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Author Topic: Hamfests, where is the honesty?  (Read 5380 times)

Posts: 194

« on: July 21, 2002, 01:11:45 PM »

I really am getting tired of seeing people get ripped-off at hamfests. Where is the honesty? Is there no self respect anymore?

Started from the very first hamfest I went to just after getting my license.

Purchased an old tube rig and an HT.
The Tube rig barely worked and the HT had dead cells in the pack. I was told that both worked fine from both vendors.

Moving down the line. I purchased a scanner at another hamfest. When the unit heated up the squelch would drop and it would no longer scan.

I just bought a used CD rom to replace a blown one at the most recent ham fest. Knowing I could buy new for $29 I decided to save a few bucks and buy a used one since I don't use it very often. The vendor said "It worked fine when I removed it from the PC". Guess what? No, it did not.

So, where is the honor? Why should I even go to a hamfest unless buying new?

If I buy on ebay I can put a bad remark to the vendor or possibly have some recourse. If I buy new I get a warranty. If I buy from someone I know there is integrety and most always get a good deal.

So you think to yourself "live and learn". Well we are all starting to learn now and is why attendance is dropping off. I have compiled some translations for you to keep in the back of your head when going to a hamfest.

buyer: Does it work okay?

vendor: It should, I am selling it for a friend who is not here right now.

translation: I doubt it, but don't blame me when you get home and it doesn't work. It is not my fault.
buyer: Why are you selling it

vendor: I have another unit and don't need this one.

translation: This unit is junk so I got another one. I am trying to recoup my cost from this one.

buyer: Does it work?

vendor: Not sure

translation: NO, but maybe you can fix it or use it for parts.
buyer: Will you take $75 for it?

seller: No I really need $100

translation: I will take 75 if I can't find a sucker to pay $100 for it. - Better come back later.

buyer: If it doesn't work can I get my money back?

seller: I am not in the business of offering a warranty.

translation: NO, this is as is and is broken, why would I want to buy back a broken rig?


Okay, so here is what you do.

Look in their eyes when asking if something works. You should know what to look for from their expression.

Ask for a receipt and money back policy. Write down booth number on receipt.

Ask to test it - even it you do not plan to.

Find out where they are from, if not local be very very leary.

If they are a ham are they wearing a badge/name tag? If not be skeptical.

Always know what the unit would cost new, justify what a used working price would be prior to negotiation then determine why they are selling.

Take your time.

Any other suggestions or comments?


Posts: 12


« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2002, 10:59:46 AM »

Good points. I believe in honest/ethics in selling/buying used equipment. I don't sell that many things,
but when I do I either tell it straight and/or offer a money back guarantee (provided it's within a certain amount of time and the item was not abused/modified/etc.)

I recently sold an HW-9 which should be arriving at the buyer's any day now and I'd certainly be willing to refund the money if the buyer finds something wrong. Sellers at hamfests should be willing to do the same and if they won't I'd too be very leery of buying the item from them.


Posts: 300


« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2002, 09:58:05 AM »

After being burned too many times at hamfests, I've learned my lesson. I have many "parts" radios that I picked up at hamfests that I thought would be working. Now, I expect any radio that I buy at a hamfest to be either non-working, or just barely working. I will buy one of these if the price is good enough, and if I feel that I can either fix it or for its wealth in parts. I will also buy electronic parts, wire, cable, connectors and such. I know better than to buy a radio expecting it to work as well as the vendor tells me it does. The same goes for eBay. Nearly every radio that I ever bought on eBay had something wrong with it. Some, I was able to fix. Others are in the "parts" pile. Fortunately, all my bum purchases were in the range of $25 - $300 (mostly on the low end, and mostly CB's that I wanted to convert to 10 or 12m). Can you imagine spending $1500 on a "dream" radio at a hamfest, only to get it home and find out that your purchase is no more than a doorstop! Many times at hamfests, I walk past what appears to be a good deal on a nice radio. I always keep walking, thinking to myself "I wonder if it works"!

After buying two Icom IC-730's and a Kenwood TS-520 that had hidden problems, I decided to buy a brand new IC-718. It’s the only way to avoid the pitfalls of buying used equipment. A sad truth is that most used radios are for sale because there is something wrong with them. At least with the new IC-718, I know that I am the sole owner, and that nobody monkeyed with it. I don't intend to do the general coverage transmit modification until the warranty runs out.

Posts: 329

« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2002, 08:47:28 PM »

Sometimes its like buy a used car.. you are buying someone elses' problems.   I have heard eBay referred to "ePray", hoping what you get is good stuff.   I see a lot of junk at hamfests, and have never made a major purchase at a hamfest, except when buying a brand new item.   There is too much junk of all sorts at hamfests -- CBs, telephones, magnifying glasses, screwdrivers, pencils and ink pens, remote control cars,  30 year old software, kites, etc.. just junk,  no other word for it.

Posts: 579

« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2002, 09:56:42 AM »

Sad to say, its true. It mirrors and parallels the general trend in society in the past few decades towards moral decay. Still, there are a lot of honest and decent hams.

Posts: 3

« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2002, 04:13:02 PM »

Not only is it the used stuff, it is the new vendors.  When at Dayton this year, I was to purchase a audio/interface(you know the brand) for the my friend for his PSK and Rtty software.  "Show Special" 149$.  Check in the hotel on the laptop, shipped and taxed for 147$  So where is the special?  I guess the special is gettting screwed in front of them face to face instead of on the phone.


Posts: 21837

« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2002, 09:06:03 AM »

For these reasons, I don't buy anything on eBay.

At hamfest/swap meets, it's easier to control your destiny.  I buy gear at the swap meets under these conditions, and haven't been burned yet (in 35 years or so):

-Assume anything that cannot be demonstrated on-site does not work, period.  Negotiate a price based on that assumption.

-Bring along a 12V battery pack with 120Vac inverter built-in.  These are popular items in camping supply (and many other retail) stores.  Mine is from Fry's Electronics, cost $149 and provides 14AH of power at 12Vdc, or ~500Wac at 120V for about 20 mins, and can power "most" (not all) gear I'm thinking about buying.  Best of all, it only weighs about 15lbs and can be easily carried in a small backpack, or even more easily in an inexpensive wheeled cart (which I bring to carry back "goodies," anyway).  Using that power source and any number of small, portable antennas, plus a small wattmeter, I can "field test" functionality of most types of equipment quickly and painlessly.  When something doesn't work, it's pretty obvious, quickly -- and with many "witnesses" around, the selling price drops fast.  I picked up a Yaesu FT101ZD once, in perfect condition, for only $100 simply because the "field test" revealed the rig would not transmit.  The problem was a single bad driver stage tube (12BY7A) which was replaced for $10.  The rig worked perfectly after that.  The dramatic "field test" failure was the reason for the bargain.

-Conversely, when you're a "seller," and you know what you're selling is perfect, be prepared to power it up, demonstrate it, and prove it!  You'll get top dollar this way, and it's well worth the effort.



Posts: 14


« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2003, 10:12:12 AM »

Your best safety in purchasing hamfest "junque" is trust no one.  If the seller is not willing to allow the item to be powered up then pass it by.  

I go to the flea market sections for two reasons: to buy junk items for their parts or to get something used for less $$.

When I am buying for parts, I am not going to be as picky about the working condition of the item excepting, of course, the part or parts I am after.  But, when I am looking for used-but-working items, I will not buy from one who will not allow it to be tested.  

You can get a 12V battery-pack/120VAC inverter for around $100 to 120.  These are valuable for testing unknown items for their working conditions.  A small 5W dummy load will serve for many transmitters.

Some of the hamfest junque problems come from dishonesty.  Other problems stem from sellers' laziness or ignorance.  If you are going to shop the flea markets, you will have to come prepared for all three.

Of course, the old maxims: "if it sound too good to be true, then is probably is" and "buyer beware" are always the best test equipment you can carry.


Posts: 43

« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2003, 02:41:57 PM »

It seems to me that Ham Fests are on the way out!!   Besides the dishonesty, and the junk that appears there, the vendors are PRICING themselves out of business.  A lot of stuff I see there, is stuff I put in the trash.  Don't know why some people haul this junk around to different hamfests and expect to sell it, unless they want to recoup their gas money, for getting it there.  Looks like ebay would be a better place to put it. That's where a lot of dirty tricks are pulled off.  73's

Posts: 8

« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2003, 07:17:47 PM »

HMM! WC Fields said "You cant cheat an honest man" I bought an IC 718 a spkr and 2 mics on the net and it was exactly as the guy advertised.. It can go both ways.I see a lot of junk at Hamfests. Karl
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