Whenever we can, we all brag about our so-called “steals”. Here on SCF we even have a contest called “eBay steal of the week”, where we vote on the best steal.

There is nothing wrong with boosting about a bargain we can find bargains in a store as well as online. If the seller has done a mistype, chooses to end the auction early morning, or put the card in the wrong category, well it’s lucky for whoever picks it up at a dirt cheap price. Sometimes it’s down to plain luck, that particular day maybe the interest in a special card was lower.

My best big steal last year was buying a Setoguchi Black diamond ruby RC in December for $7. Two weeks later I sold it on eBay for $49. Counting by percentage, the steal is so big it’s almost ridiculous. The seller was a dealer though, so no bad feelings here.

But the best steals/bargains occur when the seller doesn’t have a clue on what he’s doing. When the owner simply doesn’t realize what’s in his possession. Perhaps a baseball collector selling a hockey card he knows nothing about, or a parent selling a child’s old cards. I won’t deny my own absolutely best steals has been done that way, whether it comes to sport cards or other collectibles.

Maybe it happens two or three times a year, if you’re very lucky, that you walk away with winning an item for half or even a third of its normal price. At such times we brag about it. But should we?

Recently I’ve bought several pocket videogames, some sure steals. A few weeks ago though, I saw an ad in the paper for two videogames in fine condition. It was obvious the seller had no clue on what he owned. He knew they might be valuable, but his asking price was a third if that of what he should have asked. At first, I felt myself turning into Uncle Scrooge with dollar signs in my eyes. There was literary hundreds of dollars waiting to be made. I called him, and then stopped myself.

What I heard was a 50 year old poor truck driver, who happily wanted to sell me the games, he was happy he got anything for them, and he would use the money to save for a vacation. So, what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him right? That is a selfish narrow-minded way to think. That was what dawned on me, so I told him I didn’t want them anymore but I could help him sell them on eBay for $600 instead. He almost fainted! He thanked me about ten times, and said that this would be enough for his vacation.

Should I have bought them, and bragged about it? Made a very nice profit? God knows my own financial situation is horrible. But I would have done it at the expense of another man’s failure. It would have been greedy, egoistic, and, well, very capitalistic I suppose. It wouldn’t have felt good, and I hope next time I’m strong enough to resist again and instead inform the person what valuable item they have.

This made me consider if collectors ever should brag about their super steals. If you find a bargain with a dealer yes, but getting a bargain at the expense t of another unknowing private person, is that so honourable to brag about? Where is the kindness? Or solidarity? Think twice, it could be you…