Hyped Coins Taint Reputation

1928S_harsh

Look closely at the Peace dollar above. You’ll see it is harshly cleaned. How much would you pay over silver melt? $10? $30? How about $60,000? That’s what this Proxibid auction house suggests in its lot description.

Auctioneers who sell coins need to know how to cite value. PCGS values are high because its standards are among the most rigorous in the industry. NGC, also considered a top-tier company with high standards, commands premiums for its coins. However, its standards differ from those of PCGS, so it is also inappropriate to cite PCGS values for NGC coins.

ANACS and ICG are second-tier, mostly reliable grading companies. You should cite Red Book prices for them.

Here are the URLS:

Treat all other slabs, even PCI and Numistrust and so-called third-tier companies, with caution before stating any values.

In this case, we’re dealing with three levels of hype. Let’s start with how this coin appeared on Proxibid:

1928S_harsh1

The first hype is the slab itself, boasting that a harshly cleaned 1928-S is MS66. The second hype is the description that cites PCGS values at $60,000. The third hype is Proxibid’s lack of standards when it comes to values cited in lot descriptions.

As we have written in past posts, if you spot gross inaccuracies like the one above, report them to Proxibid and ask the company to alter the Unified User Agreement “4.4 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials” (OUR RECOMMENDATION IN ALL CAPS):

    Seller shall not knowingly misrepresent any items. VALUES OF ITEMS SHOULD BE BASED ON VALID APPRAISALS OR VERIFIABLE DATA. All catalog descriptions must accurately describe the items for sale, and all photos must be original. If Seller uses stock photos, Seller must disclose so in the catalog description as well as in the Special Terms of Sale for the auction.

Until Proxibid cracks down on these practices, as eBay has done, bidders will suffer, and so eventually will the reputation of auction houses that persist in these questionable practices.

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

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When “Report the Item” Fails, It Affects Your Bottom Line

1889-O

It is one thing to report the item and another to rely on the auctioneer to change a misleading lot description. If Proxibid’s “report the item” is going to work, the company has to enforce it on easily verified mistakes. This auction company committed several of them. We reported the items multiple times. Nothing was fixed.


If you’re an ethical auctioneer, especially one of our favorites in the left sidebar and think this doesn’t apply to you, keep reading this post to the last paragraph and you’ll see how Proxibid’s failure to enforce changes of this type affects your bottom line.

We certainly understand that typos and unintentional misidentified lots occur on the portal. Auctioneers or their assistants spend a lot of time typing lot descriptions. What we don’t understand is why some auctioneers won’t change mistakes when they are pointed out via Proxibid’s “report the item” link.

Once again, this doesn’t happen on eBay. The lot is taken down. Proxibid’s persistent “hand’s off” policies–if we notify auctioneers, then we have done our job–does little to affirm its brand of trust.

Here’s another misidentified lot that we reported twice:

1889-S

The auctioneer didn’t change the misidentification.

We think Proxibid did send the notifications.

What can be verified is the auctioneer’s terms of service: “All items sold AS IS WHERE IS, all descriptions provided are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as creating any representation or warranty.”

Are you kidding? Does that service term allow an auctioneer to describe base metal as gold? Of course not. These errors fall under Proxibid’s service term “Significantly Not as Described.”

By the way, the 1889-O description was not changed on Proxibid during the auction. It sold for $120, about twice as much as an NGC MS63 1899-O was worth. See the evidence:

1889-O_sold

What’s the easier route, Proxibid? To go through dispute resolution or to require the auctioneer to fix easily identified errors in lot descriptions?

Here’s another thing Proxibid has to think about. The auctioneer may have corrected the wrong date for the live onsite crowd but not the online audience. If so, that meant Proxibidders were bidding up the lot that sold onsite for $120.

Because we care about numismatics and Proxibid, we need to go on record with this final statement: Failing to require fixes of this sort undermines Proxibid’s brand of trust.

And when that happens, our favorite auctioneers in the left sidebar suffer because hobbyists migrate to eBay. We don’t want to see that for best-selling auctioneers or Proxibid, either. We support both.

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

Kudos to another house that read the Unified User Agreement; your lawyer should, too

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Nostalgia Connection, new to the portal, is off to a great start because its policies are aligned with Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement concerning counterfeit, doctored or misrepresented items.

 

Unlike many other Proxibid houses that maintain, often in all caps–ALL SALES FINAL; NO RETURNS!–Nostalgia Connection reiterates the Unified User Agreement in one concise sentence:

We only give returns if a product is fake, counterfeit, defective or inaccurately described.

The Unified User Agreement states:

If, within a reasonable amount of time, Buyer gives notice in writing to Seller that the lot so sold is a counterfeit and after such notice the Buyer returns the lot to Seller in the same condition as when sold, and establishes to the satisfaction of Seller that the returned lot is in fact a counterfeit, Seller as agent for the consignor will rescind the sale and refund the purchase price.

We encourage all Proxibid auctioneers to read 6.3 of the Agreement, to which they are bound, which covers disputes concerning when lots are significantly not as described.

If your attorney has encouraged you to put in your service terms, “ALL SALES FINAL!,” you should encourage him or her to read the US Hobby Protection Act and US Federal Code: Chapter 25: Counterfeiting and Forgery (Sections 485-492).

Violate the Hobby Act, inform your attorney, and you can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission. Sell counterfeit coins or currency, and you will be dealing with the Secret Service. We like to remind Proxibid and its clients that national experts on counterfeiting are located right there in the Secret Service Office in Omaha, where Proxibid is located, at 2707 N 108th St.

Here’s some good news, though, for auctioneers. You don’t have to be entirely liable for fake, defective or counterfeit lots. You just have to create a contract with your consignor, as some of our best houses do, stating that all non-genuine and/or defective lots will be returned to the seller with any payment due to the auction company.

 

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

An Auction House that Read the Unified User Agreement!

auctionwholesales

Auction Wholesales, Inc., deserves its Proxibid gold ribbon badge for the highest standards of ethics. Its policies are aligned with Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement concerning counterfeit, doctored or misrepresented items.

Unlike many other Proxibid houses that maintain, often in all caps–ALL SALES FINAL; NO RETURNS!–Auction Wholesalers reiterates the Unified User Agreement in one concise sentence:

    We only give returns if a product is fake, counterfeit, defective or inaccurately described items.


To read more about the Unified User Agreement, see this post.

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

Another Complaining Newby

another Proxibid newby

We marvel at Proxibid sellers who charge high buyer’s fees (this one is 21%) with opening bids on common coins as high as their intrinsic values–without buyer’s premiums and shipping figured in. Buyers need to read the auctioneer’s service terms before placing a bid on a lot. Better still, both buyer and auctioneer ought to read Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement before making any claims that may violate that agreement!


Always read service terms. Be wary of high opening bids (even when the auctioneer proclaims “no reserve auction”) coupled with high buyer’s premiums. Worse, this house complains, “Due to the exorbitant fees associated with credit card processing, [Name Withheld] DOES NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS OR PAYPAL. No credit card payments of any kind will be accepted.”

Of course the house asks that winning bidders contact a third-party shipper. Also, payment of lots must be done by bank money order or cashier’s check.

Finally, there is this: “The Auctioneer is acting as agent only and is not responsible for acts of its principals. If any dispute arises, the Auctioneer’s word is final.”

Hey, Proxibid Sales Team: Why not make the seller aware of the Unified User Agreement? Here’s a nifty clause:

  • 4.4 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials: If Seller includes any statement that a product posted for sale through the Web site is sold “AS-IS” (attempting to disclaim implied warranties), Seller must also include a clear and conspicuous description of the known defect(s) in the product (for example, “BROKEN”, “MISSING PARTS”, “FOR PARTS ONLY”). Any attempt to list a product “AS IS” without a clear and conspicuous description of the defect is a violation of this Agreement.
  • Can’t sell without noting defects!

  • 4.9 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials: “Compliance with Laws Related to Sale of Certain Products. Seller acknowledges and agrees that the promotion, advertising, sale, and distribution of certain products are subject to federal, state, and local regulations, including without limitation, firearms, Indian artifacts, recalled products, children’s products, alcoholic beverages, coins and currency.
  • Can’t sell counterfeits!

  • 5.16 Default Event Terms: “16. If, within a reasonable amount of time, Buyer gives notice in writing to Seller that the lot so sold is a counterfeit and after such notice the Buyer returns the lot to Seller in the same condition as when sold, and establishes to the satisfaction of Seller that the returned lot is in fact a counterfeit, Seller as agent for the consignor will rescind the sale and refund the purchase price.”
  • Told ya!

  • 6. Dispute Resolution: “Proxibid retains full discretion to make a decision in favor of the Buyer or the Seller based on any criteria Proxibid deems appropriate. In the event that Proxibid makes a final decision in favor of the Buyer or Seller, each party must comply with Proxibid’s decision.”
  • Guess Auctioneer’s word ISN’T final.

There are a lot more terms in the Unified User Agreement that buyer and seller may want to read before making any claims. Sellers utilizing Powered by Proxibid are held to an even playing field. Buyers are held to even more responsibility.

That’s why we endorse Proxibid’s brand of trust … and remind everyone via Proxiblog to trust no service term that conflicts with the Unified User Agreement.

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

How long will the hype continue?

Normally we are patient when auctioneers new to the portal make numismatic errors, but this particular auction (no longer new) inflates values to such extent that we are holding Proxibid accountable to do something about it, namely, by changing the Unified User Agreement to prevent ridiculous lot estimates like the ones below.

We have reported on this particular auction before. Its coin estimates have little basis in fact, from a numismatic standpoint. But one this week really caught our attention. A common 1887 Morgan graded MS63 by PCGS is estimated in Lot 46 as being worth $800-$900. But 29 lots later, the same coin is estimated at $200-$250.

Take a look. (We added the PCGS look-up certification so you can see just how much the coin is really worth.) Click to expand photo:

lot46

Now look at this screenshot featuring the same coin in the same auction being worth $200-$250.

lot85

If you spot gross inaccuracies like the ones above, report them to Proxibid and ask the company to alter the Unified User Agreement “4.4 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials” (OUR RECOMMENDATION IN ALL CAPS):

    Seller shall not knowingly misrepresent any items. VALUES OF ITEMS SHOULD BE BASED ON VALID APPRAISALS OR VERIFIABLE DATA. All catalog descriptions must accurately describe the items for sale, and all photos must be original. If Seller uses stock photos, Seller must disclose so in the catalog description as well as in the Special Terms of Sale for the auction.

Inaccurate values undermine Proxibid’s brand of trust. We recommend a simple rule: If you don’t know the value, don’t make one up.

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

Don’t Hide Certs Because You Could Be Selling a Counterfeit

Auctioneers love stickers, especially on holdered coins. We can’t tell you how frustrating it is for savvy online bidders, looking for rare and pricey coins, when auctioneers cover the certification number on a slab by PCGS or NGC. We can’t bid because we can’t check for counterfeits. The photo below shows a counterfeit PCGS slab next to an authentic one. Other photos show what’s been going on in Proxibid auctions.


fakeslabs

We have been writing about stickers and fake slabs for years now. See this post.

We will NOT bid on any coin whose certification number is obscured or hidden by a sticker. We advise all bidders reading Proxiblog to do the same as the number of Chinese counterfeits in fake slabs continues to grow. The problem of fake slabs has been afflicting the online market since 2008. See this post about the problem.

And yet we see lots like this King of the Morgans, often counterfeited, an 1893-S–with a sticker over the cert number.

nocert

Here’s another recent example.

cert_hidden

All auctioneers should keep in mind that the Unified User Agreement states that you cannot sell counterfeit coins, no matter what your service terms state about all sales being final.

See this clause:

    If, within a reasonable amount of time, Buyer gives notice in writing to Seller that the lot so sold is a counterfeit and after such notice the Buyer returns the lot to Seller in the same condition as when sold, and establishes to the satisfaction of Seller that the returned lot is in fact a counterfeit, Seller as agent for the consignor will rescind the sale and refund the purchase price.

We have purchased six counterfeit coins in the past three years on Proxibid. In each case, sometimes with some cajoling, we were able to cite the Unified User Agreement to get a refund for the fake lot.

As such, the recommendation today is not only for bidders but for auctioneers, too. See this post to learn how to identify counterfeit coins.

Final tip to auctioneers: If you are presented with evidence of a fake coin, do not punish the buyer. Create a consignor agreement form that puts the liability on the seller. All sales are NOT final and you can be held liable if a complaint is made to the Secret Service that you are selling fake coins and then providing an email trail stating that you will not refund the purchase. The Hobby Protection Act even covers replicas sold as originals.

Moreover, with Proxibid’s new “Report this Item” button, you will have buyers like Proxiblog looking for and reporting counterfeits and replicas in your auction. Start with the sticker as a best practice, and do not obscure it in your photography.

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.