Safe Buying Tips
(920 total words in this text)
How can I avoid getting ripped-off when buying vinyl on the net?
Answer to Frequently Asked Question: How can I avoid getting ripped off when
buying vinyl on the net? -- made possible by the contributions of the
following rec.music.collecting.vinyl contributors:
email@example.com (Tim at BackTrac Records)
doowoplvr@HUB.ofthe.Net (Paula, Oldie But a Goodie)
VinylOnly@aol.com (Fred Walker)
firstname.lastname@example.org (John Hall)
email@example.com (Norm Katuna)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Randy Darrrah)
email@example.com (Tomi Kause)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Steven Szep)
email@example.com (Susan Murray)
We hear too often accounts of unsuspecting buyers being taken for $100s by
unscrupulous individuals posing as dealers. If you follow the suggestions
below, your chances of getting ripped off will be greatly reduced.
- Before buying from someone who represents themselves as a record dealer, ask for references -- and check them! This is the most effective safeguard
- Ask for opinions from the readership of rec.music.marketplace.vinyl and/or
rec.music.collecting.vinyl of the dealer you are considering doing business
with. Does the dealer come through with good products in a reasonable amount
of time after payment is received? Are the records packaged and shipped with
- Check the dealer's return policy and make sure that you may return damaged
or misgraded product within a reasonable amount of time. Don't expect a
dealer to accept returns weeks after the fact or accept returns simply
because you don't like the record you ordered. The buyer has a resposibility
to do his/her homework.
- Dealers who regularly post are a safer bet than those who simply lurk and
respond to WTB (Want to Buy) advertisements. If you are posting WTBs for
pricey LPs or memorabilia, be particularly careful of lurkers.
- If you are the least uncertain about a dealer's authenticity, get their
phone number and speak to them. If the record in question is expensive, ask
the dealer to play it on the phone for you. Trust your "truth-meter"!
- Pay by credit card if possible. You have recourse with your credit card
company if you are defrauded. Remember, however, some smaller dealers do not
accept credit cards, and that fact does not imply they are dishonest. Just
be sure to follow 1 through 5 above. Checks are easier to trace than money
orders, and it is worth the extra wait (usually a business week) for the
check to clear. Tracing a money order can be difficult.
- Dealers who have permanent web pages or space provided by "malls," are a
safer bet than those who don't. Setting up shop on the net indicates a
degree of permanance and commitment.
- ALWAYS send checks and money orders using the postal system, rather than
Federal Express or UPS overnight. You have recourse with the postal
inspector using the USPS; otherwise, you have none. And never fall into the
trap of using someone else's FedEx shipper number to send funds. If you are
in a hurry, then use Express Mail or pay by credit card. Most credit card
transactions clear within 48 business hours. If a substantial sum is
involved, spend the extra $2 plus change and send the payment "certified
mail, return receipt requested." If you are outside of the US, please check
with your postal service for details on your country's laws covering postal
fraud. It is beyond the scope of this FAQ to cover every country's postal
- If you still have some doubts, ask that your package be shipped COD,
either with UPS (preferrable) or the USPS. Don't expect the dealer, however,
to pay the COD charges.
- While there are many reputable dealers using America OnLine (aol.com),
AOL makes it very easy for anyone to hide behind "screen names," and it is
almost impossible to uncover the identity of an AOL user.
"Starshoppe@aol.com" is a known scam artist.
After your've done your homework and feel confident you are doing buisiness
with a reputable dealer, then you need to ensure your package arrives safely.
Final caveat: There's really no recourse against dealers who have not come
through with a "bootleg" record. (The use of the term 'bootleg' implies a
record which would be illegal to sell in the country of origin because of
copyright infringement or other reasons.)
- Always buy insurance when using the postal service. This small investment
(usually $0.75) is prudent. Don't assume the dealer will automatically mail
with insurance. Always specificy insured mail.
- You can avoid the "I shipped it!" claim from a dealer (who may or may not
have done so) with a request for shipping with a "merchandise receipt" from
the postal service. The dealer will receive a card back from the post office
with a signature indicating who received the package. This extra protection
costs $1.20 and can be used with international orders also. Alternatively,
you can have your package shipped UPS groundtrac. This option includes $100
of insurance and the ability to track the package. Expect to pay $5-$6 in
shipping charges per order for these extras within the US. Most dealers will
ship international orders with the USPS as UPS simply cannot compete in
- Make sure your packages are being shipped in appropriate sized mailers
with pads. Mailers are a cost of doing business and a professional dealer
would never dream of not using one. 78 rpm records must be shipped with
additional protection in the form of shredded paper, styrofoam peanuts or
other packaging material. Air-popped popcorn makes a cheap and
enviromentally-friendly stuffing between bundles of 78s!
By following the sage advice outlined above, your risk of being ripped off
when buying vinyl on the internet will be greatly reduced. Thanks to all of
the regular contributors to r.m.c.v. whose ideas have made this FAQ possible.
Copyright 1996 Susan Murray. This FAQ may be freely distributed without
modification. Additions, corrections and comments may be sent to