How long will reliable make it?
Just killed an hour on ebay. Ran across reliable tools. I was looking at there feedback. Besides large number of feedback posted by very few individual bidders most of the items are selling for chump change. Some of the stuff as low as $5-10 per lot. I understand they rip you on shipping but with ebay and paypal fees on every penny including shipping how are they making money? Shipping to them, cleaning and taking photos, packing, answering every 50th question, occasional refunds etc. Takes a lot to keep it going.
Anyone actually buy/win anything from them? I've been tempted to purchase/bid on something, but keep thinking, "If it seems too good to be true..."
I did. On many occasions. And I wasn't disappointed so far.
I bought a backplate from them once. It was improproperly advertized as to the mount size. They would not respond to emails and I had to open a case with ebay. I ended up having to eat return shipping, and they banned me from future biddding on their auctions. If they went under, Good riddance as far as I am concerned.
I did once ( a shell/face mill holder ) took them 2 weeks to get it here . I usually get stuff from cali in less then a week (mostly little stuff not much bigger then a cat 40 tool holder that will come air mail). I was on today looking at a hurco mill needing repair , tempting but with shipping and rigging + the seller, I'll pass . ever since reading about them here , I stay away from them .
I bought from Reliable in the early days of eBay and was generally happy. Over time, I found their descriptions increasingly misleading and their willingness to stand behind items dropping from instant phone response to lies and avoidance for the last item I bought from them a few years ago (an "excellent" sine plate that was completely rusted on the never-photographed bottom side). So the idea that they're in a downward spiral with tighter margins, poorer service, lower bids . . . makes some sense.
There are a few counter arguments, though. First, they're a bit like the aphorism "nobody goes there any more, it's too crowded." Second, I suspect that the folks doing most of the grunt work aren't being paid all that much and that the charade can go for a long time. Third, to the extent that there is demand for machines and they buy up most of them, they may not have to be all that good or honest to stay around for a while.
I bought a set of bore mics from them........The photo was not of what I was sold......What I got was total junk, not at all as advertised. I got screwed, they refused to do anything, Lies, Stopped replying to e mails. You would think that sooner or later they will run out of 1 time customers.
Years back I drove over to do a pickup. Could not find one item at all. The other item was missing accessories shown in the auction photos. They could not find them. The item also looked much different that the photos (Photos - no rust, actual part - rust). So I was 0 for 2 that day. They said they would reimburse me for gas for driving over, but never did. I did get my money back for the items at least.
I think Reliable is a successful company, despite what much of the stuff sells for.
1) The make quite a bit on shipping, as they seem to always include about $15 handling fee. Some stuff is a joke, but that is one area they make money. Every single sale they make some money on the shipping/handling.
2) In some cases they seem to keep the machines together with at least some of the tooling, but often they break up the tooling and sell it separate. Sometime they seem to breakup the cutters, vises, chucks, dividing tables, etc...remember back in the first comment, they make money on every single shipped item, on shipping/handling alone.
3) Location is key, location is key, location is key...they are located in one of the armpits of the machine capitol, at least it seems that SoCal *was* busy with machining in the past...lots of companies going under, and Reliable seems to pay pennies on the dollar, and then just breaks everything up separately. One would think the market would dry up, but they appear to send people all around the country now, so maybe they are national.
4) Since they clean everything with steam, they get all the gunk/swarf off it. Amazing how filthy many of the shops leave their machines, and when it's time to sell they are filthy. Even the clapped out machines look nice. Many of the machines they have are very nice, but some look look pretty used/abused. They also buy up all the schools who have been abandoning and getting rid of their machines due to liability. Doncha know, you'll poke your eye out?
5) They run nice auctions, and take good pictures of their items. The people that do that are very successful on ebay, often using videos for high ticket items. And because they take a lot of pics, people can't say they didn't show them what the machine looks like. I think they use that to their advantage and it's smart to.
All in all, I think they make out on their lots as a whole, and make a good amount of profit since they always make money on shipping/handling. They want volume, it actually means more money for them.
I have only bought a couple things from them in all the years I've been using ebay. Much of the decent stuff I see goes for more than I think the market price is. I think that might be because they have so many watchers, by pure volume, that they have way more people bidding in the final seconds. If they do get a dim wit bidding before the auction ends, that's only something in their pocket.
$15 shipping for 2 x 1-2-3 blocks.
TWO 123 BLOCKS - 1" X 2" X 3" | eBay
$15 shipping for countersinks.
15 MICRO STOP COUNTERSINK BITS - 1/2" | eBay
You get the idea...this goes on and one, the more items they ship the more money they make in a day, seriously, those sales for $3 with $15 shipping make them money. Some of the really nice machines bring in some decent coin. And I'm sure a lot of feedback is negative, they sell a lot of USED tooling, which shouldn't be expected to be sharp. Some of it they probably find laying behind and under machines...lol It's gonna cost at least $15 for shipping. Guaranteed with the pure volume they ship, they get a GREAT deal from UPS.
Question for you Mebfab, do you really think they are going to go out of business?
If I lived near them, I would buy small heavy stuff from them and put it right back up on ebay. They sold a bunch of 3" Kurt vises and they went for about a hundred something each because the shipping was $85. They refused to put it one a small flat-rate box. You could have bought them and re-sold them.
Originally Posted by Mebfab
For a while they experimented with free shipping. Deals were so good I actually had a search set for "reliable tools, free shipping". Lots of good deals there, and then they stopped.
$15 shipping for a handful of drills? Give me a break.
How about everyone here goes onto their auctions and reports them for excessive shipping charges? :-)
I think my 36" mic came from them.
Good price and fine tool.
I am Ox and I approve this h'yah post!
I don't quite understand the point of this thread. Mebfab was wondering how they could survive with such small prices (which is not really true for many of their completed auctions, by the way). Then it started sounding like they overcharge for shipping.
So you guys want it cheap and with free shipping? Wouldn't Mebfab's concerns come true then?
There shipping charge can be 3-4 times the actual cost to ship
Originally Posted by MichaelP
I understand it, but:
1. If the total doesn't suit you, don't buy. Ultimately, your only concern should be the total price and not any part of it.
2. If they sell extra cheap and don't make up the difference on shipping, they'll be out of business
That would be nice, but realistic prices and realistic shipping would be better than the current situation.
Originally Posted by MichaelP
Making the customer feel like they've been ripped off has never been a good business model.
One interesting thing is that there is a company that keeps historic prices of what's sold on ebay. You can use them to look up the value of stuff. Anything reliable sells will show up as effectively incorrect prices.
They started this way back when ebay fees were based off the selling price exclusive of shipping. That way they could sell an item that could have been $20 plus $5 shipping by charging $20 shipping and the price of the item wound end up around $5 and the ebay fee was cut drastically.
Ebay probably didn't take any action specifically against them because they were one of, if not the largest sellers.
I've set up most of my searches to exclude them.
I have never bought anything from them, not affiliated in any way-
But- I used to ship products all the time, and packing and shipping is expensive.
sure, if you are selling a few things a week you can dumpster dive for old liquor boxes, and dont mind driving to the post office.
But running an actual packing and shipping room, especially in Southern California, adds up fast.
I used to order in foam peanuts, and rolls of bubble wrap, and cardboard boxes, along with big flats of cardboard for building boxes. I didnt get into pallets much, but I suspect they do that too. Tape and tape guns, I used to have to custom make some boxes, used a $150 3M glue gun and fancy glue, after wearing out a half dozen cheapy glue guns. Gotta have a digital scale, and those arent cheap either.
I had to have return address labels printed, of course, and accounts with Fed-ex and UPS. UPS charges you a pretty stiff amount every week for the truck to come by and pickup.
Reliable no doubt prints custom labels, thats a dedicated computer and printer in the packing room.
Takes a fair amount of space, too- rents in LA arent cheap.
And labor- I would guess a couple three guys work full time at Reliable in packing and shipping. And they dont work for a dollar three eighty an hour, either. Most likely ten to fifteen bucks an hour, legal with with holding.
It all adds up, and, to pack a little gizmo in a box can easily run Reliable ten or fifteen bucks in materials and labor, before charging for shipping.
I really doubt that packing and shipping is any kind of profit center- I know it was always a loss for me. I would try to charge ten bucks or so for packing, often couldnt get away with it, and knew even at ten bucks a shipment, I was subsidizing it, hoping the profit on the sale would cover it.
The shipping charges are simply in response to fleaBay's continually-rising fees. I'm curious to know what actual overhead-to-fees ratio is. I've sold a few items over the years, and it seems that the fees usually end up being between 10 and 20%. I'm guessing that the web space that I leased from eBay for a week cost only pennies.
I've purchased a couple items from Reliable. One was a DTM toolpost that came with a few holders. I snagged it for a song and had to pay around $35 (IIRC) for shipping. It was still a bargain. Everything in the photos was in the box, so I can't complain. Their $15 minimum for shipping might be a bit steep, but I don't think it's any more of a rip-off than the eBay fees that the seller has to pay. As for Reliable's crappy customer service, there's really no excuse for that. I guess I should consider myself lucky for getting what I paid for!
The above is what I am referring to.
They pay people to act as outside buyers.
They ship to there facility
They clean it
They have to deal with waste disposal (in Ca no less)
Take photos and minimal research
Write the ad
Stand behind it and answer questions (Iknow they dont for the most part)
Box it up Maybe break even, maybe make a dollar, maybe loose? Doubt they loose
Pay ebay and paypal fees
Loose money on large machines at times
All of the above are costs (maybe not shipping)
I know they make money on most of the large machines. And they hit the occasional ball out of the park with a $4k broken Spanish shaper or such. But looking at feedback they are not getting huge money for most items. Lots and lots of low dollar sales. And the thing with low dollar or low profit sales. It doesnt take much of a disruption to throw you into a loss.
I would not be surprised if they pulled a soviet union one day. Operating on Tuesday. Gone on Wednesday with no warning.
I have purchased from them a few times over the last 10 years or so. I have never felt cheated by the description or the final all in price but they do photograph and show items to their advantage. One thing I don't like is the forklift charge if you pick it up at the warehouse. I have managed to avoid this but just the same.
When I first went there they actually had an area where they sold tool bits and other small items by the pound. You could find some good deals in there if you knew what you were looking at.
I may be passing on a rumor here but Reliable was a very early player in the Ebay / internet market and I am not sure they were collecting CA sales tax on in state sales. I think this got them in pretty serious financial trouble and there was some real belt tightening maybe 7 years ago with staff let go and some warehouse and office space vacated. They are still in a part of the space they used to occupy but they don't have near the same level of inventory and I suspect whatever payment arrangement they reached with the CA tax people has put a serious crimp in their working capital.
Non-the-less, it I saw something there I wanted I would not hesitate to bid on it.
I have been buying from Reliable for at least ten years, and in that time, I have never had a bad purchase.
Recently, I bought a 2nd op lathe from them, and it arrived packed as it it was being shipped o'seas! Beautiful packing crate, everything tied down and arrived in perfect shape.
Also, recently, I was at an auction, and was bidding against a Reliable person for a Monarch EE. I walked over to him, and said that I was prepared to pay what it took to get the machine, and he backed out.
Lee (the saw guy)