Adam Halloran

"Does it come with ANY guarantee?"

Adam Halloran

By Adam Halloran

Jan 12, 2019

There has been some discussion lately on the word "guarantee" and if dealers, in general, should always offer one when selling an item to a collector. Be it whether they guarantee it to pass a TPA service (Beckett, PSA, JSA, or AutographCOA) or some other type of return policy, in case other opinions or research overshadow and taint the items authenticty.

It is an interesting topic for sure, since I think serious collectors really do want a piece of mind on what they are purchasing is REAL and they aren't simply throwing their money into the wind. I thought I would try my best to touch upon this subject with my own personal thoughts while hopefully not rambling on too much. We will see how that goes! 

Right from the get go there is a side of me, as a passionate collector, that thinks this is so simple! "Of course a seller should stand behind ANY item they sell!" I mean, if you are willing to take either mine or someone else's money on the faith and trust that what you are selling is real, then you should share the risk if it doesn't pass the test or the scrutiny of an expert opinion and except a return. Plain and simple? Maybe not...

I think where this may fall a little flat is in the definition, what should be considered an expert opinion? I think in its purest sense the idea of a third party opinion, someone who can step in the middle as an unbiased outsider and can come to an educated determination of the authenticty of the autograph, is rightfully needed in a hobby rut with forgeries and slimy con artists looking to make money off our love of the signer. 

The problem in this is the fallibility of the human entity who is making the judgement call and the big business involved with any company making millions off collectors.

Let us take the PSA Quick Opinion feature, which is designed as way to submit an item before you purchase to be reviewed by the TPA. You don't know who is giving this opinion, it could be an expert in the field or an intern who is randomly deciding. 

I don't even mean to say any of this to demean this service in particular, but if a company is going to take your money (even $15) they should be a bit more upfront on the process, because there has been many documented cases of items failing the quick opinion service and passing in person as well as vice versa. An authenticator's opinion is really only worth what its reputation is in the market place so who knows what that means for ANY of these stickered items as technology advances?

The risk involved in purchasing the item is still in YOUR wallet, they are just giving you an opinion for your money. It isn't a fact. Albeit hopefully It is at least an educated opinion based on researching other known genuine examples. However if they start adding forgeries or secretarial signatures into their pool too, sadly that is when it starts to become impossible to determine what is real or fake when the water is muddy. 

The other issue is the "flippers", no not the dolphin, but those Individuals who are looking to buy unauthenticated items for cheap and get them through a TPA and resell them for more money. I am not against this as a general rule of thumb I guess, especially since this hobby revolves around the almighty dollar. 

The issue is that for a seller, this can be a time suck and can impact real collectors who appreciate being able to buy quality in person pieces at a lower value, instead of the marked up prices once they pass a TPA service. 

Of course, If it doesn't pass for whatever reason, it no longer has value to them even if it is real. They expect a return to be made and they aren't out any money besides maybe the amount it took to submit and possibly the shipping cost. It is mostly factual that an authenticated item holds more value overall long term. Most casual collectors or even one time buyers look to see if an item has a COA, some do a bit of research and know who the "big guys" are in the market, while others might think ANY coa means an item is good...Even if it looks like something purchased off the rack of hobby lobby. 

I have found that there are other like minded collectors who are actually REALLY good with certain celebs and their opinion is just as valuable to me as a TPA service in many cases. They take the time to study the examples and log where, when, or who they came from. There opinion might not come with a fancy LOA, but still it can be smart to know whose opinions you can trust besides the random masses who shout out real and fake without really looking at the facts.

Also many TPAs don't keep visual logs of items they have passed and failed at all! It is pretty counterproductive for them to do the work, but not keep a database of everything. I am not even going to scratch the surface of forensic examiners either...Just run okay? 

There are many celebs who've changed their signatures over the years, so it isn't as simple as comparing two authenticated examples side by side to figure out like I see many people try to do, comparing Paul McCartney signatures from the 60's to his single name quick modern graph is apples and oranges.  

It can also be whether they are on the street standing, in a crowd, or sitting down in a signing. "Rushed examples versus every letter spelled out! Vintage or modern!" There are so many factors involved in this hobby it can make your head spin when making a determination on where to invest your money! 

There are many celeb signatures that are just a line or a check and reasonably speaking they shouldn't pass a TPA, because no expert can know for sure unless you were there. Sometimes there is just risk involved and trust needed.

What really it all boils down to in the end is the MOST important part to all of this is being educated yourself and not simply relying on a story or a sticker to do the work for you. THAT is the greatest piece of mind to hold onto, if you don't see it signed yourself you better be ready to put the time in to do your own homework! 

So do buy from a trusted and reliable source of course, but still keep your eyes open along for the ride. Should a seller except returns based on all these factors if you find something wrong or out of the ordinary? I think someone who has nothing to hide should and would in most cases, but remember what Tommy Boy said about guarantees. "I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull's ass, but I'd rather take a butcher's word for it." ...Pretty sure that means something in all of this, so I will simply end wih those words of wisdom.

Adam Halloran

Adam Halloran

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Adam Halloran Author
1 year, 6 months

Thank you very much!  I absolutely believe you have to be knowledgeable at least in the field you collect.  I don't think TPAs are BAD. I definetly believe gathering opinions, seeing known in person examples, and your own research is the best approach when you can't be in person getting someones autograph.  I just would not feel comfortable buying an item if I didn't have my own confidence in it.  Thank you once again!

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Steve Wright
1 year, 6 months

Great article. Ive done lots of my own reasearch like you say on my collection. I go buy the saying.' If you want a job doing right then do it yourself" Its good to have experts though to back up what you think or know. Great advice mate.

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