Will I regret buying these saxophones on ebay…?

So I may as well chronicle the trials and tribulations, both out of interest, and as a future reference for me – I haven’t bought a sax for quite a while on ebay – believe it or not…

The alto seems straight forward, but first here’s the Bb soprano. 20’s vintage, looks just like a Conn stencil – but could equally be a Martin or a Buescher as L&H used all three suppliers. I’ve been after one for a while, to go with the 20’s C-Sop. Paid a decent price, but not as much as usual, at under £200 plus shipping it seems a ‘snip’ – and I was the only one bidding. Could it have something to do with the fact that the seller was new to ebay, and with zero feedback ? Uh-Oh !

Ebay item 260170049818

Lyon & Healy 20's Bb Soprano

And the the other sax (below) is a neat Martin alto stencil couldn’t resist it for just over $120, including a tweed case ! Came to just a tad over £100 with shipping by air – which isn’t as simple as it used to be, due to tariff changes ! Thankfully this means that Economy Surface has vanished, but so has Air Parcel !!

Ebay item 190160192240

Penn alto - martin stencil

The alto should be in the air, as we speak – however I’m still waiting for the Customs Form number to be able to track it. The soprano ? Well, I’ve won it, but I just got an ebay invoice for double the cost, this is going to be interesting… Please note that I’m buying Bb and Eb saxophones !

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21 Responses to Will I regret buying these saxophones on ebay…?

  1. al says:

    Ah – Soprano seller just apologised for invoicing me for double the amount (“don’t know what happened...”) – and it seems like I’m dealing with a novice ebayer who’s selling on behalf of someone else, so messages have to be relayed back and fro…. Oh dear, but it’s fun ! I’m sure it’ll all work out in the end. Good price ! Room for a bit of panel-beating if needed (sigh) – but hopefully not.

    I’ve obviously included simple packing instructions in my emails to the seller, and requested that they be printed off and carried to the actual owner. This is a slightly good sign, as I may well be buying from someone quite genuine. Still a bit perplexed that I was the only bidder, but the start (and end) price wasn’t that cheap for something so sparsely described and photographed.

  2. ukebert says:

    Well good luck Alan…

    Alto looks fine except for the bow. Who knows about the Sop? Looking forward to hearing about it 🙂

  3. al says:

    Well, I now have a Customs/tracking number for the alto (CP332168561US), but the USPS Track & Confirm page says “nah !”, and the UK Parcelforce (incoming) page isn’t aware yet.

    The USPS page takes a day or three to liven up (it varies), and Parcelforce normally latch on once the parcel leaves a US Airport. Shortly after that, once the parcel lands in the UK, the CP/US number changes to an EC/GB one. Confusing ? Yes ! Glad I’m doing this, there’s so much I’d forgotten, all the links will be here, in one place, great memory aid.

    By the way, I’d asked the alto seller if he ever got forgetful about values, when filling in the Customs Form, and his muted response (naturally…) was favourable, it’s usually something like “You realise I can only insure it for the declared value ?” – so I may not get hit a lot for VAT/tax on the alto. Quite right, when I’m saving old junk from being made into a lamp, or nailed to a wall 🙂

    However, I don’t think I can do the same with the soprano seller, the downside is that a parcel can only be insured for it’s declared value. I’m hoping that the Lyon & Healy soprano is a Conn stencil, like this Conn PanAm Bb from Cybersax – obviously different finish and engraving. Not easy to tell from the pics, but I have high hopes, and my nose is twitching. The Bb Sop has been repadded, seller says it plays, and unless it’s an after-market lacquer, then it could be a gold finish – Lyon & Healy 20’s finishes usually went from brass to silver to gold…. How do I know it’s 20’s ? Because just under the (normally also just 20’s Conn) thumb-ring, I can see the forked Eb cup, also a 20’s feature. Fingers crossed !

  4. al says:

    Ah – the alto has just shown up on the Parcelforce tracking system…

    The status of the parcel you’ve enquired about is displayed below.
    Parcel number: CP332168561US
    Service: Parcelforce 48
    Status: Advised
    Last tracked at ..

    And now Parcelforce shows more info –
    Date Time Location Tracking Event
    19-10-2007 04:10 CAPE ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS) Left origin country
    17-10-2007 04:10 Delivery Agent – UNITED STATES AMERICA Collected from customer

    So, that “advised” status means that the UK tracking system is aware that there is something heading this way, recently despatched… Unusual for it not to have shown up on the USPS system yet, as the computers talk to each other (almost makes them sound human…) Doesn’t exactly confirm that it’s my parcel, but the fact that something with the label (Customs) number given to me by the seller, has been posted very recently is a promising sign – and the ‘Parcelforce 48’ equates to USPS Air Parcel, which is how it’s been sent, although the tariff is now called something flashier, same service, higher price…

    And… – the alto package is now showing on the USPS Track & Trace, funny it wasn’t scanned/recorded at the local pickup. I always feel happier when I see something like “Your item was accepted at 12:11 pm on December 21, 2005 in SEMINOLE, FL 33772” – just an example from another purchase. Maybe the hand-held scanner didn’t send the info back ? Technology, great when it works !

    Label/Receipt Number: CP33 2168 561U S
    Status: International Dispatch
    Your item left the United States from SAN FRANCISCO at 4:10 AM on October 19, 2007. Information, if available, is updated every evening.

    That ties in with being posted in Sparks / Reno, Nevada – San Francisco is the normal USPS departure point for there. Looking good. Oh well, the alto will be in the ‘airport shuffle black hole’ now until at least Monday. I can relax and await developments on the soprano front, it’s going to be a slow process.

  5. ukebert says:

    Any news Alan?

  6. al says:

    Yes, sorry, half-term distracted me, plus been dog-sitting for the last few days, hyper-active Lakeland Terrier (George) just gone – and his replacement, chilled Lab just arrived (Holly) – so now I can get back to the keyboard without seemingly never-ending “Feed Me !” or “Walk Me !” or “Play with Me !” (followed by “Snuggle Me – I’m really insecure …”) – Holly, the lab, thankfully just takes life in her stride. Great to hear her and Ace snoring in stereo !

    Anyway – Alto vanished into a black hole over the weekend, only to reappear on Tuesday, with a new EC602006339GB ‘UK’ tracking number, and an “Expected delivery date: 25-10-2007“.

    So true to form, at 08:28 on the 24th there was a Parcelforce sounding rat-tat-tat on the door, a day early, and there it was ! No charges to pay. I can’t believe the idiots who call the service “ParcelFARCE” – I’ve never, ever, had a problem – except for early delivery !

    Parcel number: EC602006339GB
    Status: Delivered
    Signed for by: A TUCKER
    Parcel tracks
    Date Time Location Tracking Event
    24-10-2007 08:28 Bournemouth Depot Parcel delivered
    24-10-2007 02:49 Bournemouth Depot Arrived at delivery depot
    23-10-2007 18:06 National Hub Sorted in hub
    23-10-2007 12:10 International Hub En route to delivery depot
    23-10-2007 11:50 International Hub Arrived in destination country
    19-10-2007 04:10 CAPE ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS) Left origin country
    17-10-2007 04:10 Delivery Agent – UNITED STATES AMERICA Collected from customer

    As good as the pics. Almost plays, nice sax, I’ll earmark a few hours next week to do a quick fix so I can at least doodle a-while.

    = = = = =

    The Soprano ? I’ll probably never hear from the seller again – still hassling for a shipping cost after a week, but getting no answers to either ebay messages or direct emails. Just have a sinking feeling… About ready to unleash the hounds of ebay onto the seller.
    (to be continued, maybe…)

  7. al says:

    Ah – the soprano ! I just got a message from the seller – “when are you going to pay for what you bought?“. My answer ? “I’ve been waiting a week for you to tell me how much to pay for shipping to the UK…..” Bloody hell !

    The sellers answer to that ? “ok The owner is not here right now but I will tell you later today or tommorow is that ok with you.” – touch of deja-vu there, that’s what the seller said last week………… Sigh, bloody sigh, bloody sigh…… It’s getting to me ! Only good thing is that they’ve now sold a couple of other things and got good feedback.

  8. ukebert says:

    Hmm, eBay, you can’t beat it, eh? Glad to see the Alto’s good anyway 🙂 Post some pics up when you have time.

  9. al says:

    Yes, here’s hoping the Soprano comes right. I may just take to emailing/messaging the seller every day. I just (mildly) threatened to put a payment thro’ with just the $25 US shipping, if they won’t give me a quote for the UK.

    I don’t think I can take any better pics of the alto than the ebay listing – but I’m intent on producing a load of sound samples from all the saxes etc. – so this may be the first. If I’m not careful I could end up playing Bb & Eb’s more than C’s… But then, each has it’s place.

  10. al says:

    Ah – just heard from the soprano seller, who originally said “yes~ We Will ship to UK “. Now seems, since I won the auction, he/she has had a change of mind, the latest, after waiting over a week for shipping costs to the UK (which I never got…), instead getting “when are you going to pay for what you bought? ” emails – is “sorry ! we can not ship to uk thanks“. (responses are exactly as received, obviously lacking on typing skills…)

    Hmmm… Possibly one reed short of a box, methinks… I do have a ‘Plan B‘ – but is it really worth the effort ?

    So, Plan B is now in operation. That fine gentleman, and fellow contributor to forums, Bruce Bailey, offered his help as an intermediary a while back – if ever I happened on an ebay seller who wouldn’t ship to the UK. Bruce is based in Florida. So I’ll run my ‘Plan B’ past the seller… Only possible objection now could be that Florida is not my confirmed Paypal address – as I said, I have a suspicion that they may want to try listing it again for more.

  11. ukebert says:

    Hmm, so they are just going to leave it there than?

  12. al says:

    Owen, you’ve no idea how uncommunicative they are…. I’m tempted to just put payment thro’, with Bruce’s Florida address – but if it still stalled it’d be a right rigmarole to get the dosh back. I sometimes feel like I’m speaking to someone from another planet, as the ‘ebayer’ isn’t the actual seller, and things get relayed back and forth, losing more than a little in the translation each time… The saga has the makings of a movie, “Men in Black III ”

    The Soprano is very good value and, I think, well worth the effort, but this is by far and away the ‘hardest work’ seller I’ve ever had to deal with on ebay, as both dorsetdriftwood and cmelodysax-uk (formerly cornish-tinminer). One day I will probably read this and laugh, or will I ?

  13. ukebert says:

    reminds me a little of my experience buying my Conn (good condition with no usable pads…). The seller took about 2 weeks to post it off, and didn’t answer emails at all in that time other than to confirm what payment options he wanted (none of which I knoew about of course: I do now). Still not as bad as yours though…

  14. carla says:

    Oi, what do you mean about George (my Lakeland !) being hyper-active? More like hyper-hyper-hyper-active! He’s never tried to disassemble one of your saxes though so lets be grateful for small mercies…….

  15. ukebert says:

    It took me a while to realise that that post was referring to the dog… 😉

  16. al says:

    Owen, I was just editing it to say that… Carla is my daughter, George is her dog. Somehow I can’t see George using an instrument screwdriver to dismantle my sax, when he has superb “demolition derby” teeth….. Lovely little chap though, compact size, BIG character – this is him (in front, with the funky bandana), probably showing one of his mates how to locate buried bones – the dog book talks about his breed having a “severe disposition…”

    Soprano seller isn’t responding to my emails now 😦 I’m thinking of cutting my losses (none, up to now) – if I bid on another vintage soprano, I may pay more, but then I could send of couple of hundred quid into a black hole on this one… If the seller is this lackadaisical (good word !), think what the quality of packing, or even getting Bruce’s address right, could turn out to be.

    Only bad thing (well, one of them) about ebay is that if I leave (deserved) bad feedback for the seller – there’s then nothing to stop the seller doing the (undeserved) same for me. Grrrr….

  17. ukebert says:

    Yes, you can post a followup, but it wouldn’t be nice too have less than 100%…

    You could try contacting eBay central (if there is such a place :S)

  18. al says:

    Yes, there is a useful ‘chat’ facility – I might try that. Very useful when someone hi-jacked my identity, and also when a host of Chinese sellers copied my ebay action listing & photo’s. Scary when two other people are selling the same item on ebay, same pics, same serial number, cheaper price tho’ 🙂

  19. ukebert says:

    Hmm, scary indeed…

    Well, good luck with it Alan.

  20. al says:

    Well, I’m just contemplating phoning the soprano seller (allegedly it’s only 10p a minute off-peak…), but I keep asking myself – “Can I really be bothered ?”

    (to be continued) So anyway, I phoned, and spoke to someone called ‘Brian’, who is the ‘Office Manager’, and who said “The owner is not here right now, and I can’t make a decision like that…..” He did offer to take my number and call back, but then I guess he wouldn’t, they probably don’t call outside of the US, like they don’t ship outside the US ! (cynical, me ?)

    Second call produced a similar “owner not here right now..“, so email and ebay message sent with mostly words of one syllable. I impressed on the “I can’t make that decision” man that he should pass my message on, and read his bloody emails ! No response by the end of the week means I will risk getting bad feedback by leaving bad feedback for the owner.

    Ebay is useless, unless the owner emails me saying “I don’t want to sell to you” (so he’s going to do that ?) there isn’t a lot they can do. Except continue to take money off everyone, as they now also own Paypal, obviously…

  21. al says:

    Ah well, the soprano is a ‘gonner’, at least I didn’t part with any money, so, in theory, nothing lost.

    Merits a separate posting, won’t achieve a lot, but someone may ‘Google’ the (non)seller and pick it up.

    I’ll mention it here as well, Google may pick it up twice !

    Benjamin Lee – musicmakernc – who trades as Music Maker 200 West Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28203 (704) 372-1880 😦 An ebay seller to avoid !

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