A local seller called me on the phone and explained that she had a stamp collection she inherited and wanted to sell. I get calls like this all of the time. However, this time, she asked for references of other sellers that I cannot provide for several reasons. Why?
Imagine this. The phone rings. “Hi Scott. I’m Bob Smith and I need your references before selling my collection.” I give Bob the names and phone numbers of three individuals I have recently transacted business with. What I do not know is that Bob Smith (not his real name) is a burglar. If these people had stamp collections that sold, what else of value may they have in their house such as a coin collection? Bob decides to pay my sellers a visit in the middle of the night to rob them.
In addition, many people have caller ID and do not take calls from people whom they do not recognize. Do you like talking to strangers?
People are very busy, especially if they are younger. People in their 40s and 50s that inherited a collection and sell it are busy putting their teenagers through school, or going to soccer and baseball games. People are just not home very much these days to take random calls.
Some people are leery of phone calls from people they do not know. How do they know this is not someone from the IRS calling to make sure that the stamp collection they inherited and sold has correctly showed up on their tax return? You would be surprised by the number of people who sell a collection and worry about the IRS.
I have a wide network between family and friends. I can easily find three people who do not share my last name to be my “references”. Of course they are going to speak highly of me. Suppose I slip them $20 every time someone calls. The caller has no idea these are paid associates of mine. How does the seller know if these are other sellers that I truly did business with or if they are paid associates of mine? Exactly!
Identity theft was unheard of years ago. I do not think my sellers want me giving their names, addresses, or phone numbers out to someone who has nefarious uses of that information.
Do you want written letters of recommendation? Can you wait a minute until I turn on the printer for my computer and I can generate any number of fake letters of praise from people all over the US, none of which you will be able to verify.
What are my qualifications then?
The two most important references are that I am an ASDA and APS member. Both professional organizations quickly deal with the few bad eggs in their batch. I have been an ASDA member ever since I started in the stamp business. I have been an APS member even longer. If I was a crook, they would have thrown me out ages ago.
Most crooks do not last long in stamp dealing. They have a reputation and word spreads. Many crooks are gone in a few years (or much sooner) from the profession. They swoop in, make a fast buck, and they are off to coins or whatever else they can make a fast buck. I have been here for 13 years as of this writing. I have no plans to go anywhere else.
The internet is full of information – both good and bad. If I was not a reputable dealer, I am sure the blog sites of stamp collectors would be full of messages with “Stay away from that Shaulis dude. He is bad news.” That kind of information was not available years ago.
I am a member in good standing of the APS, the ASDA, and several other organizations. I am an officer in several stamp clubs. I am a long term advertiser in many philatelic publications. Those are the best references I can provide. They are verifiable.
I hope you better understand why I cannot reveal the names and personal information of other sellers.