Used Pinball Machines for sale in Ottawa and Canada are common online on Pinside, Kijiji, Ebay, and many other forums or sites.
Disclosure is defined by the Oxford dictionary firstly as the action of making new or secret information known.
All sellers, whether they be registered commercial businesses, under the table re-sellers or curb-siders, prolific collectors, or private individuals with only one game, will present their game for sale with some sort of description of it’s cosmetic condition and state of electrical or mechanical repair, yet the definition of full disclosure is often not met in said descriptions.
Cosmetic appearance is easy to judge in person and often even online with quality digital images unless the seller is actually presenting fraudulent photographic evidence. Not that that doesn’t happen!
The working condition of a machine however is of course very difficult to determine remotely, and in fact many serious issues can be difficult to spot in person if the seller does not disclose the full truth, or straight up lies.
With the prices of used pinball machines at unprecedented levels, it is now for many a significant investment, with some pinball machines selling for more than a decent used or even cheap new car! As in real estate, honest disclosure is something every buyer expects, but are often not afforded, and unlike real estate, there are no significant provisions for this in the world of private pinball sales.
Repairs and what is considered “fixed” or “working 100%” may mean different things to different people, meaning one persons idea of a game that plays well may vary greatly from another persons. This in itself is problematic, but in general, an honest seller who represents his game as being in perfect working order may have missed or not considered mentioning a few subtle issues they have lived with, but the game will still work more or less.
For us here at Pinball Medics, we expect even games described as “mint” to have some issues and will recondition and bullet-proof all but the most thoroughly pristine machines before resale or even for our own commercial or personal use. Those collectors who are proficient at repair and critical of game play condition will often do the same, and through their experience will also be familiar with this reality, but even these smaller issues can represent a significant expense to those who need to pay service technicians to repair their machine, if a technician is even available in their area.
Beyond that, the issue with disclosure can be far more serious when a seller intentionally misrepresents the condition and conceals serious issues that can cost even professional pinball repair and restoration technicians hundreds of dollars worth of parts and many hours or even days of labour, often exceeding the final value of the game.
While reputation is paramount to all of us at Pinball Medics, and to many other commercial and private sellers we have the pleasure of dealing with, this is not the case with all. Honesty, integrity, and ethical behaviour are qualities most will tell others they aspire to, but is not always a reflection of their actual character.
Be wary of any machine that you are not offered an opportunity to play. The old “I took it apart for you before you got here to save you the trouble” trick works well for many unscrupulous sellers, and is even more common than the “I swear it was working forever until just now” line.
Bear in mind also that many problems will not be apparent during a quick test play, and will only present once the game is fully warmed up, which can sometimes take 30 minutes or more of constant play. Some problems are specific to more deep and involved game features that will not be attained during a fast test game either.
To consider a game to be fully working, every single switch, bulb, sound, mechanical feature, display segment, etc. must be functional. Most buyers do not have time to play a game for hours before buying it, and most sellers prefer not to entertain 2 hour test drives in their home, so failing this option, testing should involve removing the playfield glass and manually activating every switch and game feature. It is best to ask the buyer to perform said tests while you watch to avoid any confusion as to who may have damaged their game if it is suddenly not working perfectly as stated in their advert…
As the recipients of many of the games sold by some of the more notorious sellers we see and hear it all, and see the same names mentioned by our clients on a regular basis, and are often asked why most of these stories are spoken of in hushed tones in an effort to protect the guilty, whether through shame or fear of reprisal, thereby exposing other potential future victims, and damaging the reputation of honest traders within the hobby, whether they be involved in a personal or commercial capacity.
This is the first article in a series focusing on ethics and honest trade practices within the Pinball and Arcade Sales and Repair market in Ottawa, Canada, and Internationally, and we will be exposing more of the common deceptive practices we see daily over the following months, whether it involve private or commercial sellers.
We encourage you to share your stories and digital images with us, and will from this point forward be documenting cases we feel are helpful in assisting beginners in learning the ins and outs, and of course for their entertainment value!
We welcome any and all machines purchased in good faith that are less than as described, and upon completion of whatever repairs are indicated, we will endeavour to assist those who have been mislead and may be intimidated by the thought of presenting their experiences themselves.
Repairs performed will be documented, and if the monetary value or level of dishonesty merits the effort, we are willing to provide said documentation in the form of a sworn affidavit or through expert testimony for a reasonable fee, both in Small Claims Court in cases involving up to $25,000.00, or in Superior Court in the event the amount in contention exceeds $25,000.00.
Feel free to call us any time on 613-223-6108, or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.