Grading and Guarantees on eBay

In our last couple of newsletters we’ve been talking about buying and selling records on eBay. Here’s a response from one of our readers about grading: “As a ‘Dining Room Table’ guy dealing records on eBay, I find grading to be the hardest thing I do. The first issue is that it is very difficult to do anything other than visual grading when you are posting a hundred or so LPs each week. The more critical problem is that condition is in the ear of the beholder. One man’s ‘excellent’ is the next guy’s hockey puck. Finally, we also have all seen situations where an LP looks near mint and plays well on Stereo A, then skips like a jump-roper on Stereo B. I resolve the dilemma by offering a full money-back guarantee (including shipping both ways) if you disagree with my ratings. I find that I have about one LP in 150 returned. I also have excellent feedback, so apparently I’m doing something right.

I have had one individual send back a record other than the one that was sent to him (it happened that it was from my personal collection and was marked), but I’ve caught that only once in the five or so years I’ve been dealing. Now, I haven’t had much access to much of the collectible-level jazz that is dealt with there. (I have a few, but they aren’t for sale). My Rod McKuens, Polka and Belly Dance LPs will provide much the same delight in VG+ or VG++ condition. I do put up what jazz I find, but my best sale to date was for a copy of Al Hirt with the Boston Pops when two bidders got on an ego tripand ran it up to $175. The great part was that I sent them each a copy at that price.

That doesn’t count in terms of jazz collectors or collectibles. Keep all this in mind as you bid. Most who are buying these top-level items are at the top of the food chain. It isn’t enough that a deal has good feedback: He or she has to have dealt in records and know and understand what the ratings mean. Ask for a guarantee. Many reputable dealers will give one. I’m not sure what I would do if one of my LPs was bid up for several hundred dollars and sent back. If someone would like to bid one of mine up that high, I’d be happy to find out.” — Martin D. McKay (MacJazz on eBay)

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