Safest way to trade ?

Hi to all of you,

I just bought an ARC SP-11 mk II preamp here on the AudiogoN market place and i was wondering how i do have to proceed to be sure to not lose my money, let me explain.
My seller hasen't any feedback yet, the add was very minimalist, there was no photos, but he send them to me on request, the price is very cheap. Also, my greeck seller says he's a 71 years old and don't have the knowlegde and tools to open it and send me some picts of the inside of the preamp.
I am sure that most of you would have past their way after having reading the add, but i have the 'feeling' that this seller is telling the truth. Altought, the experience i have into buying audio products, tells me that i have to be caution and to find a way to insure my money. Paypal doesn't cover the risk if the product does not conform to the description, which is in fact my major problem. The preamp is supposed to have been serviced and retubed 2 years ago.
So what i am looking for is a 'middle man' service or something like that. A third party, that both of us would agree, and that will keep my money safe but also insure the seller that he'll get he's money once i'll have received the preamp and checked it.

If you have any idea, suggestion, or advice please let me know, thanks.
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There will always be some level of risk, but this is how I deal with it. If it's an amount of money I can deal with losing, then I'll take some risk. If it's what I consider a large amount of money, then I always do the transaction face to face after telephonic communication.

As far as having a middleman service insure the transaction, how much are you willing to pay for that service?
I don't believe that he bought it yet.
It does sound tempting, but I would avoid it, especially if it is out of the U.S. Wait for a domestic deal from a seller with good feedback. It will be worth the extra money you spend.
Conform to what discription, you buy or bought it sight unseen just what you know from the pictures. That is your own risk. If there is a major problem with it then you can file a dispute with paypal. What really pisses me off is people here buy used items and act like they are suppose to be right off the production line. You are buying used,if you don't like the risk then buy new products where you have a warranty.
Well, you have no feedback either audiofeel. Additionally, you are in France, you say the item is in Greece....quite an adventurous first transaction for you!

If I were cynical, I would guess that this is a troll thread.
@Elizabeth : thanks for your help and answer, so you just would act as i would.

@Onhwy61 : True, there always be a risk level into buying second hand material and the only behavior to adopt is always to try to minimize it. As Paypal is taking 3% fees, i would say that i would be ready to pay 10% more to have this 'middleman warranty'

@Slikric3000 : conform to an 8/10 AudiogoN notation system that allow people to evaluate the gear and to the specifications of the manufacturer.

@Ghasley : As you're not obliged to leave a feedback,here on the AudiogoN, after a trade, you just can't imagine how many people forgot to... I do not have any feedback but my money just can't be a fake. And if i were cynical i would guess such a lack of observation would come from a troll ?
I would have the preamp sent to Audio Research for inspection. When Audio Research tells me the preamp is ok I would send payment. I have done this in the past and it works out well for both buyer and seller.
@Slikric3000 : conform to an 8/10 AudiogoN notation system that allow people to evaluate the gear and to the specifications of the manufacturer.

That is just a guide and not the law of the land, I stand my ground, if you wanna nit pick go buy new ya cheapskate. I can tell you are young, I would say 25, and probably wanna impress you ladyfriends. You are the type that really irritate me around here.
Rrog, who pays for the shipping and services done at Audio Research? I can see how that provides protection for the buyer, but for the seller it's an added burden. A typical seller, let's assume an honest one, is selling an item that he believes is fully functional, but there is no way of knowing whether the unit is meeting manufacturer's specs. I would assume that if the seller could offer evidence of a recent manufacturer's inspection and certificate of good health that you as a buyer would be willing to pay more money for that item versus an uninspected item?
Audiofeel, ok, whatever. You just joined Audiogon this month so yes, your money is fake. You have not had time to conclude any transactions here since the maximum amont of time you have been a member is 10 days.

As far as how not to get burned, you already know. Dont buy sight unseen from sellers with zero feedback...especially when their entire economy has crumbled.....a recipe for failure. BUT, it would be kinda fun for all of us out here to lay odds on which one of you zero feedback, brand new members from other countries is the honest one.
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"Slikric" I would have to say your second response is typical troll insult.
So... since Slikric himself created the kind of response which 'really irritates' around here, please 'Slikrc' take a look in a mirror..and make a few adjustments.

I don't have to make any adjustments E, I am quite sick of the childish types that want something at a give away price and it better be like new cos i'm gonna nit pick. I just had a phono preamp on here and I got some many childish questions after 3 or 4 days of it I took it down and sold it on eabay in less than 24 hours no questions asked. So there E take that and smoke it girly.
Oh and don't forget about the nit pick scammers that will say this and that don't work and I sent in can you help pay half, the you say send me a copy of the work order and you never hear back from them again.
I would avoid this guy like the plague, he sounds like a big problem after the sale.
Onhwy61, I guess it depends on what you are selling. If I am selling an expensive item, especially tube equipment, I am willing to send it in for inspected. It helps the buyer know what he is buying and it relieves me of liability. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind. Besides, I'm not in it for the money, I'm in it for pleasure. It seems too many people have turned this into a business and this is where the troubles begin.