Manners, Eticks & Audiogon --- What do you think???


I am not holding myself out as Mother Theresa, Ralph Nader or Emily Post.....but.
Have any of you folks responded to a for sale ad and never gotten a response? Like even a response of the sort that says: thanks for your interest but the item is sold? Or perhaps: I have changed my mind and my Widget 1.5 (Rev 2) is no longer for sale?

My experience may be atypical, but I find that at least 30% of the folks I have communicated with/attempted to communicate with through the Audiogon eMail forwarding system never respond. And some respond days later. (The majority of folks impress me as passionate hobbyists who are scrupulously honest and could not be more polite.) Do you think there is a problem with the A-gon eMail system and that the mail just doesn't get delivered? Or, merely with the manners of some of the advertisers?


Unfortunately, my impression is that a minority of people here state it as politely as possible.....take poetic license with the truth in constructing their ads.

Example #1: I responded to a recent (perhaps still current....have not checked) ad which concerned me. The seller/copy writer said that he was selling his component "because of court order." The context in which he made this claim gave the following meaning to the claim: this component works so well that it has caused so much havoc in my environment that people have gone to court and a judge has ordered me to sell my component. I was wondering just what jurisdiction was going to order someone to sell a hi-fi component. . . . as opposed to ordering the person to turn it down after, say, 10:00 PM.

I got an answer from the advertiser. Without directly admitting that he had fudged a bit he made it clear that there was no court order but that neighbors had griped.

What do you folks think? The claim would not be taken seriously by most people, I don't think....but is it okay to make stuff up like that in this collegial form---in a for sale ad? I think it is borderline. But, only because most of us have the good sense to discount or just plain ignore such a claim.

Example #2: This person was offering a component for sale. After an eMail which asked some specific questions this person responded that he had sold an even fancier unit to the owner of the item that was for sale. That he, the advertiser, had offered to sell his customer's former component for him. He did respond to some of the questions. Other questions he just plain did not respond to. Even after two or three follow-up eMails. Of minor concern was his failure to answer a question about the value of a resistor in the component. No "I don't know" or anything of the kind. A polite answer to the eMail but no answer to that question. Of much greater concern: I asked him, since this was not his component was his statement in his ad, to the effect that "sounds wonderful" based on his having hooked it up and listened to it? Did it have any hum or make any funny noises? Once again -- a polite eMail back but the question as to whether this person had any basis for rating the performance of a piece of gear whatsoever --- remained, and still remains, unanswered.

What do you folks think? Is it caveat emptor on Audiogon. Do sellers have a duty to be forthright and answer questions directly and responsively? Is it okay to just ignore a question that you don't want to answer because you don't want to flat out lie and don't want to loose a sale if you tell the truth? Even if the truth is relatively benign like say: I don't know, personally---I am taking the word of the owner?
I share your frustration with unanswered inquiries. At least 4 different times I have responded to for sale ads, only to get no response. Even after 3-4 repeat inquiries. Eventually I just give up, usually the item is marked sold some days later. I think as a matter of etiquette sellers should respond to their ads within 24 hrs. Certainly within 48 hrs. Maybe some sellers only respond if you state upfront that you want to "buy" the item, not just ask for info to make a decision.
Having said that I agree that most of the Audiogon comunity is an outstanding bunch of people.
Cloudgif, if you had come to this site a couple of months ago, you would have found things to be very different. I've been on here for about 6 months, and things have really changed alot in the past 30 days. For the worse. It reminds me of what happened to motorcycling. At one time, all motorcyclists were a brotherhood. When passing, each would wave. If a fellow biker was stuck on the side of the road, the first biker to come along, would stop to help, and go the extra mile to make sure his fellow bike enthusiast was well taken care of, because he knew he may be in the same shoes someday. After the general public started into the motorcycle craze, primarily with expensive Harley "show pieces" they had no understanding of this "brotherhood". They never wave, never stop to help, nor have any feeling of kinship with other riders. They are self serving, snobbish, ignorant boors. Riders who have been around awhile recognize what has happened, and it will never be the same as it was again. With the influx of members lately who's prime apparent motive was just to enter the sweepstakes drawings, this type of behavior has permeated the Audiogon. When you try to use a vacuum, you inevitably draw in alot of dirt.
Twl, well said! I am from the old school of motorcycling and find it insulting the way the "new crowd" handles themselves on the highways and byways of this great nation on 2 wheels. But I refuse to give in, and wave to my fellow biker, regardless of make or model, or how old they are etc.

I have been into music and stereo equipment for over 25 years and have seen all types of people. When Marantz and McIntosh were the big things, there were the snobs putting their noses up at Pioneer and other similar equipment. When you are all of 14 years old, you don't have the resorces to afford the higher end pieces. But I still dreamed and looked at "The Big Ones" because it interested me.

Now there are the raging debates at tube vrs. solid state, cd vrs. vinyl, horns vrs. planars, format vrs. format and certainly brand vrs. brand. That is always going to be in this hobby. I am enthusiastic about music and stereo equipment and will deal with all that, because I like almost all music, and can tolerate the stuff I'm not overly excited about. Same with the equipment, I used to be totally vinyl, and still very much appreciate it, but life has brought me to digital and I'm just as much into it as my old Oracle turntable, although I miss such a pretty piece.

As for the manners of most people on the internet, well, that leaves much to be desired. In a society that has become more and more dependant on the internet, and offices that rely on e-mails instead of talking with each other, coldness and rudeness has entered the mainstream. It's easy to be rude to someone you don't have to face. It's easy to to ignore someone you don't have to hear what thier objections or hard asked questions. I sometimes feel that our society is loosing it's daily skill to talk face to face with each other. A perfect example is going to the grocery store and while you are standing in line the person behind you is on their cell phone the entire time, and would rather place that call while in line then have to talk with you or say good morning to the lowly cashier. It's almost like a diversionary tactic to get away from actually talking to someone you don't know.

I have no problems with cell phones, and yes I have one as well. But I use manners and think of others when I do use it. I would much rather talk to a person on the street, in the airport, standing in line with me at the gocery or my neighbors than talk on the phone. And, when I'm on the internet trying to sell something, even if I'm offended by an offer, I politely tell them no thanks. I appreciate it when I do get a response of "thanks but..." when I'm trying to purchase or bid on something.

We are still dealing with people and in this case (A-gon) we are dealing with them on the internet. Lets show the new folks coming into this that we are enthusiastic about our hobby and use some courtesy! Lets show each other that we still can be polite no matter who they are or what they have asked or offered.

Remember, we live in great times to be able to do this. We can chat with people from around the world about something that most of us are passionate about, or at least would like to sell something that others are passionate about. We can get instant responses from owners, musicaians, manufacturers and stores. It is wonderful! Only a few years ago, we had to wait for answers, and had no contact with so many people into this hobby, if you could even find them in the first place, after all, where would you meet people of the same interest except for electronic shows once in a while or maybe a small local club.

Lets all try to do the right thing, enjoy the music, enjoy our equipment and each other!

Sincerely with high hopes, (I will get down off my soapbox!)
Matt Loriot (hifirush, and yes I do have a name!)
Cloudgif - I don't think you're wrong in your observations, but I guess a lot of that stuff doesn't bother me much. You see a lot of ads for things that, at first blush, look like a great deal, but then I remember that this is a pretty open environment and cost is the driving parameter, so I realize that there's a million-and-one reasons why the deal might not be what it seems. Yeah, it's annoying to not hear back from somebody when you email them. It's annoying to read ads that are clearly misleading. But the bottom line is that we're all trying to get nice gear for pennies on the dollar, and the downside is that these obstacles have to be navigated. -Kirk
I guess some people think they have to embellish (#1) to sell something. Seems like you discovered with the back & forth attempted communication that this guy (#2)wasn't worth dealing with.

Time & time again I've commented, as have others, that when something about a transaction doesn't seem quite right then go with your instincts & stay away. I've been somewhat apprehensive about a deal or two but after talking to the seller on the phone was able to make a decision based on the phone call. I highly recommend a phone call especially when making a higher priced deal.

Twl, your comments sure bring back lots of memories. When I was riding Harleys you could buy & sell them all day long for $1,500.00 & ride them away. Maybe they needed a new chain or a Barnett clutch but definitely not a basket case. The most I ever paid for one was 3k & it was completely modified/balanced/blueprinted/custom paint/chrome. That last one was in 1981.

I attribute all these types of behavior to a general decline in the civility of people in our society today. Look at how people not only drive with no courtesy but in almost any city you can see people run lights at any intersection. And how about standing in line with someone bumping into you or going through a door & the other person doesn't even wait for you to walk by before they brush past you on your side because they're too lazy to open the door on their side or at least hesitate a second before barging past?

Not a rant, just a little observation on people & when I observe this it just makes me more determined to try & do the right thing.
If it is unrelated to the quality or condition of the item for sale, what difference does it make why the seller is selling it? Especially since, upon further investigation, you were able to determine the real story. You then had enough information to make a decision as to whether this is someone you want to do business with.

I have been an obsessive Audiogon user for about two years now. Like just about every other internet-related buying and selling forum, A'gon has a very small minority of folks who try to take advantage of the relative anonymity of the format to pull a fast one. Some folks are not dishonest, but are just rude/ignorant about responding to inquiries and answering questions from interested buyer (I think of this as more of a customer service issue than one of integrity). However, the vast majority of transactions I have been involved in have been direct, honest and satisfying. I am not a motorcyclist, but it seems to me there is still a great deal of collegiality on this site. As an example, I began this hobby with very little knowledge about audio and through a combination of buying and listening to equipment, reading forum posts and asking questions here, I have learned a great deal -- all of it essentially free of charge (even the equipment, which, for the most part I was able to sell without losing too much money.)

Even though this is a great resource and community for audiophiles at all levels, there is no substitute for common sense. I would argue that caveat emptor is the rule in every commercial situation, whether on the internet or in person.
It has been my (limited) experience that those who are in the "business" are the least likely to return e-mails re: items they have posted for sale or auction. The hobbyists seem to be the most well mannered in this regard.
Well, let's not just beat up on sellers. I have two ads on now. On those two ads, I have received four responses--two offers to buy at the posted price if I would tell them what the shipping was, then no response; one "buyer" who wrote to tell me that he could do better elsewhere; and one guy who was ticked off when I wouldn't trade for something I don't need. Are things going downhill real fast? You bet, but don't be so limited in who you blame.
Thanks to all of you. What an amazing number of intelligent seems that I was "preaching to the choir." Just would like to give a little "eWave" to all of the brothers and sisters on the audio road. Never rode a Harley, but waived to a few thousand from my Matchless 500cc single and my Square riding buddy had a '47 Harley w/ suicide clutch. And, specifically to Anth0: thanks for your take! You are right, of course. One has to use common sense and lookout for oneself. I guess that I just get irritated when someone advertises their Widget with hyperbole which insults our intelligence---and apparently---feels no shame when called on it. I would hope that well reasoned and intelligent discussion like this would educate folks and help re-form our forum.
TWL and Hifirush- Come on over to Ohio for a ride. Lots of friendly riders on all kinds of bikes, including showpieces, and I've yet to meet a self-serving, snobbish, ignorant boor. OK, crotchrocket coterie excluded :-)
"Loud pipes save lives"
It's universal. I feel that customer service (here in the US) has gone dramatically downhill. Very few people go the extra distance to be courteous and helpful.

However, it's been my experience that Audiogoners are the exception. The majority of email and thread responses are extremely helpful and courteous. Sure there are a few annoyances and occasional rip-offs, but for the most part Audiogon members are passionate about this hobby and try not to tarnish their love of music with petty games.
There are some questions that I will just NOT bother to respond to! The one that I absolutely detest concerns auctions that I have posted. "If your item doesn't sell, what will you take for it?" A very fair question, but ONLY AFTER THE AUCTION HAS CLOSED, NOT DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE STILL ACTIVE AUCTION!!! This is a real sleazy maneuver, that puts all legitimate bidders at a disadvantage. You want it, bid on it...or contact me AFTER the auction, if the item doesn't sell. I also try to research an item so I can embellish the good points before listing it for a sale. This involves a call to the manufacturer. I am particularly interested in production changes or modifications during the run of manufacturing. There are often improvements, modifications, or, unfortunately, sometimes a decrease in quality of parts over the years of production. This information may not be a part of the general specs or written reviews of the item. (POTENTIAL BUYERS, GET THE SERIAL NUMBER, AND CALL THE MANUFACTURER!!! You can get a wealth of information from most manufacturers!) So I will spend time and money (long distance phone charges) to get this information, I post it in the ad, and get an email like, "I thought that the Klingon Preamp Supreme uses the same stainless steel chassis as in the standard Klingon Preamp and not a titanium chassis?" Hey, call the manufacturer if you have concerns about the information that I've given! And, of course, the questions come from non-members, or members with no feedback or 1 feedback...window shoppers! Finally, I don't bother responding to lowballers. Hey, the economy isn't wonderful, and pricey luxury items (audio) suffers. Audigon has become a buyers', not a sellers', market. I'll check the bluebook, and usually finding the pricing very optimistic, I go well below the used price. When an item is priced at 50% of list, an email offering me HALF of my asking price (25% of list) never gets a response. I know that people want something better than asking price and I'll entertain any REASONABLE offer, but come on people, let's be serious about a realistic offer! Just my two cents worth...and NO I WON'T TAKE ONE CENT!!! Happy Tunes!
Fatparrot: It is clear that you are a man of principle, honest and diligent and ethical. Your approach to things is a little different than mine. Here is mine: eMail is free.
It does not "cost" anything if you are running an auction to educate someone by writing, "That would not be fair to other folks. If you are interested contact me after the auction closes." Likewise, what is the problem with writing to someone: "My price is fair and your offer is not in the ballpark." Or, "No thanks." It is not only "more polite" it is better business. They might respond by agreeing to your asking price. I may have a blind spot here but it seems as though some folks take what they consider to be a lowball offer as a personal insult. If the question is asked politely (i.e. not something like "Your Klingon preamp is a hunk of junk and I plan on a major modification to the power supply--will you take $5.00 including FedEx overnight to Buffalocrotch Iowa") what is the problem with a reply that takes ten seconds?
1st Email:
I'll take it.

2nd Email:
Please remove the case and tell me the model number's of all component capacitors ? Please include macro photo's of each capacitor and resistor. Minimum 4 megapixel. Please don't send Jpegs, tiff Only. Please include factory and date/time of origin (for each). If any discolorations, please explain in detail with notary signature. Also provide photo's of case before and after to verify that no scratches took place.

3rd Email:
Thank you for your kind responses. I offer ONE (1) dollar.

4th Email:
You have not answered my email. It's been TWENTY minutes.
Respond now or before I change my mind and goto best buy !

"Is the hiend dieing?" There was that thread going for a while, pre-deletion days, that talked about whether behavior like this portended the decline of our hobby. Its just another symptom was my point, this escalating self-interest. I know, I know, nihlistic claptrap, so-called, but there you have it.

Anonymity is the hobgobblin of self-absorbed minds; without the deterrence of society seeing what they do, what they are runs across the audiogon countryside. Doing the "right" thing is an internal compass without external points of reference. These people are external in their orientation - as in, what can I get from what's outside of ME - and when they can operate in an environment where they think that "the others" aren't watching, they misbehave.

But here's the great part. You should actually be damn glad that they have so little restraint when they misbehave and show themselves because that's then just one more bad transaction you avoided.

As for ticking you off, yes, an irritant, but look at it this way: there's always one more coming over the hill and you could spend all your time ticked at each new suceeding inauthentic face if you wanted to. See them, know what they are, step to the left as they greedily run by, and move on...
I applaud Asa's comment about warning signs - I'm glad whenever some irritant makes themselves obvious from the get-go. Saves alot of headache down the road. I try to perform all my sales "first fair offer, first served", but I'll admit I treat courteous and rational people preferentially in cases where I have multiple offers on an item after posting. I especially give preference to those good people I've dealt with in the past, and those in good standing in the Audiogon community. A quick "no thanks" is all you usually need to be done with people you aren't exactly thrilled about dealing with. On Ebay, it can get alot more foolish, if you haven't had the displeasure of finding that out ; )

It's all worth it, without a doubt!
Asa has it right in that the problem is ANONYMITY. Regardless, this is the best website on the planet and most of the people here are just too good to believe.
Also be aware that some of us DO have lives outside this hobby & are not always glued to our computers. If you don't receive a prompt response to an inquiry then perhaps the party is out of town (business or vacation) or is simply not online for any number of reasons.
Example: I do all my corresponding from my office computer, & I do not even want a PC in my home, so on weekends I am deliberately away from the network. About 98% of email that I receive does eventually receive a response, but, just like Parrot, some are so obviously off the wall that a response is not even deserved. If I sent out some of the $#!| that occasionally comes my way then I'd never even expect an answerback.
I'm afraid it's caveat emptor. But that's OK because you're getting used stuff at good prices. If you want more protection in a transaction buy it from a dealer, and pay the premium. I don't understand why your expectations are higher. Like you said, it's only a few bad apples.
I hope this isn't an unwanted intrusion on this thread (another ethical question) but I recently had a situation that I'd like people's ethical opinions on:

I responded to an add for a NIB component that someone had bought and then decided to upgrade immediately (I can't say how true his story is). Anyway, I promptly sent a money order, and when he received it he told me that the dealer had contacted him to let him know that some of the units had been damaged in transport. He passed this info on to me, opened the box, tried it, and reportedly found it to be broken.

The question is - what is his ethical responsibility? I still wanted to purchase the unit, and figured that the dealer would provide him a new one since it was dead NIB. Yet it would still take him a little extra work to go make the switch and then send it to me. Yet he did advertise it NIB, and that presumably means working. What would be the ethical thing for him to do - just return my money or get a new unit from the dealer and ship it?

BTW - Nice point ASA. Those who you can trust generally rise to the surface if you keep your eyes and senses open.
Polite people will always respond in a timely manner. Sure, I've bought and sold many items over the past few years and most all have been a real pleasure. When I list something for sale, once an email is received, I try my best to respond as quickly as time permits. Occasionally it might take until the next morning because I've been away from the office where I do most of my corresponding because I'm there most of the time anyway. Courtesy demands courtesy. I've learned that proper communication is critical in any field, but not all folks feel the same way. I'm in the retail sales business...our customers demand a quick, knowledgable response or they'll call someone else. Whether you're buying or selling, there's always a chance that the opposite party hasn't done it as many times or feels intimidated by the sales process. I used to get pissed over the same things that you all have experienced, but life's too short to stay too mad for too long.
As a salesman myself, I agree with Ucmgr. "Rule #1: The customer is always right; Rule #2: If the customer is wrong, see Rule #1." All customers feel insecure, because they believe that they need or desire something, but know that they'll have to pay to get it, and therefore worry that they'll be taken advantage of. This insecurity can lead to some spectacularly squirrelly defensive behavior, and we are all susceptable to it in some degree. All sellers need to understand that this is just an inevitable part of the terrain, and be prepared to handle the results of this psychological fact with an equanimity which stems from the realization that you are actually more dependent upon the customer than they are upon you. The web's greater anonimity certainly plays a part in reducing the sense of obligation or inhibitions toward discourteousness in a sales interaction, but the fundamentals of the situation are nevertheless unchanged.

There will on rare occasions be customers who are genuinely in the "wrong", meaning they are trying to scam or take advantage of a seller (although professionally speaking, most of what salespeople complain about is usually their own fault for not incorporating properly into their overall approach, and the rest is their responsibility to deal with in a professional manner - besides, the reverse is always more common universally), but the professionally competent salesperson (or in this case, the polite and sincere seller) will always do their best to treat all customers with a high degree of consistency and patience, if they want to be successful. Selling should never be taken personally - you will fail miserably, because no one trusts a salesperson, and no one wants to be sold by someone they don't trust. When I respond to an ad and receive no answer, or an uninformative answer, I don't take that personally either; I simply know that I'm dealing with a poor seller, and stay away. When I place an ad, I consider it to be my responsibility to answer all the responses it generates without exception, because that is what is required for me to be a good and trustworthy - and therefore successful - seller. The nature of the potential buyer's questions, or their possible lack of further response once answered, is just the way that things are; I can't control it, I can't change it (and since they don't know me, I certainly can't be insulted by it) - I can only control my own behavior, and I will not deviate from my own correct course of action just because someone else acts differently, for only my own actions are reflective of me.

By and large, I have found the sense of community among the folks I've interacted with on A'gon to be satisfactorily high as a group, and suspect that the ones who fall below the standard set by most tend to wander away after a while anyhow. Regardless, I don't feel that I have anything to complain about here in general - I enjoy myself on A'gon a lot more than I don't, and the site's helped me out with my audio goals a lot more than it hasn't. It's no great disappointment to me if not everyone who comes around here acts perfectly, or that I can't totally let my guard down, because I can't and don't expect those things to begin with. After all, as much as we audiophiles may be trying to escape it, this is still the real world. Happy listening in it!
I always use the email as a test and inquiry about the seller. No response or incomplete answers? Walk away. Remember, the transaction includes both the item and the seller. You need to be happy with both, or you're setting yourself up for trouble.

Caveat Emptor? You better believe it. Patience is a real virtue here. Don't be in too much of a hurry and you will find the quality item with a good seller.