Caveat emptor

The past few weeks I’ve been taking a crash course in how to scare yourself rotten over in ebay land.

I have not really crossed paths with ebay much other than selling a sofa a couple of years’ back.

A few weeks’ ago I decided to make an investment of sorts. In a camera. Not just any old camera but a big, shiny, beast that is “built like a tank”. I have had my heart set on a Pentax 6×7 since Christmas, when I borrowed a 645 from a friend and saw the results. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. I became a bit obsessed and very quickly I didn’t just want it, I needed it. There was little rhyme and reason to it. Sure, I rationalised to myself that it was a solid investment. That this would make me happy and make gorgeous photographs that upped my game and I wanted to reward myself for 20 years of hard labour in shooting 35mm film. But really… I just wanted it. I mean, it is an insanely beautiful creation. Google it: you’ll see.

Now here’s a strange thing to confess. Considering my love and passion for photography, it’s bonkers, but I have never bought a camera, or any lenses myself. [Other than my pinhole camera, Button, which I built myself.] All of my cameras and lenses have been gifts. So, let’s recap: I don’t really know ebay, and I’ve never bought a camera… all the ingredients ripe for a let down! 😀

So, I won an auction on the second one that I took part in. I bid on an item from Japan. It looked immaculate. It was a Pentax 6×7 that had a mirror lock up function, a TTL viewfinder, and looked absolutely beautiful in the pictures. I calculated my import duty and decided I had enough from my late Grannie’s inheritance left (Thank you, Chloe!) to purchase this beauty if I won it. And win it I did. I was ecstatic. I paid around £500 all in. I figured this was a paltry amount for the beauty and joy that this item would give me. It arrived and I was HAPPY. It looked like a DREAM.

But then…

The item arrived and looked gorgeous, but I looked at the manual online and realised two things. 1) There was no mirror lock up function and 2) there was no TTL viewfinder. Just a basic viewfinder with no light meter.

My quandary was this: I had a beautiful piece of equipment, but without a light meter I couldn’t use it, and without a mirror lock up I probably would not have bought it in the first place. But this is a crafty exchange. I had paid import tax. And this does not come cheaply. I paid £105+ on import tax. This would not be returned to me should I send the camera back.

I am a nervous person. I am shy. And I was out of my depth. I had received a stunning item, but one that did not meet the description. If I sent it back I would have nothing at a cost of more than one hundred pounds plus postage back to Japan. Excuse my French but FUCK. Not worth sending it back, considering I spent all of my money on it, and considering it was not usable until I had a light meter.


I sent an email. I initially told the seller I was incredibly disappointed. The item was not as described and I had spent more money than I would have on an item I didn’t want because I couldn’t use it as it was sold to me. I’d need to buy a light meter. A costly endeavour. I gave them three options:

1. I return the item at ALL costs to myself repaid.

2. They send me a TTL viewfinder plus some money refunded

3. They refund me money for the false advertising – I suggested £200.

They replied that I should send the item back. At a cost of over £105 to myself? I looked again at my goods. So pretty. 😦

I said I was not happy to return it, and if I did, that they would have to consider that they would be the ones out of pocket as it would cost them import tax on return. They surprised me and suddenly offered me a TTL I had suggested as part refund. Now, I still felt undersold. There was still of course no mirror lock up. But hey, I had a beautiful viewfinder with the camera that they had NOT asked me to send back. If I then want to purchase a hand held light meter I am in business(!), or, I could sell the viewfinder I have for a return. DONE.

I am now awaiting my TTL viewfinder… I have received pictures and it looks amazing. When it arrives I may be the happiest lady alive.

Knowing what I know now, I know not to be celebrating just yet. But I think, just maybe, I have entered the world of the living. Investment and risk is something I have never explored before. And the next time I do, I’ll do my research a little better beforehand, and not go crazy on a whim. Great experience though.

As “they” say, you can’t take “it” (money) with you. I know they are right. I will check back in when I receive my TTL viewfinder. If I don’t, I’ve learnt a big lesson.

Happy ebaying one and all. Please use my lesson wisely and *always* ask a seller to confirm what is included if you are spending all that you have on an item. Especially so if you suspect they do not speak English as a first language but they are advertising in English.

I’m sure I’ll love my 6×7. Check in for further adventures…