SELECTING A SUPPLIER
There are a number of factors that will influence your choice of a supplier for your machine.
With a marked decline in the pinball industry since WMS Industries ceased production under the Williams and Bally names in 1998, sourcing a particular machine may not be easy. Even dealers who are regularly buying and selling machines have difficulty in finding a specific game that is more than five years old. If you are desperate to obtain a specific game the lack of availability of that game may alone determine your choice of supplier. You would be well advised though, to consider some other factors before committing to your purchase.
WILL YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT?
Before committing to a major purchase it may be a good idea to investigate potential suppliers and the standard of their machines. By visiting one or more suppliers you will gain an insight into the quality of their machines, what premises they work from and get a feeling for their reliability and honesty. If the supplier is a dealer this will likely be the person who you will deal with in the event of post delivery problems so an insight into their operation that cannot be gained via phone or e-mail contact would be a wise investment of time and money. Even if the machine of your choice is not available at the time of your visit you can still get an idea of the dealer and their wares.
Another factor that will increase your chances of getting a reliable machine tailored to your own needs is to use a seller who will deliver and set up the machine. Many sellers use delivery companies who will only offload the machine at your location and both they and the seller have no interest in ensuring either that the machine works or meets your requirements. A seller who has to set the game up and demonstrate it has made an investment in their own time in delivering it and stands to have to invest more time if it does not work; this applies even if you have to pay for the delivery. So, if you are paying for delivery, check that this will include set-up. There may not be a great deal of difference in the price and it's money well spent.
Does the machine come with a warranty? How will this warranty be effected if repairs are required, and what will happen after the warranty expires? Sellers who address these issues are again more likely to deliver a reliable working machine.
There is nothing wrong with dealing with private sellers but there are factors that need to be considered in doing so. Generally, a certain level of protection is offered to a buyer who deals with an established and reputable business which does not exist in a transaction taking place with a private seller. Even if no warranty is offered by a business seller there is an underlying (if unstated) desire on the part of the seller for the transaction to be smooth and trouble free. No business benefits from bad publicity or by generating feelings of ill will from it's customers and so an established trader is likely to at least try to sort problems out even if they are not under an obligation to do so. They should also have the knowledge and facilities to help out in the event of a problem whereas a private seller probably won't have either.
It is also worth considering that many private sellers are merely looking to move on a machine which might at one time have been their pride and joy, but is now taking up space and as a result probably has not seen much care or attention in recent times.
Care should be taken in buying on an internet auction site. The first thing to establish is whether the machine is being sold by a trader or a private seller. This may not be obvious from the seller's listing. Look into the seller's identity history and also at their feedback to establish whether they regularly sell similar items and how long they have been trading with their current identity. Beware of people who frequently switch identities or have limited feedback. Also be on your guard for sellers who rarely sell high value items and require payment by bank transfer or electronic funds transfers.
If a machine is being sold by a business on an internet auction site is it realistically priced? If it does not have a reserve why is that? A business is in a position where they can sell machines through various markets and will most likely have overheads. If they are selling a pinball machine that might realistically fetch £500 to £600 for example, and they have it starting at £100 with no reserve there must be a reason! Of course it could be that it is a collectible game and they are relying on bidders to push it's value up as the auction proceeds. If it is a run of the mill game though, and there is no reason given in the item description for a low start price, beware. Similarly, caution should be taken when machines are sold with parts missing or work required. That part may not be as readily available as an unsuspecting buyer might think!
INTERNET AUCTION SITES
PINBALL BUYERS GUIDE