Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Is there a return policy at garage sales?

In my town, the start of the garage sale season began last week. Overall, I'd have to say it was a pretty good opening day. What started off as three sales, turned into more, as I came across a few bonus sales not listed on Craigslist. I did better then expected. In all, I bought four things, and oh yeah, I made one return. You read that right. I actually returned something to a seller only hours after I bought it. It's the first time I've ever made a garage sale return. Although I'll admit it's unusual to return something to seller, you'll see why I did it after I share the story.

It started out looking like a pretty good purchase. At one of the garage sales, a guy had two vintage
Vintage metal toy train
metal locomotives for sale. They were battery operated tin toys made in Japan and sold back in the Fifties and Sixties. I've had some decent luck flipping the old tin toys, including a Sixties era rocket ship I bought for a buck and sold for $90 smackaroos! With the memory of that great score in my head, I was definitely interested in the trains. The trains were identical, measuring a foot in length. Holding them up to the seller, I asked what he wanted for them? He took a long drag on his cigarette, then puffed out, "Gimme $50 for both." I then asked a very important follow-up question. Did they work? He assured me they did, laying out a long-winded story about how he owned the trains since he was a kid and adding he took excellent care of them. He even got into an elaborate description, promising me that the trains blew smoke when they operated. (I'd later find out who really was blowing smoke.) As I continued to look the trains over, I began the dance, asking if he'd take $40 for the pair? He countered with $45 adding, "That's a bargain, they go for a lot more then that!"

First of the season finds!
This was my first serious garage sale negotiation of the season. Typically when the yard sale season begins, I have to be extra cautious. I have a tendency to be a little more "loose" with my money and more willing to take risks on stuff. The excitement of those first few Saturdays can cause me to blow through cash like a drunken sailor on weekend leave! In the case of those toy trains, I would have been more cautious had it been later in the season. But chalk it up to cabin fever, because even though I knew buying old battery operated toys can be risky, I shelled out the $45 dollars anyway! After paying, the seller wrapped up the two trains in bubble wrap and I headed home.You can see them in the photo on the left, peeking out of the bubble wrap. (I'll save the Apple Computer score for another day.)

Once home, the moment of truth had arrived. I unwrapped the trains and retrieved some batteries to test both out. Gently slipping in the batteries, I closed the compartment door and flicked on the switch. Guess what happened next? Dead silence-I got nothing! No light, no wheels moving and definitely no smoke that the seller had bragged about! Although things were starting to look bleak, I still had one more train that could salvage the deal. I went through the same drill and turned on the switch. Once again-nothing! I stared at the trains in frustration. For the sum of $45 bucks, I was now the proud owner of two hunks of worthless tin!

As I said earlier, I've never asked a seller for my money back. After all, it's not like I bought the trains at Sears or Walmart. Everyone knows that garage sale purchases can be risky. But this garage sale purchase was different. The guy not only assured me they were working, but he went into this big elaborate story about the smoke puffing out the stack! Worst of all, his bragging that the $45 dollar price tag was, as he said, "a bargain" was now burning my biscuits! I decided I wasn't going to be stuck with this almost $50 dollar "bargain." The trains were going back.

Arriving back at the garage sale, I found the seller lounging comfortably in a soccer chair. I decided my plan of attack would be to start off friendly, raising the attitude only if he gave me some resistance. Fortunately, the guy was cooperative. He tried to feign some mild bewilderment over the fact that the trains didn't work. He even tried to get me to bite on the idea of a half price refund, suggesting I keep the trains. I didn't take the bait though. Even at twelve dollars a piece, the broken trains were no deal, much less a bargain. After returning my hard earned cash, I suggested to the guy that he look into having them repaired. He agreed, but I am sure he won't pursue that angle. My guess is he just put the trains back out on his table to sell. Hopefully, he told any potential buyers that they weren't working.

It was an interesting start to the garage sale season. But despite the train deal that almost went bad, I still scored some other awesome finds that hopefully will be blog-worthy in the near future. How's it going so far for you? Have you ever returned something you bought at a yard sale? Share your "deals gone bad" in the comment section below.






    
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24 comments:

  1. Well, Once I did return an item. I bought an electric blanket from our next door neighbor and when I discovered that it was just a blanket with a cord attached I went back and asked to return it. We have good neighbors and the deal worked out.

    I took your advice and looked for those Beyblades. Today I was in a thrift store and saw a "stadium" Honestly if you hadn't mentioned them I would have glanced and kept on walking but because you had posted about them I took a second look. I used your logic and figured well..... if there is a stadium where are the little top do-dads? So I checked the wall and there they were .....2 bags full! 7lbs of stuff that I don't really understand. So now I ask you ....... What do I do now? I have 59 tops 4 metal do dads, 7 things that you hold while you pull the cord (but no cords) and 7 things that I have no clue about what they are .I want to sell them as a lot but I sure would appreciate a little guidance with pricing. I paid a total of $9.90 for both bags. Can you give me some guidance? How did you sell yours?

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    1. You list 59 Beyblades tops on eBay and you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

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    2. the metal "do dad" things should hold the blades together there should be the big plastic bottom, a small plastic thing that goes on top, the the metal thing on top. My son has a ton of them and you put them together and they are interchangeable :D

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    3. Janet- You have what we like to call a "Megascore!" As other reader like Sean have pointed out, you are going to do very well with them. Congrats!

      For an easy "go-by" look them up on Ebay. Try to mimic how other sellers present them, laying them all out in a nice, orderly rows. There's various names/titles for some of those things, but I wouldn't get too hung up on that. You can take the time to identify some by comparing with other eBay listings, but you can also be generic in your description. I'll usually post some close-ups shots, so buyers can give them a good looksie. If I have, say 60 of them, I'll post three close ups breaking the lot into thirds. Basically, the pictures then do the talking for you.

      Because of their size, it's a hassle to sell the stadiums in the lot. But you'll do better if you include them in the auction. Just make sure you have a big enough box to accommodate them. You may also want to throw everything in the box and weigh it up ahead of time at the local post office. You can also do your own postage estimate using USPS.Com. Pick a destination zip code that farthest away from your location. Whatever that postage rate is, is what you charge for shipping in your auction.

      When you post it, let me know. If you want me to look over the listing, I can do that too. Send me the link at: www.MoneyintheGarage@me.com

      I am glad you found them. Looking forward to hearing what they sell for. Good luck....Dude!

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    4. Dude ...I got a mailer Daemon message when I tried to send that address'

      Try this http://www.ebay.com/itm/Monster-LOT-of-Beyblades-59-pieces-/111322989809?pt=TV_Movie_Character_Toys_US&hash=item19eb5e04f1

      sorry I guess I don't know how to make a link ! You can just type in MONSTER lot of Beyblades. My lighting was bad. Thanks again for all your help


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    5. Janet- I think it looks good. Hopefully you have a lot of watchers by now. Nicely photographed and smart idea just to be upfront and say in your description that you are not familiar with them. Like I said, let the pictures do the talking.

      You're being generous on the shipping. My suggestion would be since you are only charging six dollars anyway, I would just make it free shipping. That might loosen "lookers' up and get them to throw down a bid.

      Good luck....Dude!

      Hopefully you have a lot of watchers by now.

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    6. I never use a fixed shipping price for my auctions. eBay offers the ability to calculate a shipping price based on where the buyer is. If I am not offering free shipping, I only use that. It is very easy and convenient and all you need to do is provide the weight and the type of shipping service you are using. eBay handles determining the actual shipping price. You can even add any extra "handling" fees you'd like added to the shipping price. Not sure why so many folks don't go this route and instead use a fixed shipping price.

      Just don't forget to weigh the item in the box and then allow for a couple ounces for the packing materials (newspaper, packing peanuts, etc.) if you are right on the edge between pounds (for example, weighs 2 lbs. 15 oz.; in eBay, you would say the weight is 3 lbs. 2 oz.)

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  2. Dude! I would never have thought a guy like that would refund the whole price. Good for you. My brother buys items like that all the time. He carries a pouch that holds a loop, some batteries and winders. If he sees an old toy like that (let's say for $10), he'll ask if it works or if they have the key. If they say no or they don't know, he'll ask if they'll take $5. If they say yes, he'll whip out a battery or key, test it, and if it works, he'll say, "Ok, I'll take it for $5." Pretty clever. His method also works to see if a toy doesn't work in order to get a lower price. So you might want to think about keeping some assorted batteries in the glove compartment to save you a return trip next time. :-)

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    1. Lorraine-I know, I wasn't to sure either and thought the situation had a potential to get ugly. But I decided that, like all of us garage sale pickers, I work pretty hard for $45 bucks. I was returning the dumb things! Fortuanlty he went along with it.

      That's a great idea your brother has. It's awesome how he negotiates them down, then tests it! He's holding all the cards-awesome! May have to stock the truckster with batteries and keys!

      BTW-Still loving that LEGO megascore!

      Thanks for the idea, hope those Legos are a sign of things getting better.........Dude!

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    2. Dude ....I think this listing is going to get interesting! So far I have 103 views on those Beyblades .sadly no bids......I can't wait to see what happens.as the auction draws to an
      end. ..... Here is what i'm thinking.If I were to go to the movies, even on senior day it would cost right around $7 add in my popcorn (that I MUST Have) and I am at more than $10.00, the $ I have into these tops. Heck the entertainment just researching, listing and following has been worth much more than the $10 I have invested! I'm all good with them selling for just enough to cover my cost and postage ......I suspect I will have a nice profit,but if I don't I figure that the entertainment value has me in the black before I receive single bid. I want to thank you again for all the things you have taught me!

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    3. Janet- That's funny, I am loving that philosophy...and it makes sense too! As I said below, going to use this in my blog as not everyone reads the comment section.

      Again, I am glad I could help, Congrats...Dude!

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  3. Still dry up north of you in terms of garage sales. I certainly have the itch for them, but I've not seen much of anything in my area. Should be really soon with the weather finally getting consistently nice. I get to walk a flea market this Saturday though, so that's something.

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    1. Sean- Good luck. I think we are getting rain down my way, so my Saturday may be a bust. Got some inventory building up though, so plenty to post.

      Thanks for writing in.....Dude!

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  4. Found you via Wisebread. I feel like I've found MY PEOPLE! I am always on the lookout for decent re-sell situations. I also am lucky enough to have a salesman friend who forwards to me all of the samples that manufacturers send him that he isn't interested in representing. I would love to get into that glorious Lego market, but still have a son who wants ALL THE LEGOS. So happy to have found this blog - for me the most interesting type of reading.

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    1. Cathie-Welcome to the club! Sounds like you have a great source of inventory with your salesman friend. If you have any awesome score, share them in the comment section. We always love to hear about a good flip.

      And don't worry about those LEGOS. When Sonny Boy gets bored with them, that's when you make your move and post them on eBay-HA!

      Thanks for writing in....Dude!

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    2. Keep in mind that with LEGO, the most important are the people. Second are the instructions, and third are the bricks themselves (special pieces would be third and bricks fourth). The people are far and away the most important. You can get big $$ for characters in the licensed sets (Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc.) that are only available in a single set. There is a Boba Fett from a Star Wars set that sells for almost $200. Yes, just one of those little people for $200. Nuts what folks will spend on that stuff.

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    3. One time I bought two "new" Harry Potter Lego sets from Goodwill. They were not sealed, but the bags looked sealed inside. Well when I got them home, the minifigs were gone. Someone had stolen them out, returned the set to Target, who then sold their open boxes/returns to Goodwill. Too bad that someone had to ruin a whole set because they were so selfish!

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    4. I hear you. This is an ongoing problem and anytime I see a Lego set from Target at Goodwill, I am highly suspect. I usually try to open them up to take a look inside. When I do, they're always missing the figures. You would think by now Target would train their employees to look out for this return scam, right?

      Thanks for bringing it up. probably worthy of a main blog piece in the future. ....Dude!

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    5. You'd be shocked by the number of "toy scams" there are when it comes to returns. Have seen figures hanging from the peg hooks in Toys R Us and Target where someone has carefully opened the packaging and swapped the figure that was there with another and then returned it. When the box is closed, it's even worse because neither the employee nor the next buyer can see that the figure that is supposed to be inside has been replaced. You could easily do the same with a Lego set, but what is an employee to do if the customer claims that the figures were not in the set to begin with (part of the reason for the return)? The store gets put into a tough spot.

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  5. Hi Dude,

    My beyblades auction ended at $76 ....but get this... received 351 page views! I think that was because kids are home on Spring break looking at stuff on eBay. Thank you again for all you have taught me!

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    1. Janet- I was cyber watching your listing and saw that. Sort of a relief for me, cause I noticed the bidding action didn't start until around the 5th or 6th day. Was sweating it out thinking, gee-where's all the beyblade bidders I've been crowing about?!

      But it turned out great-$76 big ones! May turn your adventure into a blog piece.

      Glad I could help. Congrats on the awesome score....Dude!

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  6. So glad you were able to get your money back. This has happened to me with purchases at GW more than once, but thankfully they have a 24 hour electronics return policy.

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  7. Good for you! $45 is a lot of money at a garage sale

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    1. Absolutely !

      Thanks for checking in....Dude!

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