I sometimes hear from people who think a stamp dealer took advantage of them. The dealer gave them a fraction of the price that the material was worth. Or they had the more valuable variety and the dealer told them it’s the cheap variety.

Complaints like this are NOT the kind of complaints that the APS or the ASDA will arbitrate. Neither organization gets involved in determining the value of any material. What are the kinds of complaints that they will handle? Here are some examples:

• A dealer agrees to pay for material by a certain date and fails to remit payment.

• An NSF check is returned to you and the dealer hasn’t taken steps to get full payment to you.

• A dealer knowingly (and this is key!) sells incorrectly described or fraudulent items.

• A dealer has not paid for material sent to them and has not returned the material to you.

In these cases, and others, the APS or ASDA may intervene to settle a dispute. When filing a dispute though, you need to have documented evidence of wrong doing. Things like emails, contracts, consignor agreements, written letters from a dealer, and so forth.

For example, if you sent an accumulation of material to a dealer and there is no tracking number, certified mail receipt, or any other evidence that you sent something to the dealer and all that you have is an undocumented phone conversation where he says, “I’ll send you a check next Monday,” there is very little anyone can do. There is no proof that you sent anything to the dealer. And there is no proof of his offer to buy it.

Lessons learned are:

• Get everything in writing. Save emails. Save mailing receipts. Save everything until the deal is 100% finished.

• If you ship something to a dealer who advertises “immediate payment”, you’re not going to be able to go to the APS or ASDA three days later screaming that you didn’t get a check. If it’s been several weeks or more and you contacted the dealer about not receiving payment, then a complaint may be possible. In some cases, it could be that the check truly is lost in the mail.

• Contact the dealer. Filing a complaint with the APS or ASDA takes work. It would be less time for everyone involved if you and the dealer can work things out. Sometimes though, that just isn’t possible.

• For incorrectly described or fraudulent items, you have to show intent on the part of the dealer to deceive you. Even the best of dealers make occasional mistakes. Has the dealer sent you multiple problem items within a short period of time? What did the dealer do about it when you brought it to their attention? What proof do you have that the items are fraudulent or incorrectly described (such as certificates of authenticity to back up your claim)?

The APS or ASDA will not pass judgment on whether a stamp has a certain value or whether a stamp is the rare or common variety. They will only field complaints on well documented cases of wrongdoing by member stamp dealers. Neither the APS nor the ASDA will handle complaints about dealers who are not members of their respective organizations.