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Anthony Vinson

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Minor rant alert.

I like packet tricks. Who doesn’t? (Well, not all packet tricks of course, only the good ones.) Lately I have witnessed adverts from magic dealers announcing the latest, greatest killer packet tricks with prices of $20.00 to $25.00. I find this is outrageous.

While true that the exorbitantly priced packet tricks usually contain “Specially printed cards manufactured by USPCC”, that is not nearly enough to justify the price point. Cards, even specially printed ones, wear out, get dirty, get tacky, get bent, or get lost… And they eventually need to be replaced. Unfortunately reasonably priced replacement card sets are often unavailable, so if you want to continue performing that killer packet trick, you either have to pay full price for a second set, or try and find someone to make them for you at a more reasonable rate. (And is that even kosher under the circumstances?)

Then there are the killer packet tricks (you do understand that I am using the phrase semi-sarcastically, right? Good. Just checking.) containing standard gaffs. DBs, etc. Are there any of those out there that warrant such high pricing? I think not. Charge me a reasonable price for the manuscript. Or the video if you must. Include one set of gaffs. If I really like the trick, I’ll take it from there.  

Capitalistic considerations aside, and I do realize they matter, what other possible legitimate justifications can you offer for pricing a packet trick and single set of gaffs at $20.00 to $25.00? And if that’s the going rate these days, then how about at least including a second set of gaffs and perhaps offer replacements at a lower price point. (Yes, those are sometimes, but not often, available.)

Rant over. Your thoughts?

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MitchC

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Reply with quote  #2 
Whatever I buy, I most always take at least 1/2 the price for the cost of the idea itself, production & marketing costs as the 'thing(s)' you get make you feel 'ripped off' cuz it's a couple of gimmick cards or ??? BUT keep in mind you are also paying for the method, the R&D etc. If it's too rich for your blood, by all means don't buy it.
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MitchC
Whatever I buy, I most always take at least 1/2 the price for the cost of the idea itself, production & marketing costs as the 'thing(s)' you get make you feel 'ripped off' cuz it's a couple of gimmick cards or ??? BUT keep in mind you are also paying for the method, the R&D etc. If it's too rich for your blood, by all means don't buy it.


Too rich for my blood? No, no. Did I fail to make my point?

My contention is that the price point is too high. It’s a matter of value and utility. This is true even if your thesis is sound, and I would argue otherwise. And I do not feel ripped off, but rather insulted. Caveat emptor, after all.   

Let’s say a twenty dollar packet trick includes a ten dollar markup for the idea itself. What if the idea is an old one and simply being reissued or repurposed? (As so many are.) Is the price for R&D still justified? Not sure how.

Thing is, I do not buy them, but might if the price point were more reasonable. (Having studied card magic for a day or two I can generally, and with an uncanny degree of accuracy, tell what gaffs are in play after watching a video demo. When I can’t – and it happens – either I am baffled or clever editing masked the method.)

Thanks for the reply!

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MitchC

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Reply with quote  #4 
Fair enough. So do you expect things to change ? ...just letting off steam ?
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MitchC
Fair enough. So do you expect things to change ? ...just letting off steam ?


Neither. Merely starting a conversation. Wondering what others think and interested in diverse opinions. That's why I really do appreciate you joining in!

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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #6 
I steer away from any packet tricks or card tricks that require me to buy replacement cards.
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Blathermist

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Reply with quote  #7 

Magic dealers have forever sold-bent-pin methods as miracles. It’s what they do. The bent pin comes as part of the package, of course, but when it breaks down, or wears out, the only place to acquire a replacement is the dealer. And they’re never cheap.

Replacement cards are the bent pins of packet tricks.

Today we also have the one trick DVD that cost nothing to produce and is priced beyond rubies. Sometimes it comes with a bent pin; often times it comes with a link to a place where the bent pin can be purchased.

Twas ever thus.

There’s a not dissimilar discussion going on over in the Session Room even as we speak. 

 

Cue dealer response…………

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EVILDAN
I steer away from any packet tricks or card tricks that require me to buy replacement cards.


I can dig it. But wouldn't you check out a couple if the prices were more reasonable?

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blathermist

Magic dealers have forever sold-bent-pin methods as miracles. It’s what they do. The bent pin comes as part of the package, of course, but when it breaks down, or wears out, the only place to acquire a replacement is the dealer. And they’re never cheap.

Replacement cards are the bent pins of packet tricks.

Today we also have the one trick DVD that cost nothing to produce and is priced beyond rubies. Sometimes it comes with a bent pin; often times it comes with a link to a place where the bent pin can be purchased.

Twas ever thus.



Too true, too true. And as for those single trick DVD/downloads, bent pin or no? What a boon for online magic dealers! I can only hope that the creators (recreators? synthesizers?) profit equally well, but I have my concerns. I recently noted a rather well-known and well-respected creator of original card effects had two items for download on a popular online site, each for $9.95 (Marked down for a limited time!). A visit to his personal site turned up the same two tricks and eight others, in ebook form along with accompanying videos of the effects, for only a tad more than $10.00. If I were in the market, the ebook would've been my choice. But then again, I had to learn that I had choices. Yep, caveat emptor indeed... 

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MitchC

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Reply with quote  #10 
Would it help anyone if we got specific ? Identify effects you feel are worthy of the price and those that are not ? Or just want to keep this high level ?
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MitchC
Would it help anyone if we got specific ? Identify effects you feel are worthy of the price and those that are not ? Or just want to keep this high level ?


I'd rather we kept it general rather than name specific tricks or inventors or even dealers. Don't want to impugn anyone.

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MitchC

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Reply with quote  #12 
Gotcha. So how many diverse opinions are there on this topic ? I just foresee a lot of complaining ahead but I'll peek in to see what develops. I have many more ideas on this topic, but I'll just bow out and watch the responses.

I'll offer just one last bit. I recently paid $25 for 6 totally un-gimmicked cards, a few envelopes and a download link. (I did not have a clue as to the method, which is what I was buying in my mind). But what I saw in the effect was the opportunity to link it with Greg Rostami's app 'iForce' so to me, I made more out of the effect than what was paid for.... so worth it to me as the reaction of the combined routine is outstanding.

$25 + "OMG", 'WTF" = Priceless


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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #13 
How many diverse opinions? Dunno. My guess is that there a sufficient number to warrant discussion. If not, the topic will quickly die. Or at least fade away.

So you find utility in your purchase? Great! That's what it's all about. Me, on the other hand, probably not, but that's the beauty and majesty of free-market capitalism. It also goes toward my point and provides an answer to your question, don't you think?

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Blathermist

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson

Too rich for my blood? No, no. Did I fail to make my point?



No. Well not as far as I'm concerned.
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Blathermist

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Reply with quote  #15 

MitchC:
So how many diverse opinions are there on this topic?

How long is a piece of string?

MitchC
I just foresee a lot of complaining ahead…..

Which itself sounds like a complaint.

MitchC
I have many more ideas on this topic, but I'll just bow out and watch the responses.

Why not stay and post these ideas?

MitchC
$25 + "OMG", 'WTF" = Priceless

Just dandy, and it’s good that one item worked out so well for one person. But what if you’re the only one who sort of had an idea of what to do with the offered product? How many might think:
$25 + "OMG", 'WTF" = Daylight Robbery. 

 

Identifying specific "rogue" tricks might help; it would certainly extend and enliven the discussion. And, methinks, would likely give Rudy stomach ache. 

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Michaelblue

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Reply with quote  #16 
I bought another B'Wave recently and, though it was $20.00, it did come with another set and other cards.  That's more like it. 
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Bob Farmer

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Reply with quote  #17 
I sell a couple of packet tricks and replacement cards are always available for a reasonable price.  I'm referring to the Bammo Monte Monster and Headhunter. The pricing has to reflect two things: the manufacturing costs and the quality of the effect. It's a balance. 

There are a lot of really bad packet tricks out there, and, yes, they are overpriced--a bad trick is always overpriced because it's not worth the investment.

Here's some tips on how to keep your packet tricks in good condition:

Anyone who does packet tricks knows that the cards quickly deteriorate and end up gummy and dirty. Applying fanning powder (zinc sterate) makes the dirt problem worse. Powdered Teflon (available from piano repair suppliers) works much better.

I have experimented with all kinds of so-called protective sprays and every one I tried just made a mess. However, I just found one that seems to be working very well:

Hahnemuhle Fineart Protective Spray for all inkjet media. See: http://www.hahnemuhle.com

I sprayed my Bammo Three Card Monte Monster Cards with this and then, after it dried, applied Teflon powder. The result: so far, fantastic. The cards look normal, don't get dirty, and the handling is not affected.

And you also need powdered Teflon:

http://www.spurlocktools.com/ptfe_powder.htm

Wrap two chalk board brushes in velvet not felt. Glue the stuff on. Put the Teflon on one brush, put the brushes together and wrap with an elastic. Push the cards through one by one.

Here's the Bammo Monte Monster:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Bammommagic


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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Farmer
I sell a couple of packet tricks and replacement cards are always available for a reasonable price.  I'm referring to the Bammo Monte Monster and Headhunter. The pricing has to reflect two things: the manufacturing costs and the quality of the effect. It's a balance. 

There are a lot of really bad packet tricks out there, and, yes, they are overpriced--a bad trick is always overpriced because it's not worth the investment.


Who said this topic wouldn't generate useful conversation?!

Thanks, Bob. Those are great tips. And at the expense of waxing sycophantic, I have always been more than pleased with products purchased from you. I think that's key, and part of my problem with the $25.00 packet tricks. I do not mind paying a premium price for killer, proprietary material. For instance, I consider Alice's Revenge a bargain. The cards are durable since they are never in the hands of a spectator. Another example is Ben Blau's Unfazed, a bargain even at it's relatively astronomical price point. Why? Because it's set that high by design to keep it out of the hands of the causal browser.

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michaelblue
I bought another B'Wave recently and, though it was $20.00, it did come with another set and other cards.  That's more like it. 


B'Wave is another packet trick that I consider a bargain. The concept is, or at least was at the the time, well worth premium pricing. And since the cards are not over-handled or put into the paws of curious spectators, I still have and use my original set purchased in the early 90s.

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Wayne T

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Reply with quote  #20 
In the past I've worked on cases involving counterfeit goods, (for example software, sports apparel, watches, cigarettes, etc. : although I can't remember anything involving magic products). One issue is that the high cost of a desired product is part of the complex problem that drives an otherwise compliant public to the knock off market.

I with where AV is coming from and while I am not a cost accountant (I have another whole other rant about how they have destroyed the world), a $25 packet trick hits a price point that loses my attention. For $25 I'd rather buy a DVD for a specific trick and hopefully get another one or two good tricks. While somewhat more, books probably return a better value on cost of usable tricks. 

I have also been disappointed with the quality of the gaff cards I have received. In one case the cards were little better than something someone created with their own home dot matrix printer. Even Bob Farmer's excellent card care advice couldn't help with these so called cards.

In another, the magnetic gaff I bought broke after an hour of playing with it. It was noisy and jerky and in no way could be performed in front of someone unless the Sex Pistols were performing around you and that was a $25 item.
In the end, for me it has come down to that I have been disappointed in some of MY purchases, perhaps I should have done more research or lowered MY expectations of what $25 can buy? I used to spend $10 and not worry what I got, perhaps $25 is the new $10?

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Wayne T

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Reply with quote  #21 
..and another thing [rofl]

Online vendors have really changed the buying and customer service experience. Normally at a real bricks and mortar store you can get a demo, explanation and/or hold the product you want to buy. This face to face interaction establishes a much better relationship that many online vendors fail or have no interest in establishing.

Real stores thrive on good service and repeat business, On line vendors have much less invested and in many cases are only interested in volume sales as opposed to creating a relationship with their clients.  

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Bob Farmer

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Reply with quote  #22 
A packet trick selling for $25 has to be more than outstanding, it has to be something akin to raising the dead. And it should come with a video explanation and a written explanation.

Packet tricks in the $15 to $20 regions are reasonable, especially if they require special cards. Less than that and I can't see, given the economics of manufacture and distribution, that anything worthwhile is involved. 
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Farmer
A packet trick selling for $25 has to be more than outstanding, it has to be something akin to raising the dead. And it should come with a video explanation and a written explanation.

Packet tricks in the $15 to $20 regions are reasonable, especially if they require special cards. Less than that and I can't see, given the economics of manufacture and distribution, that anything worthwhile is involved. 


Couldn't agree more. Problem is, lately I have seen far too many packet tricks in the $25.00 range that, based on my experience, are far from worth the price point. I fear this is a growing trend.

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Paul Hallas

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Reply with quote  #24 
Great info. from Bob. 

Having sold a few packet tricks myself I also tend to think the price point for a number of newer packet tricks seems high. 

One thing to consider is if the packet tricks are produced overseas, the dollar is low compared to other currencies, so a packet trick from England, say may seem expensive when converted to dollars. 

I've personally  never bought a packet trick that cost over $20 (unless I paid less in a sale). I was going to say I've never marketed one over $20, but that is not so,  "Fortune" DVD was over $20 but came with cards and more than one routine with them and some routines without the included cards. "The Handy Collection" also came with more than one routine with the cards. They are usually offered cheaper all over the web anyway..

Marketing strategy is different these days though, people may be trying to make their money quick before the effects get ripped off in China and sold for a couple of dollars.

There are a lot of ridiculous prices in magic, but no-one forces anyone to buy anything. You can ALWAYS find something else good to spend your money on. 
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Brian Douglas

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Reply with quote  #25 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson

Minor rant alert...

...Rant over. Your thoughts?



Same rant applies to DVD's.  Punters will buy a single trick as long as it spells it out step by step and includes all the patter on a DVD... instead of buying a book with hundreds of tricks that require practice and refinement... 

If they are willing to shill out $20 for a packet that's on the buyer.  A fool and his money and all that...

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alicauchy

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Reply with quote  #26 
It is the laws of supply and demand, as Mr Vinson said when referring to free-market capitalism.

Of course, if there are buyers which pay the price ... there is no hope for cheaper (and fairer) prices.

For my taste, it is much better a (good) book than a DVD or a single trick. 

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Michaelblue

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Reply with quote  #27 
If i shell out 25 bucks for anything, i will have already spoken to people who have it and tell me it is worthwhile. One good deal i bought was Jeff Prace's Search Engine Pen, 10 bucks, great trick.
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JustChico

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Reply with quote  #28 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne T
..and another thing [rofl]

Online vendors have really changed the buying and customer service experience. Normally at a real bricks and mortar store you can get a demo, explanation and/or hold the product you want to buy. This face to face interaction establishes a much better relationship that many online vendors fail or have no interest in establishing.

Real stores thrive on good service and repeat business, On line vendors have much less invested and in many cases are only interested in volume sales as opposed to creating a relationship with their clients.  


On that note, the return policy for online magic retailers is pretty bad. Don't get me wrong...I totally get that once you have the "package" then you have, in theory, the method. I'm not arguing that at all. Where it gets fuzzy is that online, you're essentially buying an ad video. If I pay good money for an effect and the included materials are of pathetic quality (by design). See Wayne T's post for context. At that point, you, the buyer, are just out of luck. Now you have a great method that you paid $x for IN ADDITION to the materials, only to have to turn around an, if even possible, spend $y more for better-quality materials.

That being said, Aaron Fisher has, IMHO, the best return policy in magic. Ya don't like it, ya get your money back. Done. We hope we can offer something more your style next time. I get that that's not really, shall we say, effective business model. Since, let's be honest...people will buy something long enough to get what they want then return it. Kinda like leaving the tags on clothes they intend to wear one time. But, still, there has to be a middle ground, right?
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