Ethics of collecting.
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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:18 am 
 

My wife and I were talking about this as we drove back to Chicago from Lake Geneva this past June; I mentioned that when I got back I'd need to pay for a couple eBay items, got started talking about collecting, yadda yadda.

Anyway I told her about my true 1st DMG and true 1st MM I picked up from a local used bookstore for $2.50 each - the one I talked about here back some months ago.  The lady who owns the store is generally a pretty nice old woman, and I told the wife that if I was ever poking through the RPG stuff she has and came across something truly amazing - a woody, a copy of Tsojconth, or Toamachan - you know, something super rare with another $5.00 tag on it I wasn't entirely sure what I'd do.  I mean, there I am in a bookstore I've gone to for years, and the lady who owns it has (whether she realized it or not) helped me out by buying bulk books from me, plus asking for the occasional help with her computer(s) and so on.  She's no dummy; I've seen her handling RARE books (real books, not RPG collectibles) and pricing accordingly but I can't help but wonder that if she let something like that slip exactly how I'd handle it.

I mean, on the one hand, if I took it home and kept it with no intent of selling it (and to be quite frank I'm not entirely sure I'd ever want to let something like one of the rare, multi-thousand-dollar-price commanding items go, ever), then in the end it works out the same.  On the other hand, if I turned right around and sold it...myself I think I'd take at least 20%-25% back to her (assuming that some serious financial disaster hadn't beset us) and say "Hey, that book I bought the other day turns out to have been worth a bundle, so you take this cut."...or at least I'd like to think I would.

Of course the third option...taking it to the front counter and saying "Hey...uh, Linda?  This is worth five grand.  No, really.  Go to this website here and check."  Would I do that...?  Would you?

(Ed: Whoops, Linda, not Donna.)

  

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:40 am 
 

DungeonDelver wrote:My wife and I were talking about this as we drove back to Chicago from Lake Geneva this past June; I mentioned that when I got back I'd need to pay for a couple eBay items, got started talking about collecting, yadda yadda.

Anyway I told her about my true 1st DMG and true 1st MM I picked up from a local used bookstore for $2.50 each - the one I talked about here back some months ago.  The lady who owns the store is generally a pretty nice old woman, and I told the wife that if I was ever poking through the RPG stuff she has and came across something truly amazing - a woody, a copy of Tsojconth, or Toamachan - you know, something super rare with another $5.00 tag on it I wasn't entirely sure what I'd do.  I mean, there I am in a bookstore I've gone to for months, and the lady who owns it has (whether she realized it or not) helped me out by buying bulk books from me, plus asking for the occasional help with her computer(s) and so on.  She's no dummy; I've seen her handling RARE books (real books, not RPG collectibles) and pricing accordingly but I can't help but wonder that if she let something like that slip exactly how I'd handle it.

I mean, on the one hand, if I took it home and kept it with no intent of selling it (and to be quite frank I'm not entirely sure I'd ever want to let something like one of the rare, multi-thousand-dollar-price commanding items go, ever), then in the end it works out the same.  On the other hand, if I turned right around and sold it...myself I think I'd take at least 20%-25% back to her (assuming that some serious financial disaster hadn't beset us) and say "Hey, that book I bought the other day turns out to have been worth a bundle, so you take this cut."...or at least I'd like to think I would.

Of course the third option...taking it to the front counter and saying "Hey...uh, Donna?  This is worth five grand.  No, really.  Go to this website here and check."  Would I do that...?  Would you?


If she is in business at a bookstore and that is her job, she should know the worth of her items.  Ebay is just a fingerclick away.  If she has a price on it, then that is what she wants for it, if you pay the price it's yours. If she can't be bothered to check it out on Ebay first, tough luck.

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 3:12 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
If she is in business at a bookstore and that is her job, she should know the worth of her items.  Ebay is just a fingerclick away.  If she has a price on it, then that is what she wants for it, if you pay the price it's yours. If she can't be bothered to check it out on Ebay first, tough luck.

Mike B.


yeah i agree with mike. i would just pay what i am asked to pay. if the seller hasnt researched what they are selling, well thats their problem.

Al



  


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:17 am 
 

I don't think there's one right answer to this one.

If you are a reseller and buying in the way of business then I think Mike & Al are spot on. It is a simple business transaction. The knowledge of the market and the value of the item in that market is of considerable value and has been earned by you through days/weeks/months/years of experience. That time & effort costs you.

If it's a personal transaction: by that I mean an ongoing relationship of mutual trust above and beyond the business aspect; then my response would be to let her know the item's approximate value. That's how you would certainly treat a friend.

By the same token, if you infromed her of the value I would expect her to either offer the item to you at a discount or list & sell the item providing you with a fair slice of the profit which she may make due to your diligence.

Just my 2 cents


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:21 am 
 

Hmmm, I disagree with Mike and Al.

In your case, you have gotten to know and be friendly (if not actual friends) with the store owner, who has helped you out. She is by your accounts no dummy, and so if you see a Woodgrain for $10 then she has clearly made a mistake. I think taking maximum advantage of this person's mistake is not ethical. I would buy it, take it home, value it correctly, then return, tell her that she made a mistake and offer her a %age (maybe 20-25%).

There are different ways of looking at a problem like this. One is to judge according to your own set of morals and adjust according to circumstances (in the case above, I would act differently if the person was rude to me, or it was a big chain store rather than a small shop). Another way is to try and fomulate a set of rules which applies across most circumstances (e.g. "never give a sucker an even break"). I prefer the former.


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:56 am 
 

If she was my friend...different story than if she were just another store owner.  A random used book store has earned and deserves none of my expertise.  A friend...well.

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 6:29 am 
 

DD, what if you were a rock collector and found a big uncut diamond in your neighbor's front yard?
Here's the trick here, and I believe it applies to MANY fields: YOU know what the item is worth through research and diligence. Therefore, you deserve any benefits that knowledge gives you.
I can't say it enuff: In this day and age, I have no pity for sellers who do not know the worth of what they sell, regardless of what it is. It's so pathetically easy to find out.


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 6:51 am 
 

red_bus wrote:Hmmm, I disagree with Mike and Al.

In your case, you have gotten to know and be friendly (if not actual friends) with the store owner, who has helped you out. She is by your accounts no dummy, and so if you see a Woodgrain for $10 then she has clearly made a mistake. I think taking maximum advantage of this person's mistake is not ethical. I would buy it, take it home, value it correctly, then return, tell her that she made a mistake and offer her a %age (maybe 20-25%).

There are different ways of looking at a problem like this. One is to judge according to your own set of morals and adjust according to circumstances (in the case above, I would act differently if the person was rude to me, or it was a big chain store rather than a small shop). Another way is to try and fomulate a set of rules which applies across most circumstances (e.g. "never give a sucker an even break"). I prefer the former.


steve

ah see thats where the original question wasnt specific enough. if say, you was selling me something and i knew it was a steal, i would tell you. thats very different.

see the original question was general.

biz is biz at the end of the day, but between friends, thats a different matter.

Al



  


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:11 am 
 

killjoy32 wrote:
biz is biz at the end of the day, but between friends, thats a different matter.

Al


Fair 'nuff Al.  However, what is good about that question is that it isn't clear.  If it was (a) a mate has this item... or (b) WalMart has this item... then there would be no debate.  But this is an in-between case and I think that is where the interest lies.


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:16 am 
 

red_bus wrote:
Fair 'nuff Al.  However, what is good about that question is that it isn't clear.  If it was (a) a mate has this item... or (b) WalMart has this item... then there would be no debate.  But this is an in-between case and I think that is where the interest lies.


well there we are. mates are different than normal biz.

as BC, BtB, shane, bzr etc know how i am in a deal, they will know what i mean.

if everyone is happy, then its a good deal imo.

Al



  

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:20 am 
 

red_bus wrote:
killjoy32 wrote:biz is biz at the end of the day, but between friends, thats a different matter.

Fair 'nuff Al.  However, what is good about that question is that it isn't clear.  If it was (a) a mate has this item... or (b) WalMart has this item... then there would be no debate.  But this is an in-between case and I think that is where the interest lies.
If the store is a small store, then I would share the profits.  If the store is part of a chain (like Half-Price Books), then hell no.  :)

  

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:59 am 
 

JohnGaunt wrote:If the store is a small store, then I would share the profits.  If the store is part of a chain (like Half-Price Books), then hell no.  :)


That goes without saying.  Naming a store Half Price Books should mean that if they have the book in the store you pay half of the original price.  So if the book was originally $14, you should only pay $7.  I hate when some HPB employee marks up an item because they think it is rare even when it isnt.  I laugh every time I find an Unearthed Arcana or Monster Manual II with a $30 price tag on it.  But the near-mint copy of Throne of Bloodstone is only $6.

And as far as the topic goes, I have a pretty nasty conscience but I dont think it would get to me if I picked up a woodgrain in a used book store for $15 knowing how much it was worth.  It is not any different than finding one at a garage or estate sale.  If the bookstore owner was an acquaintance and I was friendly with them I would probably slip them $100 when they werent looking.  :wink:

  

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:04 am 
 

JohnGaunt wrote:If the store is a small store, then I would share the profits.  If the store is part of a chain (like Half-Price Books), then hell no.  :)


I didn't take account if the person is a friend.  In that case if they are truly a friend you should offer your expertise (Dude, you are selling that woodgrain WAY too low!) But John is right, if it's a supposedly professional businessman, they are supposed to be researching prices as it's part of their job.  Particularly in his example of Half Price Books.  I know of many, many cases, some that I have witnessed personally, where they have offered someone peanuts for items they later marked up to hundreds of dollars.  I heard two employees bragging once about the time they offered 5 cents a comic to some old lady and there were some silver age keys in the pile.  I later saw some early Fantastic Four issues at the same store marked at hundreds of dollars so I assume those were the comics in question.  
That may be an extreme example, but every bookstore owner does it, if they don't they aren't doing their job.  What good is it when someone brings in stuff to sell and you tell them "You could do much better selling these on Ebay???"  You would be out of business quick.  Instead you make them what should be considered a "fair" offer, if they accept it, then the transaction is done.  The same for the reverse, if a bookstore owner has a woodgrain box in their store for $10, it is mindbogglingly dumb to point out the fact it's way underpriced UNLESS you have  apersonal relationship with the owner.
    The key here in all cases is a fair offer.  If I had a store and someone walked in with a woodgrain, I would offer them something substantial, rather than trying to snooker them by saying "Oh, yeh, and I'll give you five bucks for this piece of trash."  It all works out in the end most of the time....even if they find out it's valuable, they came into your store to sell it because they need CASH and they need it quick, they would probably be more than happy for a few hundred bucks for a woodgrain they probably paid less than ten dollars for, and you are able to make a substantial profit on and also sleep easy at night without your conscience keeping you awake.
   How about this for ethics: I have twice had this happen to me...in a used bokstore, walking to the front with my priced item and telling the owner that I had been looking for this particular item a long time, and on the spot having them raise the price as they suddenly realized "The item was priced wrong".  In one case I still bought the item as I knew how rare it was (and I have never seen another copy, so I guess it worked out ok), but I never shopped in the guy's store again.   In the other case I left the book and about $50 worth of other books on the counter and walked out never to return.  I think it says alot that neither store is still in business.  I think in either case if I later decided to return and found a woodgrain on the shelf for $10, I would have happily bought the item, and right when I was walking out the door, mention they need to check out ebay this week under "woodgrain" to see the giant amount of money I was going to make off my 10 dollar purchase from them....!

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:39 am 
 

My only problem with the scenarios concerning the woodgrain on the shelf for $10 would be that I'd be a dead give-away.

It would look very suss with a bloke, smiling from ear to ear, madly grabbing his wallet to rip the $10 out, with his hands trembling. The cash hitting the counter the same time as the bell above the door announces my exit from the store.  :lol:

Friends and Biz are definitely different stories though. Too bad Mr Walmart/Half Price books, you get what you ask for.

  


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:04 am 
 

AdderMcOne wrote:My only problem with the scenarios concerning the woodgrain on the shelf for $10 would be that I'd be a dead give-away.

It would look very suss with a bloke, smiling from ear to ear, madly grabbing his wallet to rip the $10 out, with his hands trembling. The cash hitting the counter the same time as the bell above the door announces my exit from the store.  :lol:

Friends and Biz are definitely different stories though. Too bad Mr Walmart/Half Price books, you get what you ask for.

That's why you hum and haw and haggle him down to $7.  It looks less suspicious. ;)

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:05 am 
 

Just adding my voice to the majority here. If it's a friend, then they've earned a bit of my expertise. If it's in a store, then I'll take the best deal I can get.

My only real ethical block is that I won't ever try to undercut what I already know is a good deal. I shop at a few local gaming stores, and I can usually get a lower price than the listed one because I buy a lot. If something is a great deal, I don't try to haggle it down further.

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:08 am 
 

Finding the rare at a great price is the thrill of hunting for collectables.


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:12 am 
 

deimos3428 wrote:
That's why you hum and haw and haggle him down to $7.  It looks less suspicious.


That's why I'm hopeless at poker  :(  Couldn't keep a straight face  :D

  

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:12 am 
 

Let's be realistic.  The issue of friends shouldn't even be taken into account as it's largely irrelevant.  If you'd take advantage of your "friend", then I suspect you are not really a "friend" to begin with.

As far as items that are priced already . . . once the price is marked it's a fair deal with no guilt.  If you want to be a "swell" person and let the store or yard sale owner know, fine be a "hero".  :D   Me, I quietly walk to the counter and buy that Woodgrain for $10 . . . who wouldn't?  If not me, then someone else . . . they've already forfeited the profits as someone is going to snatch that baby up any second.  Might as well be me.  

We'd all do it . . . every SINGLE one of us . . . and it's best not to mention even a whisper of offering more as you might arouse suspicion.


Hand them the cash . . .  walk calmly out the door . . .

And . . . if you feel guilty . . .  remember that they probably gave some sorry bastard 50 cents for it, thinking, "Wow, I can sell this for $10!"


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:40 pm 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:Let's be realistic.  The issue of friends shouldn't even be taken into account as it's largely irrelevant.  If you'd take advantage of your "friend", then I suspect you are not really a "friend" to begin with.

As far as items that are priced already . . . once the price is marked it's a fair deal with no guilt.  If you want to be a "swell" person and let the store or yard sale owner know, fine be a "hero".  :D   Me, I quietly walk to the counter and buy that Woodgrain for $10 . . . who wouldn't?  If not me, then someone else . . . they've already forfeited the profits as someone is going to snatch that baby up any second.  Might as well be me.  

We'd all do it . . . every SINGLE one of us . . . and it's best not to mention even a whisper of offering more as you might arouse suspicion.


Hand them the cash . . .  walk calmly out the door . . .

And . . . if you feel guilty . . .  remember that they probably gave some sorry bastard 50 cents for it, thinking, "Wow, I can sell this for $10!"


Well Said!!!!

Chances are the seller made a steal off the item in the first place....

Mike B.


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