Ethics question


PDA






moewadle
July 3, 2009, 11:00 PM
I would like to get a bunch of opinions on this. I was searching the net auction listings for a Marlin Model 99 M1 .22 semi-auto rifle made from about 1965-78. One of the "unique" things about this rifle is that it has a pretty great factory rear sight (adjusts for windage and elevation) on it mounted on the scope rail and not on the barrel. This sight is darn near impossible to find in gun parts supply systems and it probably trades at $50 or more when one is available. I believe the sight is prone to loss partly because of the way it fastens to the firearm. The gun itself, with sight, might be worth around $175 in nice condition. It is not all that common. Okay, so there is one listed on an auction site and there are photos. One remark by the seller is, "Look at the photos and buy with confidence." However, the rear sight is missing. The seller does not mention that. In a message to the seller I confirmed there is no rear sight.

My opinion is that this is not ethical and should be pointed out by the seller. I am not saying anything illegal is being done. I just think it is unethical. It is just the right thing to do to point out that the rear sight is missing. WHAT DO YOU ALL THINK?

If you enjoyed reading about "Ethics question" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
rbernie
July 3, 2009, 11:13 PM
I think that my idea of ethics is different from many other folk, and as a result I don't pass judgment much on such things.

The standard rule seems to be that the picture is the communication; look and see what you get. It's up to the buyer to know what they're looking at and make the determination to bid/no-bid.

ETA - to clarify my first sentence, I would feel compelled to point out all known flaws. But that's just me.

deadin
July 3, 2009, 11:17 PM
The standard rule seems to be that the picture is the communication; look and see what you get. It's up to the buyer to know what they're looking at and make the determination to bid/no-bid.

Absolutely +1!!

duckman007
July 3, 2009, 11:54 PM
Personally, I feel that a part missing from a firearm, or anything for that matter, should be disclosed. I look at it like this, if I were the buyer, would I want, and deserve, to know that the gun had a part missing, and therefore a defect from it's original factory condition. The picture may very well work for the educated buyer, but what about the layman who has no knowledge of that firearm or sight? He deserves to purchase with full disclosure. Would you sell a gun with a safety defect that the picture disclosed and not mention it elsewhere? Do unto others, as they say.

Jim K
July 4, 2009, 12:11 AM
Regardless of the value of the part itself, the seller should disclose a deficiency in, or absence of, any part, whether it can be seen in a picture or not. I wonder if those who say, in effect, "buyer beware" would feel the same if they bought a rifle without an extractor or a pistol with no firing pin, items that might be hard or impossible to obtain and whose absence might not be visible in a photo, and the seller did not mention the missing items.

Just FWIW, any seller, not just a business, is subject to the laws of implied warranty, or warranty of merchantability. The trouble with "web" sales is that, absent good will on the part of the seller, it is nearly impossible to get satisfaction on a defective product. Only rarely will a defrauded buyer have the means and determination to pursue on principle a claim for what is usually a relatively small sum.

Jim

Oro
July 4, 2009, 12:24 AM
I have bought and sold quite a few guns online, and my rule is any flaw or deviation from expected/as new condition is noted when I sell. I expect the same, and almost always get it - there are cases where a seller is new and not as thorough, then it's the case of the job of the smart buyer to ask questions.

Because of the medium of online selling - the buyer cannot see or handle the item, and is dependent upon the integrity of the seller to describe it fully and photograph it in enough detail to make up for the lack of an in-person handling and inspection, I believe the ethics of on-line selling are that the seller has to go to extra lengths in the description and presentation to help make a clear and honest transaction.

The "ethics" of online selling require more effort and honesty than in-person transactions, not less. "Buyer beware" and "as is" are not good enough in a distant transaction. The ethical bar is higher.

JoeMal
July 4, 2009, 12:31 AM
In an eBay situation, I have to agree that 'what you see is what you get'...it's up to you to see that it doesn't have the sight

Now, ethically, I think it should have been mentioned. When I sell things on eBay I always mention the faults of whatever I'm trying to sell and be honest about it. It hasn't ever stopped me from selling a product in the past....some people just think they're getting a deal or screwing someone over when really it was probably the first thing you saw (Especially since you obviously know what you're looking for)

Gamera
July 4, 2009, 12:33 AM
Maybe the seller doesn't know about the rear sight being special/worth mentioning?

(just throwing ideas out there)

moewadle
July 4, 2009, 01:05 AM
I would say that is beside the point, partially, whether the sight is valuable or not I think it should be pointed out. But, I agree there is lot of room here for disagreement. Thanks for your input.

kingpin008
July 4, 2009, 01:31 AM
As long as the seller told you about it when you asked, what's the problem?

Now, if he had tried to dance around the issue and play games, sure - that's a problem. But by the info in your post, it seems that he was pretty forthcoming with the info, which he could have just forgotten to include in his auction post.

ArfinGreebly
July 4, 2009, 01:53 AM
While I am generally inclined to agree that "pictures tell the story" I have to say this is not always true.

Last year I picked up a box of "razor" pattern knives on eBay. They were decent looking, were advertised as being made of "Solingen" steel. There was a photo detail showing the "Solingen Steel" stamp.

I made the buy.

On receiving the product I found that, while the knives did indeed all have the "Solingen" stamp, there was another label, laser engraved farther out on the blade, well away from the stamp. The laser engraved word was "Pakistan."

This engraving didn't show in any of the photos, and nothing in the wording of the product description hinted at it. The description never said the product was "made in Germany," only that it was made of "Solingen steel."

I called the seller on that discrepancy. He insisted that he "hadn't lied" and that it was "my job" to ask where the product was made.

It was clear to me that the seller had chosen the photos and wording to deflect scrutiny from the country of manufacture and, while he didn't actually lie about where it was made, he allowed the misleading product labeling to do that for him, and omitted what else he knew.

Clearly, his conduct was "ethically wanting."

A seller who knows of a shortcoming in his offering and who nonetheless "fails to mention" it, placing the burden of discovery on the buyer, is engaging in unethical conduct.

He's making it an adversarial game where either the buyer wins or the seller does, but not both.

He's looking for a sucker, and trusting that it's only a matter of time before someone steps up.

If your "rulebook" has the express stipulation that the burden of discovery is always on the buyer, that's fine -- as long as the buyer subscribes to that same book.

If the buyer expects full disclosure, you may need an inexhaustible stream of suckers to keep your business going.

My vote: as the seller, disclose anything you know that a knowledgeable buyer would consider important. Don't make sales transactions a "zero-sum" game.

moooose102
July 4, 2009, 09:46 AM
yes, he should have mentioned it in his listing. but that is the wonderful thing about photo's, they say 1,000 words!

AirForceShooter
July 4, 2009, 09:52 AM
it was disclosed.
You saw on the picture the sight was missing.

AFS

moewadle
July 4, 2009, 10:43 AM
another idea or two. I think that an potential buyer of a gun or other should read up on that item and learn all he/she can in order to make an informed purchase. In this case any potential buyer of that Marlin 99M1 should study a few references....like the internet entries or a Gun Digest or such....However, I still agree with Arfin Greebly who put it so well...read his entry again to see my view. The seller of this rifle, in my opinion, is engaging in unethical conduct.

SCKimberFan
July 4, 2009, 11:00 AM
it was disclosed.
You saw on the picture the sight was missing.

AFS

I must agree with AFS on this. 1 - The photo showed it missing. 2 - The seller confirmed it was missing. What is the problem?

Gamera posted this, which also has merit:

Maybe the seller doesn't know about the rear sight being special/worth mentioning?

If you got the information before you made the purchase why is there a question of his ethics?

I was always taught to give everyone the benefit of doubt. Not everyone is a ripoff artist (although many are).

BlkHawk73
July 4, 2009, 11:07 AM
To me "Look at the photos and buy with confidence" means what you see is what you get. The seller shouldn't have to point out each and every little aspect if it's clearly obvious from a picture.


Have a 99M1 here missing the rear sight. They are difficult to find. :)

Two Cold Soakers
July 4, 2009, 12:43 PM
What about the worn gold plating on the trigger in photo #3? Should the seller point out it's worn off and didn't come that way from the factory?
No.



Okay, let's say it's a 95% pre-64 .338 Model 70 Alaskan with vintage Bausch and Lomb glass and no reserve and you are in at 450 dollars with 30 minutes left?
Is it my ethical duty to point out the rifle's value so the seller can enlist a shill or somehow manipulate the auction to drive the price to reflect the actual market?
No.


Have a question? Ask the seller.

Don't like the answer? Offer less $ or walk away.

TheFallGuy
July 4, 2009, 01:05 PM
I don't think this is an ethical problem at all. If the photo is of the actual firearm, it is almost better then a description. As long as the seller was honest when you asked the question, I guess I don't see a problem.

Buyer beware I guess.

hso
July 4, 2009, 01:07 PM
Okay, so there is one listed on an auction site and there are photos. One remark by the seller is, "Look at the photos and buy with confidence."

To me the seller is saying that the rifle in the photo is the rifle you will get so that there won't be any substitutions or surprises. Sounds about as honest a deal as you can expect.

Blackbeard
July 4, 2009, 01:13 PM
Ethics questions should be about what you should do. You can't control what other people do, so why does it matter whether they're being ethical or not? If your question was whether it's ethical for you to point out the seller's omission, I'd say yes it is.

jerkface11
July 4, 2009, 01:21 PM
He obviously wasn't hiding that the sight was missing or you wouldn't be able to tell from the picture.

bigione
July 4, 2009, 02:44 PM
There are lies of commission and lies of omission. A lie is a lie.

dullh
July 4, 2009, 02:51 PM
"There are lies of commission and lies of omission. A lie is a lie."

Who's to say the seller is lying? The seller could be a pawn broker who knows nothing about guns - maybe he didn't know it was supposed to have a rear sight. Happens on Gunbroker all the time - most sellers are selling guns legally, but at the same time they are not "gun people" and therefore don't know much about the guns they're selling.

With that in mind it is the responsibility of the buyer to look at the photos and ask tons of questions before you bid. If you don't like what you see, pass on it.

searcher451
July 4, 2009, 04:03 PM
If I see a misrepresentation in either the print description or in the photo that accompanies the print, I'm passing on the gun in question, period. It's possible that the seller didn't know or overlooked the matter ... or whatever, but I won't for a second consider those as legitimate excuses in any way. If the seller misrepresents there, where else is he misrepresenting in the sale? And for what reason?

I was burned once in an online sale by a seller who mispreresented what he had. It won't happen again if I can help it, and this is one of the ways that I try to steer clear of problems.

If I spot something that I know is an error in a sale, I always alert the seller with a PM. But it's the only communication that the seller will get from me. It's possible that Imissed a deal or two. But I like to think that it's more likely that I've avoided another burning.

rcmodel
July 4, 2009, 04:09 PM
I'd say if he steered you to another auction that was selling the sight seperately, his ethics might be questioned.

On the otherhand, how many sightless high-power rifles are on that auction site with no disclamer that they don't have sights either?

rc

SCKimberFan
July 5, 2009, 10:54 AM
Searcher451 posted:

It's possible that the seller didn't know or overlooked the matter ... or whatever, but I won't for a second consider those as legitimate excuses in any way

Pray tell, why not? Does he have to be an expert to sell something? As mentioned numerous times, he MAY NOT know a lot about the gun. He did not misrepresent anything. 1 - The photo showed the sight was missing. 2 - He acknowledged it was missing in the email. Where is the misrepresentation?

rbernie
July 5, 2009, 12:53 PM
We've been around this mulberry bush several times now, and we're still in the same place.

Let's move on.

If you enjoyed reading about "Ethics question" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!