Buying Shop Equipment at Online Auction Sites

Some people report satisfaction; others, not so much. So it's "buyer beware." February 9, 2008

I can't believe some people bid on machines and miscellaneous items when they could buy it new anywhere for the same price. I have a friend that works for a big site, taking pictures, and he tells me how bad the stuff really is and most of the time you can't tell it from a photo. He tells me horror stories about people buying machines and finding out that what they bought is junk, not worth the price of scrap. If you bid on a machine for 5000 and pay the buyer's premium plus rigging costs, most of the time you can buy it through this site or Ex-Factory or somewhere else, talk to someone about it, have the option to haggle about the price, plus actually see the machine run! Sometimes it only takes one bad part on a machine for it not to be worth anything or cost thousands of dollars to fix

Forum Responses
From contributor D:
I have bought on auctions and been happy with what I got and what I paid. While what you say may be true of entry or mid-level equipment, I think the old American Iron is still a good value.

I have been watching 10 to 40 year old Diehl and Mattison glue line ripsaws going for between $6500 to $1500 (average about $1900) for the last few months. While Mattisons are no longer made, parts are still available, and Diehl will even help you ascertain the machine's worth. The new Diehls that are comparable to a SL55 sell for over $30,000 new. Feed chain and race are the most expensive parts, at about $7,000. You can replace them in about a day and a half. A lot of money, but when all is said and done, you still have an excellent machine that will outlive us all.

From contributor P:
You used a lot of general terms like auction companies, but mentioned only one name and that was Ex-Factory. I have had dealings with them and I know from that experience the owner places the satisfaction of the customer at a high priority. It sounds like you have had a bad experience with not winning a bid on an auction site at some time and needed to voice your frustrations. I hope you feel better now. There are lots of us who bid on those auction sites and are happy with the results.

From contributor J:
I have bought several machines through on-line auctions. They have all been industrial auction places, not the one that everybody thinks of where you can get anything from a jet airplane to toilet paper. I'm not sure if the first poster has had a bad experience or not. Sounds to me like he is probably bidding on something and trying to run the competition away, although he didn't mention any particular machine. What others do with their money is none of my business.

From contributor E:
I have equipped about half my shop from online auctions, specifically the one that sells everything and advertises everywhere. As an example, last year I bought a 20" Delta bandsaw, Delta 3 hp shaper, Omga 14" chopsaw, Delta1 hp 4 wheel powerfeed, and 2 dust collectors. All the machinery was two years old and in pretty good overall condition, with some cleanup and minor repairs needed. I paid on average 33 cents on the dollar of its cost new. I also bought a Devilbiss spraybooth with 18" explosion proof fan and two explosion proof lights for $150. Then there is the Sawtrax 52" panel saw I bought for about $450 (somewhere around 25 cents on the dollar), which I'm not thrilled with, but I'm glad I didn't pay full price to find out. I've also bought smaller items for the shop that I usually do pretty well with.

I do understand where the poster is coming from, as I see people overpaying for things all the time. I have actually seen people pay more for used items than the cost new! I think they just get caught up in the frenzy.

Another observation I have made, though, is that industrial machinery, especially 3 phase, gets much less attention. Which makes me think it's mostly the hobby guys bidding on stuff they can put in their garage or basement. Luckily I have three phase power and so don't have to compete with the masses for the machinery I'm looking for.

I've also been keeping an eye on the IRS auction page and I see some industrial stuff being sold for very little money. I'm waiting on a couple machines to come up locally to bid on for next year.

At the end of the day you have to know what you're looking at, what it's worth, and what condition it's in. As long as I don't do something stupid, it's not my concern if others are throwing their money away.

From the original questioner:
I am going to look at a tool that someone bought through an auction site. He bid on multiples and got them all. He thought he got a good deal until he looked closer! Then he got ripped off by the riggers. Now he's selling most of the items. Just so the pain isn't so bad. Another man bought a Holzma panel saw cheap, or so he thought, and ended up paying the riggers over 15000 to remove and crate the saw. Upon further inspection, he found the frame was cracked. The saw turned out to be a prototype and there were very limited parts for the machine. It's junk!

From contributor J:
I do agree, buyer must be aware of and check rigging costs. A lot of auctions, sellers will remove and load. The times I have found something I wanted and a specified rigger had to be used, I inquired on a quote to remove the piece I was going to bid on. Every time the rigging costs pushed the item higher than I would go.