Each week I get at least 7 emails from buyers telling me the item they purchased on ebay (FROM OTHER SELLERS), does not work correctly and they want me to tell them what is wrong with the item. I always ask them to tell me the auction number so I can see first hand what they bought. In almost all cases, the listing was a train wreck waiting to happen with far too many questions not asked and not enough information given to make the transaction worth taking. The buyers were far too naïve to protect themselves and more often then not, they got burned.
Buying used Maxxum gear on ebay is potentially dangerous for many reasons:
*There are a lot of sellers selling untested, incorrectly described, often defective items.
*Minolta is no longer in business so replacement parts are very hard to source and virtually impossible to get for most Maxxums over a few years old.
*Sony (who now owns Minolta’s Camera Division) has been very slow in allowing repairs and even slower in allowing replacement parts to get to repair shops.
So, what should a buyer do and what should they look for? Most importantly, they should do what ebay instructs buyers to do (in at least a half dozen Buyer’s Guide pages)—READ THE WHOLE LISTING. In fact, it’s a good idea to read it several times since there is a good chance you missed something important the first or second time like sales tax fees and high shipping costs. It is your responsibility to read and understand the listing and anything you missed by not being diligent is not the seller’s fault.
Below I have compiled a good sense guide to buying Maxxum gear on ebay with the hope that it will help you make an educated choice when selecting the “bid now” or “buy it now” button on ebay.
KEY THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN THE LISTING:
*If the camera is sold as “untested”—be very skeptical. This is a good excuse for selling a defective Maxxum.
*If the seller states he/she has NOT TESTED the camera because he does not have the proper battery—be very skeptical. No Maxxum battery is hard to get and most are under $10 at any local store, so the cost for one could easily be absorbed into or (at minimum), added to the selling price. This ploy is often a seller’s excuse for selling a non-working/defective camera.
*If the camera is listed as working properly but is sold without a battery/batteries, be skeptical. Unless the seller has a long history of selling cameras/Maxxums, etc. how could an item be tested without a battery and why is that battery not included? Camera stores and volume sellers will often test cameras with batteries and not sell the camera with batteries but non-professional camera sellers should sell the camera with the proper battery/batteries included in the sale.
*In addition, a working Maxxum SHOULD come with a manual. Sellers that post a link for you to download AND PRINT the manual are lazy. While they don’t want to take the time or expenses to print the manual, they see no reason for you not to spend that time and money printing the manual from their file. This also holds true for those sellers who include a CD with the manual on it. It costs them pennies and just a minute or so to copy the PDF file to a CD but once you get that CD it will cost you a couple of dollars to print the manual and it will take several minutes of your time. Then you will need to decide what to do with the 70-100-page manual. You can punch it and bind it—more time and certainly more expense--or you can just staple it, BUT ONLY IF you have a large capacity stapler.
*If the seller claims to have fully tested the Maxxum camera/lens/flash and that it works properly BUT accepts no returns and/or is selling the item “as is”, be very skeptical. Any seller not willing to take an item back that he/she claims works correctly is unprofessional.
*Look at what is included with the item. Does the lens have caps? Are they the original caps? Is the shade, or manual included? What about a filter? All these items will cost you additional if you want them and they are not included in the sale. The same holds true with cameras. Does it come with a battery (note lithium batteries are very expensive), or strap, or manual? Is the hot-shoe cover or rubber eye cup included? You will spend a lot of time trying to get these items if you want them.
*Look for a return policy and make sure the time frame is acceptable to you. Many sellers only offer a 3-day return policy after receipt and this is very short and often will not allow you enough time to test the item before the policy expires. Moreover, look at what is specified in the return policy. Return shipping and original shipping fees are often not refunded and if you purchased a large outfit your return fees will be very high.
*Look for a seller who is offering a third-party extended warranty for the item. These warranties cost you only pennies a day but may mean the difference between getting a repair or something back if your camera fails versus being burned and having a camera as a paperweight.
*Read the listing to see if the seller really understands/knows what he is selling. Many Maxxum sellers found the item they are selling at garage sales, flea markets, and estate sales. Others inherited the item from friends, relatives, of from divorce settlements. Look out for sellers who claim a camera that is decades old is only a few years old or those who are selling an item they call new that can’t be new since it’s been out of production for a long time. A good seller should now an approximate production date of the camera gear he/she is selling. The same sellers who know little about the item are typically the ones who incorrectly describe the cosmetics and functionality of the item. If the listing is very non-technical or mentions that if you are looking at the item YOU know all about it, be skeptical since there is a good chance you may know more about it then the seller and a good chance it is not as described.
*If the listing mentions a problem that “should be an easy fix”, be forewarned, there are no easy, inexpensive Maxxxum repairs. Parts for most Maxxum cameras and lenses have been out of supply for many years and even if the part was available, NO repair shop is cheap. Moreover, be careful, since many will use salvaged parts to repair your item that part is no newer than the part on your item that failed and it too could fail quickly after installation.
*Look at the seller’s feedback AND past and current sales. If that seller specializes in clothing or knick-knacks, they may not know anything about Maxxum camera gear.
*Be wary of Pawn Shops. They sell everything and often know nothing about the items they are selling. They also tend to over rate the items due to lack of experience selling Maxxum camera gear.
*Do not assume the “original” owner selling the item makes it a good thing. Many original owners have not used the Maxxum items in years and many have forgotten how the item works. Moreover, most will assume that the item put away years ago as working, will be working perfectly years later.
*Do not assume a camera store selling a Maxxum is a good thing. Most camera stores are experts in no cameras and most have little experience (anymore) with vintage Maxxums. The workers who knew the Maxxums have long gone and now whoever is left is not a good Maxxum expert.
*Do not assume that a seller stating an item is working properly has correctly tested that item. Lenses would be looked at with the aperture diaphragm open but most sellers don’t do this and just look at the front and rear glass. A Maxxum can meter properly and look like all is working fine but in reality that Maxxum may have the common Maxxum failure—a failed aperture base plate mechanism that prevents it from stopping down the lens correctly. A lens can appear fine with normal focus and zoom ability OFF-Camera but when attached it may have electrical problems that prevent it from working correctly so LENSES MUST BE TESTED ON A MAXXUM BODY to be sure they work.
*If the seller claims that the camera was not tested with a lens first check to see if he/she is selling a Maxxum lens. Many sellers think buyers are too stupid and will fall for that excuse. Any lens sold as untested on a Maxxum or any Maxxum camera sold as untested with a lens could have problems.
*Be careful, when purchasing items from sellers OUTSIDE THE US. Many do not care about feedback from buyers from another country and shipping may not include the surcharges many courier systems charge the receiver when they get the item. You are responsible for all customs fees and surcharges from the shipper and that “deal” may become a terrible transaction, costing you 20% more than you expected because you did not know that these extra fees exist.
*Look for multiple views of the item: front, back, top, sides, etc. If the seller is only showing one, there is a good chance he/she is ONLY showing you the good side of the item.
*Read the seller’s cosmetic rating of the item and be cognizant of the fact that UNLESS the seller has a lot of experience rating camera gear, most will OVERRATE the item one or two levels.
QUESTIONS TO ASK THE SELLER BEFORE BIDDING:
*Ask the seller if the Maxxum camera has been tested with film. and ask the seller if the camera’s single shot and continuous mode have been tested with film in the camera. Many Maxxums will work fine without film installed and then have film transport problems like rewinding the film early, locking up, skipping frames, etc. that can only be found when film is loaded.
*Ask the seller of a wireless capable Maxxum flash if that flash has been tested in wireless mode. Most sellers have no clue as to how to test a wireless Maxxum flash and you may end up with a wireless flash that will not work in wireless mode.
*Ask the seller if the camera’s customizable functions have been reset to factory defaults. MANY Maxxums have anywhere from 7-37 customizable functions and you may receive a camera that does weird or unwanted things because the previous owner set a function.
*Ask the seller if the INTERNAL display is working correctly. Most sellers are clueless as to what should be visible in the internal display and any camera sold without a battery or sold as untested can have an internal display problem.
*Ask the seller if he has tested the card reader and card door buttons on Maxxum 5000i, 7000i, 5Xi, 7Xi, 9Xi and 700Si. Most will have not tested the card reader of those buttons and you may end up with a camera that does not work correctly.
*Ask the seller is they have tested the Maxxum in both continuous mode and single frame mode. Most will not and you can end up with a camera that only shoots in single frame mode.
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO EXPECT:
The selling part of an ebay transaction is far harder and far more time consuming than the buying part so don’t expect all sellers to respond as quickly as you did when buying the item. It takes only seconds to navigate the few pages a buyer must go through when buying an item but it takes sellers far longer to learn of the purchase (ebay info emails do not always come immediately and often it takes hours before a seller is informed of your purchase), and to respond to payment. Most sellers hold down real jobs so they are not by their computer when the ebay notice of the ended auction or your Paypal notice come in.
Moreover you need to consider the fact that sellers are selling from all other the world, let alone all over the US and there is a difference in time. If you live on the West Coast and purchase and item late at night, do not expect an East Coast seller to respond until the next morning.
*Cameras, lenses, and flashes should be packed and shipped in boxes. Any seller who ships any of these items in a bubble envelope (or worse) is lazy, cheap, disrespectful of your purchase and most likely is gouging you on shipping.
*The Maxxum items should be clean and the seller should have spent time cleaning them before listing them and especially before shipping. In the ebay Seller's Guide, it clearly instructs sellers to clean the items before listing them. This means the insides of lens caps (both front and rear caps) should be clean. Filters should be easily removable and cleaned. The insides of Maxxum cameras (especially the rear door seals) should be free from dust. The outsides should be cleaned of any gunky sweat areas and dust should be removed. Switches and buttons should work freely (unless noted as having a problem), and cleaning the areas around those switches and buttons is critical to making the camera work correctly. Rear lens mounts should be cleaned of dust and dirt to prevent those particles from getting into your camera. If the seller has not done this, mention it to him/her. They have taken your hard earned money and you deserve fair care for the item you won.
*You should expect the seller to package your Maxxum purchase with extreme care. Lenses, cameras, and flashes should be bagged and then wrapped with bubble wrap. The bag keeps water away from the delicate item. You would be surprised how often boxes get caught in rainstorms or get left out on porches in inclement weather. The box should be of sufficient size to fully protect the item and there should be enough bubble wrap, peanuts and other protective material to ensure that your purchase arrives safely.
*The seller should NOT use shredded paper anywhere with photo gear. The fine dust created by this poor choice of protection gets into cameras, lenses and flashes and is impossible to get out. If you have spent a lot on the item, the seller should reciprocate by spending enough on bubble wrap, packaging peanuts and related protective consumables.
*You should open the received package immediately to make sure there is no damage in shipping AND that all parts shown or mentioned in the listing are included.
*You should test the photo gear ASAP to make sure it is as described.
*The seller should have every important item separately wrapped and protected against accidental contact or impact with other items purchased. A seller who does not do this is disrespectful of your purchase.
*You should contact the seller immediately if the Maxxum gear is not as described and try to resolve the problem in a friendly manner. That is the ebay way.
Whew! I think that’s enough information for any buyer. I am sure I have missed a lot but hey, I am only human. Forgive me for any typos. Good luck buying Maxxum gear on ebay.