Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sold As Seen

Airfix 0-4-2

This is an Airfix 1400 ex-GWR tank in BR livery.

As you can see, it's dust and rusty. The box has a badly torn window. I bought it a year or so ago for £12. Last weekend, I tried to sell it. For £12. 

Now you might reasonably conclude that for £12 there is probably something wrong with it. Ramsay's Guide values it at £30 although that's likely to drop once the Hattons/DJM version appears. 

Anyway, I did sell the loco. To someone who deals in second hand model railways. He didn't ask anything about it, just paid up and left. 

This is odd as everyone else buying a loco asked if it works and was treated to the model doing a turn on the test track we had along the back of the stand. We gave advice and sometimes talked people out of purchases if they were likely to be unsuitable. Hornby Dublo coupling fitted wagons do not work on a youngsters train set and we don't want them to be disappointed. 

Likewise, an early Triang train set might look on the face of it like a good deal but it is early, and even though the loco works you're going to have to stick to Super 4 track. 

As for DCC, forget it. I don't think anything we had was even DCC ready, although the loco model shop offers a fitting service for those scared of soldering chips in and since he had a stand, we happily pointed people in that direction if they were umming and ahhing over a purchase. 

Anyway, in the middle of the afternoon, the buyer returns and angrily tells us that the loco is faulty. He's tried it and while the motor runs, the wheels don't work.

True I say, there is a problem with the wheels . They do rotate but I have a feeling someone has taken them off at some point and not put them back on properly. I could fix it but don't need the model, hence it's appearance on the stand priced at a couple of quid more than made up static Airfix loco kits. Even the motors sell for at least a fiver.

"It's not fit for purpose!" I was told. 

"It depends what the purpose is." I reply.

Which is true. Stick it in a siding and it's perfectly good scenic feature. You'd pay for a "proper" scenic item. You'd even pay more for one of those badly cast lumps of coal sold as souvenirs. 

"Also, as the signs say, everything is Sold as Seen." I point out. 

Sadly, there is more demanding and threats to "take this further" so I took I returned the money from my wallet rather than taking it back out of the cash box. Returned in the sense of chucking the stuff at him. I'm not proud of that but nor do I like being shouted at. A complaint was duly made to the exhibition manager about me. 

To avoid this happening again, I can offer some tips to buyers on second hand stalls:
  • If there is nothing to say a loco is a runner, assume initially it isn't. Most of ours were, but to varying degrees of effect. Some needed a service, others were perfect. We had customers who enjoy repairing locos and are happy to buy less than perfect - it's their hobby.
  • Ask questions - "Does this run?" is the popular and pertinent one. 
  • If there is a test track, ask to see the model run on it. We happily ran stuff even if someone was only half-serious about buying. If the stallholder won't try it then there is definitely something wrong and you need to adjust the amount you are willing to pay accordingly.
  • Examine the model. Take it out of the box and have a good look. 
  • If it's a kit, have a good look inside the box but be careful. Stallholders don't appreciate someone upending the parts all over the table.
  • If a bargain looks too good, as my old friends in Trading Standards always said, it probably is
There are bargains to be had. I have an HO Shay that I knew was faulty but since it was cheap, I risked the money. Taking it to bits, the universal joint was loose on the motor shaft. A drop of superglue later, I have a working, if scruffy, Shay probably worth 3 times what I paid for it.

Caveat emptor


Duncan Young said...

Phil, I'm with you here. You would pay as much for the body alone. It's ideal for a diorama, dumped loco awaiting the call to the cutter, fixing to get it running or buying scale chassis and detail bits to make it a bit special but at considerable cost. What a prison that buyer must live in. Keep smiling.

Paul B. said...

Perhaps in future you should absolutely insist on demonstrating the thing working before selling any loco, just in case there's any comeback. After all dealing with rudeness can ruin an otherwise good day.
It does seem odd that the buyer didn't want to see it moving, but I bet that he would have had it on his stand for at least twice the price if it was a runner!

James Finister said...

I bought a couple of these specifically because they were non runners, since I will one day get around to butchering them into rather better EM gauge versions, following in Geoff's footsteps . Actually I bought three, but one had a nasty accident with Modelstrip.

Of course by then the D J Models version might have appeared.

Anonymous said...

It's all a matter of degree really. Take it along to say Expo EM or Scaleforum and marked as 'needs attention' some one would pay double, throw the mech away and re-motor it. Geoff Forster would love to have it and then put a Comet chassis underneath, but then he's a modeller.
What we are dealing with is the plug and play society who want their arses wiped and the flush handle pushed for them. The body on the Airfx 48xx is still pretty good and can be improved and made lovely - if people can't see past a small problem and see a challenge, that's their problem - it's not you. Maybe we are a dying breed of tinkerers and bodgers who like to make and mend. Sadly.
Chris Ford

Phil Parker said...

Paul - Normally we do give the model a run just to prove it works. I think it's important for people to insist on this, those running the stand won't have a problem, although you might have to wait if it's first thing Saturday morning and the rush is on. Waiting a few minutes won't hurt, unless you use them to browse and find more goodies to buy!

Everyone else - This is a surplus model, I have another one and a detailing kit to apply to it. And an old K's kit version bought RTR from Australia! I'm looking forward to detailing the Airfix mode though, it's nice to save these and have something I've had a bit of input into.

tony taylor said...

People paid £9 for a GBL static model which couldn't even be stood in a siding because of a solid metal chassis so £12 for a might be made into a runner is a fair price. Mind you I think the publishers deserve an award for encouraging so many to get back to some real modelling I have put a Mainline pannier chassis under the GBL one and it looks fine. I had to re-axle the split chassis but it's now fine.