I've written before about some of the possible frustrations of buying used LEGO on eBay - "complete" sets that are anything but, for a start - but there's also an upside which you don't generally get when buying LEGO at retail and that's random stuff in the box which is completely unrelated to the set you've bought. OK, so new LEGO sets generally contain a few extra parts just in case you lose a cheese slope or a round 1x1 plate, for instance, but they don't generally contain extra minifigures from other sets, which have been a not uncommon inclusion in used sets I've bought. Admittedly they're sometimes carelessly substituted for the minifigs that are supposed to be included in the set, but better the wrong figs than no figs at all I guess. As an example, I found the 3 guys below in a couple of used sets from the old 9V train range that I bought recently.
|9V Imposters !|
|Set 6382 Fire Station from 1981 - spot the minifig (or at least the torso...)|
|Please will someone just tell me what this is....|
Sometimes the haul of extras is ridiculous; on one occasion I opened up a used set I'd bought to find loads of flattened boxes and instructions from a number of other sets stuffed inside, plus a bunch of baseplates. On contacting the seller to let hm know, it became clear he'd been looking for this stuff for ages having previously squirreled it away and forgotten where he'd put it. He was mightily relieved to get it back. This incident did however bring up a question - what is the etiquette of extras ? Should the buyer own up to having received the extras, or is it 'finders keepers' ? Certainly when I contacted the seller above about the extras he was surprised I hadn't just kept the stuff and kept quiet. I'm not sure there are hard and fast rules about this, but in general, if the set is incomplete and the extras appear to be an attempt to make up for missing pieces then I typically keep them and move on. If however the extras clearly don't belong there I'll generally let the seller know and return the extra stuff at the seller's expense if they want it back, although they usually don't.
So the moral seems to be to carefully check the used sets you buy - you may be surprised by what you find.....