Scenes From Internet LP Buying

It’s a question I am asked all the time by people who buy vintage and new vinyl from both places: What’s the difference between the two? I have one full-blown, unrepentant-as-heck, vinyl addict who swears by Says he finds the weirder stuff cheaper there than on There is no doubt that Discogs is cheaper both for the buyer and the seller. But in my book Discogs has one massive and so far insurmountable problem—they have not paid someone to write the code that would allow for photos on their site. Until they do they will always be the B, or maybe C team. So I’m supposed to trust that a Discogs seller is telling the honest truth about the condition of a record I cannot see on the site? Please. Anyone who buys a record for over ten bucks on Discogs without asking to see photos either has more money than sense or enjoys risk. Say what you want about eBay and their fees, which are no doubt passed on to the customers, but photos do not lie.

Furthermore, it’s easy to sort out the scammers and amateurs just by looking at the pictures. Anyone savvy enough to take crisp, clear photos, from multiple angles, of the jacket, labels and the actual vinyl, probably has it together and probably means what they say. If you’ve got the goods, particularly with older records, which can be obscenely expensive and fairly fragile at this point (Abbey Road is 46 years old and Hank Mobley’s Soul Station is 55 years old to cite just two examples), photos will tell the story. Not that I’m doing a commercial here for eBay but sellers there learn quickly that the only way to get the price up is to take good photos and be detailed and honest about the LPs they are selling.

All of which brings me to a recent example of Discogs dealings that I think illustrates the path you often trod with many sellers on that site. I ordered a double LP for ten dollars, which in retrospect may have been too cheap and I should have known better. After two weeks went by and nothing arrived in the mail, I sent the seller a message. This is what I got in return.

“Hey there - thought it had gone out because I didn't see it when I looked for it the other day. I'll verify and get back to you by tomorrow afternoon. It's possible it sold locally. I'll refund your payment if that's the case. I'll let you know as soon as I'm sure what's up.”

Another ten days goes by and no record and no email verifying it did or did not go out. After another prodding email from me, I was refunded my money via PayPal and so the case was finally closed. All of this is clearly a minor annoyance but again a fairly typical example, at least in my dealings, of some of the folks you run into on Discogs. A little more screening of sellers on their part might not be a bad idea. It would be great if they upped their game and really became the site for LP commerce.

Allen Fant's picture

eBay could be better than Amazon, if it did not get involved w/ "paypal". This was the beginning of the end, IMO.

Steve C's picture They have a good selection albeit a little high in their prices. Friendly people.

wkjeffers's picture

I have no confidence is Discogs. I have ordered special pressings on the site and received LPs that do not match the description many times. it seems that if you order from them, you are not assured of what you will get. Ebay purchases are rarely like this and the sellers always make it right because of the fear of negative feedback. Ebay is my go to site.

mraudio's picture

..with you about Discogs. I spend over $500 a month on new and used vinyl. My problem with Discogs is that you never know what pressing/label/condition/etc you'll be getting.

Discogs needs to get into the 21st Century and have someone redo their site.

I have NEVER had a problem with E-Bay or any of the sellers on Amazon Marketplace.

Briandrumzilla's picture

I used to purchase LPs from the major internet audio sellers but kept receiving defective LPs. They require that the customer pay to ship defective LPs back. This happened enough to become annoying and not very cost effective. I only purchase LPs locally now. That way when a LP is defective it is easily returned. CDs and SACDs I continue to purchase online because they are almost never defective when received.

Marc210's picture

Hello, strange to read this, experienced the SAME problem, paid to discogs for an old Monkees L.P. by paypal to a german "dealer".
Who of course never sent anything except messages telling he was ill, to hospital and so on but only AFTER I got refund all my money from his bank account. Never such problem with epay, even with two japanese dealers.
Thanks for reading.

volvic's picture

You pick sellers with 100% positive feedback that are not in it solely for the money. I have only had to return something back twice; first seller clearly overstated the condition and the second was not very savvy about records, if it wasn't cracked it was in very good condition. Both refunded without any issues. Ebay is the way to go, photos and feedback and paying through PayPal assures some degree of peace of mind.

ken mac's picture

Trashing of Discogs. I have purchased many records from Discogs sellers, who are typically more professional than those on Ebay. And they will send photos and answer any questions in my experience. Ebay has become more and more of a rip off for both buyers and sellers, their fees are insane! I think anyone is plain dumb to not check out Discogs.

volvic's picture

Most of the sellers are in Europe with high shipping costs, much better chance of finding on ebay at decent prices and with local shipping rates. Also as a buyer I don't get charged a surcharge by ebay only if I am selling.

TONEMusic's picture

Living in the Greater Los Angeles Area (independent record store capital of the world) I have a plethora of amazing shops to peruse on a constant basis (Ameoba, Rockaway, Record Surplus, American Pie, Freakbeat) STILL!... that doesn't stop me from supporting some of my favorite online music-sales sites. I do buy quite a lot of records, Compact Discs, and rare Audio Cassettes online, on both eBay and Discogs. I agree with the ebay fees being ridico, but in defense of eBay the features that they have, I believe, support a better buyer/seller relationship scenario. However, I think serious collectors (such as myself and most people responding to this blog) enjoy the technicalities of record collecting support that Discogs offers. Let's not forget what Discogs primarily is: it is a pretty sufficient database for music that gives us not only administrative information about music releases but also allows us to view LP/CD/Cassette covers and labels, etc for the confirmation of finding exactly what we're looking for as collectors. The database, to me, is invaluable. The key to getting good records on discogs is reoccuring purchases from sellers whom you've bought good media from previously, and learning how to ask the right questions... being patient... getting your answer and proceeding or not with a purchase. Also, the better "Feedback Commenting" system on Discogs makes for better studying of a sellers reputation before deciding to purchase. I actually have had great great luck with both sites. Another plus for eBay is the fact that eBay will refund you if a seller doesn't.... Just my two cents

ken mac's picture

"Most" of the sellers on Duscogs are not in Europe. That is a ridiculous statement . Discogs is much less intrusive As both a buyer and seller. EBay epitomizes big brother sticking its finger in everything including the out rages fees they take if you are a seller. They take it on the front end and the backend, and there a PayPal fees as Well. I've never had any problem with Duscogs,

volvic's picture

Quick search for Karajan and his recordings reveal over the pages I have leafed as 60% being offered in Europe. Same if I enter Hans Knappertsbusch or Karl Bohm. I think you should take the hyperbole down a notch and congrats to you for your love of Discogs.

Cobion's picture

I have been buying vinyl on both sites for many years (Discogs being newer of the two) I have switched nearly entirely to Discogs. better selection, cheaper prices, easier transaction ect....
I have had little or no issues with Discogs when buying new sealed items or used items. Ebay on the other hand has led me to scammers, counterfeiters and cheaters.
Ebay is good, but too well known for the scammers.
Just my two cents worth.

volvic's picture

Ebay has people who feign ignorance when they sell something that they marked as excellent when it clearly is not, most times they just never inspect the vinyl, but as a buyer I feel protected with ebay; if it is not good I just send it back and never deal with them again. I have bookmarked certain favourite sellers and have good relationships with them so returns are nonexistent nowadays.

Russell DeAnna's picture

I am an ebay seller for the past 4 years. I list mostly at fixed price between $2 and $4 each LP. I grade every side of each LP and try avoiding mistakes. I sell between 600 and 700 LPs a month. Ebay takes 9% of the sales price and 9% of the shipping cost. It is a lot of work for a small amount of money, but I have freedom and about 50,000 LPs in boxes waiting to be listed. I have about 2500 LPs up on ebay at any one time. I get a couple complaints a month, either the USPS screws up and damages a package during shipment, or I miss a mark on the vinyl or a buyer complains that the surface is noisy. I don't argue with my customers and usually send a full or partial refund, which ever they prefer.

volvic's picture

This is why I use eBay for vinyl purchases, once you have a good relationship with someone and trust purchasing from them takes out any chance of misunderstandings.

tomdreskin's picture