Friday, April 29, 2011

The used table market

I know I should be less idealistic but it's just plain frustrating to me to see what happens over on A'gon. I started a post there about purchasing a table direct from the UK, through a legitimate dealer, since the list price there was less than half the MSRP here, and even with shipping and some imagined import duty, the buyer would come out ahead. The thread garnered lots of constructive comments, the end of which confirmed that under current US law, you can buy a turntable from overseas without incurring import tax. Thus, assuming you are not liable for the VAT and related other taxes the folks in Europe pay,  you can end up paying a lot less for a new item shipped than you can for a used item on A'gon. After a couple of weeks, the thread was deleted in the dark of night. Don't ask, they don't tell.

Well since then I've been watching the used table market closely. What I cannot fathom is how one well-ranked seller can keep listing the same tables over and over again at great prices but whenever anyone (not just me) asks about it, the table is always sold, about to be sold or spoken for by another customer. This is so noticeable that the seller's listings were mentioned on other audio forums where disgruntled potential buyers recognized each other from the shared complaints. One hopeful poster suggested we report this to A'gon. Doubt anyone did as today that little old table we all noticed came back on the market again, but guess what, if you try to buy it, it's gone!  And this from an apparent bricks and mortar store (though the recent name change might be a warning sign).

Now add in the use of current prices to describe the original cost of a 5 year old piece, third-hand passed around kit for which seller's expect to get 60% of current list price from you, the potential fourth owner,  or the estimates of use that suggest the table or cartridge has been sitting idle for years so it's really pristine, and you have a selling structure that is riddled with the potential for deception. I have to ask, why, given all these problems, you cannot find decent dealers willing to demonstrate new turntables......are we in the last throes of the turntable era or is there some inflexion point coming which will change the game? 

1 comment:

Mark Wieman said...

I avoid buying turntables on Audiogon simply because I fear bad packing and/or shipping damage. Fortunately, there are many brick and mortar stores here in Seattle that stock turntables. I've had good luck with most of them. I realize not everyone lives close to such places, however. It's sad to hear there is a shady shop owner playing games with buyers on Audiogon. If the site owners were smart, they'd try to stop such practices immediately. If buyers can't trust sellers, their business is going to dry up. There are already a bunch of other hi-fi classified and auction sites popping up.