There has been much hand wringing and gnashing of legislative teeth about Internet scams. Admittedly, they are getting ever more clever as time goes by. It's getting next to impossible to distinguish between a bogus bank credit card site and a real one. All you have to do is fall for the e-mail rap that begins something like, "Because of recent fraud attempts, we need to authenticate your account." Then go to the directed web page, enter all your juicy personal info, and then bend over and say goodbye to all your credit. It happens everyday.
One can make a case that these clueless souls probably deserve our sympathy, given how skilled Internet thieves have become. But then you have the assholes whose higher cortical functions just seize up when a deal that's too good to be true is dangled in front of their greedy noses. And what better place to cast your net for these avaricious morons than eBay? After all, don't we all go there looking for a bargain? If people don't know the true value of that chrome plated zoom-zoom, but you do, and no one's bidding on it, doesn't that make you oh so smart for scooping it up at a fraction of its real worth? No. It makes you an idiot.
Everyday, millions of people go trooping through eBay on the lookout for deals. So how come they all missed this great bargain? Admittedly, you can sometimes get great stuff relatively cheap on eBay. But when it's ridiculously cheap, for some people out there it's like putting a big fat drippy pork chop in front of a starved puppy. They just can't resist snapping at it—and, boohoo, the UPS man never comes. They've been had.
But maybe your moral compass is still functioning and all you need is someone to help show you what to look out for. In which case, absolutely read this open letter from EveAnna Manley, the president of Manley Laboratories, Inc. Her company makes some of the finest high-end audio gear in the world, and yes, this fabulous stuff comes at a price. But the listening rewards go on long after the price is forgotten.
And for all of you out there who have been suckered by a Manley-type eBay scam, you got exactly what you bargained for"hFrancis Vale, Editor in Chief, 21st, www.vxm.com
This is a general warning to everyone looking to buy high ticket Manley gear listed on eBay way cheap, too cheap. There have been many instances of people listing Manley 16x2 Mixers, SLAM!s and other high buck Manley gear repeatedly on eBay for ridiculously low prices. If you are considering "winning" those auctions, think about a few things.
Some handy tips for future reference:
Beware when you buy something like this that is priced just too good to be true. The price that fraudsters typically list at is below our build-cost. Anyone with half brains would list it much much higher and make some bucks.
Also look at the items the "seller" has previously sold or bought. Nothing at all? Uh-huh. Or what? One guy we busted was using someone's account who only had bought and sold stamps. I placed a bid on the item and got the seller's info and called him up. That account holder was a guy in Canada who collected stamps and owned a Baskin Robbins franchise. Sound like he might have an expensive exotic Manley mixer for sale? No way. He wasn't aware his account had been compromised. So look out for listings that might be account hi-jackings.
Be careful... and either use PayPal and buy the extra protection and don't ever just send cash or have PayPal yank money right out of your bank account. Don't use a ATM/check card. Use a credit card if all doesn't go well at least you have recourse with your credit card company because PayPal really offers you F%^K-ALL protection. Don't be sending a cashier's check or sending money to some unknown guy overseas. And that overseas seller only accepts Western Union or MoneyGram? If you are THAT gullible to bid on that auction then you will earn yourself a very expensive lesson.
Oh and he offers free shipping? And he has to sell it right now due to (pick one): a) divorce, b) has to move, c) needs to buy a car, d) some other urgent need. Yeah right. Does this guy look like he is even in the recording business? Yahoo and Hotmail accounts? Just be careful. Real people have domains and websites and phone numbers and real addresses and real businesses if they are a PRO AUDIO kinda guy. "PRO" as in "PROFESSIONAL". THINK!
Get all details about the seller before the auction closes and before the "seller" changes his ID and definitely make contact with the seller or "seller" before you make payment. Speak with the seller by telephone if you can. And, like, make sure he knows he has [something] for sale on eBay. Chances are he doesn't even know what a Manley Something is if his account has been hi-jacked. If you suddenly see those "shades" go up next to the seller, run away quickly. This seems to be the M.O. The fraudster changes the email address and account name right as the auction is closing so you will speak with him, Mr. Fraudster, not the poor innocent "stamp-seller" who owns the Baskin-Robbins franchise.
Watch out for auctions that list nothing specific about the product. That bogus mixer auction that keeps getting relisted didn't even tell you whether it was LINE, MIC, or 8+8 version. The text in that ad (along with the extra bit about the Langevin DVC) was lifted from an old page on the Sweetwater website and the pictures were taken off another Manley dealer's website. Right click those pictures and see where they are coming from. Do an image search at Google or Yahoo and see if those pictures were lifted off someone else's website. Many legit sellers will have taken pictures of the actual unit. If you are a seller you should invest in a digital camera or borrow one from a friend. Take a photo of the serial number!
Recently (9/2004) we saw a Manley Mastering SLAM! up for auction. Here is a copy of the 1st BOGUS auction page with all hyperlinks and scripts removed. The "seller" probably had read this page and had a serial number listed. Only he had lifted the serial number (and all the rest of the item description complete with the original auction's misspellings) from another recently ended legit auction (who had followed my advice here). And then our clever fraudster thought he would be smart and so he changed a digit of the serial number. Easy to spot as the number he put up did not exist. Good guess! Sure looks predictable enough! But it isn't! And the pictures he lifted from poking around here at manleylabs.com and Lynn Fuston's site. But what was great was that he claimed in email replies to potential bidders that he was the guy in the pictures! The gall! Only Lynn isn't selling any SLAM!s, doesn't have a Mastering one to sell, and doesn't live in England! And we all know what Lynn looks like so it was an instant flag. And besides the pictures he stole did not have the serial number shown. Nor was it a Mastering Version pictured anyway. And then Bozo Fraudster killed the auction, and hit relist, just without Lynn's face pictured. Well, it was all very amusing for 2 days before got that thief tossed off eBay.
But it doesn't stop there! The same day he gets booted, he just re-registers under a new alias, and lists another Mastering SLAM. But THIS time, he goes back to the closed legit auction he was modeling in the first place and steals ALL the photos of the legit unit, including the serial number, and lists THAT as his own to sell. More complaints were submitted to eBay... and well, blammo, mysteriously that auction got yanked within 5 minutes... cool. For now...
Get the complete serial number of the unit from the seller before you bid or pay and then email it to EveAnna and I can give you the history of the unit. If the seller cannot give you the serial number, then he probably doesn't have the unit to sell you!
If we show the serial number was originally sold to Japan and now is for sale in England ya gotta wonder... hmmmm.
If you are the seller, make sure you and your unit are registered with us and feel free to let me know you are selling your unit on eBay and I will be happy to vouch for you to your potential bidders.
If you spot a bogus auction, let me know about it. I have a special account on ebay I use to bid with to make it really obvious that this is a BOGUS_Manley_DONT_BID auction. If you see that in the bidding history, beware! LOOK in the bidding history of the unit and see who has bid on it. LOOK at the retracted bids.
These are tips of advice for future reference. I am glad you didn't get ripped off this time.
--- Cheers, EveAnna Manley, President
Manley Laboratories, Inc. 13880 Magnolia Ave. Chino, CA. 91710 Tel: (909) 627-4256 Fax: (909) 628-2482
Here are some specific web forum thread links about that last Manley SLAM!® Scam:
These forums are a great resource for all of us in the pro audio community to learn from and to help each other.
21st, The VXM Network, http://www.vxm.com