Be Leav'in Cleveland? Read today's "Journal" of record PD

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 03/24/2007 - 07:33.

It has always bothered me to see full page ads in the Cleveland Plain Dealer for the traveling "Collectibles Buyers" who come into town for a few days to prey upon the most desperate citizens of our region, setting up shop in some seedy motel to buy jewelry, coins, watches, etc... the family treasures... from anyone they can scam. Recently, a local TV investigator did a segment on this sad practice, showing that the brokers offer their victims low values only the most pathetic fools would accept. There are serious appraisers and auction houses and other ways to value objects should one want to sell something valuable - if you are selling lower value collectibles, there are local dealers and eBay.

Clearly the local "Journalist" publication of record does not care that our citizens are victimized, and that these "Collectibles Buyers" operate in our region. Today, the ad is three full pages in the front section of the rag, netting the paper lots of cash... and they are the only winner (beside the "Collectibles Buyers"). The "Collectibles Buyers" are in town 6 full days this week - it is worth looking at their ad to appreciate how to write a good sucker punch... for example, promoting "very little walking" to suck in the sick and elderly who would be most desperate and easiest to victimize. "Private rooms" for "security".

For a journal that launched a campaign on "Believe in Cleveland" and finally has begun to address predatory lending, it is sad they enable such poor business and social practices that only harm the most pathetic of our community. This is the ultimate demonstration of a community where people "Be Leavin" - may the last one out sell their treasures to  "Collectibles Buyers" and turn the lights off on the way out of town. The best way for the publishers of the PD to Believe in Cleveland would be to refuse to enable such victimization and protect the remaining citizens. Clearly, the vultures are circling - the "Collectibles Buyers" are buying more ad space and coming in for so many days because this is a desperate region - they know of our noisy crisis - and they have targeted us as prime sucker-land, and the PD as the prime sucker-space. Protect your loved ones from such predatory advertising.

PD needs the advertising

I'm compelled to go to the library and pick up a PD and read this big advertisement. Until the last bit of wealth has been sucked from Cleveland the Plain Dealer needs any advertisement it can get.

I wonder if they check to see if objects are stolen

In the same front section of the PD is an article about three thugs who have smashed the back doors of houses all over the region and stolen small objects like are pursued by these hucksters - makes me wonder if they check to see if objects are stolen or register the sellers and objects with the police or if this is the perfect fencing operation, turning stolen goods into cash and immediately moving them out of the region to be sold on black markets far from surveillance. I say, go to Volks if you need honey and ain't got money.

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NYTimes editorializes region's desperation

    Yesterday Cleveland's desperation hit the national news with this story in the New York Times. Today is ranks as the most emailed story.

Foreclosures Force Suburbs to Fight Blight so if the theory holds true, we can expect to see more of these sorts of visits from snake oil salesmen and traveling bottom feeders.

2/21/07 Foreclosure in Cuyahoga County (after clicking this link, you may need to scroll down to find the java link "watch video" next to this title) with Jim Rokakis, Cuyahoga County Treasurer and Mark Wiseman, Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program

Good article in Times on impact of predatory lenders

Thanks for posting this, Susan. In my work with the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council we had a presentation from city directors responsible for addressing this crisis in Cleveland. A few brief observations -
  • City is accelerating demolishing abandoned properties - in 2006 the city budgeted $1.7-1.8 million for demolition and boarded-up around 125 houses. For 2007, council and mayor increased to $6 and will demolish 700 houses this year. Going after what has been there the longest and represent greatest problem. Demolition chief has 20 years experience and is expert in hazard control – lead and asbestos – even if FDA doesn't require action they take extra steps.
  • Cleveland has met with Cleveland Botanical Gardens to try and better plan landscaping – low mow grass seeding – other ways to improve sites until redeveloped – CBG is looking to have more community gardens. CBG has done testing and found very few sites are contaminated with lead to dangerous level – contract with U Mass at $60 per site – in 2008 plan to work on bigger basis at using lots for gardening
  • Not certain numbers of abandoned properties – city is considering a foreclosure inspection unit to develop additional expertise – need 6 or more inspectors for this purpose – challenge to fund and allocate that
  • I'll post more on this over the next few days as time permits.

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    Plain Dealer circulation top heavy with aged and ghosts?

    I took a look at the three-page spread that Norm wrote about. As a cleaner and organizer of the homes of retired people I notice that unlike myself, many elderly people continue to take the PD. As Norm said above "promoting 'very little walking' to suck in the sick and elderly who would be most desperate and easiest to victimize."

    The folks who took out the three page spread (a significant portion of a Saturday paper's advertising) knows the demographics of many PD readers. They are older and probably not buying a lot of what is advertised in the paper. If they are in need of cash, as many older people are, they would be glad to have an easy place to sell the family jewels.

    I also clean some apartment building lobbies and halls. Many people do not take the paper, even though papers are delivered. Some months ago a tenant came up to me and complained about getting the PD even after she'd called them and said no. Still it continues to arrive. She said they never charged her for it. And I see other papers, still in their bags, thrown into wastebaskets in other bulding lobbies. While I, who stopped subscribing years ago, take home free newspapers, what is going on? I suspect the PD is goosing its circulation figures by delivering papers to non-subscriber subscribers.

    Collectibles buyers draw criticism, says PD

    In an odd article in the PD today, the headline states "Collectibles buyers draw criticism from consumer groups over ads" but neither the "Collectibles buyers" or PD apologize about the ads run in the front section of the PD or the practices discussed in the ads. Not sure why the PD published this article, but it adds some insight... so does the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    Use caution when selling collectibles

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    By Patricia Sabatini, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    "Companies that do business like this, setting up in hotels and keep constantly moving, are notorious for paying way below the market value for what you bring in," said David Sklow, researcher at the American Numismatic Association, the country's largest trade association for coin collectors and dealers.

    And the Dallas Star-Telegram:

    Some question estate buyer’s claims



    Al Wittnebert, chief financial officer for the Universal Autograph Collectors Club, said such companies target people like Ng who won’t know that they are getting ripped off. Tyra’s company claims to have buyers that belonged to the autograph club in its advertisement, but Wittnebert said the club’s 20 year old database doesn’t have record of Tyra’s autograph buyer, J.L Furm, as a member. Wittnebert said he has never heard of Tyra or his company.

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    What "35+ Organizations and Clubs"

    In seeing newspaper articles questioning the business practices of the "Collectible Buyers" promoted in the PD, and the organizations their ads claim they are affiliated with, it occurred to me the ad in the PD had a list of "35+ Organizations and Clubs"...

    Our Professional Team of Knowledgeable Buyers and Consultants is Affiliated with many Collector and Dealer Organizations, including:

    American Coins & Paper Money
    World Coins & Paper Money
    Wrist & Pocket Watches
    Antique Jewelry & Diamonds
    Autographs, Historic Documents
    Fountain Pens, Antiques
    And many more

    As far as I can tell, from reading this list and Googling these terms, alone and with "Organization" and "Club", this is not a list of significant clubs or organizations at all - I suppose they could be names associated with hobby clubs, but the phrasing in the ad is misleading at best.

    My wife is an art appraiser and she is affiliated with legitimate appraisal organizations - they do exist and have real names and identities - there are criteria for membership, and that gives value to association... here is a website with organizations involved with collecting coins and money, which does not match anything listed in the PD ad. It is important that people who are professionals in the field of valuing property have the appropriate qualifications, and nothing in the ad in the PD for their "Collectible Buyers" shows any indication of any real qualifications for the buyers. It would have been easy enough for them to be as thorough on this detail as they are thorough listing the maximum amounts they would pay up to for items.

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