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Old 04-12-11, 09:37 AM   #1
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Dealing with Un Educated Seller who has lots of bikes

Just need to vent and get some feedback on a frustrating bike buying experience

Yesterday... guy calls me say he has about 20 bikes 8 being road bikes he wants to sell. I go take a look make him a fair offer to take six of them... then he started hemming and hawing about how he didn't know what they were worth but thought they were worth more. I told him they would be worth more once cleaned, tuned, and fixed but that would take time and money. He has no experience fixing or riding bikes and has no clue about value...

He showed me a NOS Tommasso frame and told me it was a carbon fiber frame that sold for over 2,000... It was clearly a steel frame... very nice but if you can't tell carbon from steel... what are you doing selling bikes... and he though I was trying to rip him offer on the frame. I almost wanted to have him get a magnet.


In the end he wanted me to come back later after he did some research and check how he was doing selling off the barn load of bike he bought from a farmer. He's got more bikes to pickup from the barn plus load of parts and tools... so I want to stay in his good graces but it was 30 min drive to go look at some bikes that in the end he didn't want to sell?

He reluctantly sold me two bikes and a frame for a fair price but in the end I think I pissed him off by telling him the truth and giving him my honest opinion on value.


70% of what he had was junk. He wants someone to buy the good bikes along with the crap bikes but still pay $50 to $80 for the crap.

Here is what I got

Miyata Triton... 8/10 condition with owners manual $100
Panasonic Sport LX with suntour 8/10... $100
Nishiki Prestige frame 7/10 has small dent on top tupe $20

What I didn't get but what I offered

Fuji Touring IV... 8/10 ... $100
Raleigh Sprite 70s... 6/10... $75
Centurion Accordo 8/10... $100
Trek 1000 Aluminum... 7/10 $150 to $200 same model as this one on ebay http://cgi.ebay.com/Trek-1000-61-Cm-...item1e62cbb42f

Diamond Back - Centurion Made? exage components heavey steel road bike $100

Monarch Cruiser $100... he told me this one was worth $1000... I told him I don't know much about cruisers. I'm going to check into that one more.

Were my offers out of line?

I'll post picture of the two I bought.

Half of me wants to do business with this guy again if he has more road bikes an parts but half of me does want to deal with him.
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Old 04-12-11, 09:40 AM   #2
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if you wanna get in his good graces go there with a laptop and start looking up prices together.


IMHO if you had to pay $100 for a Panasonic Sport there's no way you're gonna walk with a Fuji Touring or a Centurion Accordo for $100
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Old 04-12-11, 09:51 AM   #3
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You get to deal with this in our hobby all the time. Just walk away if the deals aren't good.

The junk sellers have found there is some value in old bikes, so they've started buying them. Often they seriously mis-appraise them, missing dents and other damage, getting models wrong and confused, and so on. You just have to move on.

I attend a local auction some times, and I get asked a lot of questions about the bikes there by various junk re-sellers. They miss some ridiculous defects (like dents thru top tubes, etc) and because of smart phones, do web searches which give them dangerously incomplete information. They'll ask me about bikes (because they know I'm the one individual there who knows exactly what he's looking at). In the past, I've shared information, but now I just tell them "If you don't know what it is, don't bid on it."

When selling, these folks usually inflate the value of bikes ridiculously. It's best to just walk away. No point getting mad about it-- a good deal will materialize eventually.
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Old 04-12-11, 10:08 AM   #4
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if you wanna get in his good graces go there with a laptop and start looking up prices together.


IMHO if you had to pay $100 for a Panasonic Sport there's no way you're gonna walk with a Fuji Touring or a Centurion Accordo for $100
Mid 80s and prior, an Accordo is no better than a Panansonic Sport. $100 is too much for either one, unless they have already been fixed up and cleaned.
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Old 04-12-11, 10:12 AM   #5
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The panasonic and miyata were the cleanest bike he had... just need a tune up. I actually like the panasonic... nice bright red great paint... suntour ARX. I should be still able to flip these for a $50 profit maybe a little more. I live in a college town and kids need commuter bikes under $200 like they need beer.

This guy doesn't want to put any time or effort into fixing the bikes or selling them to an end user... so I don't think he has many option or can be choosy about who he sells to. He's been selling bikes to a local used bike shop... he likes that because they take the good with the bad... but I can't imagine they are giving him more that what I offered.

I'm going to take the two bikes I got and try and sell them to the same shop and see what they offer just to test the waters. What I realy want to do is check out his parts and wheels. We will see if he call me again.
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Old 04-12-11, 10:19 AM   #6
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Yeah, there was a bike on ebay a while back, and I put a snipe on it that would have bought it for $175, which was about the maximum it was worth. But then the owner took it to a bike shop were some fool told him it was worth $600 to a serious collector. So the would-be seller raised the minimum bid and never sold it. No use crying....
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Old 04-12-11, 10:22 AM   #7
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I wouldn't waste my time, but I'm also not in a position where I rely on deals for my rent. Like others have said, people watching Pickers start thinking they have gold and don't understand the time it takes (and cost) to make bikes like this flippable. Those aren't deals I'd consider attractive enough to spend time on with a doofus.

Those Tomasso's are confusing because they look pretty, they sound high end...but they're not.
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Old 04-12-11, 10:25 AM   #8
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When I'm dealing with someone like this, I've got no problem with telling him, "The bike you're offering me, once it's cleaned up, new tyres and chain, and everything regreased and adjusted will sell for $125.00. I'll put in roughly 20 hours to get the bike that way. Which means, my total purchase budget for bike and parts is $62.50. A chain's going to cost me $5.00, tyres will be between $10 and $12 each. Which means I've got roughly $37.50 left to purchase your bike."

A few come around when hit like that, most (of course) will, "fix up the bike themselves' and get the whole $125.00". It all depends on whether I'm dealing with someone who can pick up a couple of bucks for something they were going to toss out anyway, or, someone who really believes they've got Sutter's Mill in the back of that pickup.
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Old 04-12-11, 10:41 AM   #9
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Uhmmm......So what happned to the Tommasso??
No need for magnets, I would have tapped on the frame st the downtube near the BB and let him hear it ring then offer him a "fair" price.

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Old 04-12-11, 10:43 AM   #10
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You get to deal with this in our hobby all the time. Just walk away if the deals aren't good.

The junk sellers have found there is some value in old bikes, so they've started buying them. Often they seriously mis-appraise them, missing dents and other damage, getting models wrong and confused, and so on. You just have to move on.

I attend a local auction some times, and I get asked a lot of questions about the bikes there by various junk re-sellers. They miss some ridiculous defects (like dents thru top tubes, etc) and because of smart phones, do web searches which give them dangerously incomplete information. They'll ask me about bikes (because they know I'm the one individual there who knows exactly what he's looking at). In the past, I've shared information, but now I just tell them "If you don't know what it is, don't bid on it."

When selling, these folks usually inflate the value of bikes ridiculously. It's best to just walk away. No point getting mad about it-- a good deal will materialize eventually.
Very good advice! I frequently see sellers justifying absurd prices with an edge-case eBay auction closing price. I've even seen a few thrift shops print out a page from a similar auction, conveniently ignoring the differences that led to the high price.

There's an MB-4 on craigslist right now for $450, and the seller points out that an MB-1 closed on eBay for $600+. Another seller with dollar signs in his eyes has been posting a $600 "Porsche" MTB several times a week for nearly a year now.
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Old 04-12-11, 10:50 AM   #11
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The local Bicycle Co-op, which gets all of their bicycles free as donations, looks up what something is worth on ebay and asks for the same number. Regardless of description, differences, condition, etc. They don't factor in ebay fees, and shipping. The person who usually does the ebay search wouldn't know a Tomasso from a Tomassini.

The result - they have a HUGE area stuffed with bikes and parts they'll never get rid of. They're running out of space.

People are nuts, and I try to avoid these types and focus on the ones who understand the market.
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Old 04-12-11, 10:58 AM   #12
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Very good advice! I frequently see sellers justifying absurd prices with an edge-case eBay auction closing price. I've even seen a few thrift shops print out a page from a similar auction, conveniently ignoring the differences that led to the high price.

There's an MB-4 on craigslist right now for $450, and the seller points out that an MB-1 closed on eBay for $600+. Another seller with dollar signs in his eyes has been posting a $600 "Porsche" MTB several times a week for nearly a year now.
The ones that kill me are the Craigslist ones, where someone has printed out a CL listing with an insane price for a similar bike. I don't explain the difference between an asking and a getting price. I've seen this a couple of times at Yard Sales.

Or the seller who had a Trek 330 and told me one had sold on the bay for a thousand. Yeah, right. Maybe some other model Trek. Or the Celeste Bianchi (asian made) that had a dent thru the top tube, and the seller insisted I could just saw that portion out and weld in a new one. Of course, he wanted more than the bike would have been worth in pristine condition. In every case, I walked away with some nice words.

Oddly, I've found that the sellers who actually know what they have often give quite reasonable prices. They seem high to those who don't know, but ain't.

In a lot of ways, hunting for bikes was easier in the pre-internet, pre- smart phone, pre Craigslist days.

When I'm faced with large scale delusion, it is so much easier to walk away than to argue.
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Old 04-12-11, 10:59 AM   #13
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I tried educating him a bit about what it takes to restore and tune a bike he said he understood its all economics... but I would ask what he wanted for his bikes... he would say I don't know... I just don't want to get thrown under the bus.

As for the Tommaso... I did exactly that I taped on the frame and said this is steel... I was going to offer him $100 for the frame but didn't bother... he said he is going to have the shop he's been selling bikes to build it for him if he provides the parts. Its a 50cm frame and the guy was about 5'11".

I just need to let it go... maybe he will come to his sense and call me next week or maybe he will sell all his bike to the shop that will repair them poorly and sell them for way to much.
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Old 04-12-11, 11:10 AM   #14
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Sometimes timing is crucial with un educated sellers. I went to a few garage sales that had bikes listed in the CL ad. Figured I would show up early before the good stuff was sold. The seller wants $300 for the dirty, in need of tires, etc Trek 400 since according to seller it would be worth a lot more on ebay. You can't talk sense into him and not worth trying.
It probably sold for $25 at the end of the day since he did not want to drag it back in the house. Right place, right time. I gave up on garage sales in my area.
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Old 04-12-11, 11:11 AM   #15
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I'd double the offer on the Fuji Touring IV...
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Old 04-12-11, 11:16 AM   #16
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Go back with a friend and a video camera. Tell the guy you're being filmed for a reality show similar to American Pickers. People act stupid in front of cameras (or out of character, so maybe he'll become more sensible). It just may work.
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Old 04-12-11, 11:32 AM   #17
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+1 video camera... ha... I like that idea.

What I really want is him to take me to the barn where he is getting all this stuff... apparently from a rich farmer who used to collect and restore bikes as a business / hobby but is now too old. I wish I had his connection.

I may try and work out a consignment deal with him... since he wants to maximize his profits but not actually do anything. Bikes are a hot item in my area so... its hard to get good deals and when there are deals to be had they are gone in seconds. For every bike shop in town... and I think we have 10 there are probably another 10 garage bike shops.
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Old 04-12-11, 11:34 AM   #18
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When I'm faced with large scale delusion, it is so much easier to walk away than to argue.
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Old 04-12-11, 11:37 AM   #19
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Hope springs eternal. People don't know the difference between retail and wholesale prices, or how much labor goes into a restoration to get a bike to the point where those prices they saw actually start to kick in. Often they overlook all the flaws, different models, and missing parts and equate their bike with the ones that are worth so much more. And people see something listed on ebay or craigslist and think that an asking price = selling price. Oftentimes those asking prices are just as unreasonable as what the bozo you are talking to is asking.

Like I said, Hope springs Eternal. All you can do is walk away. I don't like going to those: I've got 20 bikes I want to sell ads. Either they are hoarders with unreasonable expectations about what they have, or its all stolen property I just don't want to deal with that.
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Old 04-12-11, 11:38 AM   #20
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There is/was a guy locally who had a warehouse full of stuff including 40-50 bikes in a marginal neighborhood. I could never get a price out of him. It's like if he gives a price and I say okay then he figures he could have got more. As it ended he got nothing.

About the only thing one could do, if they have the funds, is to figure out what bikes you want at the most you'd pay for those, total those up, then take the total and divide it by the who lot including the junkers, then make him a one-time offer on all of it - take it or leave it. If he takes it then dump off the junk for $5 each.

But, yeah, sometimes the hassle ain't worth it.

Side story on auctions:
A few years ago there was an estate auction of several estates which included a lot of books. In most of the boxes there were a couple of books I wanted. There was also a re-seller in the audience. Every time I bid she'd bid more. After about five boxes I thought ("let the games begin"). Every box of books I'd bid on against her up to around $20, which is the most I wanted to get stuck at. If she had just let me have one box I would have been out and she could have got the rest for about $5/box. But, noooo, she wanted all of them, and wound up paying at least four times what she could have got them at, there were about 30-40 boxes of books. At the same auction I noticed someone else giving another bidder the same treatment on costume jewelry, the jewelry jumper wound up paying about eight times more than she would have if she just would have let others have some too (faund that out from the under-bidder after the auction). The auctioneers were happy though.
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Old 04-12-11, 12:30 PM   #21
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There is/was a guy locally who had a warehouse full of stuff including 40-50 bikes in a marginal neighborhood. I could never get a price out of him. It's like if he gives a price and I say okay then he figures he could have got more. As it ended he got nothing........
You might have said "OK" with his first price too quickly. Always deal it down, even if it already a good deal. Seller is always suspicious when a buyer jumps at his price....

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Old 04-12-11, 12:46 PM   #22
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But he never stated any prices... I asked repeatedly but he just wanted to know what I wanted to pay... and it was not quick I spent about 40 min negotiating and trying to reason with the guy.
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Old 04-12-11, 12:59 PM   #23
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Your offers were more than fair. Too high IMHO given the source and circumstances. I'd walk away if I'm dealing with the ignorant and unreasonable. As long as you know what its street value is, that's the basis to work from.
I've walked away from nasty and rude sellers that I've been civil to and pointed out obvious flaws with their offerings. One got defensive and cursed and thought it was a seller's market. (Partly due to the fixie craze at the time)

Focus your effort towards investigating where/who this source of bikes is. Cut this guy out of the equation.
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Old 04-12-11, 01:00 PM   #24
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He was using you to set prices. You are his source.
Wait him out, or let him try the market without your help.

When all is said and done, you've probably not got a lot to gain by spending time on him.
Once he determines a fair price, he'll treat you like you never helped.
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Old 04-12-11, 01:06 PM   #25
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Walk away. With no stated prices, there is no intent to sell or negotiate. Life is to short to have to beg people for items THEY said were for sale..........
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