Because we’re only a few days away from Halloween, I bring you both an Are You Afraid of the Dark-esque title and an equally scary story. All I need to complete the atmosphere for this post is a bag of magic dust, some 90s clothes, a campfire and the theme song from Are You Afraid of the Dark playing softly in the background…
We had a particularly frustrating experience today at a hock/pawn shop that we frequent while travelling between cities. They have a fairly large stock of old cartridge games and have had a few interesting gems that I’ve scooped up over the years. Today, we were looking at a copy of Tagin’ Dragon, a rarer NES game from an unlicensed company that put out a few titles in its time. My boyfriend asked the woman behind the counter to open up the game so we could see if it was authentic (it was priced for $65, so we weren’t too keen on picking it up without some validating first), and she refused to do so outright. She informed us that the store never opens up any games they purchase, but are entirely comfortable putting an Online Going Rate Price-Tag on it. This proceeded to get both my boyfriend and I worked up to a point where we stayed in the store for almost 20 minutes trying to explain to this woman why checking for counterfeits is important in the video game market, and how irresponsible it is of them to pass that kind of risk onto their customers.
As someone who frequents stores and swaps in search for video games, I have a pretty good idea of what a game I’m interested in looks like before buying it and what to look for in counterfeit cartridges. This comes right down to label details: spelling, colour of text, placement of logos, label sheen, etc. I can even look at the connectors on the end of a PCB sticking out and see if it looks old or not to at least know it’s not a brand new counterfeit board. What really bothered me about this woman and this store is that for myself as an experienced buyer, I don’t feel like I’m taking a risk buying expensive games because I’m educated in this kind of thing. For the average person who hasn’t done lots of buying though, I think it’s completely irresponsible of a store to be potentially peddling counterfeit materials and not seem to care at all about losing their own money buying the stuff, or consequently forcing their customers into some overpriced fake merchandise.
Some high points of the conversation included the woman saying the following asinine things about how they run their business:
- They buy games up at about $4 per game, so she isn’t losing money buying up counterfeit games. She’s buying cheap and selling high.
- It takes too much time to open up a bunch of games if someone brings in a whole box of them, so she doesn’t bother. It’s apparently a waste of time to do her job.
- If someone opens a game, it breaks the “seal” inside and collectors won’t buy it later (p.s., there is no seal.)
- If a game does turn out to be counterfeit, they have a return policy so you can bring the game back in for a refund. Even though they’ve openly admitted that they know absolutely nothing about what a counterfeit cartridge or PCB might look like. So good luck proving that to get your money back.
What an awful experience. Despite the miserable time we had conversing with this woman, we ended up picking up the copy of Tagin’ Dragon since it is a rarer game and we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. Here it is in all its baby blue awesomeness.
Needless to say, this will be the very last transaction we ever have with the store. We are even considering posting an ad online in the Video Games section of the classifieds against the business to warn people that they are risking their hard-earned cash if they’re buying there. I feel like sending in a swarm of people to start asking them to open up games before they buy. At first, them not wanting to open up this game for us to look inside felt personal, but now knowing that they don’t ever do it makes it a matter of principle. As far as I’m concerned, as a business owner, if you don’t want to take the time to authenticate your stock, get out of the business! Could you imagine if antique dealers dealt like this? How fast would their sorry butts be out at the curb and out of business if they didn’t know the tips and tricks to grade the age and condition of items they come across? It’s terrifying to know that this may be the very first time that these people have ever considered the idea of counterfeit games.
Sorry for the rant. Regular happy posts about wonderful games will resume shortly. I’ve found some good things lately, but I wanted to throw this out there first while it was freshly stewing in my brain.
Thanks for reading!