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Problem with ebay buying
Message #1 Posted by Thibaut on 16 June 2000, 2:39 p.m.


I just received a 42S I bought on ebay. It was safely packed, but my suprise went when I could not turn the caclulator on. After several attemps, it finally turned on, but all the left keys (including + - * /, ...) didn't and still don't work.

All around the calculator there is evidence it has been tried to open it with a device such as a screwdriver, most probably unsuccessfully.

I immediatly sent an email to the seller, gently explaining the situation. He aggressively replied it was working when he shipped it. I have several HP's for a long time, and I'm sure this problem has not just appeared like that. Besides, the wears on the side are to my opinion evidences it did not work at a certian time and was attempted to get opened.

I wanted to solve this case smoothly and gently, but apparently the seller is of bad faith. When I crote him I got 2 other 42's, meaning I know them, he answered that "to him I wanted to swap one of my bad calculator's with his".

This is my first bad experience with ebay, with something like 20 transactions, in addition to all the transactions I've already done with hpmuseum. Has anyone already had bad experiences with ebay ? Can anyone advise me ? should I leave feedback ?

Of course copy of our correspondance is available to anyone who wishes to read it before giving advice.

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #2 Posted by Daniel Diggelman on 16 June 2000, 3:36 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut


I'm living in Switzerland and have started bidding on the US eBay a bit more than a month ago. In this time I have done 10 transactions. I think that eBay is very professional. But of course there are generally riscs in auctions. As an international bidder it's even harder to get some confidence in this kind of business. But I was impressed by payments using VISA on and BillPoint. Most of the HP41/71/75 stuff I bought was of good quality. But just this week I received a HP41CX in unacceptable condition for which I paid quite a bit. There also were a few keys which didn't work at all. But I was lucky that the seller will return the money. The problem was that the seller didn't know about HP calcs. So usually I try to clear everything before bidding. A few points of interest before bidding on HP stuff:

1. Is the seller the original purchaser? 2. Condition rating out of 10 3. Serial # (age, material is clearly identified, no discussions about swapping stuff) 4. Functional condition 5. Were has the material served before?

My calculator originally belonged to a surveyor in Arizona -the rest of the story you can imagine... (Sand allover) My impression is that auctions by non-collectors have an advantage and a disadvantage. Prices can be lower, because the stuff is useless to them; there could be interesting modules in a calc they even don't know of and don't mention; but of course the judgement in cosmetic and functional condition can be very different from what you expect. Hope this is of some help.

Cheers Daniel

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #3 Posted by Thibaut on 16 June 2000, 3:49 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by Daniel Diggelman

Well to answer your questions :

- I don't know wether he's the original purchaser. As he is a merchant, I guess no, but he seems to know bits of functionning of the calc. - condition : 4/10, I thought it was 7 on the picture, but there are these famous attempts on the side of opening with a screw driver (I am sure as the hots on plastic board are asymetrical, with means twisting of a 5mm long deive) - S/N is celarly present, though I'm sure the seller did not note it. But the scratches around the display are well visible on the picture, which makes no doubt - functionnal condition : EXIT (ON) key is very difficult, all left keys (WEQ, TAN, <-, /, *, -, +) do not work. Passes self test except for keyboard - the material wes definitely served before.

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #4 Posted by Daniel Diggelman on 16 June 2000, 4:18 p.m.,
in response to message #3 by Thibaut

Hi Thibaut,

Sorry, I didn't clearly express myself. It's obvious that your machine isn't good. The questions I stated were meant to be asked to future sellers. There will always be some risc. But e.g. I asked one time a seller whether the multimeter on the picture was the one he's selling. Because I have noticed that a few days earlier exactly the same photo was in an other auction. The seller just replied unfriendly: 'no international bidders'. So for me it was rather suspicious. Not everybody does have a digital camera and may use use a similar picture. But then it must be clearly described as such. In your case I'd try to get help via eBay. And of course I'd send them the correspondence. eBay respond very quickly. Once I saw a software bug on a page. Just as constructive critisism I wrote them. 2 hours later I got a personal e-mail with good comments. Next day it was repaired and I also got a survey form to state whether their service was helpful. So I was quite impressed. I alwys had the feeling that the whole thing was driven by a only a handful people. But I don't think this would be possible.

I wish you best of luck returning the HP42S !

Cheers Daniel

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #5 Posted by Gary K. on 19 June 2000, 9:47 a.m.,
in response to message #4 by Daniel Diggelman


Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #6 Posted by Daniel Diggelman on 19 June 2000, 10:05 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by Gary K.

Sorry I didn't want to point out that the calc came from Arizona. But it belonged to a surveyor which it didn't know until after the auction. On construction sites the calcs are out in the rain, sand or dust and in Arizona also temperatures of 110 deg F. This was a bad experience because I forgot to ask where the calc was used before. The good part of the story is that the seller from Arizona was friendly and honest and refunded the money :)

Cheers Daniel

The special 1%
Message #7 Posted by Ebayer on 19 June 2000, 1:05 a.m.,
in response to message #2 by Daniel Diggelman

What I find to be the biggest problem with Ebay, is the 1% of collectors who show absolutely no consideration to other collectors by continally "sniping" to get what they want. Say what you will, it's not smart or strategic bidding, it's just outright selfish and inconsiderate. Thankfully, 99% of the collectors don't fall into this category

Re: The special 1%
Message #8 Posted by Viktor Toth on 19 June 2000, 3:05 a.m.,
in response to message #7 by Ebayer

This is an interesting issue. I don't know why others do it, but despite the fact that I hate sniping myself, I have to admit guilt... yes, I did it, and will probably do it again.

Why? For two reasons, actually, both of which lead to the same result: if I use a proxy bid, I almost always lose.

First, with my purchase record, it seems that no matter how high a proxy bid I submit, as long as it's not a totally insane amount, someone will always come by thinking, if this clown believes the item is worth X dollars, it's surely worth X+1...

Second, sniping appears to be the only defense against other snipers.

The bottom line is that while sniping may be viewed as uncivilized behavior (no argument there) proxy bidding helps only drive up the price; it will not win you that coveted item. At least that has been my eBay experience.

Now of course if all of us MoHPC visitors could work it out in advance among ourselves instead of bidding against each other on eBay, things would be different...


Re: The special 1%
Message #9 Posted by Daniel Diggelman on 19 June 2000, 5:14 a.m.,
in response to message #7 by Ebayer

As you have posted just below me, I understand you count me to the 'special 1%'. First of all I like to apologize if I may have caused you hassle with my bidding. As I have posted before I'm rather new to eBay and still in the learning curve. As Viktor states I have sniped exactly for the same reasons. When I started on eBay I have been sniped a few times. But then I contacted the sniper and he explained his strategy. I was quite surprised that he responded openly. Now I know this eBayer and won't battle him. I think we can freely talk to eachother which is also true for this forum. I don't even use a nickname on eBay - I don't see why I should do. So if the anonymous eBayer who wrote the above post would come out I will be fair with on eBay. I think as a gentleman one should at least show up on the bidder list well before end of auction. I ecan expect to be overbid or sniped by everybody on the bidder list. But there's no point to enter a high limit using the proxy bidding system as this only drives up the price. I'm actually not the typical collector as I'm only looking for few things out of the 41/71/75 series hpcalcs. And I'm still using them in measurement applications rather than exposing them in a show case. In my opinion a true collector of all series has time to collect and doesn't want to pay much as there are many items involved in such a collection. In contrary I want the calcs now and I'm prepared to pay a bit more for them as I won't do this many times. I think a collector would rather try to trade directly with other hp collectors. On the other hand one can meet really nice persons on eBay and do good business with them outside of the auctions. So for me all in all eBay was a good experience. All depends on an open and honest communication. I'm always prepared to get constructive critisism.

Cheers Daniel Diggelmann

Re: The special 1%
Message #10 Posted by Ebayer on 19 June 2000, 6:44 a.m.,
in response to message #9 by Daniel Diggelman

My apologies. I did in no way mean to insinuate that you were one of the snipers. I only placed my remarks here for convenience.

I, too found that most collectors are very cooperative when approached about the bidding on ebay. As the calculator collecting community is a small one, most collectors know each other and are very friendly and helpful.

Still, there is that 1% that only care about themselves, even when they may have 3 or 4 of the very same items already in their collection. And couple of the worst offenders have even bragged about getting special "sniping" software to use against fellow collectors.

Re: The special 1%
Message #11 Posted by Reinhard Hawel on 19 June 2000, 7:28 a.m.,
in response to message #10 by Ebayer

These guys seem to get rather poor in a short time and quit ebay (at least the calculator sections) - I've watched this sometimes.

Re: The special 1%
Message #12 Posted by Carlos Tolossa on 20 June 2000, 2:48 a.m.,
in response to message #9 by Daniel Diggelman

Fascinating topic, I am including my self in the other 99% but, as the other friends have mentioned before, most of the times sniping is the only way the get what I'm looking for. My apologies. However, banning snipping will drive all HP-CALCS prices even higher. Don't you think?

Re: The special 1%
Message #13 Posted by Michael Hyche on 21 June 2000, 11:12 a.m.,
in response to message #12 by Carlos Tolossa

I don't think that prices would be driven higher in the absence of sniping. When I see an item of interest I always need to remind myself that eventually that item will appear again. The one thing I've noticed with ebay is the tendency for very rare pieces to come out of the closet, so to speak, once one sells for $200+. The size of the trading community is larger than one would assume, and quite a few people, especially non collectors monitor the HP calc listings on a routine basis. I think people who are bidding on "rare" items have this idea that they will never see one again. This ultimately benefits the seller. Recall the recently sold navigation module. Two people, with apparently deep pockets, drove the price up beyond reason. I expected to get no more than $30-$40 for that application pac. I am pleased as a seller obviously, but a bit dismayed as a buyer. If everyone who bid chose a reasonable maximum and stuck to it, calc/accessory prices would be reasonable. Unfortunately, someone, many years ago, realized that auctioning a desirable item would cause this behavior in interested parties. Look at the world of fine art, if those paintings were $XXXX"obo" even Van Goghs wouldn't sell for such spectacular prices. This is the reason we have e-bay instead of e-classifieds.

Re: The special 1%
Message #14 Posted by Viktor T. Toth on 21 June 2000, 11:44 a.m.,
in response to message #13 by Michael Hyche

Well, if everyone submitted just one bid and stuck to it, we'd of course have reasonable prices on eBay, but unfortunately that's not how auctions work. That sounds more like an MFSBO ad here at the MoHPC classifieds.

The point is that auctions give buyers an opportunity to raise their bids in response to bids from others. Obviously, the more opportunities there are to raise those bids, the higher the bids will be. Therefore, for a buyer the best strategy is to not bid until the last minute. I think we might even be able to use one of these fabulous HP programmables to model the statistics of online bidding :-)


Re: The special 1%
Message #15 Posted by Michael Hyche on 21 June 2000, 12:17 p.m.,
in response to message #14 by Viktor T. Toth

I am guilty of sniping as well (apologies to vrollinger re the HP 97 manual), but I hate my self when I do it, because usually I end up paying more than I would like. I understand your point BUT The point that I was making is that when one wants an item, one has an idea what one would like to pay. If everyone sticks to their maximum, you might win or you might not and odds are that you will have a chance to buy it at your price in the future. I think that when you do end up sniping 75% of the time you pay more that what you had wanted to. I think that people just get too caught up in the excitement of the auction. Hence prices are what they are, and I think everyone agrees that ebay prices are outrageous. When my seller hat is on, great, but I think that ultimately it is not good for collectors. Look at the response that Thibaut's post has generated - this has obviously struck a chord amongst us.

I had a 42S at one point in time, it was stolen, and I've been trying to replace it now for about a year. I will not pay more than $100. I can only dream that someday I will be able to do that. If everyone stuck to what they would like to pay for a given item, it might be possible.

Re: The special 1%
Message #16 Posted by Viktor Toth on 21 June 2000, 9:21 p.m.,
in response to message #15 by Michael Hyche


I understand what you're saying but eBay's 'everyone' contains a lot of folks who do NOT know the value of an item and don't stick to a set maximum. Rather, they use the bids of other folks as a guide; they conclude that whatever the other chap bid must be reasonable and therefore, a dollar more must also be reasonable. In other words, they get 'caught up in the excitement' as you say. In this case the problem is not with sniping per se, but with listening to your adrenaline instead of reason! The worst of course is when two inexperienced eBayers start bidding against each other... that's how you end up with a $60 TI-58C for instance.

You pay more when you snipe only if you bid more than you think the item is worth. I bid what I think the item is worth, but I don't do it a day or more in advance, only to let an inexperienced eBayer outbid me. (Experienced eBayers are another matter; they will outbid me whether they snipe or not, if they think the item is worth more than I think it is worth!) If my last minute bid is insufficient I don't bid again; I let the item go. Even if it's something I've been looking for for a long time, another one will surely come one day... and who knows, sometimes I do get lucky and find a rare old machine in a thrift store or pawn shop for $1.99! (Or how does a mint HP-28C with mint manuals for $6 at a garage sale sound to you?)


PS: I did get an absolutely mint HP-42S on eBay for barely over $100 last fall. The whole thing, including the manuals, looked like they came straight out of the box! I've been treating this machine with the proper care and respect ever since.

Re: The special 1%
Message #17 Posted by Thibaut on 19 June 2000, 5:49 a.m.,
in response to message #7 by Ebayer

Well, I agree with you, but ebay is so organized that if you want an item, there is no other way than sniping....

I've sold a few items, and most of the bids arrived less than a hour before the closing time. This is the way it works, and one has to cope with it if one wants an item.

Personnally, I always list my items here before listing them on ebay : I prefer that people here get a chance of purchasing a good quality item, well described, at the correct price; as I've already appreciated buying items from people here.

The other strategy is to contact a bidder that you know, and tell him "OK, we are both bidding on 2 same items. Which one do you prefer ?". generally, this is only advantage to both bidders as they won't outbid each other and artificially increase the price - all benefit for the seller.

Re: The special 1%
Message #18 Posted by Steve on 19 June 2000, 7:10 p.m.,
in response to message #17 by Thibaut

Sniping = bidding at the last minute (or second)?

Yep, I do it all the time.

And don't blame me, blame ebay.

If you go to a regular auction, the hammer doesn't fall at (say) 60 seconds after the bidding opens, it falls when the bidding stops.

On ebay, it is to the buyers advantage to bid as late as possible, to try to prevent other bidders from being able to place their bid. It turns out more like tender than an auction at times.

I have contacted ebay and suggested that auctions end at the time specified, or 5 minutes after the last bid, whichever is later. Strangly, I got no response. (Apparantly they have HP directors on their board :-)

However some other on-line auction sites DO use just this method. As a person who bids at the last minute, I see this as a way of reducung the benefit of this tactic to me, but also the advantage to sellers and other bidders alike.

Re: The special 1%
Message #19 Posted by Peter on 20 June 2000, 12:05 p.m.,
in response to message #18 by Steve

It's true, the chance to win an auction without bidding late is very low. I know, because I am from Germany, and most ebay auctions end in the evening pacific time, which is very early in the morning here. If I realy want an item, I have to bid at 4:00 AM lokal time, for example, nothing to do every day for me. But if I bid the usual ebay price plus some $ the day before, I was nearly always outbid. I tried to get a HP-42S five times now, and was always outbid by some $. Now I practice like Daniel, bidding a moderate amount early, and place a last bid at the end. I think this is fair, as another collector could contact me if he/she wants to bid higher, everyone can see I am bidding on this item. If I want to bid, and the current high bidder is a collector I know, I ask him how to handle this, and who will go higher, so one of us will stop bidding.

And there are some bidders (I will not name them, everyone who does ebay on a regular base knows them) who pay nearly any price, not only on some special items, but on a wide range. One is selling now what he bought some month ago, there was nearly no chance to bid higher when he was buying all this stuff. This drives the prices up.

Re: The special 1%
Message #20 Posted by Thibaut on 20 June 2000, 3:44 p.m.,
in response to message #19 by Peter

After all, the system is so, that the best offering guy wins.

Now, unless I definitely want an item at any price, have educated myself not to be sorry for having been outbidded. Otherwise you would loose a lot of money for something very interesting but not so much worth the money.

If you bid on 100 items with a limited price, you'l get 2 of 3 of them at an interesting price, which, to my opinion, makes collecting funny. I don't want to show this mint 16C that I bought for USD 400... it's nonsense.

Re: The special 1%
Message #21 Posted by Peter on 20 June 2000, 12:18 p.m.,
in response to message #18 by Steve

additional note: I am "lowlimit" on ebay, so everybody is invited to practice cooperative bidding. As far as I have seen, most of the regular ebayers are writing to this forum.

Steve, Your hint about ending the auction some time after the last bid would definitely cure sniping, but it has two major disadvantages, I know because some german auction sites work this way: first, auctions can take some hours to end. Two weeks ago, a friend of mine was bidding on a Toshiba notebook, which had an auction end of 10:00 PM, and he stopped bidding 3:00 early in the morning, and the auction was still running. Second, this makes it easy for the seller to bid on the item to drive the price up with a second account. This happened to me on .

Re: The special 1%
Message #22 Posted by John H Meyers on 27 June 2000, 5:39 a.m.,
in response to message #18 by Steve

A real auction is not a submission of single sealed bids, and then waiting around to find out who won -- that's the "bidding for a contract" model, not the "bidding at an auction" model.

The former case is not helped by "auction fever," while the latter case thrives on auction fever -- at least for two of the parties (seller and auction house), while not exactly so for bidders.

Bidding on an auction is not just a buyer estimating an object's worth and dropping off a leisurely bid in a sealed envelope -- it is bidding *against* other buyers, *seeing* the amounts that they are bidding (at least as of their most recent bid), and strategizing accordingly.

If I were limited to placing just one bid per item, surely I would bid *lower* than I might be willing to go if I could watch other bidders instead, for otherwise, other unsuccessful bidders could just push up my cost to almost my maximum amount, just by bidding nearly up to the one "over generous" bid which I might have to make if I could not start lower and raise it at my discretion later on.

To make a "maximum" bid further in advance also limits my options to decide between other alternatives which might come on the market meanwhile, as well as adjusting my budget according to what other items it turns out that I have meanwhile purchased. It's an "options closer" to commit to a higher bid any earlier than necessary, so anyone who wants to keep shopping around might well take this approach, just like the careful comparison shopper who looks for new sales every day.

By seeing what level bidding has reached, I can decide late in the auction whether I want to try to bid at all, and I can try raising the bid by a small amount at a time, instead of by a wider margin in one single bid (which is what will happen, very suddenly, if our two automated proxies suddenly take off against each other).

If another party has instructed a proxy to go right on up to a higher limit, then my bid is unsuccessful, and just pushes his price upwards, instead of it being the other way around, and sometimes I would much prefer to be the "pusher" than the "pushee" !

As has been pointed out by others, keeping one's own bid low, or even letting oneself be outbid earlier on, keeps one's desire for that item from being so telegraphed to others (by watching *my* bid keep rising, in response to someone else's small increments) that they will push the final bid way up, which is, like it or not, just another part of the auction game.

If someone does have "bidding software" to make rapid-fire bids, then surely (s)he has to instruct that software on the maximum to bid -- in which case, that software is nothing but an alternative "proxy," which you can have eBay do on your behalf anyway, so what more good does it do, except to just control the timing, like one of those games of taking sticks from a pile, trying to make the other one lose by taking (or letting you take) the last stick.


I had not bid on anything at any auction for a long time; then a wish for an HP17BII (to actually use, not just to collect!) came to me, and soon I had one -- on which I had outbid the previous guy by 50 cents, and paid $23.25 to the seller. It wasn't beautiful (initials badly hand-carved into faceplate), but otherwise it's in fine shape (sans manual, but I don't care).

I'm not bidding very high on anything, but to get what little I did want, at lesser price, I had to watch carefully, stay up late, and bid just enough! The other guy could have done just the same, of course, but it was his choice not to stick around and watch the auction, just as it's been my misfortune not to have the persistence to regularly scour thrift shops, and thus I lose those *real* buys to sharp and "sneaky" operators like you, who keep just beating me to them!


It would seem beneficial for any auction house (including eBay) to take instead the suggestion to say, as at a live auction, "Any more bids? All through? All done?" (i.e. wait a specified interval after the last bid before pounding down the gavel), since that would keep the prices (and commissions) rising, as long as a sufficient "bid increment" prevents this from becoming too agonizing an ordeal to wait for its end.

But heck, I just visited some on-line auctions by Sotheby's, and they seem to be using the exact same model as eBay -- counting down the exact days, hours, minutes and seconds to when each auction ends!

Why don't we suggest to them that they try this even in their live auctions -- wouldn't it be fun to see what would happen if a Van Gogh were to be sold to the last bidder to hit a button before the "flag" on a sort of "chess clock" dropped? My, that would enliven the stodgy old place, wouldn't it?

Maybe "scheduled auctions" would be better for eBay -- post your item for advance viewing, pay eBay for a "time slot" according to how "prime time" the slot is, and then have all bids come in over a shorter interval. Any takers for this idea? Well, maybe that's how it works anyway, since any "early bids" mean nothing, and people only really come in to bid seriously at the end anyway.

"All roads lead to Rome," it would appear.


Re: The special 1%
Message #23 Posted by Reinhard Hawel on 19 June 2000, 7:22 a.m.,
in response to message #7 by Ebayer

I agree with Victors and Daniels posts. There's simply no other way, than sniping other peoples bids (not other people :-) ). Besides collecting HP calcs I occasionally bid on other equipment, mostly test equipment and it's always the same. Living in Europe, I sometimes have to stay up until 3 a.m. to get what I want.

I try not to bid against people I know.

Ah yes, Victor, you bid on a defunct HP-35 on German eBay. Do you need the battery door? I could also use a display driver and/or 5 digit LED display. Or do you want to repair this piece?

There are some crazy guys, driving the prices higher and higher even for some non-spectacular pieces. Is there a big deal in selling or buying HP calcs now?

Re: The special 1%
Message #24 Posted by Viktor Toth on 20 June 2000, 3:17 p.m.,
in response to message #23 by Reinhard Hawel


That HP-35 has already arrived at a friend's address in Germany, and he says it's in fairly good shape. So I'd like to see if it's salvageable first, but if it isn't, I'll contact you and let you know if any of the parts are useful.


Re: The special 1%
Message #25 Posted by John Robinson on 19 June 2000, 7:22 p.m.,
in response to message #7 by Ebayer

What is sniping ?, can someone please explain. Thanks John

Re: The special 1%
Message #26 Posted by Kevin FitzGerrell on 20 June 2000, 1:24 a.m.,
in response to message #25 by John Robinson

John, Sniping is the placing of a bid on an item at the last minute, or second, to try to avoid giving the current high bidder time to bid back. Kevin ak-fitz on eBay

Re: The special 1%
Message #27 Posted by Wayne Brown on 21 June 2000, 12:42 a.m.,
in response to message #7 by Ebayer

I have to confess to sniping on occasion too. While I can see why sellers might not like it, I don't understand why bidders would object. Suppose you and I both want to bid on an item. The opening bid is $20. I decide the absolute maximum I'm willing to pay is $75. So I bid $75 and the price goes to $20. You come along and bid $100. The price goes to $75.50 and I'm out of the auction. It doesn't matter whether I bid on the first day or in the last ten seconds of the last day. You're still going to outbid me, because your maximum is higher. On the other hand, if my maximum is $125 I'm going to outbid you, no matter when the bid is placed. The problem is that some people's "maximum" isn't really their top bid. They keep inching it up by a few dollars at a time. Several times I've been the top bidder with a price far below my maximum, then seen the price keep rising until it stopped just short of my maximum. I win the auction, but pay top price for it. Often the bid history shows that one or two bidders have made half a dozen bids or more. If I had sniped that same auction, there wouldn't have been time to make all those incremental bids and I would have gotten the item at a much lower price. So sniping only affects those bidders who bid in small increments. If you bid your true maximum, and it's greater than mine, then you'll win, whether I snipe or not.

For this reason, if an item is expensive and I really want it, I'll usually snipe. If the price is likely to remain moderate and/or I'm only moderately interested, I'll bid a day or two before the end of the auction. Either way, I'll try to set the true maximum I'm willing to pay on the first bid and only rarely will raise it with a second bid.

The point I'm trying to make is that I don't think sniping helps me win more auctions. It just helps keep the prices lower on the ones I do win. (It also removes the temptation to go above the maximum I've set for myself, because if I'm outbid there isn't time for me to bid again.)

And by the way, I'm not a collector. Nearly all the calculator stuff (mostly HP-41 related items) that I get from eBay or elsewhere is used on a daily basis.

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #28 Posted by Todd Garabedian on 16 June 2000, 4:04 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut

For what it's worth, I've generally had good experiences on eBay. Occasionally, however, I've purchased and received something that is really below my expectations, generally because it was misdescribed in the ad (seller's fault), or I was careless and didn't read the ad carefully (my fault). The old adage "Buyer Beware" really applies to eBay items, and even more so to (old) electronic items like calculators!

If I see an item I really want, I read the ad carefully and send an email to the seller asking questions about the item (e.g., how's the battery compartment?, does the unit have any scratches, dings, dents, engravings, etc.?, is he willing to refund my money if the unit doesn't work, etc.). Most sellers are forthcoming with accurate descriptions of their goods, but you should keep in mind what is "good condition" to one person, may be total trash to you! If the ad says "sold as is", I'm even more cautious because you'll have little recourse if something isn't to your liking. Also, keep in mind that descriptions don't give you an idea of how the keys feel, how bright the display is, etc. Subjective descriptions are a big problem of buying remotely.

So, you have to do some homework when shopping on ebay, and don't be too surprised when some items don't meet your expectations. Once I received a non-working 33E set that was advertised as "mint in box". I complained to the seller, and we amicably worked out a solution that amounted to a partial refund of the purchase price (about 20%). Perhaps you could negotiate the same?

Good Luck


Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #29 Posted by Thibaut on 16 June 2000, 4:16 p.m.,
in response to message #28 by Todd Garabedian

I totally agree with you, and often act as you do.

Once I had a cassette drive that was not working in a lot of things I bought on ebay, the guy wanted to sell me money, I asked 75% he proposed and everybody was happy.

here, the guy just says "it worked when I shipped it", and I received a very safely packaged calculator that is not working. I know a bit of HP calcs, and I'm pretty sure he knew that, furthermore with all the attempts on opening the calculator that means that some days it did not work as it was supposed to.

I've left many proposals, but he reufuses them without any discussion... so I'm afraid I have no choice and go to ebay, unless someone has a good idea for me.

Bad HP42S, ebay... just another option?
Message #30 Posted by Andrés C. Rodríguez on 16 June 2000, 6:16 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut

You may assume that a refund is a difficult and possible closed way, even a costly one if you have to pay for shipping, etc. so ...

An option for you may be to check if HP is still servicing HP42S (time is almost over for this...). If service is available, you may send your bad HP42 plus some U$S 70, and receive a new, never used before HP42S as a replacement unit. It will even have a very current serial number, and will probably be built in Indonesia.

I send my HP42S last year to the USA, with some display problems, I had no trouble in getting a new one back. You can see some threads here at this Forum about this option.

Note I am not suggesting anything in favor of the original seller, it is just this may be a more realistic option from a practical point of view. This is not a fairness or value judgement in any manner about ebay, the seller, etc.

Re: Bad HP42S, ebay... just another option?
Message #31 Posted by Thibaut on 19 June 2000, 7:03 a.m.,
in response to message #30 by Andrés C. Rodríguez

I've just contacted an HP dealer, and the price is a bit more than USD 120.

I left a message to the seller, and asked him to share the costs (in fact I don't ask for replacement for a new one, I just complain it's not working). If he doesn't , I'll post negative feedback.

Re: Bad HP42S, ebay... just another option?
Message #32 Posted by Kevin FitzGerrell on 20 June 2000, 1:32 a.m.,
in response to message #31 by Thibaut

That sounds like a good idea. If you feel fraud was involved, remember that eBay has an insurance program on it's transactions. If the item was not as described (if you are reasonably sure it was not working as described before shipping) I would initiate the fraud report proceedings. I try hard to work things out with a seller/buyer before I leave bad feedback. I hate the idea of posting negative feedback for three reasons: 1) it is irrevocable, 2) it is tough to reason with someone when you have just tarnished their eBay feedback record, 3) in spite of eBay's policy on it, the seller is reasonably likely to leave negative feedback on your account if you leave it on his.

It may be a blessing in disguise!
Message #33 Posted by matt on 16 June 2000, 7:16 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut

First of all, I'm sorry about the problems you've experienced. But there might be some good news. My story didn't turn out as good as yours (at least you got the calculator).

My worst experience at Ebay was to lose out on an auction, only to get a Email from the seller indicating the high bidder backed out and I could buy the item for the high bid price. After I sent the money, I didn't receive the item... EVER. I later found the seller had two user names and the "high" bidder was actually the same person as the seller (there is a name for this kind of fraud). By setting a VERY high bid, nobody could outbid the "high" bidder/seller(same person). For an item that the second place bidder REALLY wanted, it had the effect of artificially driving the closing bid very high (just as the seller intended). Then, of course, the second place bidder receives the "good fortune" of getting the opportunity to buy the item because the high bidder backed out. After sending the money and several Emails asking where the item was, the seller stopped responding at all. I'm STILL mad about it! MORAL: Always check and investigate the User Feedback (both the seller and the higher bidder).

By the way, the item WAS NOT an HP calculator. I'd like to think us HP nuts are an honest group (I know the majority are).

Luckily, I kept all my Email correspondences and sent them to Ebay and filed a fraud claim. After a month, I received a partial reimbursement(less the money I sent the thief for shipping and a service fee that Ebay required).

Back to your calculator situation Thibaut, if I were you, and you can find about $70 to $90US laying around, I'd get that 42S in the mail to an HP Service Center today (after HP tells you where to mail it)! When they contact you and tell you it cannot be repaired, HP will generally offer to replace it for $70 to $90, and you may end up with a brand new 42S! You lucky guy! But hurry, this year (maybe July) is the last opportunity to get one, as it will be the fifth year of the discontinuation of the great 42S.

Good luck, Matt

ps. Anyone have a broken 42S for sale?

Bas ebay seller
Message #34 Posted by Thibaut on 17 June 2000, 1:09 a.m.,
in response to message #33 by matt

Thanks a lot ! I hope that HP still services HP42S this ay. I'll check and hope. I am ready to pay 70 or 90 bucks for having a new one, which makes the deal up to 210 - 230 $.

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #35 Posted by Viktor Toth on 17 June 2000, 3:09 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut

Was it item #347675305 by any chance? Machine looks a bit worn in the picture, but certainly no indication of major damage, and then there's the manual and all that... Glad I didn't try to outbid you! :-)


Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #36 Posted by Thibaut on 17 June 2000, 4:17 a.m.,
in response to message #35 by Viktor Toth

Yes, it is this item.

Actually, the calculator is in worse condition than the pictures shos. The scracthes are thanks to digital image a bit erased. I've borrowed the numeric camera from my office and will make pictures of it.

On the sides, between the 2 plastic parts (front and back), there are at lest 20 marks of attemps of opening by a screw driver, very obviously. The seller did "forget" to mention that and says about it ". THIS ITEM IS WORKING & HAS A FULL OWNERS MANUAL WITH IT ,THIS IS AS IS ... HAVE FUN & GOOD LUCK " So you see there is no indication on cosmetical aspect (I don't blame him for the marks of openin by a screwdriver, I should have asked him before), I just say that it is not working.

The lesson is : never bid on a "sold as is" item, it often hides the truth and covers the seller for non information. The second lesson is that if you are dealing with a crook, you have no way to backup.

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #37 Posted by Viktor Toth on 17 June 2000, 1:15 p.m.,
in response to message #36 by Thibaut

Yes, I had a bad experience recently also, when I bid on a vintage Commodore manual on Yahoo! Auctions and what I got instead was a useless photocopy. The seller had the audacity to accuse me of wanting the return the item after I made my own copies, and he blamed me for not asking in advance if the item is an original.

A crook is a crook is a crook. At least, in my case it was only a 5 dollar purchase.


Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #38 Posted by Michael Portuesi on 17 June 2000, 1:17 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut

You have another option if HP will not repair/replace your 42s. Here's a quote from one of the articles over in the "Articles" section of this website (I think it's called "Pioneer Internals":

For the time being, 42S fanatics should recognize that one way to insure the longevity of their calculator is to buy a HP-17BII and tuck it away somewhere for future spare parts (especially its display). Also, keep in mind that, until something like August, 2000 or so, HP may still service (replace!) the HP-42S - it cost me $69.00 the last time I took advantage of this option.

The author of this piece goes on to say he took the circuit board out of a 42s and transplanted it into a 17BII case. A similar trick might work for you.

Good luck, and thanks for convincing me never to use eBay.

(remove the x's in my email address to send reply)

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #39 Posted by Thibaut on 17 June 2000, 2:05 p.m.,
in response to message #38 by Michael Portuesi

Thanks for the trick !

I'll call HP Monday 1st thing morning

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #40 Posted by Viktor Toth on 18 June 2000, 6:52 a.m.,
in response to message #38 by Michael Portuesi


In defense of eBay (not that they need my help) I don't think that you should react to a single bad experience by promising to never use their service. For one thing, eBay is merely a conduit; it's not eBay that's bad, but specific sellers. (In other words, avoiding eBay is a bit like giving up using money because someone once defrauded you in a transaction that used money as the medium of exchange.) For another, I think that I'm not alone with my experience, namely that most eBay sellers of vintage calculators are an honest bunch. (Not only did I almost always receive the goods in the expected condition, more than once when I complained about a flaw that was undisclosed, the seller offerred a partial or full refund.)

My only real complaint about eBay is that it appears to be a sellers' market; sometimes, prices reach near insanity levels there!


Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #41 Posted by Michael Portuesi on 18 June 2000, 10:08 p.m.,
in response to message #40 by Viktor Toth


Perhaps I am being a bit extreme in ruling out eBay entirely. In the "dark ages" of the internet, before there was a world wide web, I had been defrauded by more than one person who I had made deals with through email, sent cash, and received nothing in return. So, in a sense, it's not eBay that's causing the problem. Perhaps if eBay could serve as an escrow agent to make sure people don't get defrauded - but eBay doesn't want the hassle and the expense involved.

On the other hand, I recently purchased a 48G from one of the classifieds here at the HPMOC, and I felt a lot more secure about it than I would have from eBay.

So, I won't rule out eBay altogether, though I tend to view them as an avenue of last resort.

(remove the x's in the email address to send reply)

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #42 Posted by Carlos Tolossa on 18 June 2000, 1:58 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut



Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #43 Posted by Thibaut on 18 June 2000, 3:27 a.m.,
in response to message #42 by Carlos Tolossa


I've seen both your names on ebay, as far as I can remember I outbid you onced and you also outbid me once :-)

Nice to meet you here !

Well, first of all, I'm going to see wether I can get a brand new one from HP with the 70 bucks service. In that case, I'll propose him to share the cost : even if he cheated me, he should not pay the exchange price for a brand new one.

I am waiting for his answer on my last maail; he aggressively rejected all I said, even accusing me swapping machines (I own 2 other 42's) and wnting me to let him bear all the costs...

Of course, if he does not accept, he'll win his first red feedback. I already told him that if we don't get to a gentlemen's agreement, he'll get negative feedback, his sole anser was to say that in that case I'd get negative feedback too... Which I don't care because it will be obvious that this would be a mere revenge for the negative feedback I'd posted.

Thanks all of you anyway.

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #44 Posted by Reinhard Hawel on 18 June 2000, 3:42 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut

You might have a problem receiving emails on your hotmail account. I tried to send you an email concerning our transaction (HP-IL module), but the server rejected it with:

Reason: Requested mail action aborted: exceeded storage allocation

some hours ago. Might be, the seller sends you email too and you can't get it now.

BTW: I need your address and shipping costs. I'll try to send you my email again today.

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #45 Posted by Steve Dimond on 18 June 2000, 5:39 a.m.,
in response to message #44 by Reinhard Hawel

I've had the same trouble trying to write to you.

I hope your friendly eBay seller isn't "bombing" your mailbox (I forget what the term is).


Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #46 Posted by Thibaut on 18 June 2000, 6:04 a.m.,
in response to message #45 by Steve Dimond

See my answer to reinhard.


Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #47 Posted by thibaut on 18 June 2000, 6:03 a.m.,
in response to message #44 by Reinhard Hawel

I received a message that my account size was too large, but I emptied all my folders. Otherwise try

Best regards,


Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #48 Posted by Michael Hyche on 19 June 2000, 11:04 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut

I just wanted to comment from a sellers perspective. I've been selling HP Calc. products on eBay for about 5 months now (ebay handle: mhyche), and I could not be happier with the "quality" of buyers. This group of collectors is a top notch group of individuals - very honest and accommodating in the case of an item that doesn't live up to expectations. The only problem that I ever had (it should be noted that the problem was ultimately my fault) was not completely describing an item that I had for auction. I gave the buyer consideration for the omission and now we communicate on a regular basis (he happens to be a regular contributor to this forum). I am a seller that is a bit out of the ordinary however, I also have a limited collection of HP calculators that I would like to add to. I just happen to be in an area that has abundant NOS HP items - I didn't need 5 NIB 16Cs for instance. My advice to buyers is to verify that the description thoroughly lists all that the lot contains. Furthermore, check the sellers other auctions, if they have three or four pages of other auctions in progress, you can usually be sure that they are not knowledgeable about their product but happened to find an HP at a surplus auction or estate sale, etc. These products are the ones that I hesitate bidding on - especially if the photos are very low quality. Other than that, I have had great fun and have purchased a great number of items that exceeded my expectations. It is wonderful to actually win an auction that was under described. Keep the faith, there are quite a few honest sellers out there. Cheers!

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #49 Posted by Bill Duncan on 19 June 2000, 12:59 p.m.,
in response to message #48 by Michael Hyche

I'd like to point out that Michael is one of the truly honest and thoughtful sellers on eBay, and I highly recommend any of his auctions.

I'd also like to say that I've bought about ten items from different people on eBay and everyone with the exception of one person has been very honest and I've been very happy with the transactions.

The one transaction that was less than expected wasn't all that bad either. (The item was described as "New", and "seller to pay shipping". The item was actually used but in good shape, and the seller made me pay $10 S&H for $5 postage. Nevertheless, the item arrived in good shape at a reasonable price.)

All in all, I'm happy that there is a facility like eBay. Just do your homework on checking out the seller and ask questions about the items you're interested in. Maybe I've been lucky, but I've been very pleased with everything so far. I'd say that probably most sellers are, like Michael, honest and interested in having satisfied customers.

Re: Problem with ebay buying
Message #50 Posted by Thibaut on 21 June 2000, 10:32 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Thibaut

Now, I haven't received any answer yet form this guy, as I told him I will inform all the hpmuseum community about is aciotn.

The auction on ebay was ##347675305 His ID is (it is his e-mail btw)

So be most careful should you bid on an item he is listing.

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