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Thread: FUNGUS! Advice sought with Paypal claim / learnings for everyone!

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    Ausphotography Regular Tricky's Avatar
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    FUNGUS! Advice sought with Paypal claim / learnings for everyone!

    Good morning AP world

    Last month I bought a Canon EF 50 f/1.8 Mark I lens on eBay, the earlier version with a metal mount and distance window; some of you may recall an earlier thread (see here).

    Whilst the pictures in the eBay advert were terrible (hence it was always a bit of a gamble), when the lens first arrived I was chuffed as externally it looked perfect. However, as I got to use the lens I was a bit disappointed with the pictures: they lacked a bit of contrast and the sharpness wasn't as crisp as I'd been expecting from a prime lens, even a cheap one (certainly they weren't as good as my 60mm macro lens or 24-105L).

    Then, about a month after I first got it, I noticed something strange when changing lenses one day. I shone a torch through the lens and immediately saw the tell-tale spider's web of fungus infestation - linked below are four pictures which show it clearly. Once seen, never forgotten. I haven't seen too many good pictures of lens fungus before, and it took a lot of experimenting to get the captures below. Notice that, depending on how deeply into the lens elements I focus when taking the picture (eg pictures 1&2 versus pictures 3&4), the visible shape of the fungus changes; this clearly suggests the fungus is on several different layers/depths.









    Anyway, I've reported the transaction to eBay who have in turn forwarded it to Paypal. Paypal requires that the buyer and seller communicate to try to resolve the issue, but the seller just wasn't interested, claiming that the lens didn't have any fungus when he sold it. So, the claim has been escalated to Paypal for dispute resolution. I am actually quite interested to see how well Paypal works in this situation, ie whether the buyer protection that they advertise so strongly really comes through. Ultimately we're only talking $150 here, so for me its more the principle of the thing. The eBay description for the item showed a question from another interested bidder which specifically asked if the lens had fungus, which the seller answered 'no the lens is perfect'. So, I think I have a pretty strong case that the product didn't match the advertised description.

    My only concern is the buyer claiming that the fungus may have appeared in the 4-5 weeks since I bought it (you have 45 days to report an item to eBay, so well within that). The fungus looks well advanced to me, so I figure it might have taken many months or even years for it to progress to the current level of infection. Certainly, my other lenses have no such fungus and they have been stored in the same conditions. I'm thinking that, as part of providing evidence for my claim, I might be required to provide some sort of expert opinion from a photographic expert or even a camera shop who state that, in their opinion, the fungus would have taken longer than 5 weeks to develop to the current state. Has anyone obtained this kind of expert opinion before? Or, even better, is there anyone amongst you suitably qualified to give this kind of opinion based on the photos alone? Any other advice you might have about the Paypal claims process would be gratefully received.

    The whole process has taught me quite a few learnings, which I thought I'd share with you:
    • Always pay with Paypal (rather than direct bank transfer or COD), it gives you the best chance of recovering something if the transaction goes pear-shaped
    • Always ask an eBay seller the explicit question "does it have any fungus" (as well as is it mechanically sound, any scratches etc). If the seller answers that its clear, then you have much stronger grounds for claiming on Paypal if the lens does turn out to have fungus
    • Always check for fungus immediately when you buy a lens on eBay, just shine a torch through it
    • I did quite a lot of web-research on fungus, some of which is conflicting. I think there's a lot of myths out there. From the research I did, based on the most reliable and technical-looking sources, I concluded the following about fungus:

    - Fungus spores are everywhere, but they are not a problem providing humidity is below ~70%
    - Where humidity is above 70% for a period greater than 24 hours straight, there is a risk of fungus developing
    - If you break the 24 hour cycle of >70% humidity for a period of time, then fungus won't have started to grow and you have effectively reset the clock back to 0 hours, ie another 24 hours straight would be required for it to start to grow
    - As such, having had one lens with fungus near your other equipment is not likely to have contaminated that equipment unless humidity has been high (thank god)
    - keeping lenses in a sealed box or case with a silica satchel might seem like a good idea, but unless you really know what you're doing, you could be creating conditions that the spores enjoy.
    - don't keep lenses in leather cases, they are particularly bad for promoting fungus growth
    - synthetic bags are best for storing your equipment, or store kit out of its bag altogether
    - most airconditioners keep room humidity pretty low. So the best bet for protecting your kit is to always keep it in a room that is air-conditioned regularly, in a part of the room that is relatively open (ie not a cupboard!), so the 24 hr streak is being broken daily
    - I've read that you can kill fungus by leaving your lens in direct sunlight, but this just stops the progress. It won't remove fungus that's already there and etched into the glass. I'd also be concerned whether this might damage the lens.

    In the short time I used the 50mm I also learned that it's focal distance is too close to my 60mm macro, so I'm going to be looking for a 30mm f/1.4 Siggy or a 28mm or 35mm Canon to give me a 'standard' lens view on a cropped sensor.

    Anway, I hope the above is of some interest and use to you, it sure took a while for my two fingers to type out! I'll report back on how this turns out, in due course.

    Have a fungal-free festive season!
    Tricky
    Richard
    Canon 5D4 | 11-24 f/4 L | 24-105 f/4 L| 100-400 L II | 85 f/1.2 L | 100 f/2.8 L macro | MP-E 65 f/2.8 macro | 1.4x | 580EX2 | MT-24 Twin Lite | Manfrotto | Photoshop CS5


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    Some great ebay buying tips there Tricky, sorry about your misfortune with the faulty lens. I reckon that one is too far gone to rectify myself, the sun may help, but it will come back I think .

    I've often wondered about the possibility of fungi spore being transferred to other lenses, or worse still the sensor in a camera.....I'd chuck it and put it down to experience.

    I have bought a few items on ebay and no dramas so far, but one thing I avoid is buying any lenses/camera from tropical high humidity regions like FNQ. I never leave any of my lenses or cameras inside bags at all , always out in fresh air for ventilation. Never ever pack gear away if there is any chance of moisture, even sweaty hands on gear may be enough to set off fungi growth if packed away.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Sorry to say, your lens looks past its use by date. I will be interested in the update from paypal as well.

    This is the risk we all take when buying second hand lenses. Keep it away from all your other camera gear. Spores are tiny and if they are also on the outside of the lens, they can move to other gear.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Thanks Tricky for sharing your experience, this is my first time looking at the fungus in the lens (they are very nasty!)
    Happy Shooting,
    Marius

    Nikon D300 | AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II | Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro | Nikkor - AF 50mm f/1.8D | Speedlight Nikon SB600 | Benro A-197 | Benro Ballhead KB-0
    http://public.fotki.com/b-marius/

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    Hmmm, that is a shame, did the seller have a good feeback rating????

    I have never seen fungus on glass before either, so thanks for sharing the info, and i wish you luck with your claim.
    Julie

    Canon 6D,Fuji X100
    l Canon 50mm f1.8 MK l l Canon 85mm f1.8 l Canon 100mm f2.8L Macro l Canon 24-70IS f4L l LR4/CS6



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    Hi Tricky

    I understand your concern about the situation. You did good hunting down that particular lens but hope the experience doesn't cruel your expectations of what that piece of glass (plastic?) can do.

    On one hand, your potential loss isn't that great but on the other the seller could have ended up with the wrong person to pass a dodgy lens to. Following on from Julie's email, is it worth naming and shaming the seller? (I assume you might have already passed on positive feedback before you discovered the fungus so maybe the eBay feedback rating isn't much of a guide in this case).

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    It's all about the Light!
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    I'm wondering if the fungus was not noticable to the seller and the Brisbane climate triggered the growth?
    Don't know much about fungus living in Adelaide. But i assume its worse in the tropics.

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    So, do you guys buy a dry box to prevent your gears growing fungus?
    Crumpler 5 Million Dollar + Canon EOS 7D + Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM, Manfrotto tripod
    Previous owned gear: Canon EOS 400D, Canon EOS 40D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM, Macro Canon EF 35mm f/2, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, Tamron 55-250m, Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM Macro, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

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    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
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    Did you ask the Credit Card Company to stop payment so you could lodge a claim, I have heard this is better than a PayPal dispute. Best of luck with the dispute.
    Regards
    John
    Nikon D750, Sigma 105mm OS Macro, Tokina 16-28 F2.8, Sigma 24-105 Art, Sigma 150-600C,
    Benro Tripod and Monopod with Arca plates

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kym View Post
    I'm wondering if the fungus was not noticable to the seller and the Brisbane climate triggered the growth?
    Don't know much about fungus living in Adelaide. But i assume its worse in the tropics.
    My photography gear just sits around in the house; and i've never had any fungal problem. I think the trick is to buy a good bag and leave it in a well ventilated space in the house for the best gear longevity.

    Canon 5d MKII w/ Grip - Canon 40d w/Grip - Canon 17-40 f4L - Canon 17-55 f2.8ISL - Canon 60mm f2.8 Macro - Canon 24-70 f2.8L - Sigma 30mm f1.4 - Canon 50mm f1.4 - Canon 85mm f1.8 - Canon 70-200 f2.8L - 580EXII - 580EX

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    I have a large 60L storage box for all my gear.

    1. I put about 6 packs of scilica gel in the box.
    2. have 2 bags of them in my camera bags
    3. Every 3-4 months I expose the box in bright sunlight.

    Works for me... better prevention then fungus

  12. #12
    Ausphotography Regular
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    Thanks to everyone for their comments and thoughts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jcas View Post
    Hmmm, that is a shame, did the seller have a good feeback rating????
    Yes, the seller had a 99.8% positive feedback rating on 400+ transactions...

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddah View Post
    You did good hunting down that particular lens but hope the experience doesn't cruel your expectations of what that piece of glass (plastic?) can do.
    The 50 f/1.8, both Mark I and II, represent fantastic value for money. I've borrowed one before and been very impressed, I guess that was why I was a bit why my copy just wasn't delivering quite the same standard. I'd definitely buy another one, except that I've already got a 60mm which is super-sharp and therefore a 30/35mm would probably fit my lens line-up better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddah View Post
    Hi Tricky
    On one hand, your potential loss isn't that great but on the other the seller could have ended up with the wrong person to pass a dodgy lens to. Following on from Julie's email, is it worth naming and shaming the seller? (I assume you might have already passed on positive feedback before you discovered the fungus so maybe the eBay feedback rating isn't much of a guide in this case).
    You're right, I had already passed on a positive feedback rating before I found out. I don't think there's anyway of withdrawing the rating once you've given it? Provided Rick is OK with me doing so on this forum, I'd be pleased to name and shame the seller in due course, once the dispute is settled (not sure if I prejudice my case in any way by naming the seller before then). If I win the dispute, then I guess I'd really just be stating a fact: seller XXX sold a good which proved not to match its description.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.davis View Post
    Did you ask the Credit Card Company to stop payment so you could lodge a claim, I have heard this is better than a PayPal dispute. Best of luck with the dispute.
    The payment had already long gone through: it went from my bank account via Paypal to the seller, no credit card involved. Thanks for your best wishes

    Quote Originally Posted by Kym View Post
    I'm wondering if the fungus was not noticable to the seller and the Brisbane climate triggered the growth?
    Don't know much about fungus living in Adelaide. But i assume its worse in the tropics.
    The seller also lived in South East Queensland, just 80km south of me. The date code on the lens suggests its May 1988 vintage, so plenty of time for it to have caught fungus prior to my 5 weeks of ownership!

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    Bummer about your experience with this. I have bought many items through ebay, especially as I live 120km from the nearest major store of any kind, and have generally had good results, but it is very much buyer beware.

    What Paypal will ultimately do can depend a lot on the returns policy originally listed by the seller. In one transaction I did via paypal the item i received was a completely different model to the one advertised. The seller claimed it was a better model and paypal/ebay seemed to accept that explanation. As it was a registered Australian business I was able to take things further and ultimately got my money refunded. I still have negative feedback on my account due to the seller though, and paypal/ebay were useless in the whole process.

    It will be very difficult for you to prove the fungus was there when you received it, without some expert (read expensive) analysis of the fungus. As the seller was Australian you do have recourse through Australian Trade Practices law which state that any goods offered for sale must be fit for the intended purpose they were designed to perform. A lens with fungus is not fit for use as a lens and therefore cannot be legally sold in Australia. Again though, the onus will be on you to prove the fungus existed before you purchased it.

    Best of luck, and I will be interested in the outcome with paypal.

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    Ausphotography Regular
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    Quote Originally Posted by TasAnna View Post
    It will be very difficult for you to prove the fungus was there when you received it, without some expert (read expensive) analysis of the fungus. As the seller was Australian you do have recourse through Australian Trade Practices law which state that any goods offered for sale must be fit for the intended purpose they were designed to perform. A lens with fungus is not fit for use as a lens and therefore cannot be legally sold in Australia. Again though, the onus will be on you to prove the fungus existed before you purchased it.
    Hi Anna, sounds like you have a legal background? Thanks for your comments and insights into ATP law.

    Fortunately, the "Paypal buyer protection" isn't just about adjudicating between buyer and seller, there's an 'insurance policy' element too. I suspect Paypal deals with a lot of cases which involve one party saying "it worked fine when I sent it" and the other party saying "it was broken on arrival". Which party does Paypal find in favour of? I'm expecting/hoping that in 'dead heats' such as this, Paypal makes ex-gratia payments out of their own pocket to reimburse the buyer, effectively acting as an insurer and part of their cost of doing business.

    Extract from eBay/Paypal's site:

    What is PayPal Buyer Protection?
    PayPal Buyer Protection is designed to increase buyer confidence on eBay. When PayPal is used to pay for a qualified listing on eBay, PayPal Buyer Protection provides up to C$1,250, or US$1,000 (coverage amount depends on the currency of the original PayPal payment), of coverage for the buyer at no additional cost. PayPal Buyer Protection covers non-delivery of tangible items and tangible items that are received significantly not as described.


    If anything, I believe my case is stronger than a dead heat, as there is a reasonable argument that the fungus on a 20 year lens has not suddenly materialised in the last 5 weeks (stored in the same conditions as 4 other lenses which have not developed fungus).

  15. #15
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    Resurrecting this thread from the archives to provide you with an update on my Paypal case... happy to report that I received notification today that Paypal has found the case in my favour (6 weeks after their own self-imposed deadline) and that the seller has agreed to refund my payment for the fungus-filled lens (presumably on pain of eBay sanction or other action from Paypal). As I understand it, if the seller had not agreed to refund, then Paypal would have paid me anyway and where possible sought to recover the funds through the seller's credit card issuer (wonder how that works?).

    A condition of the refund is that I return the fungal lens to the seller and provide proof of registered postage; I have done so today, so should hopefully be refunded next week. Given the seller has already proved his less than honest traits, there is a good chance that he will attempt to re-sell the lens on eBay, this time taking care not to make any statement regarding whether the lens has fungus (maybe even stating 'sold as seen, no returns', to be sure). SO BE WARNED, if you see an EF50 1.8 Mk I for sale on eBay in the near future, particularly from a seller called 'fasty7307' (guess he could easily change his ID?) then be very cautious...

    Now trying to decide whether to get another 50/1.8, or maybe a Sigma 30/1.4, or there's rumours of a Canon EFS 30/2.0...
    Last edited by Tricky; 27-02-2009 at 8:49pm.

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    Good to hear that the issue has finally been resolved. I'd go either the 30mm's as like you've mentioned, the 50mm on a crop is an odd length that can easily be covered with the far superior 60mm Macro.

    Shortly after our bidding war for that Mk 1, I picked up a Sigma 28/1.8 and although it's more expensive the cost is offset by the amount of time it spends on the camera.

    Nath.
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    Congrats. Glad when you get your money.
    Carmen

    My Stuff:- Canon 50D l EF 28-80 f2.8-4L
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    Constructive Critique of my photos always appreciated

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    For Paypal to recoup the funds from the seller is to do what's called a charge back...simply put they run a credit through on their behalf since they store all information of credit cards or bank accounts. In Paypals case they would probably simply withhold funds from transferring until they get their money back.

    In essence it's the long arm of big brother reaching out to touch someone.

    Once a charge back is initiated there is not much the account holder can do.

    Congrats on winning your "case".
    Nikon D80•MB-D80•Nikkor AF-S 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 IF-ED VR•Nikkor 28-200 f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED•Nikkor 18-55 f/3.5-5.6G AF•Nikkor 55-200 f/4-5.6G AF•Nikkor 50 f1.8•Speedlite SB800
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    i didn't like your chances but i am happy you ngot results well done

  20. #20
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    Thanks guys. Whilst I felt I had a strong case, I too am pleasantly surprised that justice was done...

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