Taking My Hacks

The Deal Killer

Joe Orlando


Our hobby is filled with people from different walks of life, people who work in a variety of fields and people who are interested in an even wider variety of collectibles. Most of the people you encounter are good natured and share the same passion you do but some can be as obnoxious as they come. This month, I thought I would take a look at one of the more annoying characters that exists in the world of collectibles – The Deal Killer.

Now, The Deal Killer can come in the form of a dealer or a collector and they rear their ugly head from time to time, causing headaches for the rest of the hobby. They eventually burn bridges as most people become wise to their ways and tire of the games being played for their own personal gain. Their predictable nature is, in a sense, a good thing for the rest of us because it makes them easier to spot.

Let's look at a few examples of this behavior. I am sure one of the following paragraphs will hit home if you have been in the hobby for any serious length of time.

The Dealer – this is a person, they could be a retailer or an auctioneer, who decides to disparage another seller's item for various reasons. What may be most remarkable about this behavior, in my experience, is that this type of Deal Killer often has no basis for the negative comments he or she spews. I have witnessed this behavior where the person has never ever seen the item in question, the exact item they are criticizing. They simply talk badly about it because they stand to make no money on the sale and they refuse to be honest about the piece because it is being offered by a competitor.

At the 2001 National Sports Collectors Convention, I watched several dealers battle over an extremely valuable piece. They were all trying to wrangle it for consignment to their auction. As soon as the owner decided to select an auction house, the others proceeded to instantaneously bash the item. It was one of the most ridiculous things I have witnessed in this business but one that, unfortunately, happens once in a while. The amount of jealously between dealers can be staggering at times.

The Collector – this is the buyer who leads you and everyone else to believe that there is a problem with an item to simply lower the price so they can purchase it at a discount. I know this sounds crazy but it's true, believe me. I have listened to collectors cast doubt about either the authenticity or quality of an item for this sole purpose. They spread terrible, unfounded rumors to lower the number of interested bidders prior to auction. Some may think this is an acceptable form of buyer strategy but, to me, it is an awful practice because you are directly affecting the price and that hurts the consigner and the auction house.

Just as it is with some sellers, there can be a great deal of jealously amongst collectors. Most collectors are not this way; let me make that clear, but the ones who are this way will stop at nothing to acquire the piece they want. They will start by lying about their personal interest in the piece and go as far as mercilessly trashing that same item to lessen demand. They will sometimes call others directly on the phone; those who might be potential competitors for the item, or proceed to torch the piece on online message boards.

The important thing to take away from this column is to be able to recognize this behavior. It is important to distinguish between valid concern and simple trash talking with an agenda in mind, one that benefits The Deal Killer and no one else.


Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief