A new group break conspiracy?

One aspect of collecting that I have avoided since my return in 2007 is the group break. While there are many reputable & trustworthy collectors who host breaks, there is always one or two bad apples in the bunch. A few months ago we had “MelbourneCowboys” who has become the most-hated collector on YouTube and now we have a new storm brewing over a Donruss group break on a popular message board.

Recently, “Ballerskrip” held a group break for 700 sealed blister packs promising around 140 hits if seeding was to follow through. The starting price for one slot was $55 dollars which included shipping, supplies, & Pay Pal fees. One of the messages in the original post to join the break read, “NO WORRIES ABOUT GETTING FELT UP PACKS, OR PACK SEARCHED PACKS. AGAIN, THESE ARE SEALED BOXES!”

As you can imagine, all the slots filled up pretty quickly and then something strange happened when the box arrived (after a delay). In the live video chat which was hosted by US Stream, it was obvious that the packs were not in sealed boxes but actually loose blister packs. Apparently, some members mentioned it but were ignored in the chat by the host. Shortly after the break, the host went on a planned vacation.

It’s obvious from the fact that the packs came in loose blisters and not sealed boxes that they were tampered with. Look at it this way, how did the autographs manage to slip in but there was not one single game-used relic and/or signed patch? Each pack could have easily been weighed and the lighter packs thrown into the box to ship out.

According to some, the seller in question is this guy. If you check out the auction, it states that these 700 packs were purchased directly from Donruss. If you check his feedback, he’s also received lots of recent negatives. Furthermore, why was the listing private? Also, if someone sells you sealed blister packs instead of the promised boxes why not stop the break and ask for a refund when the box of loose packs arrived?

Chris Gilmore, owner of Freedom Card Board, the forum where the break took place has now gotten involved. He spoke with Donruss’ Mike Payne who assured him that in these blister packs the focus is on autographs and not relics. Relics can be pulled but they are seeded at an extremely low rate. Unfortunately, no exact insertion rates were mentioned.

Both the host of the break and Chris Gilmore are currently working on making the situation right. Chris is not someone to let things like this happen on his watch but there is still something not right about the entire situation. Whatever the conclusion may be, it’s just one more black eye that could keep collectors from joining future group breaks.

53 thoughts on “A new group break conspiracy?

  1. To me, a very important part of the story here is that according to Gilmore, Donruss told him that the blisters were focused on relics. The problem? The blister packs are HOBBY PACKS and are IDENTICAL to regular hobby packs in hobby boxes.

    Further, several people have come forward saying that they have bought plenty of these blisters and pulled Game Used and Auto Patch cards at the same ratio as regular hobby packs. Something doesn’t jive here.

    If what Gilmore says is true, Donruss released a watered down retail product as “hobby” with identical packaging, and priced it accordingly. There was no retail version of the product.

  2. I dont understand the group break idea unless its to buy a case to save on the cost per box and allow participants to have their own sealed boxes. This hobby has allowed the business aspect to dominate so much it has given rise to a lot of greedy unethical behaviour from so-called collectors. Not just frompeople like Melbourne Cowboys but many others online looking to make a quick buck.

    To me half the fun of collecting is busting wax, i would hate to pay to let someone else do the break for me. Just dont make sense to me.

  3. This story won’t help me fill my break I’m trying to get together. I’m actually surprised we don’t hear more stories like this with all the breaks being done. Most often people join them with out the thought of being ripped off, but in the end your basically handing money over to complete strangers.

  4. Thomas

    The blister packs say hobby exclusive on them. They have no indication of any odds. Granted the packs look the same as the true hobby version of elite, but that does not mean they are. It is VERY rare to have retail offerings with the same odds as hobby offerings, and I don’t see why this case would be any different.

    The pack out for the blister packs is OBVIOUSLY different from the pack out, and anyone who has opened these sealed blister boxes and isn’t full of crap will testify to this. My group break moderator Allincards busted 2 blister boxes (15 packs) after this break to check and hit no jerseys. I opened one blister box on youtube a while back and hit no jerseys. I have ordered another blister box just to make it 4 boxes without a jersey.

    I will record the break, and let people know where it is.

    I would also like to say to everyone else that I do not believe these packs were searched. They yielded a quite normal amount of hits for the blister packs as autographs fall about every 8.5 packs in them.

    However, the breaker said that they would be breaking from sealed boxes, and they did not do that at all. This should have told the breaker to stop what he was doing and communicate with the seller and attempt to obtain a refund. Yes, it was a bone headed thing for him to do. However I just can’t see where he was intentionally dishonest.

  5. ok, I thought I got what happened, but after reading thomas’ post Im confused.
    does anyone have access the the vid of the break?

  6. oh, and its funny you wrote about this. … I was getting involved more heavily in cards about the time melbournecowboys scammed people (so I didnt group break then) but just today watched online a group break and the atmosphere made me reconsider, but this brought me back to earth

  7. I only do combined breaks at the ol shop. Internet group breaks, about as appealing as online dating.

  8. I think it’s more about what your expectations were/are going in and how much you paid to get in.

    Example: David at http://www.tribecards.net/ hosted a break a couple of weeks ago. $5 per team to get in, breaking a box of Allen and Ginter. No video, nothing, he just typed up what he pulled as he pulled it. I got all the Rays cards from the set I would have wanted minus the Price sketch card. Some people got hits, some didn’t, but I think everyone was pretty stoked. Once you factor in shipping, getting the cards I got from ebay would have set me back at least $10, so I feel like I made out and I definitely got more than I expected.

    Beyond the potential shenanigans of the breaker, and there are obviously plenty of dishonest ones, it is every bit as possible that sometimes people are actually complaining about poor collation and poor hits, just like they do on their personal Youtube breaks. Imagine that you got people to pony up $20 per team and, live on video, the box you bought with their money doesn’t even have the right number of hits. Instead of blaming the company, which they do in other cases, people are going to start looking for evidence you ripped them off. Not a good scene.

  9. Gilmore,

    These were hobby packs. They were in blisters, but they are HOBBY PACKS. The insert ratio on the HOBBY PACKS in blisters was exactly the same as in Hobby box packs in my experience as well as a few people in that thread’s experience.

    Either those packs were searched or Donruss released a watered down retail version as “Hobby,” so there’s a big story here either way.

  10. Thomas

    THAT IS NOT TRUE

    It has been confirmed by donruss that they are different than normal hobby packs.

    You basically ignored everything I said and railed on with the same thing as you said before.

  11. Also this has made us at FCB implement a new rule. We are not allowing group breaks of product bought off of ebay or other non industry standard sources. Cases that are bought online must be purchased through Dave and Adams, Blow Out, Charm City Cards, or Atlanta Sports Cards. Other merchants may possibly be included in the future.

    Buying from these sources will allow us to reasonably ensure that product is unsearched when it reaches the breaker.

  12. Gilmore,

    Everything I said is 100% true. You’ve seen several people in your thread say the EXACT SAME THING.

    Nothing has been “confirmed” from Donruss. You claim to have been told over the phone something that led you to believe that this break was typical. You never directly quoted anyone and you never got anyone from Donruss to go on record. You’re also conveniently ignoring the fact that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN PACKAGING BETWEEN THE RETAIL “HOBBY” PACKS AND ACTUAL HOBBY BOX PACKS.

    You would THINK that someone in your position would consider that a pretty big deal. You’re alleging that Donruss created a watered down retail product and SOLD IT AS HOBBY. That’s a big deal. That’s misleading customers. It’s fraudulent.

    Instead of being outraged about that, you keep attacking me. I don’t get it.

  13. And Gilmore, you might want to hit a retail store every once in awhile. The Meijers around here have Stadium Club Hobby packs in blisters for $15. There have been others as well. It’s not uncommon for hobby product to be released in blisters (or in full box form) at retail stores and sold as hobby.

    The packs in this break were indeed HOBBY packs. The ONLY thing different about them is that they come in blisters. The blisters don’t say anything about them being a watered-down product, and I’ve never spoken to anyone who claims that they are watered down in any way.

    As I said, I’ve busted ~200 of these packs and I have a stack of jerseys and auto patches on the shelf right next to me that I pulled from these blisters.

  14. I have not once attacked you anywhere. Not once. You bully people on my site all day, and then when I say that sometimes I wanna strangle a member or two, you take it as me bullying you.

    Consider these two options.

    1. I have some random guy on a message boards claiming that the blister packs are the same as the hobby packs.

    2. I have a the guy that was responsible for the product being packed out telling me they are different.

    who to believe, who to believe?

  15. Gilmore,

    When a moderator calls a user names and threatens to strangle them, then tells them not to bother reporting posts that the moderator makes, then continually tells people not to believe that user, yes, that’s an attack. And I’ve never bullied anyone on your site. I don’t have the power to bully anyone. When there’s a fight, I don’t back down, but that’s not bullying by any stretch.

    With your two options, you’re conveniently forgetting that I’m not the only one who has made the claim I made.

    And again, if the guy who packed the product out claims that he packed out a watered down retail product as hobby IN PACKS THAT SPECIFICALLY SAY *HOBBY* ON THEM, please explain to me why you think that’s ok, that it’s not a story.

  16. I called you an idiot, and said that there are times I would like to strangle certain members.

    You throw the word idiot around often, and constantly accuse people on the boards of being stupid.

    Your FCB name is plainwhitejerseys, so those that are familiar with you will know what I am talking about.

    Also for those familiar with the beckett message boards, you were btmaddox on the beckett boards, and you had similar issues over there.

  17. I’ve never hidden who I am. No reason to. I know you like to think everyone hates me, but that’s obviously not the case. When I went to FCB and someone called me an idiot, I talked to you and you told me that it’s basically ok to call someone an idiot, so I do. I’d rather people acted like adults and not call names, but the rules are the rules. But there’s a difference between a user calling another user an idiot and a MODERATOR calling a user an idiot. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Why do you keep ducking my question?

    Iif the guy who packed the product out claims that he packed out a watered down retail product as hobby IN PACKS THAT SPECIFICALLY SAY *HOBBY* ON THEM, please explain to me why you think that’s ok, that it’s not a story.

  18. The cardboard blister packs have the phrase “hobby exclusive” on them. No odds are stated, and nothing says they are the SAME as the packs that come in the 20 pack boxes. That is an assumption you made, and it is incorrect.

  19. The blister packs contain HOBBY PACKS. They are IDENTICAL to the HOBBY PACKS that come in HOBBY BOXES.

    Again, why do you keep ducking my question?

    If the guy who packed the product out claims that he packed out a watered down retail product as hobby IN PACKS THAT SPECIFICALLY SAY *HOBBY* ON THEM, please explain to me why you think that’s ok, that it’s not a story.

  20. You didn’t answer the question.

    If the guy who packed the product out claims that he packed out a watered down retail product as hobby IN PACKS THAT SPECIFICALLY SAY *HOBBY* ON THEM, please explain to me why you think that’s ok, that it’s not a story.

    I don’t think my question is that hard to understand. I’m looking for you to explain to me why you think it’s ok to release a watered-down retail product in IDENTICAL packaging as the Hobby, with the term “HOBBY EXCLUSIVE” featured prominently and in the same exact position on the wrapper as the hobby packs.

    I don’t know why you’re so afraid to answer the question. You’ve asserted that Donruss did this, when nobody else has made the claim that you have. You’re accusing Donruss of a fraudulent act here, you do realize that, right? You’ve accused Donruss of fraud, and you apparently think that fraud is ok. I’m just asking you why you think that. Help me understand.

  21. BTW,

    Let’s clear up a little confusion here. I’m fed up with being called a liar, so I decided to prove my point. I went to the local hobby store today (actually had to go to three of them) and bought a hobby pack of Elite Extra. Then I went to the local Meijer store to buy a Blister Hobby Pack so we could see the difference – if there is one.

    Here’s the Hobby pack, fresh out of the hobby box at the hobby store:

    Here’s the Blister Hobby pack, fresh from the local Meijer:

    Here’s the back of the Blister Hobby pack:

    Here’s the YouTube video showing the two packs, with closeups, and me opening the blister to show what the pack looks like up close. If you look closely, you can see my box full of Elite Extra autos in the background as well as a couple of the auto patches I pulled from blisters.

    As you can plainly see, the packs are IDENTICAL. The packs inside blisters are HOBBY PACKS, just like the HOBBY PACKS you get in HOBBY BOXES. The wording on the front of the pack as well as the back of the pack is IDENTICAL. They’re the SAME THING. If Donruss were to release a watered-down retail pack as “Hobby,” that would be a fraudulent act on their part.

  22. Just reading this story, it’s so obvious that something shady is up.. Thomas has proved that the 2 types of packs are identical so I call bullshit that they have different odds for hits.. I could see a blister having different odds in other circumstances, but not when the pack is labeled as and identical to a hobby pack..

    And the fact that the blister packs weren’t sealed like they were supposed to be – is it REALLY a surprise that they didn’t have any relics in them?! Someone pulled something and Gilmore cannot bring himself to admit it – which would bring a negative shady cloud over his site and future group breaks.

  23. @Thomas

    are the blisters actually produced by donruss?
    i faintly remember buying some of the 2008 stadium club ones from meijer earlier this year
    and those said something along the lines of ‘distributed by beckett wholesalers’
    or beckett something on the back of the blister

    of course toppsdonruss but just wondering

  24. @Joe

    According to Gilmore, the blisters are produced by Donruss. From everything I have seen, that appears to be the case.

    Those Stadium Club hobby packs were only in Meijer, if I remember correctly. Meijer’s distributor is Beckett, for the most part (a few stores in Chicagoland use Excel – which is really weird), while Target uses Excel. These EEE blisters were in both Targets and Meijers as well as WalMarts. Gilmore’s break mentioned KMart, but I haven’t seen them there. I don’t know about Shopko or any other outlets, but these seem to have been pretty widespread.

  25. It looks like Gilmore has crawled into a hole and refuses to answer the question here. On his page, he finally responded to say that he doesn’t care if Donruss commits fraud, because you should expect that when you buy cards at Target.

    Good to know he has the collector’s best interests at heart.

  26. As far as I can see, Gilmore is not saying that the eBay seller is legit, and is not saying anything about the possibility of something going down here.

    What he has said so far is what the DLP rep has told him about the product itself.

    @Thomas. EVERY member of FCB knows that you are a troll douchebag. The fact that you’ve decided to bring it here now as well, makes me less than happy.

    Chris and the rest of the mod staff at FCB, as well as the breaker, are working to resolve this for all involved.

    The only point in this thread I agree on, is that DLP/Panini should say something publicly about this.

  27. While clearly this is a very heated debate, Charlie, it’s you who brought it to a pretty nasty level just now.

    I think it’s great that Gilmore and others are working diligently to resolve the issue. FCB is the best card forum at the moment, in my opinion.

  28. Mario, do me a favor. Go to FCB. Member search plainwhitejerseys, and read some of his posts. You’ll see why I said what I did. I guess I could have been less nasty about it, bit I figured the people who post here on a regular basis should know what they are dealing with.

    If my opinions are no longer welcome here, please lmk.

  29. I personally got into a huge flame war with him in the General Section over a topic about Michael Jackson’s death.

    I know all about the guy, he’s stubborn as a mule but has brought up an interesting story… you must admit.

  30. Charlie,

    Have some class.

    I’m not a troll. I’ve never been a troll. Just because my opinion doesn’t jive with yours doesn’t make me a troll. I think for myself and I share my opinion just like you or anyone else.

    What I find particularly funny is that you and I have been the only two on the same side of so many issues here. We’ve been called trolls here for doing exactly what I do at FCB – expressing an opinion that doesn’t jive with everyone else’s. You’re not shy about it here, but you’re calling me names for not being shy about it at FCB.

    I didn’t bring this here, Mario did. I’ve thanked him privately for doing so, and I now thank him publicly. As he said, we’ve had some heated go-arounds, but there’s nobody I respect more in the hobby.

    And unlike at FCB, it appears that people here actually want some answers.

  31. I can assure you guys of a few things here.

    1. Donruss told me information about these blisters that I shared and that I believe to be true. Whatever else that may entail, then so be it. If you are mad that they are selling watered down blisters, then by all means take it up with them. However do not assume that I will join you in your rally cry.

    2. I am covering nothing up. That method of “fixing” situations only gets you bit in the ass in the long run.

    3. We have come to a resolution that the breakers are happy with. The breaker will buy 6 hobby boxes of elite from blow out cards, and add them to the break. This was done at the advisement of the moderation staff, and with the complete and eager cooperation of the breaker.

    Regardless of what some of you think about me, and I know I can be a polarizing figure from time to time, this was handled by the book. Group case breaks are never completely safe, but at least on FCB we regulate, monitor, and fix mistakes.

    -Gilmore

  32. I just got off the phone with Donruss. They confirmed that the “drop ratios” are the same for the blister packs as the hobby box packs and that the only difference is the packaging. I followed up by asking them that if I bought 200 blister packs, could I expect the same approximate ratio of hits from blisters as if I bought the same number of hobby packs, and they said “yes, there’s no difference.”

    Their phone number is (817) 983-0203 and I would love it if someone could take five minutes to call and ask them the same question and post their answer.

  33. I think everyone here should slow down and relax. There are a few easy answers to every attack posted here so everyone just chill.

    First off, it sounds like the person that Gilmore talked to is a different person than Thomas talked to. And, if anyone has ever called Topps general line you’ll know that they know virtually nothing. For me, I would take the word of the brand manager (who Gilmore apparently talked to) over anyone else at Donruss/Panini.

    Second, if Gilmore and his board members have opened 3 blister boxes and pulled no jerseys, it is plausible that jerseys are significantly more rare in the retail packaging. Keep in mind that when Donruss packs out products, they know where the hits are, therefore allowing consistent seeding. Therefore, every 5th pack (for example) will have an autograph, etc.

    No need for the personal attacks. It’s just a hobby.

    – LCF

  34. I just called back and spoke with the same person again, and she confirmed that the GAME USED have the same drop ratio in the blisters as in the hobby box packs.

  35. -“ahh, but you said hits

    not specifically game used”-

    Dude, they said the packs are identical and the only difference is packaging.. Thomas said he’s gotten relics and game used outta the blisters and there’s no reason not to believe him IMO.. Those blisters on the group break on your site were supposed to be SEALED and they weren’t.. So one way or another something shady was up, the only question is if it was the ebay seller or the person that ran the group break.. Also, why did that person blow off or ignore the inquiries when people noticed they were not sealed?

  36. For the record, I would like to say that as a paying participant of the break, I don’t have a problem with Skrip at all. I think he should have stopped the break when he saw that he didn’t receive what he paid for, and should have listened to the people who were telling him the packs were searched (and they obviously were). But that’s as far as I would criticize him – and he’s been forthright in admitting those mistakes and compensating for them.

    Ballerskrip isn’t the bad guy here. There’s no evidence that suggests that Donruss did anything wrong either – these were hobby packs with identical drop ratios….they were just searched. There’s nothing Donruss can do about people who search their packs after they ship them to the distributor.

    The seller is the bad guy for selling searched packs.

    And I applaud Gilmore for changing the rules to standardize which retailers can sell cases for these case breaks. As someone else said, I would love to see rules put in place where the breaker has to identify not only where he’s buying the product, but also what his cost is. I have no problem with people making a little money on these case breaks, but some of them are bringing in twice their cost.

  37. Well, I don’t know what to tell you guys.

    And quite honestly my responsibility is to the people in the break. If PWJ feels shorted by what was in the breaks, then I am sure he can get a refund. EVERYONE else in the break is happy with the resolution.

    Just to be clear, I base my information on what a top level donruss employee told me. This top level employee is also the man who develops donruss elite from start to finish, year in and year out. He is the authority on the elite brand of products.

    He is the only employee at donruss I have contacted, and he would be the most knowledgeable about them.

  38. I’ve stated REPEATEDLY that this has NOTHING TO DO with what I got in my break and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that the packs were searched.

    You tossed in the whole “watered-down retail” wrinkle, but my personal experience, the personal experience of others, the phone calls I’ve made and Occam’s Razor have all refuted that. You haven’t contacted Mike Payne for a statement, you haven’t quoted him directly, you just keep jamming your fingers in your ears and screaming that you heard it from Mike Payne and repeating his credentials.

    Is it possible that you misunderstood him or are asserting things based on your opinion rather than actual comments he made? Your first post on the topic said that after your conversation with Mike Payne “it is my opinion that these packs weren’t searched”. I know that raised red flags for a lot of people in that thread. The “in my opinion” part. Maybe you’re going on opinion rather than actual statements Payne made?

  39. So host cant purchase cases from a main financial Support line of your very site? Oh wait. Further force them to purchase from the 4 sites you get a kick back from. Now we make more rules that in no way protect the buyers any further than before, but gets you more cash. Blowout, D&A, and any of the others are just as capable of searching packs or boxes. Not saying they do, but if I buy a box, pack, or pack lot from one of them. And dont get required hits. Should I assume they searched them. Or do we pass the blame again elsewhere. This will never end, and the fact you are using this to profit is another shame of the hobby.

  40. ok, wow

    I just don’t know what to say about this. First off, I do in fact have 3 paid sponsors. DA Card World, Atlanta Sports Cards, Blow Out cards are all financially tied to FCB. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    You will notice the 4th company that I listed is Charm City Cards, a company that does not pay me for advertising. I also included a clause that said other retailers will be considered as well. Furthermore, the “kick back” FCB gets from these companies is on a monthly fee basis and it remains constant regardless of the sales data.

    This isn’t about money. This is about safety. I think you will agree that buying wax off of random ebay guys is a risky business. And while a guy buying wax may find it worth the risk, I do not want him to assume that the rest of the people in his break are willing to assume that risk.

    Yes, FCB makes money. Yes, FCB takes that money and spends it back on the community. We give away more than any sports card message board out there, we advertise more than any sports card message board out there. I provide a service at no direct cost to my users, and I am rewarded for it. No harm in that at all.

  41. btw, the main financial support line of FCB is by far ebay. DA, ATL, and blow out don’t even cover hosting fees. Blowout only gives us store credit.

  42. Bob Loblaw
    I think Gilmore is lying to cover his board up.

    There would be absolutely no reason to do this. If a member holds a break and screws someone over, then we will publicly state so and relay that information to other boards. We deal with scammers all of the time and so far done a good job at preventing them from ripping people off before they have a chance to do so.

    As for Doodads comment, we are not limiting that you only buy from those 4. We are requiring you to state who you are buying from and then prove it by showing proof of purchase before they can do the break. This ensures that problems like these do not appear.

  43. I do breaks for the money all the time. ME ME ME. Actually, I just like busting the wax. That alone is entertainment for me. I have had one complaint from Box Opener that one of his bricks was damaged, so I gave him a discount on the next break. I usually break even on mine or lose a few dollars, but again, I do it because its fun. I don’t even participate in my monthly baseball break.

  44. Right now I have a 5 box case of 2007 Exquisite baseball, hit slot break. 1 slot is two hits.

    I run a monthly baseball break where people get to pick their teams.

    I also have a 5 box spa football 1 box Exquisite Football break where you get to pick your first team and the second one is randomized. I run them at zero profit, nor do I get a “free” spot.

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