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ebay seller premiereviolin? what u think?


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I have never been comfortable with sellers who block the IDs of their bidders. You can't get the email addresses of the bidders from eBay, so protecting the privacy of a bidder doesn't really make any sense.

There are two innocuous reasons for blocking the ID. One is to protect people who do not use sniping programs from having their interest disclosed. E.g., pknorr - it's been remarked several times in this forum that any item he bids on is worthwhile. If the fact that he's bidding were disclosed prematurely, it would likely cause him to pay a higher price or even lose the auction since other bidders would be informed that this auction is a good one. While it's possible to avoid this problem with sniping, snipes sometimes do fail for technical reasons - computer crash, Ebay changing the interface without warning, etc.

The other reason for keeping IDs private doesn't really apply to instrument auctions. Ebay provides a capatility to search by bidder. For some strange reason, there are people who would not want it known that in addition to their violin buying, they are bidding on an auction titled, "HOT ANIMAL XXX!"

Some time ago I put in a suggestion to Ebay that they allow _bidders_ to make their IDs show as "private" in the bidder list, rather than giving that control to the sellers. I think it would be a good thing to add the bidder's feedback rating to the bid history even for private auctions - I have just sent that suggestion to Ebay.

- Mike Stein

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I haven't been to this forum recently, so I am not familiar with that unfortunate bidder. It is possible that he is paying too much for being well known, but that doesn't explain why sellers block the ID. If people are actually following certain bidders, why would the sellers block the IDs? Don't you think the seller would want to get the most out of their listings? I agree with you on bidders blocking their IDs, but it's not likely to happen. eBay also benefits from high winning bids.

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I would never say that I have shills bidding on my auctions. Nor do I feel it is necessary to shill bid on eBay-its a good liquid market, and rather predictable. I always sell to the high bidder, because I want to sell the violin. If I use a shill, I cannot relist the thing and then I am stuck with it. You'd be surprised how many people recognize the occasional violin that is sold, returned and relisted.

My concern is the contrary. That my description might entice people to bid more than the violin is worth, or that they feel comfortable spending. Then it might get returned for a minor problem or simply because the buyer paid too much. It can cost me upwards of $75 to make a full refund. I try to avoid it if I can.

Shills are for sellers without the experience to buy right and the ability to sell right. When I buy a violin, I want to have a good idea of how much it will sell for. I would rather sell 5 violins a week at a small profit than hit a home run on one a month and rip someone off in the process. The network of satisfied customers is the real bonus. They grow sales organically and exponentialy. One eBay buyer turned me onto a pile of 100 violins I could buy. If I had shilled that auction and someone else bought the fiddle, I wouldn't have met him.

It all comes back in time - every stinkin bit of it.


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I'm glad to hear it Jesse - not that it all comes back at you, just that you don't use shills.

I agree with everything you've said, but I was just a bit thrown by your previous post. You're right, but I find shills distasteful on ebay. Besides, you're my ebay hero (bows with one of those flourishing french extravagant-type bows .... falls over). I vill vin vun off your auctions vun day.

Now if you'll excuse me I must reduce my snipe lead time to 3 seconds.


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>If the fact that he's bidding were disclosed prematurely, it would likely cause him to pay a higher price or even lose the auction since other bidders would be informed that this auction is a good one.

If you are a seller, would this situation be better for you i.e. potential higher price? I don't see this is a good reason for the seller to block the bidder's ID.

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I have been tempted to block bidder's ids. It is because everytime I sell something for more than several hundred dollars, my underbidders all get fraudulant second chance offers. Also, my bidders have been offered other violins from other sellers while my auction is still running. I have even had frauds contact my bidders telling them they are me and they are ending my auction early to sell to them directly-and ask that a Western Union transfer be sent to a foreign country.

The only other reasons that I can think of to "protect bidder's identities" would be if I knew two or more bidders who know each other are planning on bidding, but wouldn't bid against their buddies knowingly (I know a regular ebay seller who bids low and early on anything he is interested in-sort of like a dog marking his territory). The other reason would be to protect the identity of their shills.

The really stupid thing is that it isn't impossible to get a good price for a good violin legitimately. In fact, it is easier and more predictable.

Now, to try to fit the shoe on the other foot: When I attend a major auction like Skinner or Christies I now know many of the other buyers. Some have become friends. I often attend previews with them and we compare notes. We also agree not to bid against each other and split up our wish lists to avoid conflicts. Big dealers do the same thing on high priced items and often wind up as partners. In effect, this is reverse shill bidding. By agreement, we contrive to reduce competition and the prices that the auction house realizes and by extension, the prices realized by the consignors. And, by the way, it isn't prohibited or illegal.


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"And, by the way, it isn't prohibited or illegal."

I wouldn't be so sure of that. State laws will vary from state to state. I have looked up New Hamphire laws regarding auctions. While it is illegal for auctioneers to use fraudulent bids to run prices up, there is nothing prohibiting bidders from colluding to hold prices down.

Federal law, which could apply when you cross the Massachusetts border to attend the Skinner and Tarisio sales, is a different matter. A number of years ago the antique trade papers reported that federal restraint-of-trade charges had been filed against bidders at antique auctions who had agreed not to bid against each other. I never heard what the outcome was. And there may be state restraint-of-trade laws regarding this practice which apply, even though the auction laws don't prohibit it.

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Hi Brad,

I was a little loose with my statement. Restraint of trade laws are often far reaching and intentionally ambiguous. If I agreed to partner with you on a valuable violin needing your expert repair, and only one of us bid at the auction, could we be in violation of federal law?

I don't compete with colleagues and friends. If I see someone I know bidding on something I want, I don't bid. If they drop out, and I am still interested, I might then bid. I do compare notes with friends, and we discuss which items we will bid on and which we will refrain from bidding on. If I know a friend has consigned an item to an auction, I will make it a point to bid on it-up to a price I feel it is worth and be glad to have it if I win the auction.

Price manipulation is identifiable in every auction I have attended. Prices are also certainly manipulated on eBay. With eBay, there is no penalty if a buyer doesn't complete a transaction, as long as the seller states that the transaction was cancelled by mutual agreement and the final value fee is refunded.


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Hi Jesse:

Thank you for all the insights, which are just invaluable. One manipulation that I haven't seen discussed here is the auction 'ring' which exists in the furniture trade but I don't know if it happens in the violin world. Several dealers agree among themselves that only one will bid on various items. Then they have a private auction among themselves later. The eventual buyer of each item pays less than he would in a genuine auction, and the members of the ring split the profit among themselves. It's highly illegal in England, and people who don't get a good price when they sell something always blame it on the ring. Have you seen this in the violin world?


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Yes, Tinalouiseharris is the high bidder on all my listings. The same bidder bid (unsuccessfully) on the American violin I sold on Tuesday. I have sent an invoice for the French violin, and I have not heard from the buyer yet. Frankly, I am concerned that it might be a prank bidder. I have had the same problem once before with a 0 feedback bidder bidding on everything I am selling and then not paying. I hope this is not the case here.

I can imagine that it looks like I have a shill bidder. I can assure you that this is NOT the case. If you look at the history of my sales (hundreds of violins), you will find NO evidence of shill bidding. I do not use shills, my business model is too successful the way it is. If you look at the hit counter at the bottom of my listings, you will see that my auctions average around 1000 hits. That is enough to insure that the market is liquid. I provide adequate information for buyers to feel comfortable with their decision and a guarantee of satisfaction. I offer a money back guarantee on most of the items I sell. I am much more concerned that a buyer might bid above what they really want to pay, and then negotiate afterwards. For my sales to stick, they have to be good values or the buyer can easily and without significant hardship, return the item for a full refund. I even refund my shipping charge.

I am hoping Tinalouiseharris is a real and genuine buyer and will follow through on the purchase(s). I am really at their mercy though. It would be unfair for me to cancel their bids until I have evidence that they are not sincere. It could take several days and a few auctions under the bridge before I will know. I will let you know what the results are.

Thank you for your interest in my auctions. Please believe me that there is absolutely no shill bidding going on and that my auctions are genuine and the items really do sell to the highest bidder without manipulation of any kind. Some people do audition a violin prior to the end of the auction. Sometimes I do know that there are interested bidders before I list an item. However, I do not know for sure if they will bid, or how much they will bid.

Thanks for your note. I wonder how many other potential buyers are turned off by Tinalouiseharris' bids and think something is fishy. There is very little I can do about it for several days.


PS I have sent you the same message in response to your email to me.

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For myself, the thought that Tinalouiseharris was a shill didn't occur to me for two reasons. Firstly, it would be way too obvious to shill on all auctions at the same time. Secondly, because of Jesse's reputation. Thirdly ...

My three reasons for not thinking Tinalouiseharris was not a shill also included Jesse's assurance that he doesn't use shills and ...

Among my many reasons were that Jesse explanations of his selling methods show that he thinks deeply enough about the process to realise that for his business model allowing auctions to proceed honestly and fairly works best for him.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.


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Thank you. If I were to use shills, I would have a ton more finesse-I hope. I know many ebayers who buy or sell violins. Many would be more than happy to bid on my items, if I only asked them to. If I used shills, my shills would appear to be genuine buyers. This bidder, Tinalouiseharris, has bid on quite a bit of violin stuff in the past few days, and has won a number of auctions from other sellers. I am in contact with the other sellers to find out if the bidder pays. This link shows the bidders recent history. http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi...s=25&sort=3

By the way, the bidder now has some feedback from another seller.


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I thought that this thread is about the questionable violin seller on eBay not about one of our members who shares his knowledge with us. Unlike premiereviolin, Jesse has not listed any questionable violins with no reserve at one dollar with deceptive descriptions. Sometimes non-reserve auctions invite more interested potential buyers than reserve auctions. His feedback record shows that he is an honest seller. I would not feel uncomfortable in bidding any one of his violins.

But then, he could be a truly evil genius... Just kidding.

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  • 5 weeks later...



You're uncomfortable bidding because the bidders' ID's are blocked?...what pertinent information do you gather from knowing who the bidders are?...you're not going to bid because you're afraid you'll become a victim of shill bidding?...me, I look at the instrument and calculate my bid mostly upon what I see....I then use a sniping program to bid for me -- shills don't affect my bid one way or the other..."This seller provides no certificate and no refund." -- most of the time neither do Tarisio nor Sotheby's nor Skinner's nor Bonham's. etc...it's an auction...you pay your money; you take a chance...maybe you win, maybe not...and you have to give "premiereviolin" some credit -- his photographs are just about the best I've ever seen; he should get a job as a freelance photogapher for luthiers.

You seem to have changed your tune relating to this statement. How do you go from praising the ground these guys walk on, and saying that luthiers should take notes from them, to being called the "deadbeat" bidder on the relisting of the very violin mentioned in this thread?

New Listing:


Listing You won:


User ID Effective Date End Date

fiddlingaroundgeorgia Sep-06-05 Present

raymanrmd123 Oct-12-04 Sep-06-05

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Originally posted by:

Now if you'll excuse me I must reduce my snipe lead time to 3 seconds.
<br /><br />Neil


Gee, 3 second lead time is too short. The auction ended before I was able to place my bid; I lost the auction without bidding...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have been reading all these posts on ebay auctions.  I wish

I would have read this a month ago.  I  am not an

impulsive person in any way shape or form! But I got

suckered into  a very expensive mistake with fineconsignments

on ebay. I bought a cello from them and boy did I get

ripped off.  what ticks me off the most, I hurried and left my

feedback plus my reply even before I really got a good look at the

cello.  I just got so caught up in the fact of I got a cello

period!  When the box was opened it smelled very old

& had dust in the cracks and the pegbox, I was so relieved I

cant' tell you. I was a nervous wreck during this whole

transaction.  The cello is really nice, a vintage

cello......NOT!!!  I did research on the maker conferred with

several people, corresponded with fineconsignments on many many

times during the auction.  Very nice men, quite convincing.

I even tried to back out after I purchased it, and they

reassured me that they were not thieves and I should not worry,

they were new and were trying to make a name for themselves.

To be honest with you all I am embarrased to say that I

fell for it!  I swore I would never get suckered into a ebay

type of instrument.  Well I now I own this cello...like I said

it is worth what I paid for it and it sounds very nice and sweet.

 I have been shamed by many people so please don't rub my nose

in it!

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Originally posted by:
 But I got

suckered into  a very expensive mistake with fineconsignments

on ebay.   I bought a cello from them and boy did I get

ripped off.  ... Well I now I own this cello...like I said

it is worth what I paid for it and it sounds very nice and sweet.

 I have been shamed by many people so please don't rub my nose

in it!

I'm not completely clear about what your position is. You start out saying you got ripped off, and end by saying you got what you paid for. Which was it? Enquiring minds want to know.

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Well....I thought I purchased an older 1953 cello from a good

maker.  All the typical bells and whistles were going through

my mind whether or not this could be true.  There seemed to a

lot of traffic to the site and the bidding started.  I

originally did not win but bought it on a second chance, because

the winning bidder had a very low feedback for non-paying.  I

paid a little over (including shipping) 3,000.  I contacted

previous winners to ask them if they were satisfied with there

purchases and they gave glowing responses about the instruments and

service of fineconsignments..  I was very careless and should

have listened to the nagging voice inside of me.   I have a

problem trusting people on ebay, because alot of people  have

a secret agenda's, and do things solely for their own benefit, with

no consideration of other people.  This is why I had several

conversations with fineconsignments on this transaction before and

after I bought.  Like I said, when I got the cello I was so

relieved & euphoric I was not thinking clearly and left

feedback, even before it was totally unpacked.  Here are some

pictures of the cello that they listed and the ones I took at home.

 I was buying this cello on the name only, not the finish or

beauty of this instrument.  Once I regained some composure, I

looked very closely at the cello, if this cello was over 50 years

old, there was no imperfections on the body, there was a few scuffs

but they rubbed off with cleaner, the inside of the cello was

totally clean, no dyes, varnish or even dirt.  Then there are

the cleats, I did not think the older instruments used cleats on

the middle seam unless it was repaired.  (my opinion, I am far

from being an expert- as you see with this mistake!!)  I

brought it to a luthier to adjust the soundpost, he gave me an

appraisel for over 3,600, which is more than I paid for it.

 The cello is probably no more than 10 yrs. old, and probably

not Italian either.  The cello is a little smaller than my

other cello, and is lighter in weight too.  I would like to

sell it, but I don't think I would get what I paid for it



"Copperplate Gothic Light">http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b89/LLSWCS/1.jpg



"Copperplate Gothic Light">http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b89/LLSWCS/3d625319.jpg



"Copperplate Gothic Light">http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b89/LLSWCS/fullshot.jpg

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You are totally correct. That is not the violin that you purchased. Also, it is little comfort to know that something you bought wholesale at a certain price is only worth that much retail. (Just try asking the shop that gave you the $3600 appraisal if they would take it on consignment for that price.) Thanks for sharing your experience. I had seen several of that sellers listings and they just didn't smell right. Now we know.

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They are both the same cello!  On the pictures that are there

of the back, if you can enlarge it, you will see it is the

same pattern.  When I contacted the seller he was highly

offended that I accused him of fraud.  His response was,

"We are a consignment shop, and we have no knowledge on

instruments.  Buying a cello from us would be like buying a

cello from Goodwill.  I'm sorry; but I think it's a little

much for you to expect us to guarantee our items, when we have no

clue what they are to begin with.  If a cello is labeled

Barbieri, or Calvin Klein, that's how we'll put it up... we don't

know anything about their history, and simply take pictures and

sell them.  We let the bidders and experts decide whether they

want to purchase or not.  You know this."

When I read this I get sooooo angry!!  I feel as a seller, he

should have some responsibility of authenicating what he is

selling. I reported him to ebay as Item not what

described or some nonsense, since I paid for it by wire transfer,

there is nothing else I can do.  I think. He

offered me a even exchange on another cello that came in,(H.

Johannes Ficker) He wanted me to send the one I have

back then he would send out the one he had, this instrument was

older, not set up, had nothing but the cello.  He told me I

could keep the strings, soundpost, etc. on my  cello and use

it on the one he is sending out.  I just laughed at him!

 He really has no idea what he is doing!  When I told him

that won't work, he went out and bought pegs and an endpin. and

listed the cello, it sold for $810.  I offered him this deal,

Ship out the cello in a case, or I could buy a case, I would have

it set up, compare the two and send one back set up in the case,

I even would have put a credit card as deposit.

 He said no.  I thought that would have been a good deal

either way he could have put another fake label in my cello or got

the Ficker back all set up and ready to play.  It would have

been a win win situation in my opinion.  Oh well, I learned

from this one!  

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It sounds as though you did indeed get taken, but in a very subtle way. You might still be able to get him, though, if you wanted to work at it. If his ebay record says he mostly sells stringed instruments, then his 'poor ignorant consignment shop' excuse might not hold up so well if you challenge it. I know that people in the USA who sell refrigerators or whatever have a responsibility to advertise their goods correctly and not mislead people. So if someone who has a regular business tricks you, you can almost automatically get your money back by waving the Uniform Commercial Code at them. It's something to think about, anyway.

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What is the Uniform Commercial Code?

 I would like to pursue to get my money back, the cello is

nice, but if I had the choice on cello's I would not have bought

it. Now that I bought this cello, I am a little more

savvy on fake labels.  Plus with his photos, I have asked

him(under my daughters ebay id), that he send me a regular digital

photo of his instruments and he said he would and never did.

 The only one he did send out was on the Ficker cello that he

wanted me to trade, but not all the sides that I requested.

 When he sold the Ficker there was a crack in the rib.

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"They are both the same cello"

That dark color threw me off. But when I lighten the photos, the similarity is indeed strong. Which color is most accurate--the light or the dark? It's not very nice if the sellers intentionally distorted the color. Also, did you replace the Larsen/Spirocore strings shown in the auction and add fine tuners? Anyway, with a closer look, it's not at all a bad looking cello. When you took it for appraisal, did they say anything about where it might have been made and when? Did you ask the shop if they would take it on consignment, or in trade, and at what price?

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