In the last year, I have traded a lot of photography goods. Very infrequently have I run into any issues whatsoever- almost never in fact. Usually, items are at least as good as described and packed very well for shipment. However, 2 of my most recent dealings have me thinking this may not be worth the small savings after-all, especially for lenses.
The first was a very expensive, out of production lens that was faulty in a trade. The seller did not know about the issue and has been great and we've been working it out, but I've lost a couple of months using any lens of that type while helping the seller find a suitable repair facility. The experience with the seller has been great, but the deal has been wearing on both of us.
The most recent is a lens that is in beautiful condition from appearance but upon receipt has an inordinate amount of debris on the inside of the lens (large dust particles and fibers). I mean a lot! I told the seller it looked like a petri dish! ha. I was hoping it was superficial, but it was very apparent in my test photo's. I'm talking a 1/8" dark spot for the worst case example, but many spots of various sizes throughout the frame. The seller claimed that he told me prior to the sale that it had some dust which is normal for the age of the lens and I agreed, but what I saw was not normal from my experience. He confessed he did not think they would show up on the photo's.
Now, mind you, I did not ask for a refund and I never intended to. I told the seller that I was going to go ahead and send the lens to Canon to be cleaned and that I didn't feel the lens would give me satisfactory results as it is. I'm doing this on my own dime without a fuss. However, I wanted to make it a point to tell him that a great majority of the buyers would have balked and asked for a refund. I simply asked that he be more diligent in his dealings here. I have come to trust trading with others here and explained that this is a community of some kinship with photography as the common bond. I wanted him to acknowledge the issue of diligence so that none of you have a similar experience with him in the future. I spoke with him on the phone prior to the sale and he seemed like a very cool guy and I still believe that he is. However, his response to me expressed a total lack of responsibility in the matter and this 'over the fence' mentality has got me thinking that no matter how diligent I am in making sure a transaction is a good one, there's always bound to be conflicts now and then.
Since 'minty' lenses are regularly going for 80-90% of new prices on the used market, I am now seriously wondering whether this is worth the risk anymore. Up to now, it's been great trading and finding just the right setup suited to me without losing a lot of money in the process, but the simple fact is: we all have different expectations of condition and value and just one or two transactions like this can make you weary and leery in a hurry.
I just sold 3 lenses myself. Now I'm holding my breath while the buyers are waiting for them to arrive...