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« Survival, Fear and Anger | Main | Labels »

Buyer’s Remorse

I occasionally sell a few items on eBay. I don’t make a regular business out of it, but like most bike enthusiasts I collect a lot of bike parts, and need to get rid of them from time to time.

A couple of weeks ago I collected about six items together, took photos, and listed them on eBay. It was quite a lengthy process that took up most of a whole day. I didn’t look too closely at the items, and maybe I should have paid more attention.  I listed a pair of Campagnolo, 1980ish brake levers as having “Slight sctatching,” and added “See photos.”

The photos clearly showed the scratches, especially when enlarged, which is a feature eBay has. I listed the item with a starting price of $9.99 and no reserve. They could have gone for $9.99, and I would have had to accept that. I was amazed when there were 21 bids and these levers went for $83 + $6 Shipping.

Now if anyone is paying $89 for a pair old Campagnolo brake levers, they had better be in unblemished mint condition. These were not, and I knew this customer had overpaid. But on the other hand I had set the starting price at just under ten bucks, it was not my doing some people got carried away and pushed the price up to over eight times that.

So it came as no big surprise when the buyer put in a claim for his money back. I emailed back immediately asking if I refunded $30, making the price $53, would he be interested in keeping the levers.

This was in keeping with a similar pair of levers I had sold before. He emailed back to say he wouldn’t accept less than $40 off. I agreed to $40 off, but in the end that was not acceptable either. I said, fine, just send the levers back and I will refund the $89. (Item + shipping.)

The levers arrived back today, and I issued the refund. After closer inspection I will agree I should have paid more attention, and not listed these as having “Slight” scratching. But on the other hand anyone paying over $80 for a pair of vintage Campagnolo brake levers, the word “Scratches” should not even be in the item description.

I would hope it is clear that I am not out to rip people off on eBay, otherwise I wouldn’t have listed these at $9.99. But it seems to me that in this case, “Buyer’s Remorse” had already kicked in long before this item even arrived to this customer.

Take a look at the eBay listing here, hover over or click on the photos to enlarge and tell me, after looking at the photo’s would you have bid $83 for these? I will list them again this weekend and you can be sure when referring to the scratches, the word “Slight” will not appear.


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Reader Comments (19)

That’s the problem with Collectors, not Enthusiasts, making investments in something whose only interest is making money.
Mention Campagnolo to people “in the know”, and automatically it produces mystical feelings of ecstasy, misty eyes blurring their vision and clouded thoughts obscuring any chance of clear facts. Hell, all they grasp, as their sweating palms hold the treasure, is how much it’ll be worth to the next feeble-minded Collector.
No thought of actually using the item, of riding with it. And probably for the best, as older Campy items are not worth risking on a regular rider. Crankarms break, dropouts crack, seatpost bolts strip, rear hub axles snap. Better to ride with newer stuff; less risk of catastrophic failure, and crashes.
And Campy Super Record brakes from the 70’s and 80’s Suck!
So maybe it is best older Campy parts are relegated to Collectors, and Museums.
I say let them fight for whatever is out there (don’t refund anyone anymore). Real riders don’t ride Vintage Campy. And to me, if I ain’t riding it, I ain’t collecting it.

March 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

The levers don't look too bad to me, but I probably wouldn't have bid as much as your buyer. And you're right, that the pictures are clear -- there should have been no mistake about the condition. I've had similar experiences. In fact, I'm guessing that anyone who sells on eBay on a fairly regular basis has had lots like it. The one that really irked me was when one of my buyers didn't even bother to ask for a refund, or anything else, but instead just went and posted negative feedback without even contacting me that he was unhappy. Like your levers, the item (Campagnolo SR chain ring) was listed as used, with wear, and accompanied with large, clear pictures showing the wear. Some people. . .

March 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Brooks

Caveat Emptor. You hid nothing, it is up to the buyer to insure they know what they are doing. It sounds like this one did not and you were kind enough to accommodate what sounds like a churlish attitude from the buyer. At least that is one man's opinion.

March 4, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterglbeach

They look OK to me, with slight scratching. If the buyer repented, it should be his problem, not yours.

March 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLuis

Perhaps the buyer thought your camera lens was scratched?! You went above and beyond by refunding full price and shipping. Kudos to you.
I've had similar problems selling on EBay and have generally found buying to be a better experience than selling. Craigslist works well for bike parts around here (SF Bay Area).

March 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMartin W

The buyer probably planned the whole thing in advance. He wanted to get his hands on them, THEN make a judgment. He likely is well versed in eBay's policies as well, and exploits them to his advantage. It didn't matter to him how much he paid for the levers; he knew if he didn't like them he could cry foul and either get a sweetheart deal, get his money back, or threaten to ruin your eBay rating in retaliation.

March 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeter W. Polack

With 20 seconds to go, the bid was at $29. The eventual winner probably thought he'd get them for somewhere under $40 and stupidly put in a bid over $82, placing his bid with 2 seconds to go and probably not monitoring the previous 18 seconds of intense activity. If he hadn't bid, the winner would have gotten them for $51.

If you look at his history, he's been bidding like crazy on vintage bike parts. He was probably in such a rush, that he didn't properly examine the pictures. He is a fool.

In the future, you may want to make the statement, NO REFUNDS to force them to scrutinize this a bit better.

March 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLionel

they look fine to me , he bit the bullet, he must not know how a polishing wheel works, I have well over 200 buys and never have returned anything or ask to return something ,I always tell myself a lesson learned on my stupidity.

March 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermitch


March 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

$9.99 was ok.

March 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterayjaydee


I had a camera I was selling on craigslist a while back. I'd barely used it, it looked good as new. The potential buyer wanted the box with it, which I had. I met him at a Burger King, he took one look AT THE BOX and said No. My suspicion was he wanted to resell as "New in Box" or along those lines. Waste of my time. Steve above is correct - "Collectors" as in resellers, not necessarily honestly. BTW I shortly thereafter sold the camera to a young guy who was delighted with my price, and from time to time emails me with excellent photos he's taken with the camera. He viewed as a tool, whereas the first guy only saw it as a commodity.

March 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEd

I'd say 25-30 bucks would be a good deal for both parties.

March 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRommel55

Purchase purpose/motivation is not relevant. He effectively made you make up for his laziness or as Peter mentioned, took advantage of you. Fortunately you were open to selling at nearly half the price which is more than I would have paid and is less than the typical price of hoods for those levers. My reasons are probably much like yours. I grew up with them and they are not the jewels others believe they are.

They are plentiful too! I picked up a pair with cables, calipers, Superbe levers, 9spd cogs, 2 NR RD's, two 10 speed chains, 1 NR FD, extra NR lever, pair of Chorus Aero levers, plus a couple of other parts in a bag at the co-op for $75.

It is interesting to see Campagnolo parts sell for such high prices regardless of which model and time period.

March 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSJX426

I think that a lot of the situation could have been avoided if the center picture of the 5 shots on the listing had been taken from the front, as opposed to the rear of the levers. Looks like that one would have been "money shot" as far as showing the scratches.
@Steve, I ride thousands of miles a year on vintage Campy, Mafac, Suntour etc and would definitely classify myself as "real". For those folks who've grown up riding "brighfter" levers its quite a surprise ergonomically the first time you wrap your hands around the smaller form factor of a vintage non-aero lever and hit a climb, try it you might like it

March 6, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterwheelman61

Hi Dave,
You stated there are some "scratches" on these levers. They are "used" and it's up to the buyer to be aware of what they are buying. The guy sounds like a picky whiner to me. I sold a set of Modolo Super Prestige brakes recently on Craig's List. The levers had just as many scratches as yours and I made sure to show them ( as you did ) in the ad. The buyer was more than happy ( I got $100) and I was happy too! @ Steve, I'm not sure what your mechanical bike skills are, but I own and ride old and new bikes. If properly set up all the older quality brakes work great . Just upgrading to more modern brake pads will make big improvements. I consider myself a "real" rider" as I commute 25 miles one way in Los Angeles traffic every day and I do it on a 1985 Ibis mountain bike with all the original brakes ( Shimano U brake rear and Deore XT cantilever front) and never a day goes by when I get a "right hook" or other stupid driver move.

March 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

As Dave can confirm, I not only raced in the 70’s and 80’s, but rode my Dave Tesch for over 20 years, till I bought the ultimate used bike, a Dave Moulton Professional Road. I also kept original SR components, but when I decided to race again, it was not possible to do so safely on vintage Campy in So. Cal. races!
I no longer have the custom Moulton, but a modern Russ Denny Fuso, which I can race on and use readily available, and superior parts.
Sure you can ride whatever you have, but Campy SR has problems: the Campy seatpost binder bolt doesn’t have a tab to keep it from turning, the Sugino does. I have had fluted crankarms break, chainwheels are limited, (cassette size also), and don’t even think of riding titanium-spindle SR pedals!
And that doesn't factor in wear, items needing to be replaced at least yearly.
Like vintage roadsters, the SR gruppo is nice to look at, but a steel frame with modern components is more practical, and more fun to ride.
You don't worry about wear, and trying to make it all work.
You just ride, and race if you want.

March 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I would think that scratches could be removed with a little polishing, unless very deep. I bet your buyer, as you said had some remorse about what he paid and found another and paid less. I once sold on Ebay a very rare 1937 Claud Butler frame that the buyer CLAIMED had been damaged in shipping. NO rips in the box etc BUT a large dent in one rube that was proteced by plastic tubing I had used. BUYERS REMORSE? Of course I HAD to refund and get the orig finish re done at great costs. By the way a member of the C/R group sold TWO sets of vintage Campag brake caliphers for OVER $400.00 each set! I understand that CHINA is now the collectors market

March 7, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjohn grump

I have purchased bike parts on ebay that were much worse than described/shown.
But to be honest I almost expect it.
Though a crank with chianrings so worn that they can't be used is a bit much.
These levers look pretty good to me, sounds like you were just dealing with a jerk.

I ride old bikes, and I buy and sell old parts. I use the stuff that I buy.
Over the years I have had almost no failures, but then I don't use ultralight stuff and I am manic about maintenance.

March 7, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteredstainless

Hi Dave -
Not related to this post, but just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLee
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