Subject: FAQ POSTING (rgva.marketplace)
Frequently Asked Questions
$Revision: 1.2 $ $Date: 1997/11/05 03:24:21 $
This is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list for the Usenet newsgroup
This FAQ is posted weekly and the current copy should be considered to
supersede all previous postings.
This FAQ was developed by Tony Jones with help from Steve Ozdemir and
reviewed by Doug Jefferys. The document may be freely distributed, as
long as all credits remain in place.
This document has been designed for viewing on an 80 column display.
Comments and suggestions for improvement welcomed.
Send email to tony@rtd[DOT]com (please replace [DOT] with a period)
This FAQ is provided for informational purposes only. Although the
authors have made every effort to provide accurate information, they
cannot guarantee the accuracy or usefulness of any of the information
contained herein due to the complexity of the issues involved.
The authors take no responsibility for anything arising as a result of
anyone using the information provided in this FAQ, and the reader hereby
absolves the authors of any and all liability arising from any activities
resulting from the use of any information contained herein.
If you're new to collecting, before you start buying and selling items
on this newsgroup, you are advised to read the sister newsgroup
rec.games.video.arcade.collecting and it's associated FAQ.
Index of Items
> indicates a change since the last revision of the FAQ
* indicates new information
*1. What is rec.games.video.arcade.marketplace?
*2. Guidelines to posting to rec.games.video.arcade.marketplace
*3. Tips for buyers and sellers
*4. Other related FAQs
1) What is rec.games.video.arcade.marketplace?
The newsgroup rec.games.video.arcade.marketplace (hereafter abbreviated
to rgva.marketplace) is an online forum for the sale and purchase of
arcade COIN-OP video games and parts.
Postings regarding console, pc or other 'home' games (regardless of whether
they mimic the coin-op version) are expressly PROHIBITED.
General collecting issues, technical discussion of game hardware, the
maintenance/repair of games, game conversion and purchasing games from
sources other than the Internet (for example: operators and public auctions)
should continue to be posted to rec.games.video.arcade.collecting (hereafter
abbreviated to rgva.collecting).
Messages should not be crossposted (this includes separately posting the
same article contents) to both rgva.marketplace and rgva.collecting. Pick
one or the other based on the the subject matter and the above
1.1) What types of posting are prohibited on rgva.marketplace
The charter of rgva.marketplace (which was voted upon) prohibits the
following types of posting:
- Any posting related to console/pc/home games.
Yes, this includes SNES, PSX, N64, that ancient Atari 2600 which
is collecting dust in the corner and anything else that is not an
ARCADE COIN-OP VIDEO game.
- Non video arcade items, such as (but not limited to) pinball
machines, jukeboxes and slot machines.
- General/technical collecting traffic which should continue to be
posted to rgva.collecting.
- Cross posting (or posting the same article contents) to
rgva.marketplace and rgva.collecting.
1.2) History of rgva.marketplace
In 1997 the quantity of commerce related postings in rgva.collecting
reached a level where a newsgroup split was necessary. The CFV to split
out marketplace traffic was organised by Steve Ozdemir. Rgva.marketplace
came into existence on October 7th 1997 having passed the vote 6 days
earlier by a margin of 132 to 29.
When the newsgroup split was originally discussed, moderation of the
marketplace group was suggested. However, it was decided that the new
group would be initially proposed to be non-moderated. Only if off-topic
and cross-posting became a problem would moderation be considered.
2) Guidelines to posting to rgva.marketplace.
rgva.marketplace is a Usenet group, no different from any other.
As such, most, if not all, of the published 'netiquette' guidelines apply.
If you are unsure what these guidelines are, please read the following
You are, of course, free to ignore all of this advice. You should,
however, remember that your postings reflect upon yourself. If you
choose to continue buying and selling video games on the Internet,
you will be dealing with people who read your postings, and first
impressions can often be lasting.
2.1) Choosing an appropriate Subject: line.
Adhering to some common conventions allows your posting to stand out.
It also allows people who may only be interested in a subset of the
traffic on rgva.marketplace (i.e for sale postings) to filter out the
remaining traffic (for details on how to set up filtering, see the
instructions that accompanied your news reading software).
Please begin each subject line with one of the following keywords:
FS (items offered for sale)
FT (items offered for exchange/trade)
AUC (items offered for auction)
WTB (items wanted for cash)
WTT (items wanted for trade)
REF (reference check desired)
Following the keyword, it is important that you state your geographical
location. For the United States, please use the standard 2 letter state
abbreviation. For other countries, use the 2 letter ISO country code
identifier (which will usually be the final component in your e-mail
"FS: (UK) Defender upright" (United Kingdom)
"FS: (OR) PacMan pcb" (USA/Oregon)
"WTB: (NY) Tempest cocktail" (USA/New York)
"FS: (NO) Shinobi" (Norway)
"AUC: (CA) Rare uprights (USA/California)
"REF: John Doe"
See Section 3.4 for more information on running auctions.
See Section 3.2 for more information on checking references.
2.2) Content of your message
If the geographic region listed in the Subject line (you did list one
- right ?) is very large, you might consider providing more detail
on your location in the body of your posting, i.e :
Subject: FS: (CA) uprights
For sale in the Bay Area
If you are posting multiple items for sale, or are looking to buy
more than one item, list all the items in one posting. Do not post
one article per item, to do so is a huge waste of the available
Internet bandwidth, not to mention inconsiderate of other's time.
Please limit reposting the same article to once per week (this limit
is defined in the rgva.marketplace charter, which was voted upon).
One of the motivating factors behind this is to eliminate constant
posting of for sale items and updates of auction results (see Section 3.3
for more details on running an auction in rgva.marketplace).
For complete games, or large parts, state whether you are prepared to
deliver or collect (how far and for delivery, at what cost). Also (for
both for sale and wanted postings) mention whether you are prepared to
freight ship the item (see Section 3.5b for more details on shipping
Learn something from how you would advertise in a newspaper. You
wouldn't leave out information such as price and condition, and
expect people to call you for details. It's no different on Usenet,
if you are selling state the price you want, whether this includes
shipping, what the condition of the game is and anything else you feel
will help you attract a buyer's attention. Unlike a newspaper, you are not
paying by the word, so you are free to be a little more descriptive.
If you want your wanted (WTB/WTT) posting to be taken seriously, state as
precisely as possible what you are searching for (sorry, but "Games wanted,
email me your list" just doesn't cut it and you will likely be ignored).
In addition to stating your price range, you should include what cosmetic
condition will be acceptable.
3) Tips for buyers and sellers
For a transaction taking place on rgva.marketplace, the chances are
high that money and goods will be exchanged without either party
ever meeting. Buying and selling games via the Internet can be
extremely rewarding, but this lack of physical contact can be the cause of
many problems. The goal of this section is to suggest ways to avoid them.
Remember, despite what you might infer from reading the newsgroup, most
readers are reputable people. Certainly, there there have been cases of
fraud, but it is not nearly as pervasive as some like to suggest.
3.1) Arranging payment
In general, it is expected that the buyer pre-pay for items.
If payment is by regular check, and the buyer and seller have never
conducted business before, it is normal for the seller to wait for the
check to clear before shipping.
If this delay is a problem, a USPS money order or COD are alternatives. For
COD, the buyer should expect to pay any additional COD charges.
There have been occasional incidents that were reported in the newsgroup
of transactions taking several months (where the check had been cashed).
It is for this reason that it is important for the buyer and seller to
agree on when payment should be received and the items shipped. If either
party anticipates delays or other problems, it is their responsibility to
communicate this to the other before payment is sent.
Sending payment by certified (return receipt) mail can provide additional
protection, and you may feel it is worthwhile when dealing with a person
for the first time to keep a record of all correspondence.
Several options are available if you need a reference on a prospective
buyer or seller
- Check a newsgroup archive for any postings regarding previous
problems with the individual or company. The two largest archives
are Dejanews (www.dejanews.com) and Altavista (altavista.digital.com)
- Try contacting other collectors in the same geographical area.
Lists of collectors and their locations can be obtained from the
Video Arcade Preservation Society (www.vaps.org). Remember, the
collectors you contact could be friends of the person you are
trying to check up on.
- Post a reference check to rgva.marketplace. Please begin the
Subject: line of any such posting with "REF:".
Rather than clutter up the newsgroup with responses, please state
clearly in the body of your message that all replies should be VIA
EMAIL. In addition, please redirect follow-ups to yourself by setting
the header line "Followup-To: poster".
Once you have received all the replies (allow 4 days from the when
you posted the request), post a single follow-up to rgva.marketplace
with the results (again beginning the Subject: line with "REF:".
All comments MUST include the e-mail address (and name if
available) of the person who originated them.
If you are not prepared to follow-up as outlined above, you should
not post to the newsgroup requesting the information.
3.3) Forsale vs. Auction
Occasionally the topic of whether items should be posted for sale or
for auction has arisen. Some of the main reasons presented in favor of
auctions have been:
- It allows people with slow (or sporadic) news feeds the chance to
- It provides the seller with the greatest potential amount of
revenue, albeit at the expense of their time.
- It allows the market to decide the price of an item, especially
when the seller may be uncertain of an item's value.
Whether you decide to post items for sale, or run an auction, is up to you,
If you decide to post the items for sale (listing a price for each), it is
considered extremely poor trading practice to later (after your mailbox
fills with interest for one or more items) switch over to auctioning these.
Pick one method and stay with it.
Despite claims to the contrary, listing a price of "$x Or Best Offer/OBO"
does not imply you are running an auction on the item and looking for
greater than $x; it indicates you are looking for $x but willing to accept
If you are auctioning an item or items, clearly state so. Since all items
being offered should have a Subject: line beginning with either "AUC:" or
"FS:" this implies that a single posting cannot contain both items for sale
and items for auction. If you have both, you will need to post two articles.
3.4) Running an auction
The charter of rgva.marketplace limits reposting of articles to once
per week. The aim of this is to prevent sellers posting auction updates
to the newsgroup.
Although you may feel your auction is the most important event of the
decade, it's likely not. The number of bidders will be small in relation
to the size of the rgva.marketplace readership. Many will not be interested
in your auction. Therefore, rather than using the newsgroup to update the
readership on the progress of your auction, please instead maintain a
mailing list containing the e-mail addresses of the interested parties. Use
your weekly posting to inform readers (who may have missed your previous
announcements) about your auction.
If possible, record current bidders and bids on a web page and direct
readers to the URL.
3.5a) Shipping parts
It is important to mention that unless requested by the buyer, method
of shipment is usually left to the seller.
There has been frequent debate on rgva.collecting over the relative
merits (and demerits) of the United States Postal Service (USPS) and
United Parcel Service (UPS), but people continue to advocate one or
The main differences are:
- cost: USPS is cheaper for small packages, but for larger packages,
(above $6) UPS starts to become progressively cheaper.
- security: UPS packages can be tracked (including the time of
delivery and name of person receiving the item) and are automatically
insured for $100. USPS insurance for loss and damage is an additional
- convenience: USPS drop off is more convenient, though most
commercial companies are set up for UPS.
- delivery: USPS will leave a package on your doorstep (whether this
is an advantage or a disadvantage depends on who you ask) and the
packages that do require a signature, will be held at the local
post office. UPS usually requires a signature and it can be a long
drive to the UPS depot if UPS cannot deliver.
- international: UPS and other courier services charges increase
dramatically for international service (even from the US to Canada).
USPS Air is a inexpensive alternative for small items. For larger
items, USPS ground service is very competitive, although delivery time
can be as high as 2 months.
Packages sent by UPS and other couriers are subject to customs
charges which often include tax on the shipping costs in addition to
the declared value of the item. Also, a fixed administrative charge
will often be levied. The total charges can be significant.
Experience indicates that packages sent via USPS may not be subject
to the same level of customs inspection, often resulting in no duty
being assessed. However, it is not possible to say definitively and
you should assume that any item shipped will have the same duty
levied regardless of whether it is sent USPS or UPS/DHL/etc.
3.5b) Shipping complete games
It is possible to ship a complete game across the United States at
relatively low cost. International shipment is expensive. Shipment
outside the United States is not covered by this FAQ.
There are many freight companies that will ship a game for you,
see "Trucking-Motor Freight" in the Yellow Pages. Most require the game
to be crated (usually cardboard will sufice). Even if the shipper does
not require crating, the buyer may wish to have the seller crate the
game since the shipping company may not consider cosmetic damage
significant during any subsequent insurance claim.
Some shipping companies also require the game to be strapped to a wooden
pallet. In addition, standard charges are based upon the seller delivering
to the shipping companies closest warehouse. Conforming to these shipping
company requirements will likely cost the seller money, to say nothing of
their time. It is therefore not uncommon for sellers to either be unwilling
to ship games or to charge extra (over the price listed in their posting)
It may initially seem attractive to declare a low value for the game in
order to reduce shipping costs. While damage is unlikely, freight damage
can be significant since a heavy item falling during storage/shipment can
totally destroy the game, regardless of how well it was crated.
Most companies offer COD on the freight charges. Other also offer COD
on the cost of the item. However, it is usual for the seller to request
pre-payment for the cost of the item. The buyer normally collects the game
from the shipping company's nearest warehouse, although home delivery is
sometimes available at additional cost.
As of this time (late 1997), Forward Air (800) 726-6654 seems to be the
preferred carrier charging a rate of $25 per 100 pounds (most full uprights
weight approx 300 pounds). Unfortunately, they do not have a presence in
all parts of the US.
There are also private individuals who (as crazy as it might sound) make
their livelihood moving games around the country. The most notable is
Denis Dodal (314) 849-2322. Denis charges $125 per game and there are
no special crating requirements (he just moves videos and pinballs and
is experienced in taking good care of them). The downside is that it can
take several months for delivery and since he is on the road, getting in
contact can be problematic. The readers of rec.games.pinball post his
current whereabouts on a fairly frequent basis.
3.6) Additional Buyers responsibilities
If you are purchasing sight unseen, it is your responsibility to ask
enough detailed questions about the items you will be purchasing.
For parts, it may be sufficient to know if they are working,
complete/untested (as-is), complete/dead or incomplete (missing parts).
For complete games, you will likely want to assess the cosmetic condition
of the game in addition to the mechanics. People have different standards,
so it is important to try to develop a common reference point to help you
asses what you will be buying.
Many sellers will guarantee the items (if they are non-working on arrival -
damage in shipping should be taken up with the shipping company). It
is the buyer's responsibility to test the received items in a prompt manner;
the seller can not be expected to offer an exchange or refund after several
months have passed (see Section 3.7 for more details).
Some sellers may own a digital camera or have other ways of obtaining
computer readable images (JPEG etc) of the item. Occasionally, if you can
convince the seller that you are serious about purchasing, you may be
able to convince them to mail you polaroids of the item in question.
In a nutshell, try to take care of possible problems ahead of time by
making your requirements clear. As mentioned previously in Section 3.1,
it is often wise to keep a record of any relevant e-mail in case problems
Finally, it is worth mentioning that many sellers have tired of people
asking frequent questions and then never purchasing. Please do your fellow
collectors a favor and be reasonable in any requests.
3.7) Finally, remember that games and game parts don't last forever.
A typical arcade game recoups its cost over a relatively short period of
time (a few years). In light of this, games were often not designed with
decades of longevity in mind.
Rick Schieve (firstname.lastname@example.org) in a posting to rgva.collecting offered
some excellent advice to prospective buyers and sellers of old Atari XY
boards (as a result of a disagreement that boiled over into the newsgroup)
but as with most good advice it can also be applied more generally!
Purchasing Tempest and Star Wars Board Sets [by Rick Schieve, edited for
clarity and space by Tony Jones]:
"Both of these board sets can often be unstable and intermittent.
One thing I learned is that you cannot call a Tempest or SW set
good unless you let it run for a while (say overnight). I had more
complaints of problems with these sets than all the others put
together. And, not all the complaints were justified. I'd say about
half of these sets worked fine when returned to me.
[Summary of specific problems mentioned: marginal edge connectors
lose or bad solder joints on the interboard connectors, insufficient
5v supply from the regulator and failing op amps/DtoA converters in
the vector generation circuitry]
What I have found is that once you get a stable combination of
components together the machines usually behave. It's just painful
to get to that point at times.
Whenever I sold Tempest or SW sets I usually held back a few extra
working sets anticipating problems. I'd then simply swap for
another set if people did have problems. The only times there may
have been bad feelings is when people wouldn't try the boards they
received for some time. I'd get a complaint 6 months later and had
used up the spares I had at the time.
When servicing games in general I often ask people if they would
even consider putting $$$ into something like a 15 year old TV set?
The average game has probably seen more hours of use. Also,
relatively few games were made and they were really only designed
to last a few years. Frustration often comes with the territory
when collecting classic videos"