I’ll make an offside comment here in relation to your curiousness about the Eb auction site listings and descriptions and really knowing the truth about the condition of an item.
First – and probably most, many of the people who sell these items know nothing about what they are listing. “Powers up” and “no further testing” are real giveaways. But these can also be interpreted as the seller is either too busy, too lazy or simply wants push the item to get their money.
Second, the seller has something to hide about a possible defect in the item. I have found this out on a few instances. You can often do a little detective work by simply sending a question to them about your concern. Sometimes they have simply overlooked an obvious action and are willing to help you with the answer. Other times if they are not knowledgeable about the item, you can give them brief procedural instructions as to how to perform a test, etc. in order to get the information that you require. Some will even go to the extra effort to send you detailed photos beyond those shown in their listing.
Having participated in the past in government and local business auctions that were “spot” auctions (you attend the auction at the location in real-time) I found that there are a considerable number of people who are dazzled by the “no matter what it is, get it cheap and sell it to make money” opportunity. I have seen mommies with their little kids present picking up some very esoteric equipment obviously not knowing what they have but are sure that they will reap millions of dollars if they sell it. Then there are the bottom feeders who will buy and sell anything to make their money.
Several years ago, a colleague of mine purchased a piece of test equipment on Eb. Since he lived only a few miles from the seller, he indicated to them that he would pick it up to save shipping costs. When he arrived to get the unit, it was found damaged and incomplete, contrary to what the seller tried to construe in the listing ("minor cosmetic defects, powers up" etc.). The seller refunded his money on the spot. My friend then engaged in a conversation with the seller about where he obtains his inventory of items to sell. The seller rolled up the garage door exposing a plethora of “well used” equipment and said that he simply goes to garage sales, dumpster dives or drives up and down the alleys picking up items (junk) to sell on Eb. And he makes his living doing it.
I don’t want to give the idea that every seller is that way. With over a thousand purchases under my belt (for my own use) on that famous auction site, I have been burned probably 4 or 5 times. But for many listings, it takes careful reading and reading between the lines these days to understand the psychology of the seller you are buying from. As of late, the oft found phrase of “I don’t know what it is and don’t know how to test it” has been shortened to “I don’t know how to test it” probably because the seller is trying to instill a better feeling of trust in the buyer when they read the description. On the other hand, there are very reputable sellers that deliver what they promise mainly because they want to retain a sterling image and want to do business with you again.
...and I will never figure out why some sellers can’t publish photos beyond those seen that are totally out of focus or are taken in a completely dark room. I suppose I could go on about that one…