Collectors often turn to eBay for New Old Stock (NOS) parts and accessories to keep their collectibles in working condition. You can't necessarily walk into a store today and buy replacement parts for antique and vintage cars, radios, cameras, bicycles, and the like.
New Old Stock often come in their original boxes, which is often part of their appeal to collectors.
A reader alerted me to a thread on the eBay discussion boards where a seller ran into a problem when he or she sold three NOS factory-sealed audio tubes. The seller described the items carefully and said they didn't know the specific model or their performance.
The buyer claimed one was not working and wanted a refund for over one-third of the lot's selling price (over $1400), or else they would return all of them and file a claim.
How eBay handles these kinds of cases is crucial to its role as a source of hard-to-find items. If sellers can't sell rare NOS items on an "as is" basis, they might not continue to sell on eBay.
It's easy to see both sides of a transaction like this. Buyers can be desperate for parts and be willing to take the risk a 50-year-old part may not work - especially if the seller has been meticulous in their description and specified no returns. No one forces buyers to purchase items that fully lay out the risks in the descriptions.
On the other hand, there are bound to be some unscrupulous sellers who sell NOS they know to be not in working condition but leave it up to the buyer to find out.
I'm curious what readers think. I haven't read through the entire thread, but the reader pointed to page 11 of the thread
, post #205 where an eBay moderator wrote the following:
"Hey everyone, I just wanted to step in and clarify that while we do expect the buyer return the item they receive in the condition they received it, exceptions would be made for testing purposes. The item is still covered for first time use.
"As for listing an item stating it is untested or as-is, it is up to the seller to review their products in full detail and describe them fully to the buyer. A seller cannot claim they were simply unaware of an issue and be absolved of responsibility. In the situation described here, the best course of action is to work with the buyer and consider the partial refund they are requesting. If eBay were asked to step in, we would most likely authorize the return at the seller's cost for a full refund."
Does eBay's approach to this situation come as a surprise? And given the fact a buyer can turn to PayPal to file a claim, is it surprising anyone still sells expensive, factory-sealed NOS on eBay? What are the alternatives?