A guide to bidding on Ebay auf deutsch

Auctions not in English

Even if the auction is not in English (or a language you are not fluent in) there is a reasonable chance that the seller will be able to communicate in English or get help to do so, but allow good time for any questions.

When it comes to asking questions of sellers in languages other than English use of the on-line free translators, and three of them, http://www.systransoft.com/ , http://www.freetranslation.com/  and http://www.worldlingo.com/ are particularly suitable for translating Copy and Paste blocks of text (up to 150 words - split into sections if bigger) from an auction's description as well. Freetranslation has options to add hot buttons and links to your browser.

Altavista provides the Babel Fish (ref Hitch Hiker's guide to the Galaxy) at http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/ and allows a web page to be translated or a section of text of up to 150 words. We have noticed that Babel Fish and Systran make a fundamental error at least with some German and change "Der Zustand ist neuwertig" to "The condition is not new". Although very good in the translation of words this presents a serious problem when looking at something to buy. Freetranslation gave "The condition is mint". WorldLingo (http://www.worldlingo.com/wl/translate)has been reported to offer more accurate translations.

When asking questions, keep your English text simple as it's less likely to be misunderstood in the translation. They don't translate perfectly but should be understandable. Write in English followed by a translation headed: "Mechanical translation" (in the seller's language) to imply that any perceived quirk or insult(!) is not deliberate.

The Auction Risks

Many auctions reach higher prices than found in shops. Check first.

The sellers are not able to offer a guarantee. They frequently have no idea what they are selling and do not report accurately the condition. They even have difficulty describing the item. The dishonest ones will bend the language or simply lie.

If you wish to be assured of a working camera an auction may not be the place to go looking. If you are a novice and would like support then purchase from those few places that can offer the service. 

The best quality cameras are usually complex devices and can not be easily fixed. Even apparently simple corrections can lead to further damage. Repair facilities are few, expensive and likely to require the camera to be away for weeks or months.

You may be bidding with collectors who are looking to complete gaps in their collections and those new to bidding who believe they have to out bid now or they will never have the opportunity again. 

Many online shops do not offer photographs of the expensive items they sell and some, in the small print, inform you that the condition A+ is only an indication of appearance and does not guarantee that the camera is either complete or working. In this respect they may be no better than an online auction.

Ebay and PayPal include some recompense if the seller is fraudulent. These procedures are complex, take months and the return is limited. Ebay do not inform you that the seller you are about to deal with has been suspended. If the auction has closed you are told to pay. If the seller is suspended immediately after close you are not informed. When provided with information over suspicious sellers Ebay may take over a week before action is taken. If you can't afford to loose the money look elsewhere.

On the positive side online auctions open up the possibility of collecting that could not be achieved by any other means or only by the expenditure of much time and a lot of money including travelling. The majority of sellers are friendly and do their utmost to be accurate and honest.

Do your homework before bidding and reduce the risks. You can also try the live help:-


Bidder's Questions

Always ask questions first, including getting answers to the following:-

Check out the end of auction price of similar items by searching over the last 30 days. Do your homework. Ask questions on the discussion forums to help make your mind up.

Many sellers state local or national post only. The reasons for this may be complex and one of the most common ones is not having changed the default when listing the item. Cash can be sent by International Signed for with compensation from the UK and there are similar registered post services for other European countries to the USA, Canada and South Africa. Registered post for letters and packages from the USA is limited to $44 but a parcel can be insured for more. Even so sending cash is risky. International money orders even when drawn on a bank of the destination country may still cause problems for the seller to cash. Direct bank transfers are expensive and incur cost in sending and receiving for which the buyer should pay.  Most difficulties can be over come; but this still requires agreement from seller and buyer.

Remember - if you get sniped there is a strong chance that another one will turn up next week. This is called the Cluster Effect. Try to resist over bidding. Some bidders appear to be hyping the market, so they can sell at a higher price later, don't play the game. If you have done your homework you stand a good chance of getting what you seek at a fair price. There is a lot of noise in the final value price due to bidders new to Ebay, dealers and frantically collectors. 

If you do not place an opening bid then no one knows you are bidding and can't guess what you will bid to, but no one can warn you of fakes, bad selling history or of cheaper alternatives. Many seasoned Ebayers help newbies (those with low feed back numbers) and even people they aggressively bid against in fair play. There is a strong sense of community on the internet and only a few spoilers of the fun. If the auction is private you can't see who bids and no one can see you bid. This is a way that some bad sellers stop the bidders from being warned off by those stung by the seller but also puts off the 'dealers'. If you want to sign up for a sniping service look at the details at www.esnipe.com which charge 1% of final value (USD) and 100 points ($1) for non-USD auctions (e.g. in EUR or GBP). There are some that give 5 free snipes per month or you paid a monthly fee.

Many items are listed as excellent, very good or even mint. Do not expect your view on these to be the same as the sellers. Even if a near perfect camera left the seller in the very best working order that does not mean that the first time you use it there will be no problems. Many of these cameras are 30 to 100 years old and can stop working at any time even if not disturbed. The postal service is also a nice way to shake up old and delicate equipment and change it from a working to a broken state.

If you want to be certain over an item then get from a seller who provides a guarantee and back up and support but do expect to pay for this additional service. A bargain may cost you more than a premium quality item with repairs and postage costs. Conversely just because the bidding goes high does not mean that it is not a heap of junk. Some shops sell at very high prices but do not give assurances as to it being complete or working.

Some equipment has been rebuilt from similar parts that result in a mismatch of engravings and other features. The seller and even some general photographic experts may not be aware of this. There is a trade in anodizing silver/chrome cameras to their more expensive colour variations. Some special edition printing is suspect. Done well, and some of these post sales modifications are professionally finished, it can turn a plain camera into something special, BUT it is not an original and may effect reselling. Some owners have turned ugly cameras into gold plated wonders.

When the auction closes establish communications as soon as possible. E-mail systems and computers break down at the most inconvenient times and are instrumental in some misunderstandings. A good feed back history instils confidence but even so every now and again things do not run as smooth as you would like. Some sellers do not include any details with the package. They may have their address, but sometimes that of the sender and seller are different; so if you end up with several almost identical items tracing back to the auction to leave feed back is difficult.

You have 90 days to leave feed back and if is not unusual for international trading to take 8 weeks or more, particularly if heavy items are shipped by surface mail. If you have a saved copy of the auction page you can leave feed back even outside of the 90 days that Ebay gives.

Post-auction checks

Feed Back to Seller suggestions

The only defence the buyer has is feedback. The seller does not ship until the money is received but there are bidders who close with buy it now that costs the seller the listing fee and the time it take to re-list which may be 7-10 days later in case the bidder does respond. There are bad bidders as there are bad sellers.

A bidder wants to know if the auction is likely to be listed accurately. If any problems are resolved satisfactory and if the item will be packaged with due care. Nearly all Ebay feed backs are positive, and even giving neutral is looked down upon. Bidders are reluctant to leave negative feed back as the seller may retaliate in kind.  In fact all feedback should be neutral as that means everything was as expected, no ex-special care and no bad deal. The problem is the restricted tags used by Ebay. In 2007 Ebay added a profile with a 5 star rating on accuracy of description , communications, time to when the item was despatched and how reasonable were the postage and packing charges. But this is still means that it can be seen if you leave a poor score on something and get the buyer a negative in response. If everything went without any problems should this be three stars or five?

We could do with a 5 letter/number code. If Ebay provided a drop down list it would be standardized across all auctions - as outlined below. An Ebay list would also be dynamic and updateable so graded codes would work. However a grade {1,...,5} or {A,...,n} would still leave an all negative or all positive without the correct understand of why. The codes detailed below are sentence substitutions - not grades of service. We see with grades of the auction item that even when standard tests are used it leave 9.5 and Exc+ open to misuse. A code that says two or more dings and scratches is [J]unk is more accurate. 

So HANAA is "Hidden surprises, just the necessary (adequate) communications, problems not worth reporting further, adequate packaging, adequate delivery" 

and BGNGF is "Better than expected, good friendly correspondence, no problems, good care in packaging, fast delivery"

or in the worst case TBUIS is "Terrible, bad and rude correspondence, unsatisfactory response, inadequate packaging, slow posting".

So G is not worse than B for description but is the worse for communications. Adequate (or as described) does not mean bad either.  If more codes are added a graded system would need changing to keep the order. With these codes small changes in definition and expanding the choices leaves the code already left alone. Ideally an option list supplied by Ebay would be best, but also it is more complex as it would need to consider transaction for all the types of articles available on Ebay.

Feed Back Codes


  [A]    As described
  [B]    Better than described
  [H]    Hidden surprises (marks, missing parts) but not serious for the price paid
  [W]    Worse than described
  [T]    Terrible


[G]    Good and friendly as in being notified of cost and postage options, and when posted, etc
[A]    Adequate as in short but nothing more needed
[W]    Weak as in having to repeatedly send questions or had to wait a long time for replies (beyond time zone differences)
[P]    Poor; nothing or the minimum Ebay notices if more was needed.
[B]    Bad; as in rude


[N]    None or nothing worth following up
[M]    Minor, nothing much to worry about but if many people have this then there is a problem
[S]    Satisfactory handled
[U]    Unsatisfactory


 [G]    good, care taken (and fair costs)
 [A]    adequate
 [O]    over the top (too much so costs me money, over charged, or seller over paid postage)
 [I]    inadequate (whether contents arrived safely or not)


[F]    Fast - better than reasonable
[A]    Adequate - within normal time scales for correspondence and receipt of money
[S]    Slow - took longer than is reasonable or used surface mail instead of airmail, inspect post marks. The seller is not responsible for the time the post takes for a given service.

Feed back to Bidders suggestions

If you are reselling surplus items or parts of your collection what feed back can be left in return to the 'winning' bidder?

The transaction has three parts:- communications, payment and closure (resolving any problems)

Communications includes pre-close questions and post close responses. Timely responses to e-mail and payment in good time. There are sometimes delays in arranging money orders, posting cash or the clearance by the banks following electronic fund transfers or direct deposits by cheque, however most transactions can be completed within 12 hours of the end of auction. Depositing cash at a branch of the same bank will show up immediately, but at an associated bank still needs 2 to 10 days to clear.

Post delivery feed back includes letting you know if the goods have arrived. Reporting on the state of packaging; so you know if it was adequate or needs to be be improved. Reporting on the items and that it checks out satisfactory or if time is requested to process film, etc. The postal service is very good at breaking hereto reliable working equipment even if there is no signs of damage to packaging. 

This is not a grading system, but a sentence substitution to leave more words for further explanation if needed or useful. If more definitions are required they can be included with out changing the current codes.


[g]    Good, friendly
[a]    Adequate, business like
[p]    Poor or slow in responding
[f]    Failed to read important conditions of the auction (but if these conditions are a 4-5 page essay in complex language do not be surprised if no one reads them).
[u]    Made unreasonable demands (like next day delivery but wont pay for it)


[f]   Fast or Prompt
[t]    Timely; paid as agreed and promised
[n]    Non-paying bidder
[p]    Problems if resolved, like returned cheque or slow in paying, or not as promised and arranged
[u]    Unresolved problems.

Post delivery feedback. 

[i]    Informed of delivery and helpful comments.
[n]    No feedback, or not simply not so far; if feed back is being left before the expected date of delivery.
[r]    Problems resolved in a friendly manner, as in claims to be made against carrier or postal service, or incidental failure in transport and so on.
[u]    Unreasonable, as in unreasonable expectations, rude or threaten correspondence or not being given the opportunity to correct any mis-understandings.

Grading Codes

McKeown's Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras gives two grading tables. The first is cosmetic condition {0->9}and the second functional condition {A->K} with 0A being new, never sold, with warranty. Some sellers use a similar but different scheme and others reverse the order so 9 becomes best. There are even deceptive schemes where 10 is best and 8 is worst.

The guide suggests values for cameras that are 5F. Many of the camera sold on Ebay would be 56GH and are typically sold at under 30% of the McKeown's value. Others are spot on. Distinction between USA and Europe prices started to be reduced in 2002 as more people are trading internationally. Any suggested value of second hand cameras is always dependant upon how much the seller wants, how much the buyer is willing to pay and at auction, who sees it to bid.

Grade - Cosmetic condition

Grade % of Book value description
0 150-250 New merchandise, never sold. In original box and warranties.
1 130-150 As new. Never used. Same as new, but no manufacturer's warranties/ With box or original packaging
2 120-140    No signs of wear. If it had a box you wouldn't be able to tell it from new.
3 115-130  Minimal signs of wear.
4 110-120 Signs of light use, but not misuse. No other cosmetic damage.
5  95-115 Complete, but showing signs of normal use or age.
6  80-110 Complete, but showing signs of heavy use. Well used.
7  55-85 Restorable. Some refinishing necessary. Minor parts may be broken or missing.
8  30-60 Restorable. Refinishing required. May be missing some parts.
9  10-30  For parts only, or major restoration if a rare camera.

Grade - Functional Condition

Grade Description
A As new. Everything functioning perfectly, with factory and/or dealer warranty.
B As new. Everything functioning perfectly but not warranted by factory. Seller fully guaranties functioning.
C Everything functioning. recently professionally cleaned, lubricated, overhauled and fully guaranteed.
D Everything functioning. recently professionally cleaned, lubricated or overhauled, but no longer under warranty.
E Everything functioning. Major functions have recently been professionally tested.
F Not recently cleaned, lubed or overhauled. fully functioning, but accuracy of shutter or meter not guaranteed.
G Fully functioning. Shutter speeds and/or meter probably not accurate. Needs adjusting or cleaning only.
H Usable but not fully. Shutter may stick on slow speeds. Meter may not work.
J Not usable without repair or cleaning. Shutter, meter, film advance may be stuck, jammed or broken.
K Probably not repairable.

Subminiature forsale index

Last updated 26th June 2007

Additional suggestions from D.Scott Young and Steve Uhrig, language translation tip from Keith Berry, October 2002, international signed for & registered post updated Douglas St.Denny March 2004

1. Obtaining accurate readings of light meters is not always easy. Comparing reading from two different types of cameras with different scales and priorities may never match. However, observing low reading in low light and high readings in bright light takes two seconds. A camera was taken to a local vintage camera emporium for evaluation. The owner was told that the camera was not worth very much because the meter was sluggish. The assistant had taken the camera to the back of the dark shop to the owner and there was no apparent attempt to look in daylight or anything but dark and dull light. The meter was in fact in good working order. From this even 'expert' option seems often to mislead.

2. A good feed back on items that never raised more than $2 when an item is now being now sold for $1000 indicates nothing positive. There are bidding rings to watch out for, where a bidder raising the current value has in fact only ever bid on auctions by this seller or a very limited number of sellers who have only had bids by the same user IDs. Just trace a few feedback profiles on all the bidders and what they have bid on and who else bid on those items. It takes minutes and can save you hundreds in hard earned cash.

3. Even with signs or tarnishing on the battery contacts it may work perfectly; hence has it been tested with a battery? Brass and copper contacts tarnish. This is not the same as corrosion from a battery leak which may have penetrated to the circuit board and could lead to early failure. Cleaned contacts does not mean that the insidious corrosion inside the camera, where it continues to eat away at the thin copper traces on the flexible printed circuit board, as well as any precision mechanics has been cleaned away.