Lazy Shopping…For a Helicopter?

Some people are willing to pay strangers to help them make a huge purchase decision.

A while back, I read a blog post on Pilot Mike’s Weblog titled “Purchase vs. Rent Robinson R22?.” In it, Mike discussed his thoughts about buying an R22 to do his training in.

While I didn’t buy a helicopter to do my primary training, I did buy one for my commercial training. It would have saved me a lot of money if my flight school didn’t charge $75/hour for the CFI to train me. (Yes, they ripped me off. Yes, I know it now and suspected it then. There were extenuating circumstances. I no longer do business with that organization or recommend them to anyone else. I’m not the only one they’ve burned like this. ‘Nuff said.) As it was, I probably saved $25/hour on dual time and $100 hour on solo time. Of course, I used the money save to actually pay for the helicopter and its related expenses, so you can easily argue that I didn’t save anything at all. Still, I wound up with my own helicopter, which I could use as I liked 24/7/356. That’s got to be worth something.

I made a comment on the blog post back in late May 2009 with some of this information. In it, I mentioned my old R22, which is for sale again. I also subscribed to the comment so I could be notified if there were any follow-up comments. (This is a great thing to do if you’re interested in a topic and want to stay involved.) Yesterday, I got an e-mail message from the blog with the contents of the first follow-up comment:

My brother is buying a R22…
I would like to contact Maria

Since the comment included the e-mail address of the commenter, I replied directly to it. After all, there’s no reason why our personal conversation should appear on Mike’s blog. So I wrote:

I should probably start out by clarifying — I’m not selling my old R22. I don’t own it. The guy who bought it from me is selling it. It’s listed on Trade-a-Plane.

If there’s anything else you have question about, let me know. Just keep in mind that I haven’t owned or flown an R22 since 2004, so I might not be able to answer your questions.

He replied quickly in an e-mail I received on my BlackBerry while out for a bike ride. Apparently, he had more than just a question:

Thank you so much for replying.
I have 0 (zero) knowledge about it, and my brother is going to ask me to buy a new one probably next week. I would like to pay for a trusted help/advise OUTSIDE dealers or any other info from a seller.

There is so much wrong with his statement that I don’t even know where to start.

First of all, he must be a good brother to simply buy a helicopter when his brother asks him to. I know what my helicopters cost and I know what even the least expensive ones are going for on Trade-A-Plane. He’s not going to touch anything worth flying for less than $75K. A “new” one — if he really means new — will cost $200,000 or more.

Second, who the hell spends that kind of money without doing their homework? And no, hiring someone to do the homework for you isn’t the same as doing it yourself.

Third, he doesn’t even know me! I could be some Internet con artist, trying to pass myself off as a helicopter expert to lure people like him to an inventory controlled by me or an associate.

Fourth, what makes him think I want to be part of his purchase decision…and possibly be held liable if he buys a lemon? By taking money to give him advice, I’m setting myself up for liability if things don’t go right. I don’t want any part of that.

So I wrote back from my BlackBerry:

I’m sorry. I can’t help you.

This morning, from my computer, I added:

I also want to add that anyone who has zero knowledge about an aircraft should not be buying it. Do your homework, don’t pay someone you don’t even know to do it for you.

I haven’t heard back from him. And that’s got me wondering….maybe he was trying to scam me? Maybe the next step was to ask me for my bank information so he could wire me payment before I started consulting with him?

Or maybe he’s just an idiot who is too damn lazy to do his own research.

One thought on “Lazy Shopping…For a Helicopter?

  1. Good morning,

    I work in computer security for a global security company. One of my jobs is to monitor for Internet scams. Unless he has *way* too much money I’m pretty sure it was a scam. My bet is either money laundering or (possibly) drug mule. If you are feeling feisty you can provide his contact info to you local police dept. Or FBI office, although I doubt there is enough here to get them interested. I would *not* contact him again.

    Cheers, I’m enjoying the site so far.


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