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Importing to Europe
by Bo Stahlbrandt

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Shopping for pearls
Before placing the bid
  After placing the bid

Let's talk buying in the US of A. eBay has a lot of Nikon stuff on sale. Mostly it's over 1.000 items(!) You can find lots of lenses there, mainly older ones, but also lots of new stuff. Camera bodies are also plentiful (as I checked today, May 21st 1999, there were four F5's and six F100's, all in excellent condition for sale).

The Huefinger Heimattage. Click for 800 x 600 picture.
Children parading in folklore clothing on the "Heimattage" in our little city Huefingen/Germany 1995.
Nikon F-401, AF Nikkor 35-70 cheapo-zoom on Agfa Ultra ISO 50.

Most sellers starts with a redicilously low price, such as 1 USD or 9,90 USD or so. They then hope that lots of people will bid on their goods (and people do - you can easily find goods with bids from over one hundred individuals). The price rapidly increases and you will very likely never be able to get, let's say a fully functional F90X for something like 200 USD (that would be a bargain!).

The sellers are often companies (even if eBay is supposedly a "private-to-private" auction) and they dump a lot of their used stuff on eBay. I'm not sure if what they sell sometimes might be "grey market" equipment, but I guess so. AFAI understood it, "grey market" means "not through normal sales/distribution channels". This doesn't equal to illegal stuff. Most sellers seems serious to me. There are crooks out there though. If you feel insecure, check out the neighbor to neighbor area at Philip Greenspun's photo.net, where a lot of sellers and buyers are listed with comments from other individuals (mainly praises, but also beware comments).

These are a couple of the things I look at when buying at eBay

1. Is the price interesting? See the price calculation scheme below. If it's not, I don't need to bother about this item.

2. Is the seller willing to ship to Europe? Some folks don't want to sell their stuff outside of the USA.

3. What kind of rating does the seller has? (they are rated by former buyers). I would be a bit wary about someone selling expensive equipment with no history record available. Most sellers have a huge rating record though.

4. How is the feedback on this seller? (the buyers sends feedback on the sellers).

5. Is a picture provided? I like pictures of the items I am about to buy. It's a plus if there are close up shots of items so one might be able to detect dents and scratches etc.

6. If there's anything I want to know about the item which isn't described, I send the seller a short e-mail with the questions before placing any bid.

Placing the bid

If the item looks good after the above evaluation, I might place a bid - if I am seriously interested in it. I normally don't place a bid much higher than the current maximum bid. This means that I can get a screen telling me that I'm outbid directly after placing it. This is because many people have their "robots" or "agents" automatically increasing their bids for them.

If I'm outbid - and if I'm not too emotional about the whole affair - I rethink the whole thing before placing a new bid. It's easy to end up bidding on stuff which is no more interesting - compared to the prices here in Europe.

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