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As a hoarder of often unused equipment, I recently sold a host of computer and related bits and pieces, as well as a lot of photography gear.
The whole experience made me realise that it’s as difficult, time consuming, fraught with danger, and stressful as you are prepared for it to be.
Let me explain my journey and lessons learnt.
This was the first place I started, with a full list of the equipment at reasonable prices. I sold a couple of cheaper kit Lenses, a red dot finder, and a teleconverter.
Forums you frequent and have made connections with are a good place to start. Photographers are generally a friendly and trustworthy bunch. Locally, of course, you can meet people as well and avoid delivery costs.
What I discovered, however, is that people are reluctant to pay a lot for any gear that doesn’t have a warranty. The offers I got were close to that of the established used equipment buyers.
Having asked a few people, the reasoning is that it’s often a significant investment for them, and having some kind of warranty is essential. Why risk almost the same money from a private seller with no warranty as that from a store offering a generally good used warranty, even if you know the seller?
There's also a history of buyers having equipment fail and feeling bitter towards the seller. I guess this is similar to even an inter-family sale where a product breaks soon after: awkward for both parties.
Check your local forums first, as the prices were better than the used equipment resellers, but not as much as I’d hoped.
Due diligence on the potential buyer and their posting/forum history is always recommended.
Pros: People may know you and your reputation. Possible local sale and cash on collection.
Cons: People are often still reluctant to pay for fear of problems down the line, especially for expensive gear where a used warranty would be useful. Potential scammers.
Unless you’re a regular seller on eBay, my research suggests that it’s probably not worth it.
eBay takes a commission of every sale, so that may also be a consideration when assessing your potential sale price and profit..
The worst issue, however, is that there are numerous and well-documented fraudulent buyers that know how to take advantage of the eBay terms and conditions. eBay, like Amazon, defaults to buyer's protection and people have lost their product, or had to reduce the prices, due to the outright and criminal dishonesty of these scammers.
If you’re a regular seller, you’re probably already aware of these scams, and other scams, and take some precautions, but the outright dishonest are always a clear and present danger to any sale.
Of course, these people can also exist on forums, so the usual advice to verify the identity of the person, check their posting/selling history is standard procedure. As one eBay seller wrote:
“I repeat, as a seller you must allow for that, just as merchants in "traditional" brick-and-mortar stores have always had to allow for shoplifting, employee pilferage, fraudulent returns, merchandise damaged on the floor by careless shoppers, and other losses.”
This quote is realistic. For a large volume seller, they can absorb the cost of fraud. If it’s your only sale, you probably can’t afford to lose it, as quoted by another eBay seller in a forum:
“Always remember the #1 seller rule and that is to NEVER list anything you cannot afford to take the financial loss on.”
An indictment of the whole platform, IMHO. Seller beware!
Pros: If you’re a regular seller and can minimise/afford the risk of fraud, often good prices, especially for sought-after gear.
Cons: Rampant fraud, the eBay commission, and often re-listing if you don’t achieve the minimum reserve - a common issue, especially on limited interest items.
I’ve had a lot of success selling tools, household goods, and toys on FaceBook’s marketplace, but not so much luck selling electronic equipment.
You can easily search someone’s profile and make an educated guess on their credibility, it’s pretty easy to sell locally and for cash, and it’s (currently) free!
Aside from the obvious scams that try to avoid local cash pickups and ask for your bank/paypal or other details. Golden rule: cash/instant bank transfer only, and local pickup.
There are always the time-wasters who send a message offering 50% of what you ask on the off-chance you’re desperate.
For electronic equipment, though, the same issue as with the forums: people don’t want to pay anywhere near shop second hand prices without a warranty. This seems particularly true when the people don’t know you, as with eBay, and, unlike the forums to which you might regularly contribute: trust and price/risk assessment from the buyer means a low offer.
Pros: Mostly local and cash buyers.
Cons: Can take a while, and expect many low offers. Generally lower than selling to people who know you. Potential scammers and time wasters.
The used camera market seems to be huge, and with recessions, the pandemic, and current inflationary issues, it’s no surprise that people are looking at ways to save money.
Like computers, cameras have become excellent at 95% of most users’ needs, and new models are, arguably, adding little value to the huge prosumer market. A used body with warranty is as good as the day it was made in its prime purpose: taking photos.
I believe that these outlets are also growing because, as I discovered, their prices are pretty consistently good enough, and their services generally excellent. They pick up for free, usually insured, and as long as you provide an accurate assessment of the condition of your equipment, they will honour their price, with usually prompt payment.
As mentioned in the forum sale section, people are reluctant to part with large sums of money for pro gear without a warranty. Their expected prices are close to the prices offered by these resellers, or close enough to do as I did and give up on the various other methods, the haggling, and the uncertainty, in place of a “good enough” offer (from, in my case MPB) to just take the lot in one go and give me the money! My personal experience, which sems borne out by others, was that they honoured their quote and paid in full promptly.
I had a computer to buy, an expensive one, and my used gear sold this way enabled me to buy the computer quickly, so it suited my needs at the time
Pros: Quick and efficient no-hassle process that avoided all the hassle of selling individual items across forums and other places.
Cons: If you have the patience and time, you’ll get a slightly higher price on forums and elsewhere.
Your local camera store may take part-exchange for that new or even used equipment you’ve been lusting after.
They should offer you at least the same as the major used gear purchasers, and possibly even more if they have the margins in the gear you want, especially if they sell a lot of used equipment as well.
Bricks and mortar stores are struggling against the online giants. If you value their service and knowledge, and have a relationship with them, then supporting them might give you a feel-good factor as well; a not insignificant matter to many. (I try and support smaller local businesses wherever possible.)
Pros: Local and efficient if they can offer a reasonable price.
Cons: Not much unless they can’t offer a good deal.
I hope you found this useful. Please share your experiences, good and bad, with buying or selling gear.
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