A Boy and his BlogA Boy and his Blog

Posted on Feb 24th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under friends, buying, video games, people you know


I consider myself a fair, upstanding, and generous person (*cough*) and I like that some people have that opinion of me. Collecting is an exciting hobby in that many of us see ourselves as Indiana Jones-like explorers who scavenge local garage sales, thrift stores, and "antique" stores in an attempt to upturn games and consoles at great prices and add them to our personal museums.  Oftentimes, when we find duplicates or valuable items for games/systems we don't collect, we may turn these over to game stores, sell them on auction sites, or sell/trade them with friends to reinvest in our collections.  Of all of these interactions, dealing with friends and people you are in contact with on a regular basis is the most personal, and can sometimes result in awkward or less than favorable interactions. I was recently involved in one of these "transactions" and this is my story. Ladies and gentlemen: "The story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent."



Before I get into my story, let me start off by saying that when it comes to buying from and selling to friends, I have a somewhat tight circle of associates that I deal with regularly. The guys from the Collectorcast and I stay on the lookout for each other and will send each other texts and/or pics when we come across things we know the one of us might be interested in. I've also done several deals with my Playcast co-hosts, and of course with various site members over the years.  Locally, not including store owners or employees, I have a total of 1 friend who actually collects and plays video games on a regular basis. Overall, it's not a very wide net, but it has been fruitful in helping me acquire harder to find items at a good price.

As you've probably heard several times from myself and various site members, one great way to find video game swag is to let your friends and co-workers know that you are a collector. There have been a handful of occasions where I've come into work and found a few games and even a boxed, original Gameboy on my desk. Once, I even got buzzed by the receptionist at work and was notified that a gentleman downstairs wanted to see me; the guy turned out to be my realtor from 3 years prior and he remembered me mentioning that I might be interested in a Colecovision and games that he "might have lying somewhere in his closet." Turns out, he was right and I became the benefactor of a free system and games.  Sounds great right?  Free games and consoles, what could be better? Well, things don't always go as planned, especially when friends and money are involved.

A few weeks ago, a friend of my wife reached out to me on social media via a private message. She told me that she still had her "old Nintendo from childhood" still in the box, but was having trouble getting it to work. Assuming that she just wanted to play it, I described a few non-invasive methods to clean the pins on the cartridge, and even sent her a video about boiling the pins of her console just in case her or her husband decided to get a little adventurous.  I've known this friend long enough to know that she isn't a gamer and figured that maybe she came across her old NES in the attic and wanted to relive a few brief moments from her childhood. Who could blame her right?

After sending over a few solutions, she mentioned that the reason she was trying to get it to work was to be able to sell or trade it into a local, used media store.  The NES was actually a boxed Power Set (missing the styrofoam...) and included the console, all the hookups, the SMB/DH/WCTM cartridge, the gray zapper, and yes, the Power Pad in it's own little box.  She admitted that the box was very beat up, ripped, and as I was to discover later, moldy.  After reading her reason for wanting the system fixed, my natural reaction was, "Well, how much do you want for it? I may be interested."   I knew the store she was looking to sell it to and had a very good estimate as to what they would offer her for it.  I mentioned to her what this price would probably be and offered her a cash amount slightly higher based on what she was describing to me. 

STOP!

Before I go any further, let me just state that this was kind of a turning point in the conversation. She was clearly taken aback a bit by my surprising, and dare I say it, somewhat aggressive suggestion, and I could tell that as a non-collector, she had no idea about the value of her item.  There was a delayed response of almost an hour, which now I attribute to *tap tap tappy* eBay/*tap tap tappy* Craigslist. Little did I know, but this wasn't boding well for me. When I finally received a response, all I got was a mere, "I'm going to try and fix it myself."  The message wasn't impolite, but maybe a touch curt. My first thought was, "Oh no, what have I done?" and I immediately called my wife to let her know what had happened. Had my perceived "being a cheapa@#," rubbed her the wrong way, and had I done any irreparable damage to their friendship? I was so distraught that I even reached out to site members and Twitter friends regarding my offer and basically received two types of responses: (1) "That sounds like a fair offer to me," and (2) "H*#%, that's more than I would have offered her!" So in the least, I felt a little better about myself.

After much thought over the past few weeks, I came to several conclusions that I hadn't considered when messaging with her back-and-forth that morning.  In an effort to keep some of you from possibly making the same mistakes, I thought it might be nice to share my possible missteps (if you will) here:

(1) Your non-collecting friends are not you collecting friends - It goes without saying that people who collect certain things are much more knowledgeable about prices than those who don't collect those things. However, if you collect these "things," the individual who doesn't collect them knows that you know the value of them, even though they don't.  As a result, an inkling of distrust may enter their mind depending on how excited you seem about said item(s). It's not that your friend doesn't trust you, it's just that they automatically perceive that you want to get a deal and that maybe you expect one because they are your friend.  It becomes this weird, over-thinking game of mental Pong and raises suspicion for both parties. (Psst... their next stop is eBay to "fact" check you). The best way to quell distrust is to act matter-of-factly about the item(s); don't be overeager to offer or even inquire about whether they might want to sell it to you.  Sometimes it might be best for you to wait for them to ask you if you're interested, especially if it's not something you really "need."


(2) eBay IS the "final word" in pricing - Oh h@ll, now you've done it! They are now on eBay looking at prices.  As we know, when a seller has looked up their item on eBay, this is often the point where local deals go to die.  For collectors, eBay is a double-edged sword; it's great for finding whatever you need, but sometimes sellers can be greedy and set extremely high prices on rarer items hoping that someone will eventually be overeager and bite.  While BIN prices may not always be the best, items sold with bidding can often be a good indicator about the value of a game, especially when taking the average price of sold listings into consideration. However, for many non-collectors who are considering selling an item or "checking prices," they only see what the items are listed for and do not bother checking sold listings.  Furthermore, with my deal, I had the double whammy, since the original price was on the box.... To some, what was originally paid for an item is what they expect out of it, and for others, if it's retro, surely it has to be worth more over time. You really have to know your seller and oftentimes, it's best to just let them make the first offer if it comes down to it.

(3) Condition is not king, everything is apples to apples - In the buyer/seller relationship, the typical rule of thumb is "condition is king." However, you also have to realize that for many, condition is not even a consideration. I think that in my situation, the seller had a very good idea of what they had and did a good job of communicating the condition to me. Though the system came in the box, the seller knew that the box was in very poor shape and that there was no styrofoam; therefore, she associated no value with these things.  In my case, this was fortunate, but it's important to realize that this may not always pertain to your situation. Sometimes no matter the condition the highest value attributed to an item will be the sellers perceived value. Honestly, how many times have you heard or read the phrase on Craigslist (or Kijiji for my friends in the Great White North), "We'll there's on on eBay for 'X' amount." Ughhhhhhhhh.....

(4) Let them negotiate price - As I mentioned above, sometimes you have to sit back and let them throw out a price no matter how anxious you are. Even if they ask you to make an offer, it's probably best to keep putting it on them and let them tell you what they want for their item. By using this method, you can ensure that you won't insult them, and also get a better feel for what their perceived valuation is. If their price is over the moon, then you will quickly know that it's just best to slowly walk away. Allowing them to make the first offer makes them show their hand, avoids the possibility that they may be skeptical of your offer, and therefore, makes it much easier for you to know where you stand in the deal.

(5) Don't rib the "other guy" -  Though I didn't criticize the other potential buyer in my situation (the reseller store), expressing that I had insider information about what they might offer probably damaged my credibility a bit.  While I was truthful in my assessment, I might have created an uncomfortable vibe for the seller. By saying basically, "This is what they will offer, I will give you a little more," I caused the seller to question whether I might be trying to take advantage of her. And once the doubt sinks in, it's difficult, if not impossible to quell it. A better approach would have been to not mention the other potential offer, or better yet, say something to the affect of, "Let me know what they offer you and let's talk."  This would have let her know that I was interested and honest about offering her a little more in counter.

(6) Don't mention your intentions - As a known collector of video games, consoles, and other gaming paraphernalia, it was obvious from the start that she knew I had an NES already. Obviously, it's an extremely common system and anyone who grew up in our era knows that a majority of households had one.  Knowing this, I told her my intentions of either keeping the system, or passing it off at a good price to a local friend or site member. Again, I think expressing my intentions was unwarranted and probably even called into question the truthfulness of them.  From this experience, I learned that sometimes it's just best to say as little as possible and only offer information if asked.

CONCLUSION:

So what ended up happening?  Well, after about a month or so of radio silence, my wife went over to her friends's house to pick up some items that her friend was giving to her for our upcoming bundle of joy. I was relieved to know that my wife was going over there and that I had worried needlessly about damaging their relationship. After visiting her friend on a Sunday, my wife unloaded some of the baby gear out of her car into the garage.  It wasn't until the next day on my way out to work that I noticed the boxed NES sitting next to the bay doors!  Oh well....I guess I didn't completely screw it up.




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Comments
 
I've learned a few things from Flea Market resellers over the years about negotiating and trade-ins, and the #1 thing, both when you're an honest seller and a dishonest scalper, is to let the customer lead the discussion. I've seen numerous $100+ PS1 RPGs traded in for $1/piece because that was the price that the customer was happy to get, and I've seen deals immediately cut because a customer thought their item was priceless and didn't like the response.

If the customer feels they're being lead in a direction they don't like, or feel they're getting a raw deal, they're not going to make the deal even if they find out it's a good one. I ran into a similar situation a year or so ago, when one of my co-workers won one of the 10th Anniversary Xbox 360s brand new from a raffle at the office. I was a bit over-eager myself, tried to offer her cash and even a brand new Xbox 360 with a hard drive and some games, but in the end she wanted to use it as a gift for her kids for Christmas, and that's where it ended up going. I later on asked her if she still had it, and she told me that the kids are still playing it, so I can't complain.
 
This article was useful.  I think what you are saying can be related to anything, not just video games. 

When I let people know I am a collector I always mention that I take donations and leave it at that.  This way a lot of the time when people mention to me they have some old games laying around their intention has been in a lot of cases to donate them to me.  I never talk about buying when I mention I am a collector. 

This helps in three ways: my friends usually just donate, they free up some space being taken up by the game, and finally they know that if they want to play some games they can always visit me!  I have yet to have a cash trade with any friends, but LOTS of donations.
 
@Gamer4Lyfe:  I agree, the info in the article can be related to pretty much anything you collect. This being a video game site and of course my deal being video game related, it just fit right in.

I certainly mention that I collect video games to co-workers and friends, but I never expect them to donate anything to me. Even if people tell me I can have something, I usually try to give them something for it. If they are persistent about not taking my money, then I respect that and just thank them profusely. People will usually tell me they have something and my natural instinct is to just ask what they want for it. In the case of the original Gameboy, I gave the lady $15. A few weeks later, she told me she had found the box and a few games (one boxed), which she gave to me for free. I think that if you at least offer to pay, it sends out a good vibe to the potential seller and others she talks to. If you seem to be more of a "taker," then people may take their stuff somewhere else. Just my two cents of course.
 
@singlebanana:Oh definitely appropriate for the community, I was just trying to mention that this advice you have can be useful for other applications as well.

Sorry about the confusion it does read as though I am just there to take things, but I do reciprocate in one way or another even if it's not in actual currency.  I do at least say something like "Oh this is awesome!  Is there something you want for it?"  This leaves the door open to possibly bartering which is pretty common for me and usually just entails buying some drinks at a bar, or something like that.  I have been fortunate that most of my friends just want to unload their "crap" and free up space in their house/apartment. 
 
Great read, banana.  I've definitely been in similar situations and you give some great tips.  Maybe it's because I don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage of someone or take away something they loved when they were a kid but when people find out that I collect and say: "Oh, I've got a bunch of old Nintendo games in a box somewhere"!  I usually don't respond with "OH GREAT, CAN I HAVE THEM?!"  It's usually more like "Oh, which ones?  Oh those are great games!"  or "Oh you don't remember?  Shoot me a pic if you ever come across them and we see if we played some of the same games!"

There have only been 2 times I can think of where someone just gave me a bunch of stuff that they had laying around.  My old next door neighbor showed up at my door with a box of boxed Master System stuff.  The next night I treated him and his wife to dinner.  The second was the guy in the office across from me at my current job.  He knew from previous conversations that I collected and he gave me an Odyssey 1, the boxed gun, a whole bunch of overlays and games.  I offered to give him something but he said he wouldn't be comfortable with that since he was just going to toss it anyways.  I'll have to keep his name on my Christmas list..
 
My rule of thumb is to never shoot out the price. I'm horrible at haggling and never really cared to do it so I always just watch for a good sticker price and if I see something I really want I just plainly ask "would you do any less" or I try to make a bundle. Some of my best deals have come from just asking how much someone would take for everything game related at their sale that's how I got the majority of my Atari collection. Many people will be happy to be rid of the stuff and will throw out a surprisingly low price sometimes.

As for buying/selling with friends I usually try to avoid it especially if they are looking for money. Usually I just point them towards eBay and help them learn the ropes. I also once had a "give a mouse a cookie" scenario with a friend so I try to avoid giving stuff away to often.
 
@Fragems: I don't suppose you're the #@$@@# that went to the yard sale 30 minutes before it opened and bought the guy's ~600 Atari carts for $50 in Lake Mary, FL, are you? That still pisses me off to this very day... I know London Blitz, and most of the Avalon Hill games, were in that lot too according to the guy that sold them. If not, enjoy your Atari collection. Cheesy
 
@Shadow Kisuragi: This made me LOL.
 
This was a good read, Banana.

I had a recent situation, with a local collector, that Crabby and I both know. Nice enough guy, but dang, is he hard to deal with at times. He needed money in a hurry last weekend, and listed several game related items for sale, on various local Facebook pages. Myself and several others, contacted him and made deals with arrangements to meet, for said sale items. The item in question I was after, was a loose copy of Knights of the Round, for the SNES. In poor buyer practice, I even started with an offer of full retail value for the game ($150 CAD). He agreed and we made arrangement to meet the next evening, cause he worked during the day.  The next day, I got message, as I know others did as well. "Sorry dude. I got all the money I needed yesterday. I am not selling the game now."

Grrrrr. Soo annoying. That's fine. It's your item to sell or not sell, but I have had issues with this same person in the past with the same type of issue. I am going to start referring to him as "The boy who cried FOR SALE!". I have a certain personality type where my reaction to his message, was to IMMEDIATELY log on to eBay and buy the damn cart for $10 LESS, than what I offered him!


 
@EngineerMike: I have had the same thing happen to me before (twice) with pinball machines. They post a FS ad on a forum. I get pictures and work out a price, and then they say that they decided to keep it.... annoying. Sad
 
@Shadow Kisuragi:

Nah I'm up in Ohio. The deal I nabbed was I believe around 300 games for $70 over in Ashland, KY. Only other full sale deal I've pulled was when I got my Dreamcast which was $40 for two systems, 3-4 controllers including the fishing controller, and probably 15 games most were sports though. In both cases I didn't really ask to buy the lot but the sellers saw me building up a pile and threw a number out.

Not a big fan of dudes who badger people before sales so I've never done that. There are a lot of re-sellers in the area that do that though and it kills me. Once helped a family friend with an estate sale and vowed to never do a local sale again after the crap I saw people try to pull. People were at the door an hour early, sticker swapping was rampant, and some people tried to get a 5 finger discount Tongue.

I
 
Nothing to add. Great article.
 
Great read, man.  I also try to avoid the perils of sales with friends, though to be fair, not many of my friends game, and usually it's just us buying games for one another for birthdays, Christmas, etc. and not selling.  I had a friend, nearly 10 years ago, that offered to sell me his N64 and 2 games, and I took him up on it.  He was offering it at a very reasonable price, and I paid for it and gladly accepted the items.  After buying them, however, I noticed that the condition was not as good as he described.  The N64 was really gunked up, and one of the controllers was basically shot, with the other requiring a complete disassemble and rebuild after a massive alcohol bath.  I got a little cranky with him over it, and asked him why he didn't offer me a better deal when he knew the stuff was in less than usable condition, and that didn't sit very well with him, despite my insistence that he was in the wrong by not divulging the condition of the items before we made the deal.  I chalked it up, at the time, to youthful exuberance and ignorance, because he is 10+ years younger than I am, but that situation definitely created a rift between us that never fully healed.  I definitely understand being very cautious when dealing with family and friends, and would echo what you've said in making sure that you've dotted your i's and crossed your t's in any kind of deal, but doubly so with anyone you know and interact with personally on a regular basis.

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