10 reasons why not to buy Typewriters on Etsy & eBay

Etsy & eBay, the giant platforms for selling new or used items online, reaching everyone around the world... Yes, the sky is the limit when it comes to reach... But, after many disappointing experiences, personally and from clients, I am not a fan anymore when it comes to buying typewriters.

I started typing this blog a while ago but did not share until now due to a variety of reasons stopping me from sharing. The main reason is the fact that they are the platforms we are grateful for, that helped us at the start of our restoration journey in 2016 to market our typewriters but sadly we saw a big difference from when we started and now. I will explain it more as we go on.

At Mr and Mrs Vintage typewriters, it has always been more than reselling a typewriter as our longing to rescue these vintage typing machines has always been a priority. We successfully worked on more than 3700 typewriters as of 2022. Many of these rehomed to 65 countries around the globe by now, with some of them sent to us by clients for a further clean & repair after being sold on eBay and Etsy as "Working", "Restored", "Reconditioned", "Professionally Serviced" and so on. 

Picture below show a typewriter that we worked on and meticulously restored and sold for around £650 in 2019. Same typewriter model on Etsy and eBay can go for £400-500 without any work done.

Corona 3 folding typewriter fully dismantled for restoration

For this preceding reason, here are the 10 reasons why not to buy a Typewriter from Etsy & eBay?

 

1- Overpriced typewriters.

Many fellow typewriter enthusiasts noticed the hike of typewriter prices on eBay and Etsy because now anyone can take enhanced pictures with their smart phones and list on these platforms in less than a minute.  

All these items are initially found for much less on platforms like Facebook or sold locally and then relisted for much higher prices with digitally enhanced pictures with no work done.

Re-Sellers tend to research the price and compare their un-serviced, untested and restored typewriter to a genuinely restored typewriter and discount their prices by 30% to 40% with the addition of claiming their typewriters are serviced. Typing few words on a typewriter does not make it serviced.

 

2- No real work done.

Personally, I have a lot of customers, proudly call friends now, that trust us to prepare their previously purchased typewriters, especially those bought in the last 4-5 years from Etsy or eBay and after checking our work, they can tell the difference we make on each item and ask us to recondition their previously acquired typewriters by resorting them to suit the collection they have. 

For Example, a kind friend bought a Hermes Baby typewriter from a seller who claims to be a typewriter expert. The typewriter looks good from the outside but was not typing smoothy, so he decided to exchange it with one of our ready typewriters.

While removing the main frame, I was surprised to notice that screws are untouched and have not been unscrewed before as all original paint still hold on them and this proves that the typewriter was not cleaned at all from the inside. After taking it apart, it was full of dust and rubber residue inside. What a shame as he paid at over £450 for it. After further checks, I detected more problems like the ribbon holder mechanism, that should have been fixed before selling. After working on it, I shared the inside of it with its previous owner, he was shocked... that was a major turning point for him when it comes to where and whom to buy from. 

This is one of many other stories that we came across. I could write a book!

Olympia SM3 typewriter fully dismantled for restoration

 

3- Dodgy "Reputed" Sellers.

We are online sellers, and our main purpose is delivering a perfectly working typewriter when a customer has an issue with his/her typewriter, whether it’s a damage or not knowing how to use it or even if any problem occurred, we are always there to help.

We will never imply that a customer is lying or blame them for not being able to use their typewriter or ask them to deal with couriers in case they had an issue with shipping.

I listened to many potential customers and even current customers talking about bad experiences from a supposedly perfect transactions that turned out to be a bluff and loaded with deception & impoliteness. That led them to lose their trust in shopping online for a typewriter. 

On many occasions, clients tell us how they purchased typewriter on Etsy/eBay and the seller their blame them if the typewriter they receive isn’t working, and does not offer a refund or resolution to their problem easily.

Personally, we won’t be happy unless the client is at least delighted with his purchase, now and later (Will talk more about this in another section). We will be working out on all the options until the clients gets what they paid for and make sure he is very happy with the offered assistance and the typewriter. 

Frequently scheduled many facetime and WhatsApp Video sessions with clients to help them learn how to use the purchased typewriter and many times helped others learn how to properly type to get the best of their newly acquired typewriter.

Most importantly, we listen to the client and promptly reply to their concerns, and we keep them updated with any progress while communicating without any excuses slowing down the resolution. 

 

4- Did not get the same pictured typewriter. 

This is my favourite part.

On some occasions, especially when buying from Etsy, you will not get the typewriter in pictures. For instance, if it is a common model, you will get a similar typewriter as some sellers work with one picture fits all. 

No specific details describing the exact typewriter you are getting & the picture shows the model only. Nothing mentioned about what is the typewriter's typeface and not any details about paint condition or minor marks on the main frame. On the same hand, not many mention the keyboard details to confirm if it is QWERTY, QWERTZ or other kinds of keyboards with also no indication if it is an American, British, German or Spanish Keyboard as each one is different and will contain different characters and the location of certain letters or keys vary from one to another. 

I have many clients asking before the purchase, are we getting the typewriter in pictures?  Our answer is definitely yes! We take pictures to every single typewriter we list. What you see on the website is exactly what you will get. We always highlight any cosmetic issues it has.

For example, we sold now more than 150 Yellow Silver Reed typewriters and each one is different in a way when it comes to cosmetic condition.

 

5- Unsecure and Awful packing. 

I have seen many videos on YouTube or social media illustrating on how to pack a typewriter, but I am not 100% convinced what should be the right procedure as each typewriter is different and should be secured in a special way. I’m talking from experience here.

What we exactly do at Mr & Mrs Vintage typewriters is making sure that the typewriter safely arrives in the same condition as it was before packing and without asking the client to cut through layers of bubble wrap and other material or entail using a sharp object that will increase the risk scratching or marking the frames or carrying cases. We do our best to secure the typewriter and make sure that unpacking it is not a hard work for the receiver.

Our enclosed documents will mention on how to unlock and the typewriter carriage if needed and what else is required to start typing. 

We buy our typewriters from different sources, but we also buy 100s of typewriters each year from eBay. Shockingly we receive many not even packed in a box! Sadly, we receive many partially or totally damaged. We try to collect in person where possible to avoid the damage but that is not possible all the time.

For example, on many occasions we politely request from sellers to secure the typewriter in a certain way, and they will reply assuring that they are second to none in packing. When the typewriter arrives!  we will be shocked on how careless some sellers are & they will always blame the damage on shipping courier and not their insecure packing. 

Pictures below show some damaged typewriters, lids, frames and boxes that previously arrived to us from eBay orders. 

  damaged typewriter box

damaged from of a typewriter

damaged typewriter lid

I will never focus on making sure the typewriter is looking fancy when it arrives risking damage in transit, and I will never reduce the size of the proper box to pay less for a courier to deliver. Our main priority is making sure your typewriter arrives SAFE. If your typewriter is not properly secured within the carrying case & soundly placed inside sturdy double walled box with support from bottom and the sides, there is a big chance of damage. 

 

6- Test pages on the listing does not mean your typewriter is "Fully" working. 

Small details matter and a typed page or sometimes a video showing the typing mechanism is not a proof that the typewriter is ready. 

I always argue that the typewriter needs a lot of typing and checks before it is ready as one repeating client commented once about the unjustified time we need to list an item after sharing it on our Instagram stories and the reason behind this is that we prefer heavily typing on the typewriter and checking every single option on it before listing on the website. 

Therefore, a test page is a specimen of the typeface clarity and design but will never be alone a proof that other typewriter options are working like margin release or that carriage return is smooth, and many other options.

 

7- Vintage does not meant dusty!!

Vintage doesn’t need to be dusty, grimy or rusty! So, when you are buying a typewriter, please do not accept to receive it full of dust & grime. I have seen hundreds of typewriters on eBay and Etsy from so called “professional sellers” full of dust. Just check the pictures up close.

At Mr & Mrs Vintage Typewriters, we always take the typewriter apart. We clean it deeply and fix any issues it might have, test for hours before listing it for sale.

 dirt inside the typewriter

 

 

8- Lengthy returns & complaints process.

 

It is the worst experience when it comes to dealing with a return on eBay or Etsy. 

Did not try Etsy returns but from some devastating experiences shared with us by clients and friends, I would understand that it’s not a pleasant one as it takes time and no real or effective help offered by Etsy when your order passes certain time frames & when dealing with dodgy re-sellers. 

I would say eBay helps in a way but extremely slow to process any return and specially when a seller doesn't want to cooperate. This may take 15-25 days if you are chasing it and more if there was a delay in the delivery of the returned item when you are wasting more time on phone calls and messages to get your well-earned money back. 

As for PayPal, help is minimal and, in many cases, sellers will benefit from unclear returns policy and communication difficulties and complications to reach a PayPal resolution centre that makes the whole process appalling. For example, we had been once asked, as buyers, to pay for international postage to return a faulty item through PayPal and this is ridiculous and unacceptable as the seller on PayPal or any platform should pay for return postage if the item is damaged, not as described, or faulty. The devil is always in the details. 

 

  9- Late dispatch & Slow Delivery

Platforms like eBay and Etsy gives the seller the option to choose the number of days needed to dispatch an order.

A supposedly "Ready" typewriter. If you are lucky, it will be less than 3 working days and that is normal assuming these sellers really committed to this and dispatched the typewriter and supplied a "VALID" tracking number showing that the box was picked up and the shipping journey officially started.  

Shipping or Booking Details received showing on the tracking link doesn't mean your typewriter is shipped as that is just what happens when a label is created. First proof it was shipped is when you see a scan showing "Picked up" or "Dropped in parcel shop". 

What we do at Mr and Mrs Vintage typewriters is dispatch any sold typewriter within 24 hours. No Matter what happens, the typewriter should be ready, checked, packed and a tracking supplied to the buyer unless they asked for a future dispatch day.

Delivery should be from Next Day within the UK and 2-7 working days all over the world assuming no customs or weather delays and that is extremely rare and only in certain countries that has a strict & slow customs clearance process. 

I was surprised with one email from a kind client mentioning that he ordered a typewriter from the EU and the shipment took more than 5 weeks to be delivered. When he asked for a tracking, he got no reply or maybe the seller just evaded communication or to justify the unreasonable delay.  

On the other hand, never be fooled with Express delivery that takes more than 7 days and costs £100 and more. Express Delivery is intended to be in 1-2 working days to most countries and 2-5 working days to other countries that has slower shipping networks.

 

10- Guaranteed typewriters... They do not exist. 

It is 2022 and giving a "Guarantee" on a 60 plus years typewriter is just pure deception. 

It goes without saying that it’s your right as a customer to receive a high-quality typewriter that would serve you for a reasonable amount of time. IF you paid a premium price for a restored typewriter, from a genuine restorer & highly recommended online shop.

To define " Reasonable amount of time", we are confident that a properly restored typewriter, that is well taken care of by its new owner, will not need any service or repair/adjustment before two years. With the exception that owner have caused the problem due to misuse or neglect by not following the instructions on how to take care of the typewriter, this time frame doesn't apply. 

Paying the cost of postage to return a faulty or damaged typewriter or paying for any repair, adjustment or parts to get your typewriter work again is just theft in day light if you have just bought it or it has been less than a month before problems started to pop up. 

We never offered what so called guarantees in our shop, but we have always had a better service for our clients as we will be on standby for any help or assistance needed. Now, if the problem is more than getting help on how to use the typewriter, we usually offer video communication to check what might the issue be. If there is a major problem detected, promptly, with no questions asked, we will arrange or collaborate with the client to safely return the item.

No matter what country you have ordered your typewriter from, we will get the typewriter back to our workshop to have a look at the issue that our client is facing with the typewriter. Most importantly, we never leave our client with no options. We try to make things right for them and make sure they are delighted with the typewriter. Our options would be fixing the issue and returning the typewriter to the client, sending another typewriter of their choice & set budget, or on the rare occasion that the typewriter is unrepairable, we will then issue a full refund.  

 Imperial good Companion typewriter restoration

Our purpose for this list is to guide you to buy a well restored typewriter and not lose interest after a bad experience on Etsy, eBay or any other websites & there are many.

Although there are many good to excellent typewriter restorers out there, there are much more sellers that play the "Know it all card" and sell below average typewriters.  Those typewriters will seize to work after a couple of weeks or will be dumped in the closet as its doesn't seem to properly function leaving the user less tempted to use a typewriter anymore. 

Reviews are important but I would also check the Instagram pages or stories, all kind of reviews from the web on this store or website and always make sure to check their credentials and how they restore these typewriters. 

Repainting typewriter frames! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely against repainting frames. If the typewriter has no major cosmetic problems, then I believe we should keep the original factory paint. It is important to keep the value in the typewriter & the history behind it since during each decade, typewriter designs and colours have changed and developed to give us a glimpse of how typewriters looked in certain years. But! If the frame has major rust, or chipped paint, then sure why not repaint it PROFESSIONALLY, and give it a new life.  

Please be aware of a cheaply repainted typewriter, it might look good but will not hide the dirt inside the typewriter or the malfunctions.

All the information mentioned in this blog are based on our daily engagements with fellow typewriter collectors, enthusiasts, repair experts, and mostly from experiences we had with our own clients that doubted the existence of “a professionally restored typewriters” until they got their first typewriter from us.

Most importantly, Mr and Mrs Vintage Typewriters will always be happy to help... 

With Gratitude, 

Walid Saad

Mr and Mrs Vintage Typewriters ltd. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Walid Saad

Anyone interested in buying a typewriter that will be a joy to use should read this wonderful article first – I wish I’d had it when I first started collecting. 9/10 machines bought on eBay arrived damaged. Now I will only buy from a vendor who know their craft such as Mr and Mrs V because it saves much heartbreak!

Mr Saad, you SHOULD write a book, it would be amazing.

Walid Saad

Really great post as always.

I once had a Imperial 50 typewriter sent to me but DPD dropped the parcel and the frame was broken into two pieces! Luckily the seller was kind and gave me a full refund.

I only really buy now if the seller can drop off the typewriter personally and I can inspect the machine personally.

I recently found a Blickensderfer 7 typewriter at a antique shop in a rare Literary case which was in poor very dirty shape. However it was quite rare so bought it anyway but it’s an exception to the rule really.

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