Notes on Ebay,
Sell, and Fakes
by Sue Hooven
Some claim that good deals are
far and few in between when purchasing a signature. Though true on one
level, that doesn't make it true on others. All these words do, is
encourage Ebay Sellers to jack up prices. So now, instead of paying $9.99
for that bad Ebay fake, you are paying $49.99 for that Ebay fake! I don't
know about you, but I would be very embarrassed buying a more expensive fake!
Or worse yet, a copy of a fake! Here's some advice that's helped me:
- Don't accept people at face value because they
have a popular site. Anyone can build a website. Remember that.
- Don't think because someone has a professional
looking site their stuff they are selling is not forged.
- Be smart. If you see someone preaching
about low prices are all fakes and then they are trying to sell you and
expensive autograph, look at it and see if you REALLY should buy it. Ask
yourself if you can get it free first...
- Look for UACC affiliations. Though not
foolproof, they are generally more respected in the field of collecting.
- Never buy in to words like "Amazing Value"
"100% Authentic" or "Super Blowout". Those are inflammatory words.
- Do watch for these words: Copy, Preprinted,
Don't buy into advice
given to you by those who sell stuff. You will note a couple of people offering
sale items for people who sign free through the mail! There's something
diametrically wrong with someone telling you don't pay $9.99 for an item and on
another page on their site, selling you something for $25 or $45 that you can
get for free. What they are saying to you is, "trust me because I charge more".
I am reminded of the old adage "A fool and his money are soon parted".
HOW TO EDUCATE
YOURSELF ON SPOTTING FAKES/HOW TO BUY ON EBAY
Here's what you should
- Always try to obtain a signature yourself the
old fashioned way. Go to conventions, meet the celeb, or mail them a
request. If all else fails and you must buy and cant' do it from a
celebrities site, yes, do be aware Ebay is filled with a ton of fakes.
- Don't bid for a while. Be patient.
Find facsimile signatures of the person you want. Ones from
agencies...ones from the celebs site where you can have 4-5 sigs at least that
are legit to compare the sigs too. Store this collection before even
looking at signatures to buy on Ebay. When you are ready to buy, compare
them against your collection.
- NEVER take the words from an Ebay seller like,
"Obtained in person", "Rare" and "Last Chance" to heart. People get
carried away with that and yes, people have been known to lie.
- Next, Familiarize yourself with information
about the celeb. For example, most know that Natalie Portman doesn't
sign Star Wars stuff. So you can steer yourself towards something else she
probably could have signed.
- How do you do this? Go to chat
boards and lurk. Go to newsgroups and take notes.. ask other
collectors what they've seen and heard. If you heard 9 people say they
tried Natalie Portman in person and she wouldn't sign, but three of them
said she did sign but not Star Wars items and one person says yeah, she
signed everything and have I got a deal for you... you will see the big
- Get opinions from others on the item you want
to purchase, but never in the end take anyone's word unless you have complete
faith in them. There are too many out there claiming to be professional
analysts. I don't know of one collector with a degree in handwriting
analysis. It's daunting I know. Many email me asking me to validate
their items. I don't like doing it. On some things, I can spot a
million miles away as a fake and others are tougher and some I can say are
good. HOWEVER, I am not an expert either and I tell people so!
They need to know that. So only deal with people who are honest with
you. If someone says "I know for a fact" and they aren't degreed in the
field or if it wouldn't stand up in court, then don't trust them! A
little reserved cynicism is in your best interest. If they claim to be
an expert, run fast.
- Use common sense~ if you know Ewan McGregor is
doing 2 films, appearing on 4 talk shows and one awards show and was spotted
at a premiere in the past two months, tell me... how likely is it he's at home
reading your letter? Truth is my friends, he's not. He's got
someone signing for him. So if you see Ewan's sig on Ebay and it was
obtained in May in England and Ewan spent the time in Australia, you gotta
wonder! Here's another thing to watch for... if they tell you they got
someone's signature at a convention, do a search to make sure that person
actually showed up to the convention! I saw once an autograph obtained a
certain date.... two weeks AFTER the celebrity had passed away! RESEARCH
- Don't be blinded with wanting something so
badly and quickly that you compromise your collection and self-satisfaction.
I have done this myself. In my zeal, I've been careless. As has
EVERY collector I've known. But we learn. I am trying here to help
others from making costly mistakes like I did. Patience my young Padawan!
- Sometimes you have to settle... If
Natalie doesn't sign Star Wars items or index cards, maybe she'll sign a
headshot? Or maybe a magazine? So settle if you have to if the sig
is worth it. So why even read the description of "Star Wars signed
Natalie Portman photo"? Let's face it, you are not going to get all the
signatures you want on 8x10 color glossy photos! It just doesn't happen
and if you want the sig, you may have to settle for something less.
- Don't buy under pressure. Here's an
example: Say Joe Blow emailed me today and bought a cool Liam Neeson
signed poster and hey, the same seller is selling a triple signed Harrison
Ford, George Lucas and Sebastian Shaw photo! It's a high cost, at $500,
but man, my Neeson is so good, so he tells me to go for it! STOP
right there. Use the advice given above and you will be guided to the truth
about this item and maybe poor Joe Blow's item!
- Read descriptions carefully. Sellers
like to sell you items with vague descriptions. Here's one from today
- Beware of shipping costs. Sometimes people offer things at low prices and
charge you insanely for shipping. I once saw a poster for $10 and the
shipping was $30!
Well, that's about all for now. Just some common sense rules you should
consider before buying It took me years to learn what the heck I was doing
and to be honest, I still have a problem now and then. But never fear, in
the end, though daunting as it may seem, there are some good Ebay deals out
there. Sure, every once in the while even would be enthusiasts like me
will get stupid, but it's called being human. All you can do is educate
yourself and do the best you can.
May the Ebay Force be with you!
ADDENDUM: This article was written with no
particular people in mind. I've received an email from a paranoid person
last night who claims notations on my address diary had to do with them (and
threatened me with "slander"). Anything I write is usually spurred
on by a number of incidents in general and do not pertain to just one entity!
However, had any of my comments been strictly about one entity, they would be
unjust in their accusations. So for clarification, here is the definition
SLANDER: As defined in
Miriam's/Webster's dictionary so as not to be taken out of context!:
Main Entry: 2slander
Etymology: Middle English sclaundre, slaundre, from Old French
esclandre, from Late Latin scandalum stumbling block, offense -- more
Date: 14th century
1 : the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which
defame and damage another's reputation
2 : a false and defamatory oral statement about a person --
Think you've been slandered?
To prove slander, the person
has to show that the false statements were directed at them.
To prove that the statements were
indeed false and delivered in a malicious attempt
That the statements, if proved to be
slandered, the result caused damage
That the damage can be proved
Then if slander and damage is proven,
the amount of damage must be stated and also proven.
Your best bet if you think you have
been slandered, is to hire a lawyer.
Some lawyers will give you free consults.