Some of us have been on the sellers side of the table at a fleamarket as well as the buyers side. For the buyer, following one simple rule goes a long way in purchase satisfaction and has the potential to identify unscrupulous sellers. A typical dialogue might sound like this :
"Mind if I open it up and take a look?" "Could we take this to a place where we can plug it in and try it out? "The real clincher is "Can I have your name and phone number so if I have a problem I can call you and resolve it?" Anybody who won't co- operate with those requests may be consciously disguising the true condition of the goods. At that point, it would be best to say "Not interested!" and walk away.
Few people at fleamarkets are comfortable in attempting the big 'lie'. Many vendors, however, might overstate the condition of the equipment in order to promote a quick sale. Unless the vendor is perfectly honest, statements of condition should be downgraded. In other words, CAVEAT EMPTOR. Listed below, are many popular phrases that can be heard at flea markets and what some of the phrases could potentially mean:
"Worked last time I turned it on" or "I don't know if it works".
Translation: It doesn't work now.
"It has a problem with ..."
Translation: The seller only mentions this because it's obvious to the most casual observer. There are other problems of course, but you can't see them.
"It has a MINOR problem with ..."
Translation: The seller couldn't fix it, either because the cost was prohibitive, he didn't have the expertise or parts are unavailable.
Translation: Caveat Emptor.
"It might need a bit of tweaking."
Translation: Marconi himself couldn't fix it, much less align it.
"It was used in government service."
Translation: After the government technician tried to solder the loose connections with an acetylene torch, it was stored outdoors on a wooden pallet during the winter season.
"The dial drive may need lubricating."
Translation: The gears are stripped and all the setscrews are hopelessly frozen.
"I plugged it in to check that it lights up."
Translation: The light came from the two foot high flames.
"The audio sounds great."
Translation: The 60Hz hum is faithfully reproduced.
"I'm selling it because I have two of them."
Translation: I'm getting rid of my parts radio.
"You won't find one at a better price."
Translation: "Better", in this case, meaning from the point of view of the seller.
"There are a couple of other people interested in it."
Translation: Someone sat on it briefly to tie his shoelaces while walking past the table.
Many thanks to Jim Garland W8ZR, Bill Sorsby N5BU and Kim Herron of the 'Boatanchor' Internet group for sharing their experiences.