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Thread: Buying microphones on EBay and using PayPal

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    Default Buying microphones on EBay and using PayPal

    I posted here about a month ago about purchasing a sequentially numbered pair of KM84i's on EBay. Both mics were defective and we had a fairly lively thread going about this with some great contributions by lots of folks.

    A certain well known mic technician has been my tech for many years but when I bought these and discovered the problems, he was out of pocket and I hadn't heard back from him when I posted here. Klaus Heyne was recommended to me and he was very responsive and courteous but also busy and backlogged and he suggested that I send these mics to Neumann for evaluation and possible repair. David Satz offered that Neumann still made the capsule for the KM84, which I didn't know at the time. IIRC, Mr. Satz speculated that it might end up being a replacement rather than a repair scenario. The negative info I mention in this post relative to my experience with Sennheiser/Neumann has nothing to do with Mr's. Satz or Heyne's reccomendations to me. I very much appreciate their willingness to help.

    I also filed a complaint of the items not being as represented with PayPal. The seller's contention was that though he was representing the microphones as being in working order, he was selling them "as is" ........sort of a "catch 22" for a buyer if the mics don't work properly upon arrival. PayPal told me that if a seller represents the condition of a product to be working, then if it doesn't work upon arrival, the buyer can file a claim within 45 days.

    Here's how this has played out:

    I sent the mics to Sennheiser/Neumann. I received a report from them that one of the capsules would need to be replaced. I contacted the seller with a request that he cover the cost. We had something worked out contingent on his receiving an evaluation of the problem from Neumann and then 2 days later I got a second e-mail from Neumann saying that the capsule in the second mic would have to be replaced as well. Sennheiser/Neumann (Old Lyme CT) told me that they do not do component level repair, only cleaning and replacement of components. The seller naturally was shocked by getting a second statement from Neumann with such a time interval between the two statements with the second one stating that both capsules were bad after previously being told that only one was bad and became suspicious of the situation. This was further aggravated by Neumann's refusal to provide an evaluation of the condition of the capsules. I really can't fault him for this. Neumann's haphazard handling of my replacement quotes really complicated things tremendously. The seller then accused me of dealing in bad faith, refused to pay for the replacement of both capsules and told me that since I was "reneging" on the original deal we had made, he was not going to offer anything in the way of paying for replacement costs and as far as he was concerned, he'd let PayPal make the final call. Things went from being logical to being emotionally charged due to distrust. Of all the entities I dealt with, Neumann was the one that disappointed, providing me incomplete information which really complicated my attempted settlement with the seller and then not being responsive to the things I was needing from them in order to provide doumentation of problems. They simply would not step up with a detailed evaluation of the condition of the mics, only a replacement and cleaning cost estimate. I even offered to pay for the technicians time to do this.

    I escalated my PalPal complaint to a claim for a full refund. I forwarded the scant (as in basically non-existent for evaluation purposes in the form of an e-mail with no company letterhead) capsule replacement cost information that Neumann was willing to provide to PayPal and so the matter sat with the seller's funds for both mics being held in limbo and me with no mics. With the clock on my claim ticking and two defective mics with no way to prove that they were defective, I was screwed so I was getting ready to spring for the two capsules and eat a $1200.00 sandwich-I had even given them my credit card # and told them to order the capsules when my tech called. He's been buried with work and on the road. I had the mics shipped by Neumann to him, he did the eval and quoted a repair price. I faxed this to PayPal and PayPal decided in my favor and gave me the instructions for receiving a complete refund.

    Had he not shown up within the window I had with PayPal to resolve this claim, the lack of any expert evaluation would have resulted in my being out $1800.00 and having a pair of non-functional microphones or coughing up an additional $1200.00 for new capsules. I would think that since it is a Neumann product, they would be willing to do this. Perhaps I am not being accurate though if they are not staffed with technicians who can actually do an evaluation. If that's the case, then it's not an unwillingness, it's an inability. In either event, depending on them for any help in a scenario like this was basically futile and I think this needs to be shared...and I guess the question needs to be asked....is this company justified in this lackadaisical/ambivalent attitude toward a purchaser of an aftermarket product that happens to bear their logo since they no longer sell this product and it is out of warranty? Considering their lofty heitage, I would think that they would be more professional and supportive but maybe I'm way out of line as far as my expectations are concerned here. I certainly expected more. Maybe my expectations were not justified.

    My intent here was never to try to screw the seller for inflated repair costs or to return the mics. The repair quote was reasonable and I forwarded this, along with the PayPal e-mail to the seller with a final offer to settle for the repair cost of the microphones. He agreed rather than have me return two defective microphones that would cost him $1200.00 for new capsules or would take him many months (perhaps years) to get fixed so this is going to be settled for the cost of the repair.

    There are a few lessons to be learned here.

    First would be that if you are buying old microphones on EBay, make sure you pay with PayPal. You will have an advocate there despite the "as is" language in case "as is" turns out to mean "non-functional". If you don't use PayPal, you may be completely without recourse other than leaving bad feedback or pursuing a claim through a court procedure (and I can't imagine a bigger hassle).

    Second. Make sure a third party tech with a respected and verifiable track record is readily available to evaluate them if they are problematic and if they are Neumann products, don't depend on Sennheiser Neumann to provide any reasonable level of support as far as evaluation and repair is concerned. They only replace things now and don't really give a flip about speculating on why they failed.

    Third, be sure you aren't buying the mic(s) with the expectation of being able to use it immediately or of getting your money refunded immediately through Paypal. Be ready to wait for the wheels of PayPal to turn. Overall, they were good to deal with and very responsive, but you need to be ready to spend the time documenting the problems and to be thorough and consistent in keeping up with the various deadlines they impose on having supporting documentation made available to them. If you do this, then "as is" is meaningless as a defense to a seller if you end up getting a product that dies within the 45 day PayPal complaint window.

    Fourth, if you are a seller proposing to sell a microphone "as is", have it serviced/checked/verified if you intend to accept payment by PayPal because if the buyer pays by PayPal and it dies within 45 days, with the proper documentation, the buyer can qualifiy for a full refund through PayPal despite your protestations that "as is" means "no refund, no way, no how, no matter what".

    There is probably a fourth, fifth, etc, but these were the biggies for me. I'll have the mics back by the end of August so it's been a two month odyssey.
    Last edited by animix; 08-13-2007 at 09:14 AM.
    Doug Joyce
    Animix Productions

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    Doug,

    I always the seller, and I include that the mics must meet factory spec, as determined by Tracy Korby. If they are unwilling to agree to this, I pass.

    This did not simplify things when I had a problem, as the seller was still relectant to agree to pay for the repairs, but at that point I had ' a leg to stand on', via the agreement, and eventually things were worked out to my satisfaction.

    I'm less likely to buy a vintage mic on ebay than about anything else, because you never know what you might get... an SE mic ina Neumann body, or whatever.

    Bill
    Bill Park
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    Quote Originally Posted by animix View Post
    Second. Make sure a third party tech with a respected and verifiable track record is readily available to evaluate them...
    To me, this is the catch. If something's wrong with one of my guitars, I can call on three different luthiers within five miles of my house. But microphone techs? Are there even three in the country?

    Klaus, Korby, Tony Merrill, maybe Bill Bradley. Maybe.

    I do have Mike Castoro nearby, but he's a mic manufacturer, not really a mic tech. We need more.

    Great story, Doug. Thanks for the info and glad it worked out for you.

    Jasper

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    Quote Originally Posted by animix View Post
    Fourth, if you are a seller proposing to sell a microphone "as is", have it serviced/checked/verified if you intend to accept payment by PayPal because if the buyer pays by PayPal and it dies within 45 days, with the proper documentation, the buyer can qualifiy for a full refund through PayPal despite your protestations that "as is" means "no refund, no way, no how, no matter what".

    Or... just accept the fact that you'll have to provide a refund if it comes up lame. I sold an SE H3500 on eBay for $350. Not exactly the kind of mic you want to spend money on getting serviced/checked and verified, you know? The buyer said it was broken, made noises, had sound dropouts. I said send it back and I'll give you a complete refund.

    He sent it back, I plugged it in, and the mic worked perfectly. I tested it an hour and a half, just letting it record ambient sound. Fine. True, it did have more internal noise than my U87 for example, but no sound dropouts. And you had to crank it to an unreasonable level on the preamp to get that internal noise.

    Anyway, I was baffled. But I really didn't think I was getting scammed -- I'm sure I wasn't. For some reason it didn't work for him, but it worked for me. He knew about phantom power, etc., and thought it might be the Denver altitude. I thought not. Then he wrote and said, "Do you suppose the Phantom Power could be an issue? I was using my Allen and Heath Mixwizard so its not like it was running into a piece of junk."

    Alrighty then. I wrote back and more or less said, dude, take the refund. Let's move on.

    Oh, well.

    Which brings me to the more on-topic question of... Doug. Did you get the refund yet or is it only promised at this point? Or do they just automatically refund it from his PayPal account? I'm curious exactly how the refund process works. That is, the non-voluntary refund process.

    Thanks,

    Jasper

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    Quote Originally Posted by Austex View Post
    ... I'm curious exactly how the refund process works. That is, the non-voluntary refund process.

    Thanks,

    Jasper
    Simple. If the guy has any money in his account, PayPal will attach it. If he doesn't, you're hosed. Anyone who intentionally is ripping people off will empty his account immediately, soooo.....

    I had a wierd ebay/PayPal experience recently. I bought a UAD card, and hit the "Pay Now" button and paid for the item. A few days later the seller (I think...) sends me an email asking me how to ship. Then another email asking me for shipping money. Then another email asking em when I was going to pay. The PayPal sends me an email saying that the money had been sitting in this guys account unclaimed. Then the guy sends me another email, calls me a deadbeat for not paying. I tell him that I paid. Then he sends another address and asks me to send payment there. At that point I've lost confidence that I'll ever get the UAD, so I cancel the unclaimed payment. I contacted PayPal, who told me not to worry. I contacted ebay, who told me that I was committed, that the contract was a binding sale. Then they started sending me 'non-payment' notices. Of course, I denied that. They sent another one, at which point I reminded them about that simple fact of contract law...you cannot change a contract after the fact, nor enforce one part of a contract and not the other, without both parties agreeing to do so. Since the seller attempted to change the contract by changing the payment terms (and AFTER payment had already been made...) I considered the contract to be nul and void. I'm still awaiting the next shoe to drop.


    Bill
    Bill Park
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    The elites have squandered the country's wealth on two of the costliest and most useless wars in American history while blithely pretending that the environmental crisis doesn't exist. We no longer have any mechanisms within the formal structures of power that will protect or advance our rights.
    (Chris Hedges)


    Showbusiness. We're all here because we're not all there.

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    Doug, I'm very sorry (but not very surprised) to hear how difficult this has all been.

    Just let me say to others here as I told you by email privately, that over the years I've bought 15 or 20 name-brand condenser microphones on eBay--most of which were listed as being in "excellent," "perfect" or "like new" condition, some of which said "checked and OKed by a technician and meets Neumann (or AKG, or Schoeps) specifications." More than half of the microphones from individual sellers (as opposed to those from established dealers who also happen to sell through eBay) turned out to have defective capsules. This just seems to be a fact of life.

    I'll be following this thread. Please keep us all posted. I hope for a completely favorable resolution of your case, but again, just human to human, I'm sorry about all the stress.

    --best regards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Austex View Post
    To me, this is the catch. If something's wrong with one of my guitars, I can call on three different luthiers within five miles of my house. But microphone techs? Are there even three in the country?

    Klaus, Korby, Tony Merrill, maybe Bill Bradley. Maybe.

    I do have Mike Castoro nearby, but he's a mic manufacturer, not really a mic tech. We need more.

    Great story, Doug. Thanks for the info and glad it worked out for you.

    Jasper
    Those are the only three (or four )out there to my knowledge. Tony is the tech I was referring to. I don't think he would mind my mentioning this. Many years ago I talked to Mike Castoro about purchasing one of his long body U47's. I can't remember if I asked whether he maintained them or had a third party do this. I don't know if Mike "does capsules". If I ever do this again, I'm going to call Tony first and make sure he's available to evaluate the mic. For those who have never dealt with one of these specialists, it might be a good idea to check with one (all) of them before you assume they would be readily available to do something like this. Tony has always been extremely good to work with, but I got my foot in the door there years ago. I don't know if SPA is even taking new clients right now. They may be, but I didn't ask.
    Last edited by animix; 08-13-2007 at 06:14 PM.
    Doug Joyce
    Animix Productions

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Satz View Post
    Doug, I'm very sorry (but not very surprised) to hear how difficult this has all been.

    Just let me say to others here as I told you by email privately, that over the years I've bought 15 or 20 name-brand condenser microphones on eBay--most of which were listed as being in "excellent," "perfect" or "like new" condition, some of which said "checked and OKed by a technician and meets Neumann (or AKG, or Schoeps) specifications." More than half of the microphones from individual sellers (as opposed to those from established dealers who also happen to sell through eBay) turned out to have defective capsules. This just seems to be a fact of life.

    I'll be following this thread. Please keep us all posted. I hope for a completely favorable resolution of your case, but again, just human to human, I'm sorry about all the stress.

    --best regards.
    I'll keep the board posted. I'm finalizing this (hopefully) today and I heard from the seller again this morning. He is ready to "do the do" as soon as PayPal gives him instructions on what he needs to provide them in order that they may have the authorization to deposit the cost of the repair from the funds they are holding from his account once I drop the claim. I'm not dropping the claim until I'm sure the funds will be available upon my doing so. We'll now see how PayPal steps up to achieve the final resolution.

    Regards,
    Doug Joyce
    Animix Productions

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    Quote Originally Posted by Austex View Post
    He sent it back, I plugged it in, and the mic worked perfectly. I tested it an hour and a half, just letting it record ambient sound. Fine. True, it did have more internal noise than my U87 for example, but no sound dropouts.
    Sometimes, humidity can be the culprit here.
    Lee Blaske
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Blaske View Post
    Sometimes, humidity can be the culprit here.
    Maybe, except I'm the one with the humidity and it's working for me. That said, my studio is a very controlled environment. Is there humidity in Denver?

    Jasper

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