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  1. #1
    mplanet62's Avatar
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    Default Internet Shopping Lemon Guide



    Everyone seems to be happy to buy off the Net. A lot of good bargains are offered by Amazon, eBay, etc...
    But almost everyone who did had some negative experience as well which does not get publicized a lot.
    Let's make our own "lemon guide" of the things that are not worth buying off the Internet - or where some serious caution is needed when buying them. I start:

    1. Used photo lens, esp DSLR zooms are often subject to fungus contamination. Sold cheaply, so mail cost makes their return not viable. Many of sellers do not even know that their lenses have a fungus. Practical experience: I bought two of such lenses from different sellers. One was successfully returned with some money loss (mail expenses), second one is too cheap to return, waiting to go in a bin. Don't bother to buy.
    2. Chemicals. Take extreme caution to investigate the subject before buying. Example: Silica gel. It's sold very cheaply on Internet, and one can buy it to keep their lenses, eyepieces, etc. dry. Some of packages look great and very promising. Blue granules in elegant plastic boxes that change their color to pink when absorb the moisture. Can be put in a microwave after that to reactivate.
    One has to know what he buys, because they are unsafe, may contain carcinogen. The Use of Cobalt Chloride in Silica Gel In some countries it may be illegal to sell it, while in the others it's completely OK. This time, it's not only waste of money, it's a health risk. Take extreme care.

    You may continue, if you wish - just remember to take care of privacy and company law.
    Last edited by mplanet62; 03-07-2011 at 10:21 PM.

  2. #2
    BenM's Avatar
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    As far as I know, none of the big warehouse retailers test any of the optical equipment they receive from the manufacturer or importer/distributor. They also resell returned items. Therefore if you buy an item not likely to have been subjected to strict quality control by the factory, you have a good chance of encountering defects of any kind possible. The way to avoid them is to test the products and return them promptly if they fail. If you cannot test them, then you may be better off buying from a retailer who can and will.

    Of all the optical equipment I've bought online through warehouse stores, I would say that at least a third of it was defective or substandard for the given product. A much larger portion was of low quality but not apparently defective or uncharacteristic of the product.

    Although I purchased fewer high-end products of makes with substantial reputation, I found substandard quality among them as well. Fortunately the worst outcome has been that I had to pay return shipping charges.

    The optics business definitely went the way of catalog/internet/mail order and pretty much shut the door on stores that could have been advocates for their customer, the amateur astronomy community. The warehouses are nothing more than order fulfillment centers. You're on your own, and if you're buying a price-point product, well I wanted to say it's like a lottery, but I've said it before, it's more like a white-elephant party.

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  4. #3
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    Gun shops also sell the "drys-it" for gun safes, shop around to find the best deal!!!
    Enjoy the Black cause they can't take it back............
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  5. #4
    BenM's Avatar
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    Get a sack of premium calcium chloride ice melt. It works just as well as silica gel and it's cheap enough in quantity to be disposable (you can throw it on your driveway to melt ice). I wouldn't eat it (because it could be dirty) but it is less toxic than table salt. Magnesium chloride is another product, maybe not quite as good for drying. Sodium chloride (salt) works too but the least of the three.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BenM View Post
    Get a sack of premium calcium chloride ice melt. It works just as well as silica gel and it's cheap enough in quantity to be disposable (you can throw it on your driveway to melt ice). I wouldn't eat it (because it could be dirty) but it is less toxic than table salt. Magnesium chloride is another product, maybe not quite as good for drying. Sodium chloride (salt) works too but the least of the three.
    Be a bit careful about what you use chloride salts (calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride) on. They are corrosive, as anyone who has driven a car on salted roads in winter knows, and can damage equipment, especially steel. Don't pour a bunch into your OTA!

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  7. #6
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    Ammonium nitrate is a dessicant too, but it's pretty nasty on coatings.....
    Kitty litter - cheapest and best, but put it in the oven at 150C for an hour to eliminate perfume/air freshener before you use it
    NEQ6 Pro Mount.
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    /wide field scope. 10x10 shed with dome. Sky watcher sky adventurer mount.

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  9. #7
    klaatu2u's Avatar
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    I sometimes just 'nuke' some dry rice and put in a sort of cheesecloth or nylon if I am concerned about moisture - best thing is just not to trap it and have decent air movement nearby - nice thing about using rice it's inexpensive and edible...

    As for gear in the astro hobby I buy on AstroMart, and several web vendors, OPT, Astronomics, Starizona, Anacortes, Woodland Hills, Tak America, TEC - where I have some sort of relationship and at least know who I'm talking to when I phone. Or a place like telescope.com where I've had nothing but great transactions. I've never bought anything from CraigsList, Amazon, E-Bay - and most likely never will.

    So far I think I've been pretty lucky and only managed to buy a book on Amazon, about Cunieform that (was actually printed here in Oregon) of a landmark text by one of the pioneer decypherer - it turned out to be in German which I don't understand. It was my own fault, and I was able to re-sell it to a visitng German student at the local University.

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  11. #8
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    I never buy used electronics, no matter where I'm buying from. Likewise, I'm wary of Ebay after buying a Meade GoTo a few years back and having the thing die on me a couple of months later.

    Otherwise, I have no problem buying used books or DVD's online, especially through Amazon. They've never let me down. In fact, I bought a set of Cosmos DVD's when I lived in England - I had to order it from the US Amazon. They shipped the set over (6 DVD's?) and one wouldn't play. I offered to send back the entire set but they said not to worry and and shipped out an entirely new set free of charge. Very impressed. (I'm guessing they just made a claim on their insurance.)
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