I started an earlier discussion on TPA services. Knowing both are imperfect up front my question is which, of these two, impresses you the most? And why?
I am getting ready to pick one to use. Most members here are very knowledgeable and I would like some thoughtful, experienced opinions.
"...Honestly, 80% of the problems with forgeries and bad sellers could be eliminated if the potential buyer would do a less than a 10 search and ask a few questions. Just takes minimal effort and some common sense!..."
+1 But it does seem a bit more are coming and asking before purchase. :)
I think you're on the right track, but let's not host a server outside the country. I understand you concern, but that's the kind of thing the forgery industry would do.
We can set up policies to make sure people, businesses, and autographs are only called out fairly and responsibly. And by following them, you'll greatly reduce the odds of being sued.
I've also been thinking about a database of TPA likely mistakes. I'd want to put something in place that's constructive and helps them improve their quality. I think that legit TPAs have overall been very valuable, even though there's A LOT of room for improvement.
BTW, I don't think you'd ever have to worry about a legit TPA suing, except in the most extreme cases. The same with legit dealers. They're much more likely not to respond, or if they do, they'd come here and talk about it.
There was an autograph...a Brando, I think...at RR I discussed because I didn't believe Brando signed it. Bill White, RR's lead authenticator, came here and discussed it.
I'm glad you brought up this topic. It deserves a discussion all its own.
I agree there needs to be some oversight of TPA services. No group or company should get carte blanche to rein over the hobby.
Common sense is that all try to loosely work to together to raise awareness and bring more trust and confidence to the consumer. This is a challenging time and none of us like to see the current skullduggery going on in plain sight.
A house divided cannot stand.
Well, it is merely my idea. It is up to others to implement it in their own fashion, and they can decide where it is hosted.
I know you or this site as well as others were subject to lawsuits, so that does need to be a very real concern.
A database such as this could serve two purposes: firstly, pointing out errors with TPA, including specific items they can look up, and secondly known forgers or dealers with questionable or known bad material. I agree TPA may not sue, but people in the second category might.
My recommendation would be a country where they would likely not be responsive to court summons due to different languages, conflicting politics, or lawlessness. Another option would possibly be to do it as anonymous as possible with no individuals listed, or form a nonprofit or LLC, so that only that could be sued. (I would hope that is so; I am not an attorney.) If it is in the US, it could be feasible even if anonymous that they could subpoena records showing IP addresses of contributors, even if someone was very litigious. A server could be selected that destroys all such records in a timely fashion. No records or very minimal = no identifying the poster.
And of course if you come up with appropriate safeguards for being responsible, that could help as well. It still may not stop someone from litigation without merit.
There should be safeguards as well that someone doesn't try to bribe to get off the list (backup redundancy, multiple admin level people).
Again, I have no intent to create any such thing. My only interest is as a collector/buyer and observer. It is just an idea others can take and run with it if they feel like it, and they can do whatever they feel like if they do so. :-)
Not to speak for Steve, but what your idea is missing is that, while he was subject to lawsuits, he was also subject to defamation.
One shouldn't be so concerned about not getting sued that they go out of their way to make it impossible to sue those who do deserve it.
If you want to see how well your idea works, go check out Ripoff Report. Type in the name of any authenticator or dealer that you can think of. Heck, type in Steve's name.
That **bleep**-show is what you're talking about creating. An unmoderated website that's not answerable to anyone, with content generated by users who also aren't answerable to anyone.
And if you say "Wait, the website won't be unmoderated", then, well, you've just defeated the entire purpose. Because if the mods don't believe that a person/entity deserves to be listed, regardless of whether they do or not, then it's just a list of people/entities that the mods think need to be on it, regardless of who actually does.
Those mods think Steve Grad is infallible (I can point to some collectors who do seem to have that opinion)? Good luck getting Beckett on that list. They think RACC is the best thing since sliced bread? Then a RACC Registered Dealer can't POSSIBLY be passing off bad stuff. And on it goes.
Put simply, Ripoff Report is able to be the website you're talking about creating. And there are plenty of others just like it. Spend about 45 seconds on any of them & you'll see that the lack of accountability leads to a product that's not worth taking seriously.
I did not propose simply a ripoff report for dealers or authenticators, although it could provide that functionality, but also for items. A cadre of trusted moderators could ensure accuracy and lack of malice, lack of fraud. You wouldn't want the inmates running the asylum.
For example, if you identify a specific JSA or PSA certified item that is wrong, create a report on it. That way if someone comes and searches for it, they could find a report that some people disagree...and why (if someone wishes to explain why). If a specific TPA was known to be corrupt, all of their items could be listed as questionable. For more reputable ones that are credible, specific errors could be tied to specific items.
What I had in mind could be moderated by users. They just wouldn't have contact information that could be obtained. There would still be a username and password for authentication.
Perhaps there could be an opportunity for some people to leave comments via a registered username. Some could have comments removed, and some could be blocked for abuse.
I don't think it would become a ripoff report clone, due to moderation and the fact that only those in the community would be able to use it.
Ultimately, I will NOT create any site. It is just an idea that I would encourage someone else to pursue, as there is a need for it. I stress again, I have no interest in creating it. I put that idea out there for others. Whoever picks it up would determine exact implementation details. I think there is a need for it, and it is better to try to address it than to simply throw up one's hands and say, it cannot be done. That's letting the scammers win.
There actually already is a site dedicated crap authentication, started by, I believe, Justin Steffman from RACC. https://www.wtfauthenticated.com
Joe, I understand what Eric says about not trusting them and doing homework, however, some of us do not have talents that Eric, Seamus, John. Steve, Chris, Goodcat, Chris, etc (sorry if I did not name you) and I rely on these TPA's to buy authentic stuff. I agree sometimes they get it wrong, its human error. I would respect them more if they took a second look at items and gave refunds for wrongly approved items.
I have bought my share of forgeries over $10,000. I believed the stories behind the purchase. Its bugged me enough to attempt to create an app that would help combat forgeries. I wanted to use some of the money to pursue and prosecute the forgers. It failed at the patent step. It is unfortunate because some people on this site could of been used to help people like me not get ripped off.
I think the cost is outrageous to send items in but like most companies, there are some better at certain items that others. Its the same on this site. When we want items authenticated we ask people on here who we believe are experts or close for that particular autograph. Also, opinions are free and there is usually enough to get a good evaluation on how authentic an item really is.
My 2 cents - depends on the item. No way i send a space item anywhere except to Zippy, sport cards are SGC,BAS and PSA etc..
Danny, I do understand that not everyone has the time to study deeply on each and every signature they buy. Truth is there are only so many signatures any individual can learn adequately.
My main beef with the big name TPA services is the vast array of genres they cover. I do believe that experienced individual collectors have better knowledge on specific signatures than any big name authentication service can possible have.
But, if or when it comes time for a collector to sell there are three possible choices. Consign to an established auction house and pay their fees. Sell them direct without solid documentation which generally produces a slower, lower selling price. Or have well known documentation and get a higher selling price. Usually faster than without the TPA. It going to cost one way or another.
I agree that Steve Zarelli is the best at Space signatures. I rarely collect that field. There are other cases where individual authenticators would be preferred over the standard services.
What anyone should to is what is best for them. I still believe that TPA services have become just a much a marketing tool as an authentication service.
I am not sure that an App could detect a forgery very easily, but feel free to use my idea outlined above and combine that with whatever you are thinking of.
Joe, has anyone mentioned SGC (Sports-card Guaranty) (Collectible grading service)??
They been around several years in the autograph authentication business. They deal mainly in cards. I've never seen anything bogus about them. Just purchased a Sandy Koufax auto, recently. I think SGC is a real quality authenticator.
I've owned some SGC authenticated autographs and have no complaints with them. They may not carry the name recognition as the others but do an excellent job.