(Topic ID: 284617)

The worst pinball buying experience I have ever had

By BRW84

9 months ago


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  • Latest reply 9 months ago by Nevus
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46
#1 9 months ago

Folks, I just had the single worst, most insane pinball buying experience I have ever had, and I thought it might be therapeutic to share it.

On Saturday, I saw an ad for a Flash Gordon machine in Mt. Airy, NC. It was listed for $350. Yes, $350. The ad had been up for 23 minutes and I immediately messaged the guy and told him I would drive straight to Mt. Airy right then (it’s exactly one hour from me) and pay him $500. I figured I was too late, but I got a message right back saying that it was mine if I wanted it but I couldn’t pick it up until Monday morning. I thanked him, and I mentioned to him that I’d been looking for another Flash Gordon after I sold mine to a friend. I don’t regret selling it because that sale allowed me to get my grail pin, but I do miss FG from time to time and I’d love to get another one (especially at that price).

Last night, the dude texted me and said to call him at 8 a.m. Monday morning and he would give me his address. He added, “first one here takes it.” I asked him how many people I was competing with, and he told me that he had invited one other guy to come look at it just in case one of us decided not to buy it. I had already told him I’d buy it, but whatever. I just resolved to be the first one there by leaving for Mt. Airy at 7 a.m. and calling him at 8 a.m. while I was already in town.

So this morning, my pinball moving buddy Mike came over and we rolled out at 6:45 a.m. At 7:45, the seller called me. I called him back and he said he had accidentally called me while messaging someone. I asked him if I could go ahead and get his address while we were on the phone and he gave it to me.

I drove straight to his house, and sure enough, I was the first one there. He came outside and got a phone call from the other buyer. He answered it and told the guy to come on over. I told the seller that the guy didn’t need to come over because I was going to buy the machine, but he said since the guy had driven to Mt. Airy from an hour and a half away, he felt he owed it to him to look at it.

I immediately had a terrible feeling.

The seller told me to pull my car around to the basement, so I backed my truck up to the basement door and we stepped inside. The machine obviously wasn’t in great shape — the playfield was shot, high scores and settings weren’t being saved due to battery damage on the board, etc. But the cab and backglass were in great shape, and I knew I could get a spare populated playfield from the same buddy I sold my first Flash Gordon to.

And so, I handed the guy five $100 bills.

He did not take them.

“Just hang on to that until the other guy can look at it,” he said.

I immediately knew I was screwed.

The other buyer showed up about this time and stepped into the basement. He stared at the machine, and I immediately knew he knew nothing about pinball machines. Not that that’s a bad thing — everybody has their first — but I knew he had no idea what he was getting into. The guy said that he’s starting a home arcade and his wife wants a pinball machine, and he wanted to get this one.

The other buyer, the seller, my buddy Mike, and myself stared at the machine for awhile.

“Well,” the seller said, “sorry about this fellas. What do ya’ll want to do?”

“I want to buy it,” I said.

The other buyer indicated he felt the same way.

“Welp,” the seller said, “reckon it might come down to a coin toss. Either of ya’ll have a coin?”

“Listen,” I said to the other buyer, “let me show you what you’re getting into. (Seller), do you have the keys to the machine?”

He gave me the keys. I tried to remove the backglass but the lock was rusted shut.

“Have you ever changed the batteries on the board?” I asked.

The seller indicated he did not know the machine had batteries.

“Well,” I said to the other buyer, “I was going to show you the battery damage on the MPU, but the lock is busted. But I can tell you that it has battery damage because it’s not saving high scores and settings. You’ll need an Alltek Ultimate MPU, which is going to run you about $200 plus shipping. As for the playfield, it’s shot. None of the drop targets or bumper caps are original and half of them don’t seem to work, so you’ll need to fix all that or replace the whole shebang with a populated playfield. If I buy this machine, I’m going to be spending, at minimum, about $1,500 to get it to where it needs to be. And that’s because I’m doing the work myself. If you hire a good tech, they’re going to charge $100 to come to your house and $60 to $75 for each subsequent hour. So that’s where this is right now.”

There was a long pause. The other buyer indicated he still wanted the machine, and the seller indicated he was right sorry about this whole mess.

We ended up flipping a coin. I lost.

I walked out without saying a word. As I was leaving, the seller shouted, “Hey, hang on a minute, we gotta make sure he has money!”

I did not stop.

15
#2 9 months ago

dude would have got a good ole TN ass whippin

12
#3 9 months ago

Unbelievable.

#4 9 months ago

Wow, that's crazy.

I've never actually heard of something like that happening before.

#5 9 months ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Wow, that's crazy.
I've never actually heard of something like that happening before.

I think I've bought about 13 machines now and I've never had an experience like that. It was surreal.

15
#6 9 months ago

should've pulled out another coin, and when the seller asked what that was for, indicate it was to decide if you and your friend were going to let him live after the intense ass kicking you were about to deliver him. just kidding, but that would've been funny to witness.

22
#7 9 months ago

I think you got lucky. If you paid $500 and put $1500 onto it, you're backwards. Go find a nice one for less money. Crappy situation, but you'll be better off by not getting it

#8 9 months ago
Quoted from Hayfarmer:

I think you got lucky. If you paid $500 and put $1500 onto it, you're backwards. Go find a nice one for less money. Crappy situation, but you'll be better off by not getting it

At the prices I'm seeing for Flash Gordon these days, I think I could still come out ahead if I did it up right (even though I wouldn't sell it if I do end up getting another one). Frankly though, I probably did dodge a bullet, but at this point I'm less pissed about losing the sale than the time wasting bullshit I had to experience.

16
#9 9 months ago

Wow. Just wow. I know we’re supposed to refrain from language...but, what a fucking asshole. I gave you an upvote for empathy. Holy crap.

#10 9 months ago
Quoted from BRW84:

At the prices I'm seeing for Flash Gordon these days, I think I could still come out ahead if I did it up right (even though I wouldn't sell it if I do end up getting another one). Frankly though, I probably did dodge a bullet, but at this point I'm less pissed about losing the sale than the time wasting bullshit I had to experience.

exactly, it was all principle on this one. what a shithead that guy is. i would never even consider exposing someone to that level of discourtesy. not for anything. and while it's easy to want to place blame on the other buyer, he really didn't do anything wrong other than make a choice he's going to really regret when he brings it home.

#11 9 months ago

Uff that's a weird one.
Well...can't blame the other dude for not listening to a guy trying to ttalk him out of buying a machine he was trying to buy

#12 9 months ago
Quoted from bigehrl:

exactly, it was all principle on this one. what a shithead that guy is. i would never even consider exposing someone to that level of discourtesy. not for anything. and while it's easy to want to place blame on the other buyer, he really didn't do anything wrong other than make a choice he's going to really regret when he brings it home.

Yeah, no hard feelings against the other buyer. I purchased a basket case when I first started out, and he's about to learn the same hard lesson I did.

#13 9 months ago

Thanks for sharing your bad experience hope it helps you feel better to vent. It was not meant to be other deals will be at your door soon enough. The newbie has no clue what he is in for I would laugh about that all day. The seller obviously knows nothing about pinball they probably did not know how to get legs off and if they did the head was left up. I moved an older Bally into basement with head locked once cause it started to rain when I got home face was mashed against the back of head can’t see where your going was not fun.

#14 9 months ago

Check this. I traded a Maverick for an Vpin in a EM Cabinet. I have to admit was ugly but was loaded. I had it posted on CL. He was super excited with the pictures. I suggested he come check it out. He insisted it was all good. Well, it was a 4 hour drive and he didn’t have a truck or something. We agreed I would drive for the trade. After The drive and doing the deal, by the way he help me load and unload. 2 hours later and on the way home. He wanted His Machine back. Message after Message, then bashing me on local pinball FB page. Said he’ll Call the police....Threatening kick my ass...

#15 9 months ago

Any chance you got the buyers name so you could buy it later? Once he’s into it, he will probably be wishing he listened to you.

#16 9 months ago

I like a deal but I’ll pass on those situations with a horse shit seller. Sucks but don’t need that karma coming home.
Good on you only being out time and gas money.

#17 9 months ago
Quoted from diode:

Thanks for sharing your bad experience hope it helps you feel better to vent. It was not meant to be other deals will be at your door soon enough. The newbie has no clue what he is in for I would laugh about that all day. The seller obviously knows nothing about pinball they probably did not know how to get legs off and if they did the head was left up. I moved an older Bally into basement with head locked once cause it started to rain when I got home face was mashed against the back of head can’t see where your going was not fun.

Since the lock to the backbox was rusted shut, I can guarantee he loaded it onto his truck with the head still up and proceeded to drive an hour and a half back home with the wind hitting it.

#18 9 months ago
Quoted from BRW84:

Welp,” the seller said, “reckon it might come down to a coin toss. Either of ya’ll have a coin

I frequently make the same typo but it amused me to think the seller said "Welp"

#19 9 months ago
Quoted from Billc479:

Any chance you got the buyers name so you could buy it later? Once he’s into it, he will probably be wishing he listened to you.

In retrospect, I wish I'd given the other buyer my card.

#20 9 months ago
Quoted from jbrady65tv:

I frequently make the same typo but it amused me to think the seller said "Welp"

That was no typo, hahaha

43
#21 9 months ago
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18
#22 9 months ago
Quoted from BRW84:

Folks, I just had the single worst, most insane pinball buying experience I have ever had, and I thought it might be therapeutic to share it.

Last night, the dude texted me and said to call him at 8 a.m. Monday morning and he would give me his address. He added, “first one here takes it.” I asked him how many people I was competing with, and he told me that he had invited one other guy to come look at it just in case one of us decided not to buy it.

Are you out of your mind? The second he started that crap you should have told him call the other guy off or go pound sand! You knew you were walking into a shit show.

Still a funny story!

20
#23 9 months ago

As soon as the guy said "first one here gets it" I would have dropped any attempt at making that deal. Not playing those games.

Hey at least the second buyer wasn't just a shill to start a fake bidding war with you.

#24 9 months ago
Quoted from vdojaq:

Are you out of your mind? The second he started that crap you should have told him call the other guy off or go pound sand! You knew you were walking into a shit show.
Still a funny story!

I suppose at a certain point morbid curiosity took over.

#25 9 months ago
Quoted from BRW84:

I suppose at a certain point morbid curiosity took over.

I agree. At that point, I would have stayed just to see what the fuck was going to happen

#26 9 months ago

Offering over $350 unseen was the first wrong step.. good story.

#27 9 months ago

Did I ever tell you aboot the time I tried to buy a Totem in a burnt down Detroit house that's head the 'seller' opened with a tree branch? Sometimes it;'s juts better to get out alive.

#28 9 months ago

Many years ago I picked out a loveable little dog at the shelter, then I go to get her the next day and now they say oh, we goofed and told another person they could have her too so you'll have to draw straws (a piece of paper in a hat or something). Oh crap! Fortunately for me I won, and I named her Snicker.

#29 9 months ago

If I was the other guy and didn't know anything about pinball, when you went into the whole spiel about how much it may cost to fix everything I probably would have thought you were just pulling a snow job to talk me out of buying it.

21
#30 9 months ago

I would have at least run over his mailbox!

12
#31 9 months ago

You should have played a game of Flash winner takes all.

18
#32 9 months ago

I was waiting for the auction to start.

#33 9 months ago
Quoted from vdojaq:

I would have at least run over his mailbox!

Only after I left him an Upper-Decker.

#34 9 months ago
Quoted from guitarded:

Only after I left him an Upper-Decker.

The gift that keeps on giving.

#35 9 months ago

I would have told the other guy that I offered $100 and there’s no way the thing was worth $350 given all of the work required. Maybe that would have screwed the seller out of the sale completely.

10
#36 9 months ago

I would have given my card to the buyer indicating the hell that he has on his hands (not knowing pinball) and you'll take it for $300 in three weeks when he finally figures it out

#37 9 months ago

Don't beat yourself up, I think you dodged a bullet!!

#38 9 months ago

Just when you think you've heard every bad seller story....

You're a much better person than I am. Hopefully, it's for the best. Sounds like an expensive project.

#39 9 months ago
Quoted from BRW84:

phone call from the other buyer. He answered it and told the guy to come on over.

See you later. No, not hanging around, not drawing straws or flipping coins.

#40 9 months ago

1st one to put cash on glass should be the buyer.
*One thing that sucks is that you had to bring “pinball moving buddy mike.” That guy had to watch the whole thing and come back with you without a pin to play. You better take care of Mike. I usually buy and move machines on my own because of [email protected] shows like the one you dealt with. It’s cool if I see it happen alone and time helps me get over it, but to have another person verbally remind you about “that one time you tried to get a flash pinball machine,” just makes it more painful. Sorry for the loss brother.

#41 9 months ago

Ouch.

I would've REALLY let into the seller. Made you drive an hour away and that pull that shit?

Sorry man.

Side note: you likely dodged a bullet. Even at $500.00.

#42 9 months ago
Quoted from PaulCoff:

1st one to put cash on glass should be the buyer.
*One thing that sucks is that you had to bring “pinball moving buddy mike.” That guy had to watch the whole thing and come back with you without a pin to play. You better take care of Mike. I usually buy and move machines on my own because of [email protected] shows like the one you dealt with. It’s cool if I see it happen alone and time helps me get over it, but to have another person verbally remind you about “that one time you tried to get a flash pinball machine,” just makes it more painful. Sorry for the loss brother.

I bought Mike breakfast and always try to keep him compensated with some quality beer, haha. He's a good friend.

12
#43 9 months ago

1) You just didn't get the game... so all in told if this is the "worst buying experience" you've had - consider yourself lucky

2) People offering sellers more money up than asking before doing anything else screw yourself and everyone else. Please stop doing this. As you can see, it doesn't make the seller give you the game! Save it for the negotiating.

3) You should have just given the other buyer your contact info and said "call me when you are ready to punt on it.. I guarantee it is more of a basketcase than you think.

#44 9 months ago

Guess that I’ve been lucky over my 4+ years, only met good quality people while doing any transactions. It’s unfortunate what you’ve gone through, but I guess not all people are a man of their word

#45 9 months ago
Quoted from hwyhed:

Guess that I’ve been lucky over my 4+ years, only met good quality people while doing any transactions....

Canadians!

#46 9 months ago

By any chance, did you happen to hear any banjo music playing in the background?

#47 9 months ago

Wow what a shit show...

FLIP A COIN ? At that suggestion I would have taken a dump in his front yard on the way out.

Alternatively this seller could have come up with some more creative methods to determine who wins such as :
Play each other in an entire game of Monopoly.
Each of you sleep with his wife - whichever she thought was better wins. (You both kinda either win or lose on this one)
Fight club.

From the sounds of it the other newbie is going to regret going to the coin toss unfortunately, you were trying to steer him right.

#48 9 months ago

Dude that totally blows. I hate when sellers invite multiple buyers over at the same time. It’s always an awkward situation and if I find out that’s what’s going on I won’t even bother going. If I wanted to compete with other buyers I’d go on eBay.

#49 9 months ago

At least you got to see Mayberry.

18
#50 9 months ago

I’m super considerate one time I had a guy driving a long distance and I lowered the price we’d agreed on because I felt sorry for him (he was driving 11 hours each way) and it was his first pin and he was super excited. STLE. I even turned down a higher offer because I’d committed to him first.

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