The main lesson here, is don't deviate from vid1900's guide to buying pinballs. The second lesson is, don't trust anyone elses definition of "shopped" and "ready to roll." I attempted to handle this reasonably between the two of us, but was unable to reach a resolution, so I'm hoping that through my loss I can educate the pinside community to not fall into the same trap.
Robert Brooks advertised on facebook "Black Hole for Sale. Fully Shopped, new rubbers, newer legs and ready to roll."
Here is the facebook advertisement.
To me, when I hear fully shopped I at least think everything works. I'm optimistic especially for someone reputable, that the mechanisms would be cleaned/rebuilt so they aren't slow/sticking. In this transaction, neither of those things were the case.
I wrote Robert and offered him $1900, but said I wouldn't be able to get down to his area until after Allentown. Here is a screenshot of that conversation. I point this out because in his response to my negative feedback here https://pinside.com/pinball/community/pinsiders/skyemont/feedback#6495 he stated "I was not going to Allentown but when I heard knockerlover was going I figured I would bring it to him." That's not what he indicated in our facebook messages.
While at Allentown, we first exchanged messages to arrange the pickup around 3:45. In his reply to my feedback he claims "Also keep in mind, you told me to my face after I unloaded it, do you think I could flip it and sell it for 2,400 and make $500. TO MY FACE!!!! Buyers can do what they want after purchase but to say that to me after my 5 hour drive to u. WTF." This is partially true. I asked him "what do you think the value of this game on the floor here would be, $2400?" My thought was, everything has a price, even if you like it. I wanted his opinion on the value because I trusted him. At the time I had no intention of flipping the game. I was also really excited because I thought I was getting a killer deal on a nice working example.
The game was wrapped in what seemed like an entire role of home depot orange plastic. It could be to protect the game very well (while inside of a white cargo van on a rubber floor), or it could be to prevent an inspection during pickup. You decide. It took myself and another friend about 10 minutes to cut all the plastic off.
Once the game was setup, we realized that while the game had newer legs the wrong leg levelers were put on and the game could not be put at the correct incline. There was a box of lightbulbs stuck in the top left hand corner, and various "paper towel" remnants from what is likely a haphazardly playfield wipedown. You can actually see one of these in the listing photos, that I didn't catch the first time. Here's why this is important.
Robert told me via Facebook messenger "I played it yesterday before I packed it up" and in his reply to my feedback he stated "The pinball worked and even had friends by to play before I sold it." If he play tested it after this listing was posted, and he had friends by to play it after he "fully shopped" it, Wouldn't he have noticed or one of them have mentioned this stuck in front of the main stand-up targets in the game?
Putting the back box on, the game smelled like a barn, my first clue of concern. With the bulb box, and paper towel bits removed, we started a game. A ball wouldn't kick out of the trough when the game was started up. This is when I sent the first message to Robert.
Yes, Robert offered to come help. But at this point I realized, that I didn't want the repair help of someone who had defrauded me this far, and likely I would be able to correct issues better on my own.
I peered down into the outhole, and could see the outhole kicker stuck out. It could manually be pushed back in, but anytime it fired to kick a ball into the trough it would stay out. I pulled the apron off, and that's when I could see clearly that this mechanism wasn't touched in this "fully shopped" example. I cleaned the mechanism enough so that it was able to fully retract after firing. This is when I asked for a refund, and offered to eat "$200" for the trouble of bringing the game to the show.
In Roberts reply to my feedback on his user profile "You texted me and said it had issues. I offered to help with no response!" I responded to him within about 15 minutes.
At this point, I realized I would need to buy flipper rebuilds, coil sleeves, and spend time going through the game to actually shop it and get it to where I thought the game I purchased was. I believe my response was fair, just send me "$200" for the delta and let's call it square. Robert agreed on Saturday morning that he would "paypal the $200 tomorrow" but come Monday afternoon, that never happened. So I left the negative feedback on his profile.
I unfortunately had to leave the show Saturday morning, so a friend stayed behind with the keys and put his number as contact on the game and we listed it at $1800. Throughout the weekend he continued to discover issues. Displays were dim, but he was able to resolve by reseating cables. (The price was dropped to $1600).
He also discovered that the anytime the ball was locked below, it would need to be power cycled so it would get kicked out (I didn't know this until after the game had been sold).
At the end, in order to get out from under this bad deal I sold the game for $1300 as a project game. Another pinsider pointed out way more issues than I observed on the pinfest thread. More evidence that the game hadn't been thoroughly gone through. https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/pinfest-2019-buy-sell-trade-want-no-hotel-talk/page/41#post-4977134
"- Displays were dim
- 3rd and 4th player displays had segment problems.
- Top pop bumper was weak
- General weak pop bumpers action bouncing between
- Half way through 4 player game, a 2nd ball went in shooter lane which totally confused her as the player # advanced when the 1st ball drained then the other ball in play was the next player. You couldn't help launching both balls at once.
- Top kick out hole was weak"
Another thing I thought was interesting.. in his reply to my profile feedback he basically calls himself out.
"I had a Black Hole for sale. It was fully shopped as best a 38 year old game can be. All new rubbers, playfield cleaned, all plastics hand cleaned, cabinet was cleaned."
Hopefully my $600 lesson will help to be a warning to others, to be more careful in their transactions, particularly with this individual.