Problem coins, problem dealers, and problem collectors

Problem coins, problem dealers, and problem collectors

Post by R. Scott Lind » Fri, 24 Nov 1995 04:00:00

There's been a fair amount of discussion recently on the topic of dealer
responsibility and collector responsibility.  One thread has revolved around
bad coins purchased by collectors.  One poster mentions an Indian cent that
was returned by PCGS, which a dealer had sold as a proof.  Supposedly, the
dealer didn't know at the time of sale that the coin was bad.  The poster
reports that the dealer "couldn't take back at what I paid".  Worst of all,
the poster hints that business with this dealer will continue.  Unbelievable.
There's just no excuse that the dealer in this instance could possibly offer
as a defense for his unwillingness to give a full refund.  Still, this
collector shares responsibility.  I'll explain what I mean:

For me, the honest, respectable dealer has a long term view toward every
encounter with the collector.  Not out for the quick kill, he or she desires
to establish a regular clientelle.  The only way to do this is through
honest and reasonable practice.  This should especially hold for shop owners,
although I think it should hold for show dealers as well.  Still, to my best
reckoning, fewer than half of shop owners really demonstrate an enthusiasm
for establishing a regular clientelle.  The percentage is lower still for
show dealers.  I'm forever dismayed at this.  Obviously, the dealer
mentioned above has a short term view, and is out for the quick kill.  He
claimed that he didn't know the coin was bad, but that just doesn't matter.
Bad merchandise was sold, however unwittingly. Why should the buyer be the
victim?  A reasonable dealer would have returned not only the money spent
on the coin, but the slabbing fee lost to PCGS.  Such a dealer demonstrates
their desire for continued patronage.

The collector also has responsibility.  No collector has a right to complain
about high prices after being willingly gouged.  Personally, I collect coins
one at a time, with a "target coin" in mind.  I've spent 6 months looking for
just the right coin at a reasonable price.  These aren't rare coins.
I couldn't count the number of times that I've driven 2 or 6 hours to a show,
found a really nice coin, and had to walk away from it. It's not easy to do.
Still, after the initial regret, I feel some consolation in not having caved
in.  There are other shows, and there are other coins.  Unless you're searching
for an extreme rarity, there's just no need to lunge when you find an
attractive coin.  Besides, at least for me, the hunt for the right coin is
most of the fun, the prime mode of learning, and all of the reward.
Worse still than giving in to that urgency we all feel is to go back to a
dealer that you know treated you unfairly.  This I just cannot understand.
The collector in the example above probably found a coin, got swept up in the
craze, and bought without really learning about the characteristics of the
variety or type or about the availability of such coins in the market.
This can only be done by looking at many coins, which requires an
investment in time.  This collector was taken advantage of by a dealer
with a short term mentality.
Now there is no course of action but to refuse to do business with him.

Both the collector and the dealer have an obligation in a transaction, and
with most negative experiences the collector is the victim, in my opinion.
Still, collectors often are too eager and hasty in making purchases.
Hence, when they see a coin that is heavily overpriced, they don't have
the will power to walk away.  This gives the dealer incentive to over grade
and over price.  You can't blame the dealer.  He/she just charges what the
market will bear.  If collectors showed some will power, they'd be better
off, and more dealers would respect them.

Scott Linder