With the internet and various sites such as bassgear.com there are increasingly larger markets for buying used equipment. My question is what is the safest way to do this with individuals when no references are available. Usually the seller wants a bank check or money order etc. so it seems to me that if the buyer never gets the item or the item is not as the seller described it then the buyer is out of luck. I realize that good faith must always be involved in any transaction like this, but if there are no references are there any mechanisms anyone knows to protect the buyer? When I bought a Fodera bass through an add in bassgear, the seller kindly mailed it to the Fodera shop in Brooklyn upon my request. After I visited the shop and checked out the bass, I mailed the check to the seller who called Fodera to confirm payment. I was lucky to live near enough to the shop to do this, and very lucky that Fodera was nice enough to play this role (shows that Fodera really does take care of their customers). Are there any similar methods or third party payment options for these kinds of transactions or is it simply a matter of trying to get a feel for the seller over the phone and then saying a little prayer? Thanks in advance for any replies.