Calculator blog

Musings and comments about our common interest


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Buying calculators in internet sites

Some comments when buying calculators off eBay or other second hand sites. I have seen several times a seller with a lot experience and good rating selling calculators for parts. When I started in this business I bought from them a couple of times. In general:

  • When they say that the calculator is for parts, refrain from buying: they have tried to make it work in all possible ways, and didn’t work; and all the parts that could be easily used (port covers, LCD, battery contacts, back side of the calculator, circuit, etc.) have already been stripped down or they are not functional. They are professionals, and if they say “not working”, there is nothing that can be done.
  • When they say that the calculator works well, you can trust them (if the rating is good). In many cases it has been expertly repaired by them, using the parts from several calculators (and the rest that cannot be used is sold as above)

A different thing is when you buy a non-working calculator from someone in eBay that doesn’t appear to be an expert. I am mostly focused on HP41cl, and I have had my fair share of mistakes, having aprox. 5 calculator bodies that cannot work or are in poor condition - not good enough for my customers. But the inexpert sellers may have a calculator that is easy to fix (when you talk about the HP41C). In any case, it is a fair bet, provided you don’t spend a lot on it, and the cosmetic appearance is good enough. Please remember to get a picture of the battery bay, to see the situation of its contacts!

A final comment: seen from Europe, buying from the US is so expensive when you factor in all the import costs, that it doesn’t make sense anymore. Either you use the standard post, and then it takes ages to come; or you use one of the main courier companies, and then it is extremely expensive. There are many european providers, with extremely cheap transport costs compared with the US.

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Shady Calculator Stories

Some sad stories in Ebay.

As many of you, I have been purchasing items in Ebay for both my own collection and for the shop. Most of the times you get good material - never a bargain, but what it is advertised. Then you find some guys that are quite liberal with adjectives - in particular, “working condition” and “good shape”. But in most cases they try to help.

But then you have a third type: those that give you a crappy product and then play with you. The aim is to dance with you until the 45 days period since the purchase has elapsed. A recent case comes to my mind. I bought an HP41c calculator sold as working. It took some time to arrive, in a plastic envelope, without any protection, dirty, battered, and, of course, not working. I paid for it “working” price, and it was in such a poor state that I did not venture into repairing it - I could have not sold it in such a state. I arranged the return of the calculator, which took some other days, since the delivery address was wrong, and then wait…and wait… and wait for the refund. “Do you want it in your account or in Paypal” “if in Paypal, then I need to put funds in it”. And then silence… the 45 days had elapsed.

Just in case you find him: the name is Pablo Alvarez Llinas, and his Ebay user name is beaviisb. In today’s world, anonymity is impossible. In linked he appears as working for HP Delivery Services.

I have another case, concerning an HP85 - but that’ll be the object of another installment of “shady calculator stories”

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