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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Razz..a mataz

I have been moderately active in the hobby blogging community for the last six years now and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of information I learn about this hobby on a daily basis.

Take, for example, the latest "controversy" that popped up in many of the trading forums over the last couple weeks.  Breakers.TV for those of you not familiar, is a website devoted to live streaming what they call the "hobby shop experience".  Essentially it's a platform to video broadcast your box and case breaks and it all happens 24/7.  I first found Breakers a few years ago when someone I knew was hosting a group break to be done live.  It was fun sometimes to watch, knowing it was happening in real time.

But that's not what has the collecting community drawing the Mason-Dixon line in the sand.  It's what has inevitably come of the case breaking and group breaking community that they are debating.  The fine line between running a break for fun and running break for profit.  It's the money making scheme that is resulting in individuals sitting back and making $100s if not $1000s in one night off of what the community calls, RAZZES

For those that don't know, a Razz is another name for a raffle.  Most people are familiar with a raffle.  You buy a ticket, numbers are called, you win or you lose.  It's a pretty simple concept.  But a Razz takes it to a new level in a collecting world.  People tired of busting $100+ boxes, $1000 cases, and not getting anywhere remotely close to their money back are up in arms, trying to sort out ways they can recoup their return.  Why not raffle off the hits?  It could get people to purchase a "high book value" card for pennies on the dollar but also get some cash back into the breakers hands.  It makes sense to me.

Well the spirit of the Razz has been taken to a different level by many breakers out there where they run their own channels for breakers to Razz off the hits that are not desired.  Other group break hosts are seeking out the Razz(ers) too, in order to fill the unfilled spots in their breaks.  These "hosts" as they are called then sit back and wait for things to get pulled, basically advertise what is available and then sell off the spots to the Razz for that HIT (many times receiving free spots as compensation or taking a percentage of the pot).  If they win the card themselves, the majority of the time the card gets Re-razzed for additional money.

I think you all get the idea but if not, here's an example.  Say you have a $100 card you don't want.  You want to offer it up for sale without paying E-fee prices and have no other audience or outlet to do so.  In walks me, the HOST, and I agree to get it in front of my audience of collectors which consists of a few hundred regulars.  I then put up the Razz, offering 12 spots at, let's say, $10 each.  I immediately fill the spots, run the sorter, and viola!  Your card is gone and you made $100-110.  What's that you say?  Those numbers don't compute.  Well you forgot to take my 10-20% commission for selling your card.
You see, hosting Razzes has become a business.  It's making select people that know how to do it well some large incomes.  So large, in fact, that they are apparently starting to be watched by "the powers that be".

In this case, it was the operators of Breakers.TV, who issued a statement saying that Razzes will no longer be hosted on any of their channels.  It also may get the attention of Paypal since most payments are made as gifts and sometimes multiple spot payments are made by the same people during the same day.  Gift payments are not regulated by Paypal and not subject to certain fees.  But abusive of that service is supposed to be monitored and there have been occasions where it has been. 

In my opinion, the problem isn't with the raffles themselves.  They aren't much different than having a random group break.  You pay for a spot or two, you get assigned a team, and you may or may not get a card.  The problem is with people becoming greedy.  Razzed items are being submitted via text messaging now with the host putting the phone up to the camera.  The hosts are collecting money for essentially doing nothing.  Money is changing hands via Paypal and the cash is the only thing being raffled, not cards.  It's gotten a bit out of hand.  That's what has people upset and has caused the issues.

Like I said, I'm all for raffling off your cards.  Some say it's gambling and maybe it is.  But like any good thing, a few select people are going to find ways to exploit it.  And that's what has happened here.  I'm not trying to stir the pot or start more controversy but I would like to hear people's opinions.  Have you heard of Razzes?  Have you participated?  Comment below.