Archive for month June, 2017

I recently wrote a post saying that most people are honest. At least, I have come to that conclusion after having completed a lot of transactions with a lot of people everywhere.

I have had my share of disappointments when buying puzzles, but even in those cases I try not to presume bad intentions.

However, not long ago I had a negative experience on eBay UK and I am convinced that the seller was dishonest.

Judge by yourselves.

I bought the 5000, Falcon, Celebration on the Occasion of the Anniversary of the Military Order of Maria Theresa 1861. The puzzle was described as 100% complete.

The puzzle was sent to my friend in the UK and later shipped to me three months after I bought it. When I verified the puzzle there were 8 missing pieces. I contacted the seller through eBay.

After a week, no answer.

I opened a dispute through PayPal, my first PayPal dispute, asking how he knew that the puzzle was 100% complete, as he had stated in the description. He said that the puzzle was complete and his wife had verified the puzzle two times. He was familiar with Rare Puzzles an he assumed that I had resold the puzzle because it appeared as sold in the website.

I responded saying that the puzzle that appeared listed in the website was not his puzzle (it could be easily seen by the pictures). I asked again how he knew that the puzzle was 100% complete and why his wife needed to verify it two times. Was the first verification inconclusive?

Saying that a puzzle is 100% complete doesn’t mean anything. You need to know how many pieces a particular version of a puzzle is supposed to have. Only then you can say that a puzzle is 100% complete. Some 3000 Jumbo puzzles have 3000 exactly, but others 3008, and yet others 3036, while 3000 Ravensburger puzzles have 2992.

This seller kept saying that his puzzle was 100% complete, but he was unable to explain how he knew it. If he had told me that he knew because he had completed the puzzle himself, I couldn’t have said anything else. If he had told me that he knew because he counted the pieces and he got 5040 pieces, I couldn’t have added a word.

And then, to my surprise, he escalated the dispute for PayPal resolution, despite the fact that I had opened it.

And here is when I learned that he was dishonest. When he escalated the dispute he had the opportunity to provide more input, and he repeated that I had already sold his puzzle at Rare Puzzles making a profit. When he first said that to me, he was making a wrong assumption. After I told him that the puzzle I sold was a different one (it could be seen by the photographs), and I had his puzzle with me, he was simply lying.

He also repeated that his puzzle was 100% complete and there was no point for a refund after three months.

Interestingly, after he escalated the dispute, I was not able to provide any further information. I had the feeling that this seller knew well how to work the PayPal Dispute Resolution on his behalf. I was convinced that PayPal would resolve on his favor.

Then, to my surprise, after PayPal reviewed the case, without requesting further input from me, they resolved in my favor.

It didn’t matter that three months had passed since I bought the puzzle and I was not within the eBay return deadline. The PayPal Buyer Protection still applied.

I returned the puzzle to the seller and got my money back. I lost the return shipping costs from Madrid, but I received a refund for the puzzle.

But most importantly: I learned that the words 100% complete in the description of a puzzle don’t mean anything unless the seller can explain why he knows that the puzzle is complete.

So, the next time you are buying a 100% complete puzzle, ask that question, because sometimes people lie.

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The complete title of this painting is Suburbs of a Paranoiac-Critical Town: Afternoon on the Outskirts of European History, and the artist is the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí. Although Dalí has very strong supporters, he is not one of my favorite painters, and I don’t like this particular work very much. I think I bought the puzzle because it was rare and it was a way to add variety to my collection.

The puzzle was manufactured by MB. The image in the jigsaw puzzle represents only a part of the original. Surrealism is difficult to understand, and it is even difficult to relate the content of the painting and the title. Perhaps they thought it wouldn’t make much difference to crop the image and leave out what I think it’s a significant part of the content.

The puzzle was very easy to assemble. It was completed during the summer of 2014. Once piece was missing and the puzzle is now offered for replacements at the Missing Pieces section.

1500, MB, Suburbs of a Paranoiac-Critical Town: Afternoon on the Outskirts of European History, Salvador Dalí, 79 x 60 cm, Reference Number 3753.23.

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I have been considering for some time the possibility of starting a service to replace missing pieces in old puzzles. Educa’s Lost Piece Service is useful, but when the puzzle is 8 years old, replacements are not available anymore. The Jigsaw Doctor is a great alternative, and the people that have used the service are happy with the work, but…

What if it was possible to replace a missing piece in an old puzzle with a matching original piece?

I have my lot of assembled incomplete puzzles. Perhaps some people might need a piece from my puzzle to complete their incomplete copy. Surely other users have another incomplete puzzle that they might be willing to offer for replacements.

With time, it is possible to build a repository of puzzles available from many different users.

Can it be done?

I got input from visitors and customers, and I went back and forth without making up my mind until I recently completed 4 copies in a row of the 3000, Ravensburger, Oriental Folk Scene. It has helped me learn about puzzles and about the limitations of a lost piece replacement service.

First of all, the same puzzle may have been manufactured at different times of the same year using a different die. In that case, even when the puzzle is the same, the pieces will not be compatible. Of the 7 copies I had of the puzzle, 4 of them had compatible pieces because they were manufactured with the same die.

Does that mean that the pieces of the four compatible puzzles are fully interchangeable and match perfectly?

Well, not really.

The pieces match perfectly in shape. However, depending on the way the cardboard was placed on the cutting press, the images within the piece might not match exactly. The variation can be just a couple of millimeters, but it can be noticed once the piece is in place.

Let’s look at this piece with lines in it.

The shapes of the pieces are identical, but the image inside the piece varies slightly. When you put the piece in place, the lines don’t match and it can be noticed.

If the piece doesn’t have clear lines or it has a less defined image, then it will be difficult to notice. The replacement of this damaged piece can pass undetected.

Another problem is the fact that the colors and shades of the printed image can actually vary, and the replaced piece can be noticed because it looks it has a slightly different color. This happens mainly with solid colors, like pieces belonging to the sky.

And yet, there are examples of perfect matching. You would never guess that in these pictures one of the pieces was a replacement.

Finally, the pieces that belong to the columns or rows at the border of the die, will actually vary in size and might not be compatible because they will be either too large or too small. That will not be a problem if it is a border piece, but it will be if it is a piece in the inner column or row where the die is turned in the press. Luckily, those pieces are barely just 2% of the total.

I think that Educa’s Lost Piece Service would probably have similar shortcomings, and I am sure that the hand crafted pieces manufactured by the Jigsaw Doctor will not be perfect either.

For that reason, my conclusion is that an imperfect replacement will be better than an incomplete puzzle. It’s worth trying.

Let’s start.

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I once bought a puzzle that was described as new. I had specifically asked whether the puzzle was new or used, and the seller told me that it was new.

Then, I received this:

After having bought more than 1000 puzzles all over the world, I think I have been scammed in every continent.

I don’t take it personally anymore. It just happens. And yet, I can confidently say that most people are honest.

I never presume bad intentions, and I tend to think that the cases in which the seller knows positively that he is lying are the exceptions. Of course, I have had some of those too.

Most of the times, the seller simply doesn’t distinguish between new and like new. In his opinion, the puzzle is new because, after all, it was just opened once but never assembled.

But the buyer cannot read his mind. When the puzzle arrives, he opens it, and it doesn’t match the description, it is too late. Even when most sellers will be willing to accept a return, they will not accept refunding the shipping costs and you end up losing. It is very rare that people will take full responsibility.

How to avoid this? You need to ask more specific questions than simply “Is it new or used?”.

If you ask “Are the pieces sealed in the bag?”, it is possible that you receive a used puzzle that has been resealed, for example with those flimsy bags that you can find at the entrance of some supermarkets. It has happened.

If you ask “Are the pieces in the original plastic bag?”, it is possible that you receive a used puzzle with the bag opened. After all, the pieces were in the original plastic bag, and you never asked whether the bag was sealed. It has happened.

So, I normally ask “Are the pieces still sealed in the original plastic bag or the bag with the pieces has been opened before?”. That question is very specific. When the seller responds to that question saying that the bag was never opened, you can be pretty sure that you are receiving a puzzle with the original bag sealed as it came out of the factory.

And yet… people make mistakes.

I once received a puzzle whose bag had been carefully stapled and it actually looked like a sealed bag puzzle when it was placed in the box. It was not. Sometimes the seller of the puzzle is not the original owner and doesn’t know the exact condition. When he checks the puzzle, he might simply think that the bag was sealed.

Sometimes the puzzle arrives with a partial tear through one of the edges of the bag. The bag can accidentally tear when handling it (it has happened to me), and it is difficult to detect if you don’t check it carefully. It is even possible that the bag tears during transit, and if the tear is just several inches long, the pieces don’t even come out of the bag.

In some of these cases I am sure that the seller knew that his description was misleading or simply false, but I want to believe that it is normally due to ignorance or carelessness. You can avoid them by asking very specific questions.

Needless to say, when you buy a used puzzle, the confidence with which a seller says that the puzzle is complete, doesn’t literally mean anything. He might be sure that the puzzle is complete, and he can honestly believe that it is complete, but that doesn’t mean that it is.

Just expect that  one out of every four used puzzles that you buy will be incomplete or defective.



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We all know how it feels when we buy a used puzzle and it is incomplete.

Sometimes we know long before the puzzle is assembled, when we feel it’s impossible we have missed that corner piece, or there is no way the white piece we are missing will be among all the dark ones that are left.

What if that happens with the same puzzle… 7 times?

The 3000, Ravensburger, Oriental Folk Scene has been jinxed for me. Almost every time I found a copy and got it, the copy was not right and it couldn’t be listed for sale. After verifying the puzzle, there were missing pieces, foreign pieces, damaged pieces, poorly manufactured pieces to replace a missing one… There was always something.

That’s why at Rare Puzzles all the used puzzles listed are complete and in good condition to the best of my knowledge. In order to list a good one, sometimes seven are discarded.

And if I make a mistake, I am always accountable.

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