My story is relatively simple, and the problems shouldn't have happened, but they did.
About a week ago I saw an ad for some Cardas Crosslink Bi-Wired banana-terminated speaker cables for a reasonable price. I made an offer, the offer was accepted, and I paid via PayPal. Then next step should have been a box of speaker cables arriving in the mail, but instead I received an email from PayPal several days later showing a refund from the seller.
I also received a letter from the seller that went like this, "I would like to apologize for the refund on the Cardas Crosslink cables. I'm not sure where the blame lies, more with me, or Audiogon's overbearing process. On Friday, I received an order from another member. I waited 3 days for a response of some kind through Audiogon from the purchaser. I contacted Audiogon support and they issued a credit for the Non-sale. I then paid another $4 dollars to re-list the ad, which you responded to. I received notification through Audiogon of your payment and the payment from the Friday sale, along with a number of inquiries within minutes of each other. To be fair, I have accepted the first payment from a couple of days ago and issued the refund back to you. In seven years as an Audiogon member, I have never had such poor communication. With the new system, you have to go through Audiogon. Only at the end of the transaction do you get the person's e-mail address."
Obviously I would have preferred to have the speaker cables to the refund, but for me the aggravation was relatively minor. But if this had happened with the purchase of something harder to replace or find, such as a clean pair or Stax SR-X III earspeakers I would be more than mildly aggravated, I would be pissed. And I would think long and hard before trying to buy another item from Audiogon.
I understand that the reason for not letting buyers and sellers see each other's email addresses is so they can't do "side deals" that avoid Audiogon's sale commissions. But if this "added security" throws a monkey wrench into transactions, more people like me will decide to do their equipment purchases elsewhere. My last three vintage equipment purchases have been through EBAY.
I see that Audiogon will be at "The Show" in Las Vegas during CES. I'm going to make sure I visit them and see if they have any solutions to their current lack of communication transparency. My own take is that slimeballs will always be slimeballs, and no amount of special provisions will change that. Making it more difficult for honest sellers in an effort to prevent commissions cheating will cost Audiogon more in sales and growth than they get back from their increased security. Bottom line, if you can't trust your customers, you're in the wrong business...