Buying Collectibles online Safely

January 6, 2016 by  
Filed under New, Spotlight

Buying Collectibles online Safely
Buying collectibles online safely…emphasis on “safely”, should be the goal for every trade. But first we need to talk about the basics. There are many reasons for choosing to buy online. 

The vastness of the global marketplace, the number of items available at a glance, the speed at which we can search products as well as the convenience of one-click payments.

Who doesn’t love window shopping from the comfort of their home?

Or the choice to buy online might not be a choice at all – but a necessity. As in the case of a person’s physical mobility or lack of.

Online shopping has been around a long time. Long enough that most of us are pretty familiar and even adept at the process. Whatever the reasons, it’s safe to say that until we wear-out the internet buying online is here to stay. What started as a way to pick up those hard-to-find gifts or special occasion purchases has now become a way to buy our day-to-day goods and services.

But what about collectors?

Outside of a regular business enterprise, private collectors are probably the individuals best suited for online shopping. Having that global reach makes hunting for deals tailor made for them. Regardless of their location they can conduct research from almost any corner of the planet.

Information in the form of text, video and even voice is now just a click away.

Think Skype for example. Why wouldn’t they take advantage of the internet?

Okay, with all that boring due diligence stuff neatly behind them they can now go back to their real focus…the hunt for their next collectible! Now all that sounds well and good, except for one detail. … the issue of buying collectibles online safely.

Consider the buddy system for buying collectibles online safely.

The same features of the internet that give us reach, speed and all the other conveniences, has a lot of dark corners. It’s those shadowy spaces  we need to be vigilant about.

While the internet may be tailor-made for the collector it’s probably the collector that’s also most at risk. A business enterprise would face similar dark elements online they are usually better prepared. Most businesses have an IT department or  person that would act as their guide.

All businesses operate on a budget. They follow a business plan. Expenditures would be qualified through a layered system of checks and balances. It’s this straight-forward model that offers a degree of protection in all their transactions. 

When the internet first arrived the business world had to catch up.

Now after years of trial and error security is second nature for most businesses that complete transactions online.

The private collector on the other hand, may be thinking more with their heart than their head. And it’s not always about the bottom line. With the exception of an professional operation, like a sports or film memorabilia dealer,  it’s a good bet that most collectors are operating alone.

Without the disciplined approach of a business model the tendency may be to rush into a transaction once they spot that deal of a lifetime. It’s in that rush to claim the prize that the less-exciting details may be overlooked. Some of those details could easily be security related.

There is another type of transaction that finds the online world very tempting. I’m referring to the fraudulent transaction. The counterfeiter or fraud artist loves dealing with collectors. I refer to them as Fraud Artists because this can also be a trade to some.

They study human nature and sales techniques just as a legitimate salesperson would. So they are usually armed as well or better than a legitimate salesperson.

They know that emotion can rule this type of trade.

They also know the collector is probably working with disposable income. Their judgement may be easily clouded. Being a lone purchaser also makes them more susceptible to fraud since they lack the checks and balances that a business would surely utilize .

“So is buying collectibles online safely even a reality?”

I think buying safely is definitely a reality but not without a cost. As with anything there will be a trade-off. Whatever you lack in initial field work, your research and authentication process, will have to be made up for in the end. That usually means extra legwork and maybe even long distance travel.

But you may be asking yourself, “if I’m expected to travel anyways what’s the point of using the internet?”

The answer lies in better quality up-front field work. That will lessen the reliance on the back-end authentication process. That means doing your homework…well!

Know what you’re going after.

Have a target item selected and go after it – but also know beforehand the value of that item. Know the value of all the ‘grades’ of that item.

Have the best idea possible of the availability of that item. You want to go into a transaction as informed as possible so as to not be manipulated and knocked off course. Don’t be swayed by the deal that shows up out of nowhere.

Consider using the services of a professional authenticator.

Travel will cost you time and money. Why not find a someone local to your deal who can certify it’s authenticity? This will cost you as well but probably much less. Plus, being a third party will add some confidence to the deal. Just be careful about using someone the seller might suggest. Hopefully that’s self-explanatory.

As well as the professional authenticator, make sure to find a third party to hold your funds in escrow. Again this is a paid service but it’s worth the cost. Basically your funds are paid to the third party escrow account. Those funds are held back from the seller until you’ve received the item and are satisfied with the outcome.

This procedure is fairly standard and not many sellers would object to this. This is a contracted service so each side’s responsibilities would be spelled out clearly up front. It’s a legally binding agreement.

And last but not least, why not do all your collectible transactions within the buddy system. You could create your own person system of checks-and-balances. Find someone like-minded and share your interest.

At the very least one of you could be the voice of reason for the other.  Remember the goal here is buying collectibles online safely. The buddy system actually makes a lot of sense.

Best of luck and collect well.


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