As a follow up to the initial article posted several months ago, discussing pet peeves from the perspective of the group break participant, it’s only fair that we listen to the guys who open packs of cards for a living. That’s not meant to be condescending, but I think many group break participants at one point or another have thought, “how great would it be to do this”. However, breakers have their share of frustrating issues that they have to deal with on a regular basis. Mainly disgruntled and/or entitled folks like many of us who inappropriately assume we could do a better job.
I took the time to speak directly with several different group breakers, from the well established veterans of the community, to the new guys on the block. I will respectfully leave their names out of the article. Not all of them requested anonymity, but some did, so it seems that this is a fair approach.
The Top 3
The top 3 Pet Peeves that just about every breaker touched on in these conversations included, but were not limited to:
This breaks down into a few sub categories. The complaining that takes place prematurely in the break, the complaining that takes place throughout the break, and the complaining that doesn’t seem to end long after the break.
We’ve all been there, it is painful and frustrating to spend your hard earned cash, just to walk away with nothing to show for it. The rebuttal has been shared ad nauseam – you know the risks, this is nothing more than gambling – as much as this is true it is hardly any solace when it is you in that position.
I was surprised to find that most of the breakers I spoke to have a fairly high degree of tolerance for the basic hitless complaint.
As they have been there themselves and know that pain all too well. More so they all shared in the same voice, they want nothing more than for everyone to have a great experience and become repeat/long term customers.
One beaker put it best by breaking it down into the 3 categories as stated above. The premature complaining starts as early as prior to the break, with comments of a cold streak that has to end, and as the first box in a 12 box case is opened, with “seriously nothing for my team yet”.
It seems that every chat has at least one guy that doesn’t stop crying throughout the break. This second category was discussed a great deal in my conversations. As the breakers expressed that this is an issue that frustrates them because they are concerned that the negativity will either rub off on other participants, or frustrate others in a way that may have an effect on their overall experience. An ancillary issue to this is the nature of the commentary, it’s not always the complainer that gets inappropriate in the chat, but it is often the case. The use of certain language, or being downright rude to the breaker, and at times other participants.
The complaining that continues after the break is completed wasn’t mentioned by as many folks, I think because they often lump it in with the previous category. That said, those that did bring it up expressed that this could be their biggest Pet Peeve. As this customer is often the type that becomes a nuisance that tests their patience the most. This is the individual that moves from the complainer to the “pan handler”.
I am expressing some creative license here by calling it “pan handling”, but hopefully you get the imagery. I’ve been witness to some of this in chat, but I was shocked to learn of some of the requests that breakers have had to field. Everything from, “I know I’ve already used my new customer $5 off, but can I have another?”, to the audacious “I just went hitless in the previous break can’t you throw me a bone, and let me have my spot for free this time?”. This seems to especially frustrate breakers, as they know how hard they are trying to make their prices as fair as possible, while trying to maintain a viable business, and already offer specials and discounts.
This topic does lend itself to a deeper discussion regarding the pricing of breaks. Not to digress from Pet Peeves too much, however there is often a wide disparity in pricing across group breakers, especially with respect to the Pick Your Team style of breaks. I am guilty of “pan handling” in that I have asked for a Price Match. Not many breakers publicize their willingness to do this, in fact I’m only aware of one. With the pricing of teams being far more art than science, and especially when it’s being done prior to the availability of a checklist, it seems that this is a practice that should be at least considered.
The breakers that spoke in detail about “Pan Handling” talked more about the egregious requests, the attitudes of entitlement, and the customers that may be getting themselves into a compromising situation by spending money they don’t have. I was concerned to hear of the number of times customers have asked for a loan, or an extended period of time to pay for a break on spec.
For lack of a better term, “dead beat” refers to a few different ugly situations, all of which connect back to payment or lack there of. There is the non-paying eBay customer, the eBay customer that claims to have not understood what a break is and now wants their money back after having gone hitless, or at least not having done well in the break, and possibly the ugliest of them all – the PayPal charge-back. Fortunately I cannot relate to the mindset that leads one to engaging in any of the above practices. However, no one is this hobby should allow themselves to be naive to how unscrupulous some folks can be. This is an unfortunate reality that is pervasive in every aspect of this hobby. Affecting and perpetrated by both the breaker and the break participant. I don’t need to mention Brandin Cooks /99!
Bonus Round: The Manufacturers + Distributors
There were a few other compelling Pet Peeves worth mentioning, that may not have been brought up by the majority of breakers that I spoke with. A few of these are not directed at the break participant at all, but rather the manufacturers and/or distributors.
Allocations, the dirtiest word that isn’t 4 letters, according to many of the group breakers I spoke with. This is the practice of a distributor, intended to bolster the sales of a less than popular product, by requiring a minimum purchase of it, just to gain the right to purchase the popular product. For example, if one wanted to purchase a case of 2016 Panini National Treasures FB, a highly allocated product, the distributors would require you to first purchase a certain number of cases of a less than popular product that didn’t sell as well as they had hoped, i.e. 2016 Panini Prestige FB. I may not be spot on with my example but hopefully the point is clear. Imagine if you went to a Local Hobby Shop to purchase a box of 2017 Panini Spectra BSK, only to be told that if you want to buy that, you first have to buy 2 boxes of 2017 Panini Threads BSK. I can hear the colorful language flying through your collective heads as I’m writing this, LOL!
Frustration with the timing of the release of a product checklist relative to the product itself. Likely a frustration that is shared by all, especially when pricing is considered. I know I refer to a checklist for several reasons, including to determine whether or not the team I PC has enough content to justify an investment, or to determine which team(s) are worth it. As pricing was mentioned earlier in this article, it is extremely difficult for a group breaker to know how to price a product for a PYT without the necessary information they use from a checklist.
Release date delays create several domino effect issues for group breakers. Pre-sales of spots, especially for a popular product, is a common practice. Of course as the consumer, we should not expect the group breaker to have any liability associated with a delayed product release, however the frustration of having circled that date on your calendar, to then have to wait even longer is annoying. For the group breaker this can often mean having to then make changes to their schedules, field emails and calls from frustrated customers, and deal with refund requests.
Hopefully, between the initial Pet Peeves article and this one, you have a better understanding of not only the issues associated with group breaking, but your own position within it. The goal is not to poke fun, or complain about one another, but to expose these concerns in an effort to understand each other better. Ultimately to inspire a higher level of open dialogue between all parties, that has the potential of having a lasting and positive outcome. With that, if you have any thoughts that you would like to share, that could keep this conversation alive, please do so now. Additionally if you have any thoughts on issues, concerns, or even positive stories that you’d like to read about on BreakerCulture.com, please take the time to respond.