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Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 18 2008 at 9:56 PM
Rich Wetherbee  (Login qcards2)

I would like to preface this by stating that I have been involved in this hobby/business for 30 years, and although many of you may not know me, I have been involved mostly in sports memorabilia opposed to cards. I will also apologize for the length of this diatribe now, along with apologizing to Dan McKee, as this appears to be a trivial matter compared with what Dan has gone through in the past. Also, please disregard that this issue concerns media guides and not cards; the real issue is the conduct of the auction house.

I recently participated in Lelands latest auction that concluded on the Friday before Thanksgiving Week. Among the items in this auction was a vast collection of media guides, programs, etc from one sports writer. Lelands broke out this collection into roughly 10 lots, all of which I had an interest. To give one an idea, EACH LOT consisted of anywhere between 6 and 20 FILE BOXES of programs, guides, correspondence, etc.

Since this collection was housed in Lelands Cape Cod, Massachusetts location (a 2-hour+ ride for me), I arranged to preview the items in person. I drove down on the Wednesday before the auction and spent nearly 3 hours previewing the 10 or so lots, taking pages of notes. I will say that the staff on the Cape were very accommodating and friendly.

I ended up winning one lot (the 500+ NFL media guides) out of the group, and ended up winning the lot on my last bid. I called the following Monday to arrange pick up and they allowed me to pay and pick up that day. When I arrived, they had all 9 file boxes at the door ready for me to take them. I paid, packed the boxes and drove 1 mile down the road to the DeAngelos to grab lunch. Before I went in, I decided to check a few boxes to make sure the key guides were there (now you know where this is going).

In the first box I opened, I immediately knew something was wrong as the guides were bouncing around in the box. I clearly remembered that each box was packed so tightly with guides I had to take a stack of 15 guides out just to look at the rest. I had my notes with me and quickly found a small stack of 6 key guides missing. I drove back to Lelands and showed Craig (a Lelands employee) my list and the missing guides. He claimed, We will make this right and suggested I take them home, list the ones missing and email the list to him.

I drove home and after review, found that at least 33 guides were missing (when I previewed the lot, I only listed the 1960s guides as the 1970s and up guides were too insignificant to list) from my list. I summarized that the value of these guide were conservatively $890.00 wholesale (or in other words, more than 25% of my final hammer price). I emailed this list to Craig and followed up with him the week after Thanksgiving.

When I called the following week and asked for Craig, Craig answered but immediately claimed that Angela (another Lelands employee) wanted to speak to me about this situation. She claimed that it was impossible that anyone could have stolen the guides as 3 principals of the company and a very reputable, long-time customer, whom Angela named by name, were the only ones who went upstairs (where the guides were) since I had previewed them. Regarding the customer, I have known him for over 25 years and have never had an issue with the many dealings I have had with him. So now I have that sucker-punched feeling for not only being the victim of stolen guides, but also having my integrity completely questioned.

Angela said that she had talked to Josh (owner of Lelands) and that I could return the guides for a refund. I had concerns for a couple of reasons. First, I would need to take a day off from work to bring them back to the Cape and secondly I had some concerns that I may not get a full refund. Angela insisted that I would be refunded completely but I had had issues with Lelands 10 years ago concerning a consignment check that was so poorly handled, it kept me from participating in Lelands auctions for about 9 years (feel free to email me if you want the detailed story). Thus, I was uncomfortable returning the guides.

I offered that Lelands provide a $400.00 allowance, much less than my loss, but it would end the situation and I could feel that I did not get completely screwed. I also requested that they review the surveillance cameras, which they claimed were upstairs and fully functional. Angela mentioned that she would look into it, but I know the video was never accessed. Lelands declined my offer and reiterated that I could return the guides.

In the days that followed, I did a little investigation on eBay and found some circumstantial evidence that blew a few holes in the impossibility of the guides going missing. I provided a detailed email pointing out the specific auctions in question and sent them to Angela in an email. Please note that the evidence I found was circumstantial, but certainly worthy to question (feel free to email me for details). I followed with another email days later in which Angela responded and claimed that she misunderstood that Lelands was going to do anything (in her defense, she thought I was going to continue my investigation). She again offered a full refund only, claiming that this was a very reasonable solution to this situation, but I needed to return them now as 30 days have nearly passed.

What do the great and wise minds of Net54 think? Am I being unreasonable by not just returning the guides? Has Lelands done enough from their standpoint? Should I just bite the bullet and let this go? I know if this were my company, I would have done a full blown investigation into what happened. Feel free to email me at

Rich Wetherbee

 Respond to this message   

(Premier Login leonl)
Network 54 Moderator


December 18 2008, 10:26 PM 

I know each of the folks you are speaking of and know Lelands fairly well. I do have some thoughts but since they are an advertiser on this board I will withhold them for the moment. Lets see if any others want to give a few thoughts first. best regards

edited to add that there can't be any anonymous posts in this thread (I, or another moderator, need to know you)...thanks for playing...

This message has been edited by leonl on Dec 18, 2008 11:01 PM


(Login E93)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 18 2008, 10:39 PM 

Based on what you have presented, i would think they should reimburse you in full for the lot, pay for your gas for both trips (previewing and pickup) and they should go pick up the lot from you. You should not have to spend any more time or money on this. I think they should pay for the preview trip because your purchase of the lot was based on the misleading information about its contents that you received from them on that trip. None of this would have happened if what they showed you on the preview day was the actual contents of the lot. They should do it quickly and be done with it rather than stain their reputation over what is really a negligible sale for a company that does mult-million dollar auctions.

Dan Koteles
(Login 823dek)


December 18 2008, 10:57 PM 

The only right thing to do is to get a full refund and 150.00 bucks for each time you went there. It is not your fault and integrity is at stake.

Good luck

(Login sporteq)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 12:44 AM 

edited--- due to anonymity. There can be none in this thread. Nothing personal....put your full name and good email and say what you want. I made mention of this in an above post plus it's ni the rules (leon)...thanks


This message has been edited by leonl on Dec 19, 2008 12:50 AM

Fred C
(Login JudgeDred2)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 1:11 AM 

Was there a detailed listing of each lot in the item description or did you happen to drive to the preview not knowing what was in the lots?

If you didn't know what was in the lot(s) before you drove to preview them then I would think that the reason for driving there was to determine whether or not you had an interest in the different lots. If that's the case then the preview trip was on you (I know you're not asking reimbursement for the trips but it was mentioned in an earlier thread).

If in fact there were missing guides (important guides) then I would do the same thing and request a refund (or even a partial refund). You stated "I drove back to Lelands and showed Craig (a Lelands employee) my list and the missing guides. He claimed, We will make this right"

Since Craig is an agent of Lelands then I think doing the right thing would include a full refund and maybe a little extra (like a small credit towards a future auction) for your inconvenience.

I do give Lelands credit for offering a full refund but I understand your point of view. I haven't won anything from Lelands in a while but I do remember my past dealings with them have all been very positive.

My collecting experience with media guides (I used to have a pretty big managerie of them) is that they take up a lot of space and people that are getting rid of them (selling/auctioning them) are doing so because they want to use the space for something else.

If you really like a lot of the guides then give yourself one last shot to make a deal with regards to the missing material. Maybe, just maybe you can strike a deal where you get a partial refund and the consignor doesn't have to store the guides again.

Good luck!

(Login WinPitcher)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 5:30 AM 

My question is why didn't you check the lots before you left
the building? At this point it can't be proven either way
so the full refund is probably the best for all concerned.

Sorry this happened to you.


Rich Wetherbee
(Login qcards2)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 7:21 AM 

To answer, Fred's question: The reason I physically previewed is because there was NOT a detailed listing of the guides. If on auction night, I lost on all lots, I would have been fine with that. So yes, I am not looking for reimbursement of my original previewing trip.

I also want to say that when all is said and done, I will probably be around break even or a hair above on this lot when I sell it. That being said, I am more comfortable keeping the lot instead of returning the guides and waiting for my check back from Lelands(see my note on the consignment check issue I had with them 10 years ago).

Rich W.

jay wolt
(Login qualitycards)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 9:44 AM 

Rich, I would return the lot, take the refund and never deal with them again.


(Premier Login leonl)
Network 54 Moderator little ole view....

December 19 2008, 9:54 AM 

I have seen a few responses so I guess I will chime in...good, bad or indifferent. Keeping full disclosure at the forefront Lelands does advertise with me and I do consider Josh, Angela and Scott G as good hobby friends. I have met Mike too and he seems like a nice guy.

If I were them, and I haven't heard the other side of the story (honestly not sure it matters)....I would have done exactly as you wished and written you a $400 check. I would have also paid some of your expenses. This is a $400 issue not a $40,000 one. So much for my biased towards advertisers. I still like Lelands and will continue to do business with them as I think they do run a fine company.....
In business there are a million situations. I would have handled this a little differently if I were them and I am sure they would handle some of my situations differently than I do. I still consider them friends though and hope to see them at the next National and Net54 Dinner.....take care

(Login boxingbaseballgolf33)

Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 11:11 AM 

talk with Scott Gaynor, he maybe able to help you


(Login perezfan)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 11:22 AM 

Agree... Scott Gaynor is very fair, and reasonable. I have bought from Lelands many many times over the years, and have had only one incident with a faulty description. Angela and Scott immediately made it right, and did exactly what I asked, in terms of compensation.

As a consignor, they've paid me promptly. I personally believe the full refund is a fair solution, but I would think that if you speak with Scott, you may receive some additional compensation. I'm just guessing, but I don't think Lelands would opt for the bad PR over just a few hundred dollars. Best of luck with your resolution.

Mike Mccullough
(Login iowatinhead)


December 19 2008, 2:19 PM 

Just playing the devils advocate,,, Should Lelands just take your word that there were missing articles in the lot?? As a business, what policy do they have in place for situations like this? It is your word against theres. What would stop the next guy from complaining that they didnt get everything in there lot also?? So on and so forth..
Ultimately, its a business decision and I think a full refund was the only thing they could do without more investigation on THERE part.
If they are worried about your future business with them then maybe they would pony up some more cash for the inconveinance, etc etc... Apparently, this must not be the case..
Sorry for your situation, if it were me and your story is true, I would take the refund and promise myself not to do business with them in the future.

Michael Steele
(Login sox1903wschamp)


December 19 2008, 4:05 PM 

I normally do not post when there is controversy or the subject turns to Politics because I really like to talk about cards. But I felt compelled in this case.

Don't know Rich but if your a couple of hours from the Cape that sounds like Boston so we might have that in common as I grew up in Boston. Also have nothing against this auction house and did get to hear Mr. Leland speak this summer at the Net 54 dinner.

What I am having trouble with is the person that allegedly took the guides. Described by Rich as a longtime collector it sounds like this person may have known the auction house (they gave the name to Rich) and was allowed back to where the auction items were stored. Which is fine but how could this person just walk out with these guides? Did they go in with an empty backpack or a big bulky coat? I don't get it.

Anyway, it seems Rich wants to keep the lot because he loves the contents and wants a fair settlement for the missing items so if it was my auction house, we would let him keep the items and work with him on the settlement and put in measures to make darn sure this never happens again. That way, Rich and the consigner are happy.

Rich W.
(Login qcards2)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 4:13 PM 

A couple of responses:

1) I agree that Lelands can not pass out refunds and allowances to every Tom, Dick & Harry that claim something was missing from their lot. However, I had a very detailed listing that I showed to Craig when I picked them up (after returning from DeAngelos)showing numerous guides missing. Further, all I ask is that they review the surveillance tape that was supposedly functional throughout the auction. Your answer is in those tapes, guaranteed.

2) Please note that I am not implicating the longtime collector that also previewed the items. By providing the circumstantial evidence to Angela, I merely wanted to show that it was "possible" that the guides were taken (Angela had originally claimed that it was "impossible" for anyone to have taken the guides). Knowing this longtime collector for years, I would be shocked if he had taken the guides. This was merely to get Lelands to review the surveillance tapes. When one uses his/her imagination, there are other scenarios that explain the missing guides.

Rich W.


Tom Boblitt
(Premier Login autograf)

I've dealt with both Rich AND with........

December 19 2008, 4:24 PM 

Lelands and haven't had a problem with either. I agree with Leon in that I think a $400 refund is fair--especially since they stated they would 'make it right'. Making it right should be in their best interest and it should be at that point that is both fair to you the buyer and fair to them and the consignor. Most auction houses don't list items in these MASSIVE lots and I guess they balance the time saved on listing them with the $$ of having to reimburse you if something's missing. That's why they say to preview if any questions. Which you did.

Haven't bought anything much from Lelands lately since my collecting tastes have changed but I still get their catalogs and look at their auctions online every time. I've won some fantastic items from them over the past and I've sold stuff to Josh and Mike Heffner over the years, so hopefully it can be solved quickly. Josh has been very good to come over here from time to time and acquit himself of issues and be very open and frank about his company, the market and other issues, so hopefully it'll all work out quickly. Shame that it gets to this point and hopefully Rich tried to work it all out before it hit Net54.........good luck!

(Login Dalkiel42)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 4:30 PM 

edited due to anonymity

This message has been edited by leonl on Dec 19, 2008 9:47 PM


dan mckee
(Login danmckee)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 6:10 PM 

This thread sent a reminding chill down my spine! I thank Rich for the friendly statement about me in the very beginning but I feel any problem is huge no matter how large or small dollar wise. I can vouch for both parties here as well, Rich has been around forever and is as honest as it gets. I also fully back Josh Evans and Scott Gaynor. I don't know the others. It is a shame but this kind of thing can happen. It happened to me with an auction house who are my very good friends and I have known for 30 years. My items mysterously appeared after another bidder complained of his missing item, all items were found together at that point. No harm no foul? Maybe, maybe not. If Lelands stated that they had tapes running than bingo, review the tapes or make Rich happy at the $400 partial refund. Offering a full refund is good customer service as well but excellent customer service is needed in these instances.

Rich, I am very sorry this happened to you, it is not a good feeling at all, especially that feeling of you maybe being accused of being dishonest. PSA made me feel that way in the NMagie incident and in court with them. Dan.

This message has been edited by danmckee on Dec 19, 2008 6:25 PM

Michael Steele
(Login sox1903wschamp)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 6:55 PM 

I apologize in my post above that I referred to Mr. "Leland" as speaking at the net 54 dinner. That would be Mr. Evans.

Rich, good luck with this. I also understand that we should not be quick to judge the collector or friend of Lelands who also went into this area. However, if not this person, then who? Interesting take from a post above about the fact the guides could have been moved from one lot to another while being inspected. Did not think of that.

(Login PC-T206)

Re: Lelands - poor customer service or not???

December 19 2008, 7:27 PM 

Rich: sorry this happened to you.

Can you provide links or Ebay listing numbers in connection with the following statement: "In the days that followed, I did a little investigation on eBay and found some circumstantial evidence that blew a few holes in the impossibility of the guides going missing."

Sounds like there is yet another seller out there to avoid.

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