From the November 2nd Numismatic e-newsletter: Do you think you should be treated better by dealers at coin shows? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.
I tend to patronize the dealers who are happy to see me and are willing to work with me. Some dealers could care less if they get my business or not. I have been studiously ignored by some and others give the impression that their day is better since they saw me.
My want list is fairly short and I find it is hard to spend money at some shows, so those dealers whom I count among my numismatic friends get first visit.
On the flip side, at a show several years ago, I noted a dealer had significantly underpriced (25 percent of its retail value) a particular medal, one which I already had. I was about to share my knowledge with him by starting, “About the price of this medal …” He interrupted and nastily snapped, “Price as marked!” – so I bought it. Self-inflicted wound, Mr. Dealer.
I have never attended a large national show. I don’t know what goes on with a lot of dealers from around the country in one room.
Here in Buffalo, N.Y., I attend the Buffalo Numismatic Association monthly coin show and auction and am always greeted by smiling dealers eager to answer questions or just talk about coins. I have become friends with the president and am seriously considering joining the association.
The people have all been so friendly and after a couple articles I read in the Numismatic News about supporting your local coin club it is something I am seriously considering in the near future.
Thanks, Buffalo Numismatic Association for great shows every year and the friendly helpful dealers at the shows.
P.S. Great anniversary issue.
Yes, and it depends on the dealer and approach. It has been said as a seller to dealers, everything I have to sell is junk, and everything they’re selling to me is terrific and priced below market. They do have costs and a business to run. However buyers have costs and budgets, too, so deal /no deal.
First rule of economics: unlimited desire, limited income. I had a mother-in-law who ran an office supply store in Thailand, who sold everything, including coins. Uneducated, illiterate, she believed that you never, ever let a customer leave without buying something, even if you have to open a pack of gum to sell one stick for a penny.
She passed a wealthy woman.
The customer must always be treated right.
I am just a novice coin collector for about 10 years or so. I’m just turning 30 and I don’t have a lot money to purchase high dollar coins. Most of my coin purchases are in the range of less than $100 per coin or per transaction.
It’s a privilege that there are quite a few coin shows around Southern California (Long Beach, CSNA, Buena Park, Anaheim, Ontario) throughout the year so I was able to attend a variety of them from large to small.
There is a wide range of treatment/attitude that I’ve received.
For large shows like Long Beach and Ontario, about half of the dealers are very courteous/friendly/nice/helpful, about 25 percent are either careless or just not good at customer service, about 15 percent are just arrogant (especially dealers with mostly high dollars inventory), and about 10 percent are just plain rude/insulting (some of these dealers have been in the hobby for 30+ years).
I guess part of the problem is stereotyping. Since I’m Asian and I am young they probably think: Asian equals cheap/untrustworthy (from the mystic perception of US culture toward Asian as a whole), They also think young equals no money/knowledge (so some dealers don’t even care/want to let me see their coins).
I have seen older, white male collectors receive better treatment (many of them only buy modern coins or circulated coins in the $10-$20 range).
Lastly, what’s wrong when I’m haggling? Don’t we all want to have a good deal and try to make the most out of our money? I’ve seen everyone haggling at the show (the dealers always haggle to buy at cheapest price possible, buyers haggle to pay a cheaper price) all for a good deal. The way some of these dealers sounded implying I’m some kind of cheap low-life and know-nothing person. They can just say “Sorry, no,” or give me a counter offer.
One particular incident about one to two years back at the Ontario Convention Coin Show stands out. I brought along about four of my Lincoln doubled dies, all graded by NGC and ANACS. They range from $50 (1995 DDO MS-67RD, 1998 WAM MS-67RD) to $200 (1984 DDO MS-66RD and 1999 WAM MS-63RD). After browsing through some dealer tables with mostly cents coin, one dealer asked if I had anything for sale. At first, I said no, but then I decided to show him the coins. He said he’s not interested, but his neighbor, an “expert in errors” dealer would be interested. I walk over to the next table and talked to the assistant who called the dealer. After about five minutes this “expert” dealer came over, took a quick look at all my coins, then leaned back on his chair, looking up at me and asked “How much you want?” I told him, “How much you offer me, you are the expert?” He still insisted on me giving him a number.
At this point, the first dealer came over, took a look at the coin, and then looked at his friend. I got a bit irritated as it seemed like they are not serious and arrogant (the way the “expert” dealer talked and look at me). I put my backpack down and pulled out my note that listed the price I’ve paid for these coins.
I told them, I don’t know what’s the dealer’s price for these as there are no price guide which I’d known of. Then I told them that “the market price, which I’ve paid for these are around $200 for the ‘84 and ‘99.”
They started looking at each other and laughing. The “expert” dealer looked at my coins again and threw my ‘95 DDO and ‘98 WAM aside, onto the showcase glass, while saying “these are worthless.” Then he held the ‘84 DDO and ‘99 WAM and said he can’t even give me $100 for these.
I was so infuriated and told them “If you are not interested in my coins then why don’t you just say so. Just because you are an expert doesn’t make you a better person. The way you talk and handling my coins, throwing my coins on the table like that are insulting.”
The “expert” dealer started apologizing (but with no sincerity, still smile/laugh and look at his friend) and saying he’s not insulting me and he wasn’t throwing my coins on the case. I told him “because of people like you the hobby wasn’t able to grow and can’t attract young collectors,” then I just walked away.
I’d tried to forget about the incident because it left such a bad taste and I had vowed not to sell my coins to any dealers unless I know him/her really well. I would rather take my chance on eBay and let them take a 15 percent cut via fees.
Local/smaller coin shows (Anaheim monthly show) follow a similar trend. At the worst end a few dealers are not very friendly/arrogant/don’t like haggling, but no such bad experience. There are a few dealers that are very friendly. I guess the environment is different as all the dealers know each other and most buyers are local/frequent so over all they are more friendly.
I know you have to build a good relationship with the dealer to expect better treatment (acquaintance vs. random buyer) but doesn’t that work both ways? The dealers should be nice, friendly, courteous to retain frequent customers. One particular dealer was nice and friendly (his wife, too), his grade was on the mark, his pricing was fair and usually gives a discount when I buy over $200 a transaction. I’ve referred many friends to him. He’s a retired commander of the Navy. I like to support our veterans.
For the most part I find dealers at coin shows to be competent, friendly, polite and knowledgeable. Once in a great while you will run into one who, for whatever reason, does not present a congenial attitude and I usually go on to the next dealer. I can truly say almost all the dealers I have done business with at coin shows are as stated previously. I would give most coin show dealers an A+.
John T. Tinney
I think the ongoing discussion on dealers at shows is akin to political campaigning. I feel we need to move on.
The social and business interaction between dealers and buyers and collectors is not simple. The current economy is causing many dealers and buyers to lessen their show attendance.
Without a lot of robust buying, a dealer traveling to a show finds higher costs and less sales. The buying clients are looking for “deals” in a “soft” market. These buyers often do not have a clear reason to attend other than browse. This is not lost on a dealer looking to cover expenses and make a profit. Thus interaction is not as good between buyer and seller as might be at a local, often visited dealer. Dealers at shows need to cut costs and leave earlier than intended or just cancel. Perhaps a system of contact using emails can set up contact dates / times at a show where this can be avoided using a show website.
I have found asking if a show dealer has items in the grades I desire at a price I can pay is important. Negotiating a mutual accepted price or making an offer often sets a good tone in the transaction for both parties in a slow market like we have today.
So, back to the point, getting to a show in the early time period, not the mid or end of the last day and knowing what you want and can afford, is paramount to a good interaction between both parties. Under this type of approach I generally have good interaction with dealers.
For the most part I find dealers at coin shows to be competent, friendly, polite and knowledgeable. Once in a great while you will run into one who for whatever reason does not present a congenial attitude and I usually go on to the next dealer. I can truly say almost all the dealers I have done business with at coin shows are as stated previously. I would give most coin show dealers an A+.
John T. Tinney
I absolutely agree that the average consumer is not treated well at coin shows (anymore – we used to be treated better years ago). I got pretty much annually to the NYINC and I have not bought anything in the past few years because of how I felt. I am a small time collector and I was ignored or looked upon with derision. That is why in recent years I have been doing most of my buying online. It is a shame, really
Staten Island, N.Y.