From people that have done business with Comic-Keys
I am a member of the CGC Boards, worldsbestcomics, and am on eBay with the same ID. I bought a "9.8" copy of Amazing Spider-Man 122 on eBay about two years ago from Comic Keys for $1006.25. That was about the same time that I learned of the CGC Boards. When I read the information about Comic Keys on the Boards from you and others, I was concerned that the book I had bought might be restored so I sent it to CGC. It was restored.
I contacted Comic Keys and he said he would honor his lifetime guarantee. I returned the book and I received a full refund via PayPal.
I want to thank you for sharing the information about Comic Keys. The book would have probably sat in my collection for decades if I hadn't learned about the restoration risk.
On 12/29/02 and 12/30/02, I won three auctions from comic-keys: Amazing Spider-Man 41 NM-, 86 NM, and 94 NM. All books were advertised in UNRESTORED condition. I held onto these books for about a year until I sent them to CGC for certification on 12/15/03. About two weeks later, I joined the CGC forum site and heard stories of other members whose books purchased from the seller came back RESTORED. Of course, at this point all I could do was wait. After a somewhat lengthy wait for my books to return, I discovered that all three books were restored:
(Click on thumbnail images for larger scans.)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 41 APPARENT 9.0 SLIGHT (A) Restoration includes: small amount of color touch, small amount of glue on cover (3 EDGES TRIMMED)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 86 APPARENT 9.4 SLIGHT (A) Restoration includes: small amount of color touch, small amount of glue on cover
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 94 APPARENT 8.5 SLIGHT (A) Restoration includes: small amount of color touch, small amount of glue on cover (TOP EDGE TRIMMED)
Immediately after receiving the grades from CGC, I contacted the seller. He was very professional and prompted me with the return address to mail the books. Within a week of receiving the books, the seller promptly refunded my purchase price ($775), and even added in extra money to cover the PayPal fees so I could receive my refund quicker. Although my initial price of $775 was refunded, I was out the funds for the shipping to and from CGC, the cost of certification, and the shipping to the seller, which amounted to around $150. In all fairness, I didn't request the seller to refund that portion.
Although it was very unfortunate that these books were restored, I am very pleased in how the seller quickly handled the refund to rectify the situation. My thanks go to the CGC forums for their information and support.
sterlingcomics on CGC forums
I know that his reputation is terrible and in all likelihood, well deserved. I took the name Burntboy (Ed. on the CGC forums) after I started to read these boards and learned about his alleged dealings in the past. After all I had in my possession 3 of his Silver Age Keys that I'd paid a handsome price for. The auctions were well over a year old at the time.
Then I saw his statement to Supa (I believe) that he would have refunded for the book that set Supa off, irrespective of the timing involved.
So I got the books down to Sarasota (Ed. CGC) and picked them up 3 weeks ago. they were all restored to some degree. All had trimming and there was some minor color touch and one staple replaced.
So I contacted him immediately and he returned my e-mail right away. He apologized for the books having had restoration, told me to send them to him. I did and he sent me a check about one week later. It cleared today. It was for just over $28,000!!!
Whatever else he may be - he was a man of his word with me. I
I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Think I'll go on a buying spree!!!!!! And I'm gonna keep my ID (burntboy) to remind myself what a trusting idiot I was in the first stages of my reentering the hobby. Fortunately all of my other early major purchases were disclosed restoration Key GA books.
live and learn
"burntboy" (on the CGC forums)
I bought an X-men 18 advertised as "VF/NM Unrestored" from comic-keys in November of 2000. After spending some time on the CGC forums I learned of the allegations connecting the seller to Daniel Dupcak (as described in the CBG article), and as others had done, I sent the book to CGC for evaluation. Unfortunately, the book came back as Restored with the label note stating "Restoration includes: small amount of color touch on cover.", and a grade of 7.5. I contacted comic-keys and asked for a refund, which he issued after I mailed the book back.
Mike (drbanner on ebay)
I bought a Surfer #2 from comic-keys in October or November of 2002. He graded it as a VF/NM 9.0. I had not received the book 2 weeks after payment and I had gotten no response to my emails. So I wandered onto this board [CGC Message Board] and I asked about comic-keys, being new I was unaware that he was Hammer [one of his alises] on the board. Anyway I received the book within a few days of posting about it. I also received some PMs [Private Messages] from other members that I should send it in to CGC for the restoration check because he was known for color touching and trimming his books. Eventually I did send it in and it came back as a 9.0 restored with slight color touch. This was maybe about 3 or 4 months after the sale was completed. I PM'd Hammer and asked for a refund which he issued after I mailed the book back.
Back in 2001 I won a book advertised as Amazing Spider-Man 32 UNRESTORED VF/NM 9.0 from Comic-Keys, this is the date the feedback was left for me by him: Aug-25-01 13:03 transaction #1166797339 under my "thehurtingman" id. Needless to say this was before I knew anything about him being Daniel Dupcak of Fantazia collectibles. I submitted the book last year and not to my surprised it came back with the RESTORED label with his trademark restoration of colour touch and edge(s) trimmed.
In 2002, I purchased an Avengers #1 in "VF/NM 9.0++ UNRESTORED" from Comic-Keys for $3,805.55. At the time, he had no negatives, 800 or so positives, was a gold powerseller and had a 7-day "no hassle" return policy, so took the leap. Upon the end of the auction, I emailed him to work out the exact shipping details, and was eager to fire off my Paypal balance transfer to him so that I could get the book and send it to CGC via "walk-thru" for a resto check. I wasn't really suspicous of having any problem with restoration at that time, but I wasn't about to drop nearly 4K on an ungraded book without covering my ass. After about 3-4 days, he finally got back to me with an apology for the delay, claiming that he had been the "on call surgeon" for the last 3 nights, or some other B.S like that. So I sent payment.
2 weeks later, the package arrives via Fed-Ex. After paying just under $400 in customs charges, I took the book to Paradise Comics here in Toronto, and had them submit it via Walk-thru for me. That ran me another $100 or so. Less than a week after that, I got a call from Peter(owner of Paradise) informing me that the book had been trimmed, that glue had been added to the spine, and that it was given an "Apparent VF 8.0". I was enraged. At that point, I had paid around $4500 for a restored 8.0. But given that I had no backround information on him at that time, I chalked it up to a mistake, and calmly emailed him asking for my money back. I didn't hear back for several days. Finally, I got what seemed to be a sincerely apologetic email from him, insisting that I send the book back immedietly for a replacement that was even nicer (NM- 9.2) which he claimed could be traced back to the newstand which is where the person he got it from originally bought it. At this point, he was fully aware that I would be sending it to CGC, and he was giving me all these assurances left and right. I had come this far, and I figured that putting another $100 into the book wouldn't make a difference at that point, especially if I could get what I originally paid for. And he was obviously aware that sending me another restored book would just royally piss me off, and he would have more to lose by doing so than if he just settled with me now, so I agreed.
The next day, I went to pick up the restored copy so that I could ship it back to him. Peter then asked me if I bought the book from "Comic-Keys". When I confirmed it, he then informed me of all these things that are now common knowledge here; that he was really Dupchak, that he was known and convicted for fraud in sports memorabilia and all the other sordid details of his operation. It was a lot to swallow at the time, and since I couldn't see a logical reason why he would send me a second restored copy which he knew I would be sending to CGC, I let it go, temporarily. That same day, I returned the graded copy to him.
A couple of weeks later, he informed me that he recieved the original copy, and was going to send the second one "ASAP". Because of customs, package times can be unpredictable. I sometimes get packages from the U.S in 3 days, and sometimes I have to wait a month. So I've learned to be patient when waiting for a package to crawl across the border. I waited........and waited........and waited. At around 3 weeks, I inquired about the delay. I got a response a few days later with some B.S pertaining to his work schedule, and he informed me that he had not yet shipped the package, but would do so immedietly. Again, I was furious, but let it go. I proceeded to wait again. Another 3 weeks passed (aprox.), and that's when I snapped. I emailed him, demanding a refund. Again, he politely and sincerely(seemingly) responded, infroming me that the package was already in the postal system. There's nothing I could really say at that point, so I just sat back and waited again, but this time I was boiling.
Roughly 2 weeks later, I recieved the second copy. I checked the date that he sent the package on, and it was AFTER he told me that the book was in the postal system. He lied, and I knew then that this transaction would not have a happy ending. At that point, I also realized that the 3 month mark was getting very close. As most of you know, ebay transactions stay in the system for 3 months before being removed. And once they're removed, they basically don't exist anymore, and you can't leave feedback. Very convienient, and I knew then that he had been playing the "waiting game". I took the book to Peter. Since he was aware of the situation, he was good enough to do an inspection on the book for me before sending it in. Given his experience with detecting restoration, he found traces of color-touch. He also suspected that something was "wrong" with the staples, and that it looked like they had been replaced, or that the cover had been removed at some point. So, I decided to just take the book back with me, forego the second submission, and demand a refund.
At that point, there were a few days left before the 3 month expiration. My plan was to get him to refund the money before I sent the second copy back(as a gesture of "good faith") and once the money was secure, I would neg him. Being that he's naturally criminal minded, he refused to give a refund until the book was returned to him. So I reluctantly sent him the book back first. At that point, I didn't care about the neg anymore. I had a sinking feeling that he would try to make out with the cash. I didn't express this to him, however. What he didn't know was that I had a clearing in my schedule, and if he didn't return the money I intended to drive down a get it back by whatever means necessary. I also had an asociate who agreed to come with me, and I was literally starting to pack when the Paypal refund came in just after the 3 month mark.
Eventually, I cooled down. I had lost about $500 and a lot of time at that point. He apologized for everything, and even offered to "make it up to me" on some CGC graded item he might have in the future. He then proceeded to "make nice" via email, and we had a number of non comic-related discussions. I let it go for a couple of months, deciding to just "forget it".
But as the topic kept coming up over and over, I became more and more angry about giving him the benefit of the doubt. And when a few "sympathizers" came onto the forums demanding proof, I aired the whole mess publically. That's when I realized how much of what he told me were regurgitated lies, and that's when I "snapped" again. I haven't been able to let it go since, and I'm now at the point where I get pissed everytime someone brings up "Comic-keys".
"Captains Of Industry"
My thanks to all who made this site happen. Here's my testimonial:
In late 2000, I purchased an X-Men #40 in NM/MT 9.8 off of ebay from comic-keys for around $300. I suspected trimming but wasn’t sure. About 2 months later I got around to submitting it to Matt Nelson, a well known restoration expert, who confirmed that the book had been trimmed on three sides. I never confronted comic-keys of this problem because so much time had passed. I still have the book to serve as a reminder to be extremely careful when buying unslabbed books and to NEVER bid on private auctions.
I have an update for you regarding my testimonial.
I never contacted Comic-Keys directly because so much time had passed after I had received the book before I confirmed there was trimming. I assumed that no refund would be issued. After I posted this testimonial on your web site, Comic-Keys contacted me directly and said that he would gladly refund my money even though 2 years had passed. I was extremely surprised to say the least. I immediately shipped him the book and a prompt refund was issued to me.