The Ethics of Pack Searching

Today I went to Fred Meyer to search for a blaster of 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen or 2011 Bowman. Freddy’s had neither but I saw an open retail box of Gypsy, loosys as many people know them as. They were all mixed up, turned around, sideways, obviously rifled through. When purchasing loose packs you always run the chance that someone had come by and tried to search them for the “hits”, game used or autographs. Needless to say, I opened 5 of the remaining 15 packs and didn’t get much.

Were these packs searched? I don’t know, I couldn’t tell.

Pack searching is the act in which someone goes to a retail or hobby store and molests the packs of cards with their hands or other devices in which to try and find the hits. I would estimate about 10-15% of collectors are known to do this in one form or another whether they admit it or not. I wouldn’t be surprised if that number was higher. But why do they do it? Greed is probably the most common reason. Self-esteem issues because their collections may not match that of others they know online or in person is another. Finally, maybe they don’t know what they are doing is wrong. Ethically, searching packs is wrong.

Hits are put into boxes according to odds, it says so on the back of packs and boxes. These searchers are the ones who try and defy these odds, therefore taking what is supposed to be random out of the equation. If some little kid or myself wants to go to the store and buy a pack of cards and receive the same odds as everyone else, we usually end up just buying a blaster or hobby box because we don’t know what has been done to those packs. The searchers create an atmosphere in which nobody is getting the same odds and is in effect, unfair to those who come later. Sure, you may say those odds will change by those who pick randoms themselves but those people are not trying to get 1:1 instead of 1:3500.

Also, the pack searchers often damage the cards in itself causing the monetary value of what is purchased to be lower. Now not only are the random odds being taken away, the money being spent is now going to a complete waste. Do you want to be the victim of such practices?

I avoid all cases in which I could possibly be a victim, except for last night. I should of known better, but every once and awhile I just like to open new packs for fun and just see what’s inside without worrying about what is actually inside. But how can one protect themselves?

  • Buy from newly opened boxes
  • Save your money and stick to just buying boxes from reputable dealers
  • Go to a dealer who is honest in themselves (shop owners are known to do this as well)
  • Buy loose packs from dealers who keep them behind counters

All of those points are ways to protect yourself to make sure you are getting the same odds as everyone else when buying packs. Why would you not want to get what you are paying for?

In all fairness, pack searchers are the bottom feeders of the hobby. They ruin the pack opening experience for both the young and the old, the newbies and the veterans. The card companies have taken some measures to counter their actions, but it seems like the searchers always find ways around it. The best stride I have seen companies take is just to put single packs inside clam shell packaging so people can’t molest the packs. This is not cost effective so it doesn’t happen as much as it is really needed.

In the end, the only protection you will get is the protection you will give yourself. You can help others too. Report pack searchers to the store employees as they are most likely damaging products. The stores won’t take too kindly to that.

Finally, I leave you with some words of wisdom. Wheaton’s Law states, “Don’t be a dick.” You should live your life by that motto, it may come back to…mess with you.

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3 Responses to The Ethics of Pack Searching

  1. Ryan says:

    Great commentary! I totally agree and must admit, as a former collector (’87-’93) who just started thinking about the hobby again – I forgot about our pack-molesting peers. I’m also chasing Gypsy Queens and after no cards for almost 20 yrs, splurged on 8 blasters from the local Target. Wonderful, enjoyable pulls included 3 autos, 3 jerseys and 1 relic. I was doing cartwheels after averaging one nice pull per blaster. Now I’m trying to complete the set for my son (who’s set to be born in JUL). While I bought out all the blasters, I found a retail box that had 19 of the 24 packs left, all slightly disheveled. Should have been a red flag, but I scooped ‘em up and tore in. Wouldn’t you know……nothing. Lesson learned! You give great advice – buy ‘em sealed or from a reputable LCS.

    On a side note – if anybody’s up for swapping duplicates to help complete sets, drop me a line. Good to be back…..

  2. Josh says:

    I agree with you pack searching is just a way to cheat. Whats the fun of knowing what your going to get anyways. I love buying packs and choosing them randomly because when you open them and you get a good card theres just somthing satisfying and fun about it. I can understand going through the packs somewhat to make sure that the packs themselves are not damaged so ur not geting damaged cards.

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