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Ebay scam

Elizabeth Ward Amazon bow Dorfler ebay

There is a relatively clever scam on ebay at the moment. A violin bow for £38.95 (bear in mind that this includes ebay and paypal fees and postage) that claims to be made in Germany and is described as a W. Doerfler pernambuco bow.
 
Here is why it is clever: there is indeed a very well known German bow making company called Dörfler. The umlaut in German represents an E and it is common for English transcriptions of words with an umlaut to use an E rather than hunting around for the German character on the keyboard. Commonly with bows, the cheaper bows from a maker have the surname only and the more expensive ones have an initial or two as well. So with Dörfler: the cheapest Dörfler bows are just stamped Dörfler, the middle priced bows are stamped W. Dörfler and the more expensive ones W.E. Dörfler. The bow on ebay is full mounted and has a Parisian eye, both of which are characteristic of Dörfler bows at around the £200 mark.
 
Here is how I know it is a scam (but would you?)
 
1. Common sense itself should tell you that you aren't likely to pick up a new bow at around 20% of the price most retailers sell for. Why on earth would anyone need to sell a genuine new item at 20% of the new price unless it was a matter of clearing bankrupt stock in which case it would be an auction or lots put up for tender (I got some bows that way many years ago). A retailer could not buy ANY new Dörfler bow and sell for a profit at £38.95 (and this bow claims to be pernambuco, not even the cheaper Brazilwood). Rumours that we make a 500% profit on musical instruments (as some joker used to claim on ebay years ago) are little more than a sick joke. Other than IT, musical instruments are amongst the lowest mark up items there are (divide that 500% profit by ten - and don't forget the VAT - and you'll be close, IF we sell at the list price, which most of us can't)
 
2. The description does not match the picture but the seller seems to be unaware of that (the description says it is a silver winding and leather grip, the picture is of a two tone plastic grip. Incidentally you don't get silver winding on a £200 Dorfler bow either so perhaps the seller is trying to pretend that it is an even higher model)
 
3. The seller describes herself an an "online emporium" and mainly sells clothes. Hardly the type of seller you would expect to be dealing in quality violin bows.
 
4. The picture shows a stamp which is not very well done, Dörfler stamps are clearer than that.
 
5. All Dörfler bows have a wire and leather grip and a quick check on their website would soon tell you that.
 
6. It's fairly clear from the picture that the grip is plastic. You get plastic grips on cheap bows.
 
So what is it then? Well it's obviously a cheap Chinese bow. Yes you could import those direct and sell them for that price and make a profit.
 
So why has the seller sold three without getting any negs? Well, I suppose amateur players buying without teacher or specialist shop advice simply don't know what they are buying. The bow is good enough for their needs, they think they have a great bargain and it is going to be some time before the bow needs rehairing and the news is broken to the buyer that this is just a cheap bow that is totally uneconomic to rehair.
 
Should you buy a bow at this price point? Sure, no reason why not, for elementary level playing. It's probably as good as you will find with most beginner outfits. But please please please don't buy from a seller who is making it out to be something it clearly isn't, there are far too many of those on ebay and Amazon!


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