SCANDALOUS: Caveat Emptor at Antique Treasure Hunter's Roadshow

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Templar223, Aug 19, 2010.

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  1. Templar223

    Templar223 Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    From September 2010 GunNews Magazine
    (c) Guns Save Life
    Used with permission.

    Caveat Emptor at Antique Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow

    by John Boch
    Urbana, IL (Guns Save Life) - Antique Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow sounds a lot like the PBS Television program Antique Roadshow doesn’t it? Well, that’s what one of our Guns Save Life members thought when he saw the full-page advertisements that looked like news articles on top of more conventional advertisements in the local Champaign-Urbana newspaper touting the event coming to the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Urbana, IL in August 2010.

    Our member, who is an avid antique Colt firearm collector, wanted to get an appraisal on a couple of his pieces that he had purchased a few years ago to check on any appreciation in value he might have enjoyed.

    He took a Colt 3rd Model Dragoon, valued a few years ago at easily $7000 and a Model 1851 Navy valued at $3000 to the “Roadshow Experts” at the Antique Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow for that examination and appraisal.

    I thought this was going to be just like the TV show ‘Antique Roadshow’. I just wanted someone to look at them and give me an appraisal,” our member said. He gave them the guns to evaluate without revealing his own knowledge of them, hoping to learn more about the very rare and collectible firearms.

    Each of these guns was previously researched by Colt’s Historical Research Department and issued a letter detailing its date of manufacture and when and to whom it was initially sold. Colt’s website explains, “we have the unique ability to trace your firearm to its origins and not only to verify its authenticity but also to certify when and to whom it was originally sold.”

    The man examining the guns, described in multiple full-page advertisements in the local paper as a “Roadshow Expert”, carefully looked over both handguns, each over 120 years old. He then took them to another man our member believed might have been the “head honcho”. When the “expert” returned, he explained that the two guns weren’t worth very much based upon their condition and “one he thought was a reproduction.”

    We can give you $225 for the both of them,” the initial “expert” said.

    Our member chuckled and said, “You’re not even close.”

    Trademark infringement
    It seems like our member wasn’t the only one who thought “Antique Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow” sounded a lot like the TV show.

    According to an article in the Springfield, IL State-Journal Register earlier this year, PBS’s representatives are suing Jeffrey Parsons and his company in U.S. District court in Springfield. They are claiming trademark infringement and seeking to bar Parsons’ Illinois-based company, THR & Associates, from using the word “Roadshow” in its name and trademarks related to its events.

    The story also reported that, “The suit also calls Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow no more than ‘a scrap metal dealer’ and says Treasure Hunter’s pays its customers ‘pennies on the dollar’ for valuable antiques.”

    The suit, filed by WGBH Educational Foundation, also says, “At these events, defendants’ employees purportedly appraise the customers’ valuables and will purchase them on the spot… Generally, the appraisal is based on nothing more than the weight of the metal.”

    Further research reveals that this isn’t the first time the creators of the PBS program have sued Jeffrey Parsons. In 1999, they sued him and the International Toy Collectors Association for their “Roadshows” and reached a settlement which included ITCA agreeing to no longer use the term “Roadshow” in their course of business. ITCA was dissolved in 2007 and THR & Associates was then incorporated.

    Gold buyers or gold diggers?

    THR representatives and their advertisements have bragged about paying “Grey Sheet Prices” on numismatic coins and are “paying top dollar” for coins, gold & silver, jewelry, watches, toys, military items and advertising items.

    In Memphis, a THR representative bragged to local news media that they typically pay 30-50% higher than local jewelers and other buyers.

    Action News 5 in Memphis put them to the test in their story, “The Investigators: Gold Diggers”. The result? THR offered 37% less than a local jeweler for scrap gold. Even a local pawn shop offered 10% more than THR.

    The Examiner, a newspaper in Beaumont, Texas, looked into THR’s Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow as part of a 30-day investigation as THR traveled around that state. Their reporters found the company offered 50-72% less than the numismatic value in a series of offers for different batches of coins.

    They aren’t even offering scrap value for some of these coins,” one legitimate local precious metals and coin dealer expert was quoted as saying.

    Another article in the Ukiah (CA) Daily noted THR offered 80% under melt value for 1964 half-dollars.

    So much for paying “top dollar”.

    BBB Problems
    THR also ran afoul of the Better Business Bureau for using their Accredited” logo on their website without permission or license.

    They were also criticized by the BBB for running faux-newspaper articles without noting they were “paid advertisements”.

    Both issues have been resolved with the Better Business Bureau, according to the Beaumont Examiner.

    Bounced checks

    It also seems that predatory low-ball offers aren’t the only danger to consumers patronizing THR’s Antique Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow. Bounced checks seem to have sprouted in many cities where they’ve set up shop in the last couple of years.

    The president of THR admitted that 45 checks from a Michigan show bounced in a story WREG in Memphis completed in September 2009, but that’s the only time it’s happened he says.

    Not so, Mr. President. News reports in the twelve months prior to that, according to WREG, have shown lots of THR checks have bounced in seven cities. Company representatives have had a handful of excuses, usually claiming accounting mix-ups.

    Good riddance, for now We’re happy to say that the Roadshow has departed our city, but their travelling circus undoubtedly continues to make the rounds throughout the nation and will return to our area later this year or next.

    You now will better know their claims of paying “top dollar” are as faulty as their examinations to determine the value of your collectibles.

    Questionable business practices, bad checks and trademark infringement seem to be but a few problems that follow THR’s Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow.

    However, big advertisements masquerading as news reports, coupled with reporters eager to write gushing features on an itinerate merchant spending big dollars on advertising in these lean times keep a stream of consumers walking into their shows.

    We provided a copy of this report to the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette’s publisher, John Foreman, and asked for a comment as to whether he considers the business practices of THR’s Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow of interest to his readers and he declined to respond.

    If you are a savvy consumer, this is one “roadshow” you and your friends might well be advised to avoid.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2011
  2. bobbo

    bobbo Member.

    Apr 11, 2010
    Upstate NY
    They're under investigation by several state attorneys general for improper practices, up to and including fraud and handing out bad checks for merchandise. They were in my area several times now, but they aren't doing too hot of business because the local papers have done a good job warning people.
  3. rocky branch

    rocky branch Member

    Apr 11, 2009
    I tried to talk a local fellow out of taking some things to them, but at 94, he is hard to convince.
    He sold them a decent original US buckle for $90-he forgot I had offered more.
    I did get a nice <delete> sword they tried to lowball him on, though.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2011
  4. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    Eeeeeeeeesh...sorry to hear of this.

    Sounds pretty ugly indeed.

    Antique 'dealers' are generally a kind of criminal class anyway...or with rare exception.

    I know, I used to be in the fringes of it for decades...Most of them would not give you fifteen Cents for a Ten Dollar Bill.
  5. Bubbles

    Bubbles Member

    Apr 26, 2004
    Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia
    Any comments I'd make would violate the TOS.

    Sadly I know a few dealers who will pull similar stunts for estate consignments.
  6. doc540

    doc540 Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Southeast Texas
    so who's surprised?

    This type of scam has a long and storied history.

    Travelling roadshows and snake oil salesmen are nothing new.

    Wish I could put a Josie Wales tattoo on the coat of one these modern day shysters.

    Here's a link to an Examiner article that just garnered numerous awards from the ANA:

    Article about the awards for exposing this scam:
  7. marv

    marv Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    South coast of Indiana
    Guy told me once "I buy junk and I sell antiques".
  8. Ambroister

    Ambroister Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    THR Bandits

    I heard this description of the "travelling bandits" that come and pillage
    the poor people of anytown USA. They ARE a bunch of thieves! No one is an "Expert" on anything. They're motto is "Buy - Low". How low can you go? They will NOT give you the best prices. They put on a show for media and are scared to death of "secret shopers". They could care less. They pick through items and drool at coins, gold and silver. Their "6400 + collectors on line" do not exist. They melt most items for gold and silver (including silver coins). It's a grand scheme led by the biggest con artists in the nation. "Beware, THR is everywhere!!". The operate under the following names:
    Treasure Hunter's Roadshow
    Ohio Valley Refinery
    ICCA - International Coin Collector's Association
    Guitar Collectors

    They're all crooks!!!!!!!!!!!!
  9. mcdonl

    mcdonl Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    Southern Maine
  10. tiffersworld

    tiffersworld Member

    Feb 24, 2011
    THR and Associates doesn't deserve it's bad rep!

    My name is Tiffany and I work as an event coordinator at THR and Associates. I would like to point out some great things about our company. First of all when other businesses are laying people off and cutting back, THR is growing and hiring peole everyday. Not only that, but they offer the community great jobs that pay well. Why would you call the company "rip off artist'? Because we buy stuff and sell it at a profit? News flash, that is how all companies operate. But you praise shows like "Pawn Stars" and "Antiques Roadshow." They give appraisals to sell insurance. Why? To make a profit. And no company owns the term "roadshow". They were not the first, and won't be the last to use it. We actually bring money in to every community we visit. We spend money on local hotels and clubs. We spend money on advertising. We write people checks for stuff they don't want. No one has to take an offer. So before you judge THR, know we are a growing company with great vision and heart. Oh and the whole bounced checks thing was a banking error and everyone was re-imburst. There are some souless coorperations out there, I would suggest focusing your energy on them.
  11. jhngardner367

    jhngardner367 Member

    Feb 13, 2011
    Well,Tiffany,it sounds to me as though our little community IS concentrating on some unscrupulous people---------YOURS!!!! They say the truth hurts.If I treated any of MY customers that way,I'd be out of business,real quik! But I've been going strong for 15 years---what does that tell you?????
  12. Apuuli

    Apuuli Member

    Mar 26, 2010
    Wow. I could say the same about a drug dealing street gang. The ability to make a profit is certainly no basis for judging the ethics of a company.
  13. 9mmforMe

    9mmforMe Member

    Sep 6, 2010
    Tiffany, you could, at the very least, try to represent your company better by improving your spelling.

    reimburst is actually reimbursed.

    coorperations is actually corporations.
  14. Ramman911

    Ramman911 Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Quote Tiffany:
    You may bring in money to a community, But the treasures you reap in your ill gotten gains far exceeds this I am sure. You drop trinkets and plunder treasures. Bad business.

    One time it could be excused as a "Misunderstanding" But several violations, complaints, and lawsuits just lays waste to any of your claims of a legitimate business.
  15. Panzercat

    Panzercat Member

    Aug 26, 2010
    Nobody here is opposed to profits. Blatant misrepresentation in order to defraud people for the most money you possibly can is outright fail.

    The difference between Pawn Stars and ATHR if one must draw the comparison, is that they don't try and misrepresent what they are buying. From my meager viewing experience, they will readily admit you have an antique... And then try to lowball you. Even then, it's mostly upon based on their ability to resell it.

    Nice try tho.
  16. FLAvalanche

    FLAvalanche Member

    May 14, 2010
    Port Charlotte, Florida
    Well for starters "Pawn Stars" at least have the honesty to have an expert called in and give the true worth to them right in front of the customer. The customer has the ability to make an informed decision on whether to be low-balled or not.

    You guys are the experts and you low-ball right of the bat and don't tell the truth to the customer.

    Big BIG difference.
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