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Is it just me or are people are super weird when asked for serial numbers?

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Is it just me or are people are super weird when asked for serial numbers?

Old 01-20-21, 05:11 PM
  #1  
zachleft
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Is it just me or are people are super weird when asked for serial numbers?

I've been looking for a vintage cannondale, and as many of you know the frame size and year are usually featured in the serial number found on the older frames.

I've definitely run into a few people who were definitely selling stolen bikes based on their responses, but it just seems in general that a lot of people get weird when you ask for something as simple as a serial number.

I don't know if I merely underestimated how many stolen bikes there are out there or if people are stupid enough to think that giving me the serial number on their bike is somehow going to give me access to their credit card info. Because that's sure what it feels like.
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Old 01-20-21, 05:29 PM
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It's not you. I got the same type of responses when contacting sellers on CL and ebay. Obviously, there really are a lot of hot bikes out there. Unfortunately, most cop shops don't want to be bothered when you report one stolen, even if you're providing the S/N. And my experience contacting the local cop shop to find out if a bike is stolen is a total joke. I was told if I want it, buy it. Period. They obviously have more important issues to deal with.
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Old 01-20-21, 05:41 PM
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I was walking out of a small restaurant once heading out for a ride. Some dude walked up and asked if I wanted to buy some nice parts, crank, der, pedals, bars. Homeless looking dude and I said no. He asked why not, a good deal. I said probably more than likely stolen if they're that good of a deal. He got pretty upset and started dissing my bike! Dissing my bike calling it a piece of junk, I shouldn't even tell you what bike it is because you'll probably diss me too! Ok, it's a Madone!

Whatever dude, even if I get away Scott free, I don't care to buy parts from panhandler looking people. I don't buy either way because if they are stolen, that only goes to feed the cause.
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Old 01-20-21, 05:42 PM
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If a guy on craigslist would not give me a serial number, I would make a post on craiglist in his town telling people not to do business with him and explain why.
I have not had that problem on EBAY. I would complain to ebay if I had.
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Old 01-20-21, 05:53 PM
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I wouldn't give you the serial number on any of my bikes, just as I wouldn't give you my social security number. I don't know you. And I don't know how you might use the information.
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Old 01-20-21, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I wouldn't give you the serial number on any of my bikes, just as I wouldn't give you my social security number. I don't know you. And I don't know how you might use the information.
Can I at least have your credit card number and your mothers maiden name?

I don't know if I would give out serial number if I sold a bike to someone I didn't already know. However I would have an excellent description and pictures of the bike and be quite honest about it and would probably go back and forth with someone if they were serious and probably give it up after a bit. Then again I am terrible at selling bikes, I occasionally sell to friends and that is rare.
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Old 01-20-21, 06:14 PM
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Maybe the issue is that a rightful owner of a bike, has nowhere to register their serial number, or didn't do this when they bought the bike XX years ago? So a prospective 'buyer' comes along, asks for the seller's ser#, and then goes and files that number with the police as that of their stolen bike and they 'found' an attempt to sell it online.. etc etc
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Old 01-20-21, 06:35 PM
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Serial

If a seller wont allow me to run the Serial# in advance against the bike registry websites, I'm not buying it whatever the price.
Last thing I want to be doing is face-to-face and declining a bike registered as stolen.


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Old 01-20-21, 07:08 PM
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Seller doesn't know the serial number, doesn't know how to find it or doesn't care enough to search for it?
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Old 01-20-21, 07:08 PM
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I've only sold a half dozen bikes on CL through the years and never had anyone ask for the serial #. I've bought 3 or 4 on ebay and never thought to ask for the #. When I've advertised bikes for sale I've given most of the info anyone would need. Never had to get into a back and forth and I wouldn't have much patience for it. That said, these are bikes worth less than $1000. $5000 or $10000 bikes might warrant more scrutiny by both parties.
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Old 01-20-21, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Barry22
If a seller wont allow me to run the Serial# in advance against the bike registry websites, I'm not buying it.
So be it. I've flipped fifty bikes or so over the last several years and never been asked for the serial. Maybe that's surprising. I usually write a ton of info and build detail in my listings, so I never really get any bike-relatated questions to begin with. Maybe, "what tires will fit?"
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Old 01-20-21, 07:19 PM
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Over the years hundreds of pictures of serial numbers, or posts including serial numbers, have been posted on Bike Forums.
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Old 01-20-21, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
So be it. I've flipped fifty bikes or so over the last several years and never been asked for the serial. Maybe that's surprising. I usually write a ton of info and build detail in my listings, so I never really get any bike-relatated questions to begin with. Maybe, "what tires will fit?"
I've only asked for S/n's when the seller didn't provide all the relevant information and I thought by running the number I could learn it on my own. Sounds like you know how to sell a bike. Good on you!
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Old 01-20-21, 07:34 PM
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The only reason I ask for the serial number is because they fail to list the frame size in their listings (which frustratingly is a lot of the time) and the vintage cannondale frames literally have that information in the serial number. And I explain that in my request for it. Sometimes I'll get ignored, or they say they looked but can't find it (despite me telling them exactly where it is).

Most recently, there was a cannondale black lightning on facebook, no frame size listed. After responding immediately to me inquiring into the availability, I asked him if I could get the serial# and told him it'll contain the frame size. He took a full day to respond to me and shoots back "I'm pretty sure it's a 56cm", just completely glossing over the serial#. Like he's listing it from his main facebook account, I'm fairly certain it's not stolen, but still weird about the serial number.

In regards to newer bikes I won't bother to ask since most of the time the frame size is on a sticker so the seller usually includes it in the listing.

Last edited by zachleft; 01-20-21 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 01-21-21, 12:40 AM
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Craigslist Displays It

The serial number is a data field when you create a listing. It's my habit to enter the serial number there when I sell. Why not? It usually helps to verify the production year in my description.
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Old 01-21-21, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by zachleft View Post
but it just seems in general that a lot of people get weird when you ask for something as simple as a serial number.
Like this?
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Old 01-21-21, 07:11 AM
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Is it just me or are people are super weird when asked for serial numbers?

Why are you weird when people ask you for a serial number?
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Old 01-21-21, 08:19 AM
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It may not be stolen bikes. Some people will just not know what you are talking about and equal that with you asking for private information. Sellers that don't provide enough information, also are too lazy to look up the SN.

I don't buy used bikes. But once I helped my MIL to buy a car in the up to $5K range. I assume none of the cars were stolen. But the responses I got when I just asked some reasonable questions. Like if the timing belt maintenance was done, of if they have the title (i.e. paid off). Some ignored me, some just told me to "f... off!". Some cars turned out to not have registration anymore and I was told I could do a test drive on a road nearby that "for sure never has cops". i just translate that experience into bike sellers.
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Old 01-21-21, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Maybe the issue is that a rightful owner of a bike, has nowhere to register their serial number, or didn't do this when they bought the bike XX years ago? So a prospective 'buyer' comes along, asks for the seller's ser#, and then goes and files that number with the police as that of their stolen bike and they 'found' an attempt to sell it online.. etc etc
This was my thought.
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Old 01-21-21, 01:30 PM
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I think there's probably an inflation adjusted dollar figure of the level of reasonableness for this serial number topic.

I'd say $3000 for a bike or more.

Under that, it's either cheaper enough or older enough that somebody likely didn't keep the original documentation for it that has your "proof of purchase" that matches you as the actual owner. Given that local police are almost worthless on petty theft and serial #'s, I don't really see the point at low price points or older models.

If you didn't keep the original documentation for proof of purchase and would have to find a s/n on a frame on an older bike, it might be scratched up or unreadable.

Or, YOU bought it used from the original owner but didn't receive any original documentation. You now have a bike with a s/n that doesn't connect you to it.

I work in pharma. We have s/n on everything so you know that device ID GL291AP001 was replaced with the numerically identical item and not a duplicate with a misplaced label. Nothing to do with "theft". It's also usually how you decode the options or size for an item.

I don't find it unreasonable for somebody to not be able or unwilling to give it OR somebody to ask for it.

Just make a personal decision on what it's worth to you based on the seller and the price range.
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Old 01-22-21, 09:07 AM
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Just thinking out-loud a bit here. Could it be possible that some bold scammer could ask for and get the S/N and then use it to file a theft report? From there, this crook could then "magically" find his stolen bike advertised for sale and enlist the help of police to "recover" it. Yes, the seller would have some evidence to support his position that he is being scammed (e.g. emails from the scammer); however such evidence could reasonably be claimed to have been faked. The scammer would have to be bold and convincing, though, and it would take a bit of planning to establish evidence of ownership. Watch for people taking selfies of themselves with bikes.
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