« on: January 01, 2012, 04:14:47 PM »
This is TMI, but here goes, anyway:
Over the years I have bought hundreds of items on eBay with very few and only minor problems. But, I've never bought a used lens through eBay and will explain why.
But first, it's probably good to make sure you understand a few things about used equipment.
Canon sells refurbished equipment through their refurbished store. Adorama and B&H also offer refurbished equipment as well as used. Refurbished from Canon and usually from Adorama and B&H means it has been inspected and serviced by an official Canon facility. Adorama and B&H will usually state that the equipment has been refurbished by the manufacturer (Canon).
Many people, myself included, consider refurbished lenses "better than new" because they have been thoroughly inspected, cleaned and, if necessary, repaired individually. A new lens is straight off the production line and, I feel, doesn't get the individual attention of a refurbished. Nothing wrong with a new lens and they come with a full warranty, so if there are any problems they can easily be returned. Refurbished comes with a limited warranty, giving you time to inspect and test out the lens, but it won't have the full warranty of a new lens.
The availability of refurbished lenses is hit and miss. The Canon refurbished store has some lenses available at all times and other lenses only available sporadically. Some lenses never seem to show up on the Canon refurbished site.
Adorama and B&H do not have as large of an inventory of refurbished lenses on a consistent basis, but they sometimes have lenses that the Canon store does not have and often they are very good deals.
Both Adorama and B&H also sell used lenses. They rate those lenses so you know what condition they are in. Both offer a 90-Day warranty on used lenses and a 30-Day return policy.
Clearly, for used or refurbished equipment, Canon, Adorama and B&H are the safest choices.
Now, for eBay. Obviously, it is a "buyer beware" market, however they do offer some protections and dispute resolution, especially if you pay using Pay Pal (which they own).
As I said, I have bought hundreds of items through eBay over the years. I have never encountered fraud. But, I am a cautious buyer and I never purchase something for more than I want to lose. I check the seller's feedback and volume.
Most items are smaller purchases. I have bought lighting equipment (including a very good condition 580 EXII), light stands, soft boxes, accessories and lots of collectibles for another of my hobbies. The feedback system really does weed out unscrupulous dealers. But, you have to read the descriptions very carefully and make sure you know what you are buying. Before buying anything on eBay I watch the auctions for several days or weeks to see what the going price is. Unless it is an unusual or rare item, I seldom bid on the first item I spot. One thing I've learned about eBay is that almost any item you see listed will be listed again eventually (obviously not the same exact items, but another one just like it).
I am only talking about used items on eBay by the way. Over the last several years, eBay has really been taken over by professional sellers and new items. Many of these dealers sell items at a "Buy it Now" price that is often more than Adorama's or B&H's regular price.
Now, why don't I buy used lenses on eBay? Well, I have bid on them, but to be honest I don't think the prices are that good. It seems that almost every time I've bid on a used lens, the final price ends up being very close to or even above the going refurbished or used price from Adorama or B&H. To me, the relative risks of buying used from an individual demands that I get a significantly lower price. The warranty and protections offered by Adorama, B&H or Canon is worth something to me and I'm willing to pay a slight premium for those protections.
That's really what you have to ask yourself: how much risk are you willing to take? As with almost everything in life, the less risk you want to take, the more you have to pay.
This is also why I am not likely to buy off Craig's list. To me, meeting the person face-to-face offers no real protection. The most honest person in the world could sell you a bad lens because they may not even know what a bad lens is.
Okay, as I said, way too much information. But I thought sharing one perspective might be helpful.