eBay can be a great source for your next machine. Here are my thoughts and a few things to consider before you buy on eBay.
I sell refurbished machines on eBay with a good deal of success. I buy certain machines on eBay as well.
There are generally four types of sellers of used sewing machines on eBay.
1. Individuals - I consider individual sellers as folks that are selling machines that they own, inherited, were given etc. Typically these folks have used the machine. You are likely to get more accessories with the machine from this type of seller, such as specialty feet, extra bobbins, cases etc. Most individuals, unless they do their homework, don't know the market value of their machines. Many try to sell at a ridiculously high price, others sell at a price that is too low. Many don't factor in service and repair costs. Sewing machines have hundreds of parts that work together in an almost "magical" way. Some of the adjustments are to a couple of thousands of an inch.
ALWAYS ASSUME THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO SERVICE, REPAIR, OR REFURBISH THE MACHINE...UNLESS THEY CAN SUPPLY YOU WITH AN INVOICE THAT YOU CAN VERIFY.
Be careful of the seller who say's that they don't sew but when they plugged it in it ran...THAT IS A RED FLAG!! It "Ran" means that the motor turns...nothing more.
Some savy sellers bring their machines to a qualified professional and have it serviced before they sell it. These machines are worth more...IF they were really serviced. Ask for a copy of the service invoice. Call the servicing technician...most will be straight up with you...I always have been and so were the techs that used to work with me.
2. Estate/Storage Room Resellers - Stuff Resellers - These folks sell stuff, including sewing machines. They find them at estate sales, yard sales, thrift stores, storage room auctions, foreclosure auctions, etc.
ALWAYS ASSUME THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO SERVICE, REPAIR, OR REFURBISH THE MACHINE
3. Consignment Operations - These buisness simply supply a sales venue for the owner of the machine. Again,
ALWAYS ASSUME THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO SERVICE, REPAIR, OR REFURBISH THE MACHINE
4. Sewing Machine Techs, Sewing Machine Businesses etc. - These are professionals where you should get exactly what is described and you expect. Typically you will find the prices are higher. That is understandable as the machine as gone through some...even a minimal service process. These operations usually sell sewing machines, parts, and notions. They should have 99%+ Feedback or greater. Try to buy as locally as you can to reduce shipping cost. If you are a couple of hours from the seller consider asking for a "local pick-up". I provide that service regularly. Some sellers, like me, who charge a Flat Rate for shipping to 48 states may reduce the shipping charge if you are fairly close by. Example: I sold a machine to a customer in Washington DC (about 4 1/2 hours by car), it was a 35 lb. cast iron machine and I charged $36.50 Flat Rate. My actual shipping cost (excluding the box, the packing, tape etc..$8) was $15.50. So I refunded the customer $13.00 as a "Good Will" gesture...it paid off, withing two months he sent me another buyer... a friend of his! Sorry to say, like all businesses and people, there ARE bad apples. So watch your feedback.
eBay Advertising - Ridiculous Claims
The most ridiculous claims that I see every day on eBay is the term: "Industrial Strength"
My opinion is simple and logical...I think (let me know if you disagree)
There are basically two types of machines. INDUSTRIAL & DOMESTIC
INDUSTRIAL MACHINES, without exception use a remotely installed motor (usually under what is called a power stand. Typically these are 1/2 to 3/4 horsepower 120 - 240 VAC and continuous run rated (24 X 7).
DOMESTIC MACHINES are designed to be used in the home or small business, such as a tailor shop or a seamstress. Domestic machines, particularly the ones manufactured prior to 1970ish can be quite heavily built compared to today's domestic machines. The maximum motor size that you will likely see is 1.5 Amp, which is about 1/10 horsepower. The Singer 15-91, perhaps the finest domestic straight stitcher ever, usually has a .5 Amp motor (1/30 horsepower). I SEE THESE LISTED ALL THE TIME ON eBay as "INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH". NO WAY! Even though they are made from cast iron, the casting thickness and drive components are a fraction of the size/strength of a true Industrial Machine. I've even seen new Chinese made plastic listed as "Industrial Strength"
INDUSTRIAL MACHINE ARE INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH DOMESTIC MACHINE RAGE FROM PRETTY STRONG TO PATHETIC
DON'T GET CONNED BY THESE GUYS!
I love the pictures on eBay of plastic machines sewing through numerous layers of leather. Heck, I can by a $89.00 Walmart machine and sew through that super light and porous apparel leather. Try sewing 1/4-5/16" of tack leather...a different result...a broken machine!
It is not cheap to ship a sewing machine. Some domestic machines can weigh up to 45 lbs. not including a case. To pack it properly and to minimize shipping damage I use a H.D. box which cost about $3.00 each. To render the machine immovable within the box I use about $4.00 worth of styrofoam board packing which I custom cut for every machine. The machine is put inside a plastic bag so that no styrofoam pieces get inside of it. HD tape is about $3.00 per roll. Insurance cost (no mark-up) is typically $3-$4 per machine.
eBay, as of September 22, 2009, does not allow sellers to offer optional shipping insurance to buyers. It has to be included in S&H charges or not...it is entirely up to the seller. Read the listing carefully.
Is a pretty good program for the buyer. You are well protected. They have an industry best resolution process. The Seller has to be straight with you or risk penalties that are unusually harsh.
Getting the best deal! I usually end my auctions on Sunday evenings...most other premium sellers like to as well. So if you are looking for a super low priced bargain special that you can have refurbished, then look during the week including Friday and Saturday nights.
Remember look at listings that have many pictures!!! A good picture is worth a thousand words!
TELL THE SELLER THAT A WELL PACKED, PROMPTLY SHIPPED MACHINE THAT IS DESCRIBED ACCURATELY = POSITIVE FEEDBACK AND A FIVE STAR RATING!
Why Buy an Older Refurbished Sewing Machine or Why have your Older Sewing Machine Refurbished?
Portsmouth, VA May 2009
With regularity I get email inquiries and phone calls from folks that have bought new sewing machines for $100, $200. $300 and more that can't get them to operate properly or consistently. The level of frustration in their voices is always the same. I look at Craigslist and see ads for "used once or twice" sewing machines and they're always plastic, what does that tell us? Believe me you DON'T want one of those machines. Today, a machine that cost, say $250 new is a low priced entry level budget machine. Now that offends me! You would think that you could purchase a new sewing machine that will SEW well and sew well for a long time at that price. ??????
Let's take a look for a moment at the other end of the new sewing machine market. You can buy certain sewing machines made in Switzerland, Sweden, or Germany that represent state of the art, high quality machines that are superbly engineer and assembled. Unfortunately most people, including yours truly, cannot spend a thousand or thousands of dollars on a sewing machine.
Well you CAN purchase a high quality multi-generational REFURBISHED sewing machine for LESS or MUCH LESS than $175.00 (excepting some Swiss, Swedish, German and Italian machines).
So what about a machine from the 40s', 50s' 60s', 70s', or maybe the 1980s'???? Let say that in 1967 your mother or grandmother bought a sewing machine for $200.00 with accessories. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics....YES, that machines replacement value today would be in the area of $1900.00. So for a new quality machine from Switzerland, Sweden or Germany you are at $1500 and up. For what? Fancy stitches that you rarely use? Heck, I can sell you a machine with numerous built in stitches and one that accepts decorative and utility stitch cams...such as Kenmore, Singer, etc.
My conclusion is that I would rather own multi-generational sewing machines for less money than it would cost for a new plastic throw away. It will last longer, is built better, is likely smoother, more reliable, easier and less costly to service or repair.
You CAN buy a high quality REFURBISHED machine today for $100 to $250, as I said above there are certain Swiss, German, Swedish, and Italian machines that are more.
If you have a quality sewing machine that needs help, think about having us refurbish your machine.Click here to see what we do to your machine to make it superb!
If you need service, we service all makes of domestic sewing machines that do not have computer boards in them or are made in China.
To fully appreciate what goes into the REFURBISHMENT process click here or on the "What is Refurbishing button to the upper left of this page.