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Safe Transactions

Authorized Dealers - Safe Bet

Buying from reputable dealers is safe & easy, either direct in-store purchases or through the mail. Authorized dealers usually provide a comfort level where you can purchase equipment sight unseen via credit card, check or money order, without fears of being ripped off. Regardless, always be sure to ask plenty of specific questions about a guitar (or other equipment) you have never seen or played first hand. It makes sense to ensure that there is a return policy (without hidden fees) for a guitar whose condition is misstated or exaggerated. Also check on extra "credit-card" fees for dealers who advertise cash prices. Keep in mind that shipping costs for a "free refund" can cost you $20-40 for a returned guitar.

Private Party Sales - Use More Caution

Private sales are a different animal since "all sales are final" is the general rule of thumb. When buying from private parties it is critical to cover all bases to ensure not getting stuck with a guitar that is below your expectations or worse yet a completely different item altogether!

Do Your Homework & Apply Common Sense
Find out all the details about the guitar and seller prior to exchanging any money. See the "Guitar Grading" section for tips on how to assess the condition of the guitar so there is no confusion in what to expect. Also obtain information about the seller including home address, home/work phone and preferably state drivers license or other proof of ID. Photo IDs can easily be scanned into a GIF or JPG and attached to an e-mail.

Always ask questions about the guitar to ensure it is the model advertised. You'd be surprised how many dealers can mistake a true Yellow JEM777DSY for an alleged JEM777LNG. Piece together clues such as parts, headstock colors and serial numbers (to check model years - 88xxxx neck plate cannot be from a multicolor JEM!). Always get pictures when possible. Check the guitar's features against the true details of each model from the Spec Sheet section and Guitar Gallery.

Finalize Payment and Shipping Methods

Once a final price is agreed upon you are ready. Prior to exchanging money finalize the item's cost shipping method & shipping cost. For shipping, COD is a safe and smart method for long distance transactions. With COD, Cash or Money Order is collected upon delivery of the package. Although it leaves room for possible fraud, COD keeps the seller somewhat at risk also if the buyer refuses the shipment of the guitar - the shipper would eat the shipping costs upon the guitar's return.

With COD you can use UPS ground or other shipping services. UPS does not require an account, whereas FedEx and others require a business account. A JEM/UV in a hard case and box will be sized around 20"x12"x52". Any customer can call the UPS 800-742-5877 number and request a pickup for $5.00 extra. The UPS COD charge is an additional $4.75 bringing the average shipping costs for UPS Ground from $25-50 total within the USA. For shippers, make sure to insure the package and specify that UPS accept only bank checks or Money orders - no personal checks. Note that if you use Mailboxes Etc or other packing outfits, because technically Mailboxes Etc. is the shipper and the COD would be sent back to them - thus adding a potential delay in the receipt of payment. The US Post office has a reasonably priced Air Service - Priority Mail, which is OK for coast-coast ships, however CODs are limited to $800 total. Finally if you don't have a cardboard box to fit the guitar case you can often get one free from a local music store, otherwise purchase them from a mail packing company.

It is important to keep in mind that UPS and other shippers will not let you open COD packages to inspect the contents upon their arrival so be sure to verify the guitar before when the package ships.

Third Party "Escrow" services are becoming available to accomidate internet buying and selling where the goods can not be seen or inspected. Two notable services are bookmarked below. Each requires a small comission in exchange for "safety" in the transaction.

Choose a Packing Company?

If a guitar is quite expensive and coming from an unknown private party, I would consider the option of using a third party packaging company such as Mailboxes Etc. to verify the contents. Simply arrange it with the seller/shipper to leave the package with the store manager. You can then call the store and verify the contents before they wrap and ship the guitar to you. The additional $10-15 expense of Mailboxes Etc. becomes a nice insurance policy to prevent getting an unpleasant surprise.

Buying guitars online can be a pleasurable experience or lead to a disaster. If you do your homework prior to finalizing any sale your odds will improve for having it be a success. Good luck.
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