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what would you do? ebay/frame damage questions(13 posts)

what would you do? ebay/frame damage questionsbianchi boy
May 6, 2002 2:22 PM
Here's the deal. I recently bought a used Merckx steel lugged frame from an auction on eBay. I asked the seller a number of questions beforehand via email, regarding any damage, sizing, etc. He told me that, other than a few small paint chips here and there, the frame was in great shape. He said he had treated it with frame saver, kept it wiped down after riding, and had stored it in a closet for several years without riding it.

I paid $400 for the frame and fork, which seemed a reasonable price given that it cost about $1,300 new. It arrived about a week ago, and I've had it stored in my garage while waiting for a new stem and handlebar to arrive at my bike shop. I inspected the frame thoroughly, and it looked OK, but I am no frame expert. The parts arrived Friday, so I brought the frame in today to have built up. The bike shop owner inspected the frame and told me it has some damage to the top tube near the lug that joins the head tube. It is not extremely obvious -- no dents, cracks or chipped paint -- but the top tube shows a slight swelling in that area. He also said there is a slight swelling in the forks, suggesting that the frame had a front-on collision at some point, harsh enough to damage the frame. The damage does not appear to be structural, and the frame does not appeared to be misaligned. The shop owner said he would ride it, but it could give me trouble down the road and definitely affects the resale value.

Anyway, I'm looking for some advice here, other than the usual buyer beware stuff. I understand the risks of buying a frame on-line, sight unseen. I also have sent the seller an email, requesting that he phone me so we can talk about this. My preference would be to return the frame for a full refund. However, I am curious what others might do in a situation like this. Would you just ride the bike and not worry about the damage, which is probably mostly cosmetic? Would you file a fraud claim with eBay, since I specifically asked him if it had any damage and he did not mention this? Should I keep the frame and see if I can negotiate a partial refund (say $200) from the seller?

One final note. I am certain the frame was not damaged in shipment. It was thoroughly covered in bubble wrap and surrounded by paper, and the box had no damage.
re: what would you do? ebay/frame damage questionsweiwentg
May 6, 2002 3:11 PM
it's quite possible he didn't know anything about the damage. I wouldn't file a fraud claim. I'd negotiate with the seller. ask him to refund you the full purchase price first, and if he doesn't want to, then negotiate a partial refund.
May 6, 2002 3:23 PM
Wy do you think the frame was such a good deal in the first place? In any event you're negotiating from a position of weakness and any agreement you reach would be less than what the buyer thought he was getting - an undamaged frame for $400. If he's OK with a damaged frame for, say, $200 that's another thing. The seller will either give a full refund (he didn't know) or keep the full $400 b/c he knew exactly what he was doing.
May 6, 2002 4:19 PM
of course, if he insists on not refunding anything, he is liable for fraud...
naive? perhaps. but I like to think that cyclists generally don't screw one another.
re: what would you do? ebay/frame damage questionsgrzy
May 6, 2002 3:19 PM
The bike has hit something or been run into a garage while on the roof rack - don't ask me how I know this, I just know.

Steel is pretty tough, but it has been yielded. Also, the geometry has been changed since the headtube angle is now different. Chances are good that the bike isn't perfectly straight either and will ride funny - most likely pull to one side. Again, don't ask me how I know this, I just know.

I'd say it was pretty obvious that you were expecting a used frame with normal wear and tear. Getting in a wreck is not normal wear and tear and is something that the seller should have disclosed. If it was me I'd return the frame and ask for ALL of my money back. You weren't in the market for slightly damaged and twisted frames and you didn't think this is what you were getting. That department is down the hall under "junk".Given that the seller was unscroupulous enough in the first place to pawn off a damaged frame via the 'net it is unlikely that you'll get much satisfaction from this person. They choose the net b/c you have less options for recourse and you don't ahve to look anyone in the eye. The other option is to send it to a reputable frame shop to have the frame corrected, but this is likely to cost at least another $400 by the time you think about paint. Again this isn't what you thought you were buying. No way I'd buy a frame unseen without having it looked at by a shop/frame builder before purchase.

Probably your best approach is to try and NOT come across as pissed with the individual as you might be and appeal to common decencey, assuming he has some. Ask him if he'd like to be in your shoes. I'd then go ahead and let him know that you WILL file a fraud claim with ebay if he doesn't settle. If he's decent he'll settle, otherwise the bastard needs to be reported.
more details ...bianchi boy
May 6, 2002 4:21 PM
I sent the seller an email and he quickly responded, saying he would refund what I paid for the frame. I told him I would pay the postage to mail it back. Then he emailed me again and said he felt really bad about it, that I should keep the frame, and he would send me my money back as well.

So, I don't think he's a rip-off. He says he wasn't aware of the damage and that the bike wasn't crashed. My question at this point is, should I negotiate a lower price, or just send it back to him? Is it worth spending money to get it fixed, and how much might that cost? I really don't feel right keeping the frame for nothing, but on the otherhand I don't want to spend $200 on labor and parts building up the frame, only to find out it doesn't ride right.
more details ...gtx
May 6, 2002 7:44 PM
I think there is a slight possibility the LBS owner doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. Sure Merckx wasn't doing some weird tube shaping? Of course, all wrecks are different, but usually you'll see a little buckling on the downtube right under the headtube before you see damage on the top tube. Also, with Euro frames, you'll often see some paint flaking (US bikes tend to have better paint). If you want to know the truth take it to a good framebuilder who has a frame alignment table and have him inspect it. FWIW, I've had Columbus SL frames straightened after fairly nasty wrecks--one into the back of a car--and it's worked out great. But those were good old fashioned Columbus SL--heavy stuff by today's standards. But if this makes you nervous I'd just send it back and get your money back. Nice to know that the seller is being cool about it.
My opiniongrandemamou
May 7, 2002 3:42 AM
Get your money back and walk away. Used frames with normal wear and tear can be found easily and cheaply. You may be able to repair it but IMO it's not worth the time and effort. If you do decide to keep it will you ever feel totaly confident that it won't fail?
May 7, 2002 4:38 PM
I'd send it back and get my money back. Do you really want to mess with damaged goods even if they are "free"? I scare the crap out of myself enough on good equipment. BTW - on my lunch time ride to day I popped off a 4" crub (yes, just riding along!) like I've done thousands of times and broke the swing arm on my C'dale Jekyll. Complete fracture on the drive side, but C'dale is sending me the new swing arm (been wanting one for a while now) free of charge even though I'm beyond the warranty period by a few months. The LBS was a bit suprised - I tip the scales at around 160 # - soaking wet. So call me paranoid, but I think I've earned it.
nessism, frame-meister extraordinaire, waddaya think?bianchi boy
May 6, 2002 4:56 PM
As the resident frame expert, what do you think, is a frame like this worth fooling with? I really can't afford to have it repaired and repainted right now, unless he's giving me the frame, but I feel uneasy taking a frame for nothing ... How much would it likely cost to have the frame fixed and repainted?
nessism, frame-meister extraordinaire, waddaya think?weiwentg
May 6, 2002 5:23 PM
give him back the frame. via USPS, it should easily be under $30.
however it works out, I am glad to hear this was resolved satisfactorily.
Send it backNessism
May 6, 2002 6:23 PM
I think the others have this one nailed. The frame must have hit something head on, buckling the top tube slightly and maybe more importantly, damaging the fork. The frame may still ride OK but the fork should go in the trash if there is ANY question about it.

Even if you buy a new fork, the head angle is likely to be steeper than before. Very hard to say without measuring but considering the damage is not too noticable...maybe 1/2 degree?

For what it's worth, I have a friend that has a Pinarello with the same buckling - only this bulge IS noticable. He claims the frame rides fine.

Contact me off the forum if you have any further questions.

re: what would you do? -send it back or repaintrider5673
May 8, 2002 8:25 AM
IMHO, if the top tube is buckled and not the down tube, the head tube angle will be more relaxed than before and slower steering will result. Possibly not even noticeable. and the frame may be straight within acceptable tolerances.
That said, the "puffiness" of the tube could be caused by a frontal impact or corrosion of the tube which distorts the paint.
I would either send it back the cheapest way possible, or strip the paint in the area you are concerned with for a closer inspection of the steel, not the finish applied to it.
If a headset came with it (the original one) you can also easily inspect it for notches, destroyed bearings, etc. which would lend credence to the impact theory.
Glad to hear the seller is willing to stand behind it.