Advice on Potential Purchases Thread

TheShortTimer

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Mar 27, 2017
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I thought it might be helpful to have a general thread within this forum where people can ask for advice on potential purchases and to share experiences. If one already exists and I've missed it, the mods can delete or merge as appropriate? :)

A Sawtooth has come up for sale and the prospect of having a spare/donor machine was tempting but the seller has denied me the opportunity to test the computer to ascertain whether it's even working (they're selling it as untested). They informed me that the meeting point would be a train station for the exchange of money and goods. I asked them to at least pull the handle that lowers the side door and send me a photo of the interior, so that I'm not just buying an empty case.

They responded that they don't have the tools to open the G4 case. :rolleyes:

With every Mac that I've purchased in person, I have always been invited to perform tests before handing over any money so this whole situation rings alarm bells and I passed.

What do you think? Right decision?
 
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Hughmac

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Feb 4, 2012
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I once went to buy a motorbike that I really wanted; as it was 2nd hand I wanted a quick ride around the block (leaving my own bike with the dealer), but they wouldn't let me so I rode away and bought from a different place that let me have a spin.
The point is with used stuff you want to know it's working as described until you part with any money.

Cheers :)

Hugh
 

TheShortTimer

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The point is with used stuff you want to know it's working as described until you part with any money.
Which made their seemingly evasive behaviour extremely suspect and the more I reflect on it, the more suspect it appears.

They list the computer as untested on the grounds that they don't have a mouse, keyboard or monitor. I offer to bring these items with me so that the computer can be tested, they respond by informing me that the collection point will be a train station, thereby preventing any opportunity of a test. I ask for the compromise of at least a photo of the insides and explain how to open the case with their hand, they respond that they don't have the tools to open the case. 😆

They have no desire to do anything that will in any way demonstrate that the purchase should be made - or perhaps, not be made.

@eyoungren is spot on, something is being hidden.
 

Project Alice

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How much was this sawtooth? They’re not worth more than $10 unless there’s a sonnet in it or something. I have like 5 of them. I may have paid $25 for one. If I see one for sale I usually just buy it working or not🤷🏼‍♂️
Unless of course they’re asking too much for it I’ll pass. But they actually turn up at recycle centers a lot, that’s usually where I pick them up.
 

TheShortTimer

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@Project Alice I'm in the UK where Mac prices are usually somewhat higher. It was £20 GBP ($24 USD according to the MSM Currency Converter) and I have no idea of the spec because no details were provided except that it's untested. As has been discussed already, seeing that seller obstructed my efforts to arrange a test, I tried to find out the details of its internals in case it contained anything interesting or worthwhile - or whether it even possessed any components at all, by asking them to photograph the insides but suspiciously they were not forthcoming.

It reminded me of a scene in The Departed that I won't spoil for those who've not seen the film. If you've watched it, you'll know what I'm referring to. :D
 
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Dronecatcher

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asking them to photograph the insides but suspiciously they were not forthcoming.
Ebay is full of these sellers playing the old untested card for every kind of electrical item - amazing that someone can't take one minute to pop some AA batteries in something to test it's working and hence improve it's chances of selling...

I used to know someone who'd regularly sell broken hardware as "untested - spares/repair" and he was rather pleased with all of his sales of dud items. No matter how I argued he'd say he was morally right because of the untested description!

You did right to walk away.
 

sparty411

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Nov 13, 2018
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Yeah, it sounds like you did the right thing in this situation. I will say, I regularly sell old laptops on eBay for parts / repair, even when I'm 99% certain that there is nothing wrong with them, because I don't want to make guarantees of functionality on machines that are nearly 2 decades old. I turn the machine on, take a picture of it booting to BIOS, and that's usually the extent of my testing 🤷🏻‍♂️.

Also, I've had good luck buying PowerPC machines listed for parts on eBay. Typically I'll buy a lot of 2 or 3, and piece together 1 working machine from the parts.
 
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TheShortTimer

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I used to know someone who'd regularly sell broken hardware as "untested - spares/repair" and he was rather pleased with all of his sales of dud items. No matter how I argued he'd say he was morally right because of the untested description!
There was a seller at a local boot sale who I became quite cordial with and one afternoon they whispered to me regarding another trader who had an assortment of electrical items every week "I have it on good authority that nothing on that table works." Either they witnessed confrontations with disgruntled customers or the trader had similarly to your acquaintance, bragged to their peers about their success in shifting duds.

At a flea market, again I was discreetly warned by a seller when I mentioned the items at another stall (they were not in competition with each other, they sold different goods) that everything was faulty but was sold by that trader as "untested" and that I shouldn't waste my time or money.

You did right to walk away.
To update you all, they still have the Sawtooth for sale - despite cautioning me several days ago that "Other people are interested." :D
 
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z970mp

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To update you all, they still have the Sawtooth for sale - despite cautioning me several days ago that "Other people are interested." :D
If other people really are interested, the seller will usually cast you aside in favor of the other people if desirable, not advertise this pseudo-fact to you in order to try to pull a better sale out of you. Or in this case, one at all.

You would think people were raised with better integrity than that - or for that matter, any of the other commonplace behaviors oft seen in modern days...
 

Project Alice

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If other people really are interested, the seller will usually cast you aside in favor of the other people if desirable, not advertise this pseudo-fact to you in order to try to pull a better sale out of you. Or in this case, one at all.

You would think people were raised with better integrity than that - or for that matter, any of the other commonplace behaviors oft seen in modern days...
100% correct. A couple years ago someone was selling an MDD G4 on craigslist, with a run of the mill 19" PC monitor. They wanted $300. I politely messaged him, and explained that it way too much and offered $100 for the lot. He told me to "eff off" and explained that he already had a buyer for $250.
A few weeks later the ad shows up again, asking around $200 this time; still too much. People like that are why I try to get everything from recycle places.
 

defjam

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Sep 15, 2019
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100% correct. A couple years ago someone was selling an MDD G4 on craigslist, with a run of the mill 19" PC monitor. They wanted $300. I politely messaged him, and explained that it way too much and offered $100 for the lot. He told me to "eff off" and explained that he already had a buyer for $250.
A few weeks later the ad shows up again, asking around $200 this time; still too much. People like that are why I try to get everything from recycle places.
I've currently got a couple of things on my watchlist like this. Asking way too much but each turned down my offers. One has been for sale for approximately 3-4 months, the other about 30 days. The latter made everyone on the watch list an offer 50% below the BIN price. I then countered with $10.00 below that. They then countered with an offer which was 25% above the previous price they had offered me.

A lot of resellers need to be more realistic with their pricing. I can understand maybe initially listing it for a high price to see if you get any takers. But to keep something listed for 3-4 months seems foolish. I bet it cost them nothing / little to acquire so better to move inventory than let it sit. Perhaps Ebay is to blame as I heard it's really easy to just relist the item. Perhaps if they had to work at relisting them they'd come back to reality with their pricing.
 
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Amethyst1

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Perhaps Ebay is to blame as I heard it's really easy to just relist the item. Perhaps if they had to work at relisting them they'd come back to reality with their pricing.
At least on my side of the pond, eBay will automatically relist an unsold item a couple of times at no cost. That's part of the problem. If relisting cost money, some sellers would possibly reconsider their pricing.
 

TheShortTimer

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I bet it cost them nothing / little to acquire...
I can attest from personal experience that often they were paid to clear those items from homes (I landed one of my Win boxes that way) or from local government, educational and corporate organisations, so they've been paid off twice over. A former workplace gave me 10 PCs which I then distributed amongst relatives who were in need of computers. Everything else, the IT manager paid someone to collect and dispose of.

One individual who is no longer a friend, attempted to persuade me to sell them to acquaintances at sky high prices (and of course cut them in with a commission) but I refused because it went against the very ideal of why I'd obtained the hardware in the first place - to help improve the IT literacy of people around me.
 

dbdjre0143

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Nov 11, 2017
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As someone who occasionally refurbishes and sells computers to make some extra money (just a hobby, not a full-time gig or anything), I think we in enthusiast circles sometimes fail to recognize the other side of the value coin, that people do deserve to be paid for their efforts.

We can argue all day long that X-machine is only worth Y-dollars because we can get a similar one from a recycler, thrift store, etc for that amount. However, when we do that, we need to take into consideration that we as the purchaser will be who puts in the effort to perform any required repairs, clean the system physically inside and out, perform any upgrades we want, and install the OS/any other software. For the enthusiasts like most of us who populate this forum, that's not a problem, because its half the fun for us (or at least that's the case for me :)).

However, when I'm refurbishing a computer to sell, I've already done all of that. I always sell a computer in ready-to-use condition, so that means I've almost always put a significant amount of time into preparing that machine for sale. Also, photographing and listing machines with a detailed description takes additional time and effort. If I sell it locally, I always insist on meeting at a public location, and if reasonable, one where I can prove to the purchaser that the machine works as described before making the exchange. This of course adds additional time and fuel cost.

So then, if we look at it from the perspective of dollars per hour, someone who takes the time to sell a quality product can't make much at all if someone refuses to pay prices that are more than a few dollars above a recycler/thrift.

I realize this clearly does not apply to listings and sellers that are simply listing a machine as received (or worse, just a cash-grab for junk because its "retro), but for those who sell machines that are "turn-key ready", I think a premium is certainly warranted to pay for their time, even if that doesn't appeal to people like us who would rather save the money and fix it ourselves.
 

Amethyst1

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I realize this clearly does not apply to listings and sellers that are simply listing a machine as received (or worse, just a cash-grab for junk because its "retro), but for those who sell machines that are "turn-key ready", I think a premium is certainly warranted to pay for their time, even if that doesn't appeal to people like us who would rather save the money and fix it ourselves.
I'm totally there with you. A reasonable premium is perfectly fine. Outrageously overpricing old machines... not so much.
 

defjam

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Sep 15, 2019
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So then, if we look at it from the perspective of dollars per hour, someone who takes the time to sell a quality product can't make much at all if someone refuses to pay prices that are more than a few dollars above a recycler/thrift.
I agree. This is the case with most anything being sold. An item in better condition typically sells for more than the same item which is in worse condition.

However in the end something is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. I can see a seller initially placing a high price on something, after all if you don't ask you won't get. The "problem" is these listings continue for months and months (and possibly longer but I usually stop following them after a few months) without selling.

Here is a real example. Back in 2019 I was interested in purchasing a specific type of older computer. I checked Ebay and found something that I was interested in. Seller has a BIN price of $200 plus $35 for shipping. I inquired about it but the seller couldn't tell me much more than what was in the listing (which was spartan). Given the unknowns and the age of the system (approximately 1991 vintage) I offered $50. The seller flat out rejected my offer, they didn't even attempt to counter (I may have gone a little higher). That system is still available today. At what point will this seller admit that there isn't a market for this system at his BIN price?


I realize this clearly does not apply to listings and sellers that are simply listing a machine as received (or worse, just a cash-grab for junk because its "retro), but for those who sell machines that are "turn-key ready", I think a premium is certainly warranted to pay for their time, even if that doesn't appeal to people like us who would rather save the money and fix it ourselves.
That's exactly what I am looking to purchase. Not because I want to buy such a system but because I have no choice. These are being sold "For Parts / Repair" with nothing more than "it powered on" testing. Most will need a thorough cleaning and some have damage / missing parts. If the above seller could get $200 for the system in such condition then it would have already sold. Personally I might pay $200 for the system if it was in like new condition.
 

556fmjoe

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Apr 19, 2014
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I've been pretty lucky with buying PPC Macs and other old computers sight unseen on eBay. My 12" PowerBook was perfect except for a dead battery, but I solved that with a $16 Chinese one that hasn't blown up, caught fire, or died even after 5 years. My 1 GHz Tibook was throttling itself to 667 MHz but a new battery and a PMU reset fixed that. I've bought a couple Sun SPARC servers, a Cisco 2960G, some Juniper SSG-5s, and God only knows what other junk and all are fine.

I guess the golden rule is this: if it's tantalizingly cheap, it's probably broken. If it's too expensive, it's not worth the risk. You want one priced just right.
 
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RhianB

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Sep 3, 2016
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Hey all, how would you pay (UK prices) for a G4 QS Dual 1Ghz with 1.5 GB RAM and sans HDD?
That's tough. I have no clue what powermacs go for in Europe and in my mind I always think back to the low initial cost of the machines Ive bought. This is deceiving because to date Ive paid no more than $10 for a QS, but over the past few years, I did build it up with many upgrades:

$20 dual 1Ghz CPU
$15 dual CPU heatsink
$10 USB2.0 card
$10 Radeon9000 pro (scavenged from another now dead rescued $10MDD)
$10 for a Bluetooth Dongle
$6 for Airport
$20 for 1.5GB SDRAM.

So all in at this point, I have around $100 bucks in mine not including any value to my time tinkering with, upgrading or cleaning it - just parts. The funny thing about it is that around here in the states where I'm at, I doubt I'd get much north of $40 for it the way it is as a single sale.

I see some prices north of $150 but some come nicely upgraded and with cinema displays and other goodies, so if its something you can go pick up and dodge freight (which is such a killer on ebay for one of these things), you could get a pretty boss machine, ready to rumble without having to invest much of anything into it.

Another way I look at this stuff is if I cant find a reliable market price, I then look at my time and how long I consider using it ie: what's reasonable to me for an old box? $0.25 cents a day? I plan to use it for the next year, so its initial valuation based off my time and enjoyment works out to about $91-92 bucks up front initial investment. Does it need anything? If it does, subtract the cost of the upgrade off the top giving you your price ceiling ie: Im not paying more than X. I then amortize it over multiple years, so if I spent - lets say $92 bucks, it needed no upgrades beyond what I already have handy and my time, and I keep, use and enjoy it for 4 years, my initial daily cost is driven down from $0.25 cents a day to $0.06 cents, improving its value to me. These are all just economic/fiscal exercises that are fun to look at but may help you to find a price that makes money sense to you and help you along with the right purchase for your budget.

Best of luck to you.
 
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weckart

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Nov 7, 2004
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Hey all, how would you pay (UK prices) for a G4 QS Dual 1Ghz with 1.5 GB RAM and sans HDD?
That was my foray into vintage Macs. I got mine a few years back from a Cash Converters in London. Mine came loaded up with hard drives, all the install/restore discs, keyboard, mouse and a boxed 17" ACD for the princely sum of £25. It wasn't even my cheapest QS. That was a 2001 QS that was thrown in with a Sawtooth I paid £5 for. Somehow along the way I got a third 2002 QS and I can't remember what I paid for it but it was probably between the two prices. That one had a Geforce Ti4600 rattling around inside.

Up to a couple of years ago, you could pick up almost any G3/G4 PowerMac for a few pounds or even free from office clearances. G3 iMacs ended up in landfills or were easily found on Freecycle. Trouble is now, everyone has cottoned on that old=money and you have gone from free to wtf in a short space of time. You can probably negotiate a better price if it is collect only and not from somewhere easily accessible and with a lot of possible purchasers like London.

Otherwise RhianB has it right. It has now become a question of how much are you willing to part with for something you want. I would still think twice about forking out much more than £50 for that QS unless it comes with extras of some value to you. They aren't that rare in the UK but if you are after performance, the MDD is about the same price and offers more at the risk of a potentially flaky PSU.
 

z970mp

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the MDD is about the same price and offers more at the risk of a potentially flaky PSU
Over the Quicksilver (which has its own PSU reliability issues), the MDD offers a much greater value, and believe it or not, a better power supply situation. Aside from more power and better expandability, the logic board is more or less fully ATX PSU compatible OOB. Even if the power supply did die, you could easily get a standard ATX replacement, take half an hour to splice and rearrange the cables to the MDD configuration, and you're done.

That's a far cry from doing the same for a Quicksilver, which requires resistors, special bridging, and confusing processes, all of which significantly raises the chance of user error, in which case damaging the logic board.
 

Hughmac

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Strange thing is, in the Apple laptop market you can now buy an Intel MacBook cheaper than a PPC PowerBook :rolleyes:

PPC prices seem to be on the up ;)

Cheers :)

Hugh
 
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