of damage and other events could be discussed as well as how to deal with each possible event.
No we are not dealers, but we should be fair. If a unit has malfuctioned when it was received by the buyer than I think a refund is in order. If the buyer wishes to keep the item and have it repaired, and you agree. Than I believe a repair or work order be faxed to seller in order to make a determination about your responsibilty as the seller. In many cases it is the container that the item is shipped in that causes many problems, and without the original box no matter how secure it looks it still is not being properly protected.
I happen to be the unit's buyer. When buying a used piece of equipment, as someone stated, one assumes the risks involved in the process. Obviously, one doesn't look forward to the hassle of repairing the unit, playing the phone-tag with the tech and being in the limbo, but that's what buying used gear sometimes involves. From now on, however, I will be buying new and covered by warranty equipment only (it's clear to me that not having to deal with the gamble aspect of used equipment is worth the extra investment).
Has it ever happened to me as a seller? It did. Due to some cosmetic damage, the buyer got half of his money back and then stated that he could live with some dings and dents.
Obviously, I find amusing the Sc53's statement about the seller not having any responsibility for the unit's proper operation upon arrival. It's one thing when it goes bad after some time of usage, another when it doesn't work properly from the start. It's called DOA. A claim with a shipping company would've been legit if there was a sign/evidence of mishandling or damaged packaging, which wasn't the case in this instance.
So, what one has here is the unit that doesn't work as advertised. I am not interested in speculating about whether it was operational when shipped, or something undetectable happened during transit. Based on the seller's perfect feedback and my gut-feeling I made a decision to resolve it the way I did. It's not because I am a "nice" guy, but rather because it seems to be a sensible way do it, and keep this site and our relationships civil and responsible.
That said, had I detected in this seller even a trace of Sc53's attitude(it's your problem now!), rest assured, this situation would have taken a totally different direction.
You always need to try and decide the integrity level of the buyer once they complain. I have only had one bad experience as a seller on a $4000 ARC Ref-1 pre amp I sold to a guy in Japan. It was shipped in the ARC boxes with all their packing material which included foam tube holders placed (as they do) inside the preamp. The guy said a couple of resistors were broken when it arrived yet no damage to the boxes. This is virtually impossible and I was certain he pulled out the foam improperly which would grab the resistors and break them off.

He wrote an outraged feedback comment about me saying that I sold him a defective unit and he had no way of contacting me about it. When I wrote him back an email telling him what I thought happened and reminded him that he had my home number, my cell number, my home address and my email address as well as audiogon email he took back the negative and left me a POSITIVE comment!
I've had some problems like this, once an amplifier seemed to have a thermal issue, it would turn on initially, but once warmed up if it shut down, it would no longer turn on. I took it back and gave full refund.

Another time I sent a speaker to Canada and when it arrived it had a blown driver. After some communication, the buyer offered to split the cost of the driver. I agreed, but since I sold a $3,000 pair of Linn 5140's for $800, a VERY fair price especially when I sold them (two years ago) the extra couple hundred dollars meant I basically gave them to him. Had I know of the issue, I would have just donated them to good will.... would have been more productive for me, but in the end he got the speakers he wanted and I got, well not much but that's how it goes some times.

I once bought some speakers that were rated 9/10, but when they came they barely made 8, really a 7. The seller gave me cash back, to me that was fine.

I guess what I'm saying is it all comes down to the two involved in the deal and whow reasonable and flexible they are, and what you both can live with.
Sc53 - thanks for the honest post. Now I know to skip over anything you have for sale.
If a buyer sells at a considerable discount and it needs repaired the buyer should meet the seller half way on repairs or return the unit. The seller should also be the one who makes contact and is in charge of the repair so he knows exactly what was wrong and exactly what it takes to fix that specific problem.
I've made two sales where the items arrived in non-operational condition. One was shipping damage due to my poor packing; learned a valuable lesson there. The cause of the second's malfunction wasn't evident. Both items were returned for prompt refund. One buyer offered to have the item repaired but I felt it was much simpler to refund the money and end the transaction.
While I'm certainly no dealer, I stand behind the things I sell. It's how I want to be treated.
Unfortunately this could happen to anyone. Item works perfectly, packed and shipped, doesn't work on other end. Who knows what the package went through, even if there are no signs of damage. Good faith seller, good faith buyer. Good faith resolution should be achieved in a civil manner. First, seller should offer to accept return with other options such as repair up to buyer. Cost sharing should be negotiated as well. These are some of the drawbacks of avoiding retail prices. On a positive note, I think it works pretty well most of the time.
BTW: I don't cash check until I know item received by buyer and no problems.
You never cash check till item is recieved and works with no problems?....that is risky if the check doesnt clear, tho I know most with good feedback dont leave those concerns, still a gamble.
it happened to me twice as a buyer with two very different experience. one item was obviously damaged during shipping. it was supposed to be insured but wasn't. the seller in this case stood behind the item 100%. the item was sent to an authorized service center and the seller paid the quoted price for repair. the sad thing is, after everything was settled, the item sat in the repair shop for 3 months before i was told that the damaged part is no longer available. the center returned the item and refunded the money. it still is not fixed...

the second item was advertised as "perfect" and arrived with a noisy volume control. contacted the seller immediately and requested to return item for a refund. seller said he already spent the money and can't give a refund. he also insisted that it was perfect when he shipped it so he's not responsible and refused to take it back or pay for any repair. i was stuck with it...

i do think most of the a'goners are responsible and honest though...
I know I would be terribly dissapointed if I paid good money and the item arrived D.O.A. My buyer paid good money for a product described as:

" In near perfect condition" well that's not what he got so it is up to me to make it right.
I don't think my buyer should have to spend a dime to resolve the problem, after all he has to go through the worry and hassle and put up with my emails and phone calls.
there is another way to deal with this problem.

let the buyer audition the product in the seller's stereo system. of course this restricts the customer base of buyers, but it reduces the risk of d.o.a .
Auditions kind of defeat the purpose of www. That being said, I won't purchase speakers that aren't within driving distance.
Viridian, Squirrel et al., you are missing my point. I have never been anything less than reasonable and fair with anyone on this site and those who have bought from or sold to me can and have attested to that. My point simply is that Audiogon does NOT require sellers to act like retail dealers of high end gear offering warranties and a money back guarantee, but simply obligates them to file claims with shippers etc. for damaged gear, as is required by the carriers themselves in any event. The Audiogon rule focuses on items damaged in shipping for which insurance has been purchased: "Audiogon requires that Sellers are responsible for the safe transport of sold items to the Buyer. If the item is damaged or lost in transit, the Seller is expected to refund the payment to the Buyer as soon as the shipping company inspects or returns the item. The Seller will then need to recover funds from the shipping company." However, IF the item wasn't damaged in shipping, or buyer didn't want to purchase insurance, or carrier refuses to pay the insurance claim, then seller and buyer must work it out together. This site is FAR more reliable and honest in that respect than eBay and other sites. I have received damaged items from Audiogon sellers and never expected them to take the item back no questions asked, like a dealer. If you want that guarantee, buy from a dealer! Otherwise, you have to work it out together. The only time I have not been able to come to a perfectly acceptable and agreeable solution with the other party, whether I bought or sold the item, was with an eBay seller who was rude and insane. Nothing I could do about that. On Audiogon, I have never had a problem. People here, whether buying or selling, have always been reasonable and fair in my experience over several years of trading here--but I know there are those whose experience has been dramatically different. One thing I've learned is that sellers have to be persistent in following up claims with shippers because they will ALL almost ALWAYS deny an insurance claim off the bat. If you have taken digital pix of the item with its packaging and have saved receipts and invoices, though, you can ultimately prevail.
If an item has mysteriously gone bad during shipping with no visible damage to anything including the box, then buyer and seller have to agree on what to do next. There are many options. As seller, I've taken the item back and had it repaired myself, paid for the repair that the buyer arranged, given the item up to the carrier and taken insurance money to refund buyer more than he paid (since I had insured for full original price and he had only paid 50% of that original price), and various other work-outs as we have agreed. But I understood from the first few posts that some think sellers on Audiogon have dealer-like obligations to buyers and that is NOT the case here or anywhere else used items are bought and sold via internet.
The Audiogon rule quoted above and noted by Viridian does not impose such obligations.
Good news is that we were able to get the Item repaired and it is on it's way back to the buyer. Rick Walker with Signal Path jumped on it, worked late and shipped it out in only two days time! I am very pleased as the repair was minor and Rick Walker was great.
Dammage during shipping had to be the cause here but proveing it would have been tough if not impossible.
Hopefully it doesn't get dammaged again on its way home!!
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I not bright enough either to understand what SC53 is trying to say, except that what I get is that s/he is laying the foundation to get out of resolving the problem, if something is potentially damaged in transit. And the argument that will be used is this : I AM NOT A DEALER!
In conclusion: the Musical Fidelity CD Player that I bought was repaired @ Signal Path in Charlotte in less than 2 days, shipped to me almost immediately, and now functions perfectly. My cost, as a buyer was zero. Problem resolved. Both the buyer and the seller exchange positive feedbacks and shake hands over the phone. Case closed.
Well, the more complicated, delicate, or expensive the item, the more risk there is in: shipping it, selling it, or buying it used. I'm always wary of shipping CD or DVD players because they are so complex, & prone to failure anyway IME.

All of us here could just go buy all our gear brand new from dealers, but we want to get a bargain, so we buy stuff used, & save at least 50%, so then there's more risk involved. (Which is totally different from saying that A'gon sellers shouldn't totally try to accomodate the buyer, if there's a problem.)

There's always all kinds of risks to both buyers, & sellers, when buying used gear via the internet.....that's the nature of "getting a bargain".....