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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Gaffed & Funky » » Svengali deck rip off (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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abracadanny
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I was at as a magic museum( I'm not going to mention the name) and at the
of the tour they were trying to sell some cheap magic to the
Laymen. The man took out a non bicycle Svengali deck. He was selling
It for 20 bucks. He said if you were to buy it anywhere
Else it would be 40. I was extremely offended that he was ripping people off
Like that. What's your opinion?
Zebaztian
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That's trickery.

That guy's a thief.
My mind reading routines: http://www.basjongenelen.nl/goocheltrucs/. Scroll a bit down to the English routines.
motown
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I would have caled him out.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
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Failed Magician
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Happens a lot in here. Local made cards, turned into Svengali, then sold more expensive than the Bicycle Svengali. It's just hurting me everytime I see these guys' stall.
Magic comes through perception. -HS
s3rg3
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I would have a little chat with him...
Probably it will not change anything, but I will feel better...

Rgds
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Card-Shark
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I don´t mind about it, the price is fair. What do you want to tell him? He has to earn a living. If you are booked for 45 minutes and get hundreds of Dollars for it, would you like to discuss your hourly rate with a steal worker?

Remember the story of Michael Finney, where he paid the bartender 100 US$ to learn how to vanish a cigarette. That was a TT, and the best money spent in his whole life as he says as this brought him into magic.

So if an expensive Svengali Deck brings a lay person into magic... It exactly happened to me. Without a Svengali and Stripper Deck that I bought at a Carnival many years ago I would never have become a magician. This is a true story and I am very thankful. After many years I now know his name, he does "cheap" tricks for lay people. And he is a great guy.
Expert in playing card production for magicians.

The Person Who Says It cannot Be Done Should Not Interrupt The Person Doing It!
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saysold1
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I agree - the cost is not relative, the buyer is paying for the secret and the methods.

People can charge whatever they want - if the price point tips too high, nobody will buy it. As magicians we know the price is exorbitant of course, but the nature of capitalism is people will charge what the market will bear - even for an inferior product.


BRETT
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Vlad_77
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I have no problem with setting a price; in THAT the pitchman was fine. What I DO have a problem with is the blatant LIE that "anywhere else this deck would cost 40.00". But, as there IS a sucker born every minute, what can I say?


Namaste,
Vlad
J.Warrens
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I don't have a problem with anything the pitchman was doing.

I remember the very first time I ever saw an invisible deck being performed. It was by some magician in Niagara Falls and he played it off as a bet by putting $1000.00 on the line. He claimed that he had earlier opened the box of cards, reversed one card in the deck, and then re-shrunk the wrapping around the case. He was willing to put his money against a card freely named by an audience member.

Well, let me tell you I was amazed when he didn't lose his money.

Just a short ways away was a small pitchstand. The guy running it asked me if I saw the effect as I just described above. I replied that I had indeed, seen the "miracle". He asked me if I was interested in knowing how it was done. The conversation began to shift into whispered tones and I began to feel as though I was really being let in on something really big. I was asked not to let anyone know how it was done, and especially, not to let the magician I just saw performing know. Oh yeah, did I mention that he "only had 1 left?" - they were apparently "hard to get!"

Nothing says "education" like a $60.00 Invisible Deck to a 13 year old!

That's when I truly learned the value of a secret - you can guarantee that I worked that puppy hard and would NEVER reveal the secret to something I paid so dearly for.

Anybody wanna bet that the 2 were working together? Smile

Cheers.
Chris Henderson
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By pricing it the way he did he was also keeping it out of the hands of the idly curious.
"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief"

--Gerry Spence
DelMagic
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Some thoughts, in my opinion...

"I don´t mind about it, the price is fair."

How can you say that in such an unqualified manner? And by that I don't mean you personally are unqualified, I mean you have not offered any qualifiers to your assertion, such as: The price is fair IF the cards will hold up...
The price is fair IF the instructions are ... Since you offered no qualifiers of this type, you gave your pronouncement in an unqualified manner.

I can't make an unqualified assertion that the price was UNfair, since I am just so far removed from the situation. If the cards of good quality, if the instructions teach how to practice and present the magic in a solid fashion, if there are avenues for further aid presented (blogs, email, online Q&A, forums, videos), if the customer is prepared for the "value" proposition in magic purchasing, then maybe it was fair.

I happen to side with Vlad in that the assertion that everywhere else this is sold for $40 is obviously incorrect. Since I don't know the fellow, I don't actually know he is lying, but he is either woefully uninformed or he is lying. In either case, my confidence for the buyer coming out with value is low. He would be hardpressed to even find one other place that sold generic Svengalis for $40, much less likely "everywhere else."

As for explaining the hourly charge for a magic show versus what a steelworker makes, I would have no problem in dealing with that. I am not a professional magician and I am essentially an hourly worker. There are probably very few magicians who perform 40-50 hours per week. Their paid time is far less than the normal full-time worker. There are very few steelworkers who need to spend significant unpaid hours every week practicing their steelworking the way magicians do. There are few steelworkers that have to buy their own tools at their own expense and on their own time the way a magician has to. There are few steelworkers that have to pay to ship the cranes, trucks and I-bars to the new jobsite the way a magician has to. There are few steelworkers that have to send out contracts and renegotiate them with companies the way magicians do. There are few steelworkers that have to account for their own tax burdens all year long as magicians do since a steelworker has that done in each check by his employer. In all these things and many more, the difference in the "hourly" wage for a magician vs. a steelworker can be adequately explained.

The ends do not justify the means. Anecdotes such as Finney and Card-Shark are not convincing that the practices of this individual/museum are justified.
Card-Shark
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With my post I wanted to open up another view to the situation.

The whole world out there is unfair. There are politicians out there that are just stupid and make 100 times more money than me. There are hard working waitresses that do perhaps a fifth of my income, I don´t know. Take the music business. All these "stars" in the pop music industry earn so much money that they could buy a house every time they perform for perhaps an hour. Some very famous guy said: what is a bank robbery compared to open up a bank? I think all these relations are totally unfair but I cannot change the situation. So I have to live with that.

If I was well entertained, if I wanted to know the secret, if I wanted to get this trick, and if I had the money to afford it: I would think it would be a fair deal. All these TV commercials running through the night with building up muscles, getting in better shape etc.: they are all lying. They use actors, scripts, fakes etc. but people buy this stuff and will find out the hard way that it will not work. At least the Svengali deck works. Smile

That is what I meant in saying it is fair. At least all that is shown with the deck by the pitchman is true (in some kind). Exagerations like the 40$ price are a bold lie, but we lie during all our performances all the way and "sell" our magic to the audience. So how do you want to judge? Do you always pay the lowest price in all your purchases? How much magical crap did you gather during all the years you are a magician? Open up your drawer or look on your shelf. Magical items that are worth nothing. That were never used because they would not stand the real life performance. There you really burned money. And you will do it again. Because we lie, don´t tell the truth all the time, the world is unfair.
Expert in playing card production for magicians.

The Person Who Says It cannot Be Done Should Not Interrupt The Person Doing It!
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saysold1
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I have to agree with Cardshark again on his points.

I take much bigger issue with those who steal other ideas, especially in magic.

On Ebay a few weeks ago I noticed many copycats of very recent tricks - like the "Wow" card trick selling for as low as $5.00. Full list price for the genuine article is closer to $40, yes?

Now I would rather pay the $40 for the genuine version and support the creators of the trick, but many consumers will just buy the cheap copy - which may or may not even work. Buyer beware of course.

Bottom line to me is consumers make decisions every day with the limited information they have at hand. Good consumers do their homework and can decide whether $40 is a wacky price for a $15 Svengali card trick, but lets be honest - this is an "impulse" buy item, as so many magical items are.

The saying I believe is "Caveat Emptor."
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Zebaztian
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I thought you had to pay $20 for a non-genuine deck in that shop.
My mind reading routines: http://www.basjongenelen.nl/goocheltrucs/. Scroll a bit down to the English routines.
DelMagic
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Card-Shark,

Thank you your response.

You are right the world isn't fair and certainly salary discrepancies exist and cause us all to roll our eyes. None of that is justification for telling people that this product sells for double my selling price everywhere else.

You are correct that someone may be satisfied with the $20 price for the deck. We hope they all are, but I think it is a fool's hope. It is unlikely they will remain satisfied if they then shop around. With internet access, it is no longer difficult to check out the price of a magic trick. Fifteen or twenty years ago dealers were insulated from comparison shopping by the general public. It may put a black eye on the magic industry in the consumer's eyes if they shop around. That hurts all of us in the world of magic.

I disagree that the saleman's lie (if it is) is akin to "...but we lie during all our performances all the way and "sell" our magic to the audience..." We lie in the same way an actor in a play lies, or a movie actor or a cartoon voice lies. The public knows these situations are different from purchasing an item at retail and so do I. They are not equivalent nor are they a justification for his actions.
DelMagic
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Saysold1 "I take much bigger issue with those who steal other ideas, especially in magic."

That is another real problem and one where magicians are hurting each other.

I am truly dismayed by the sites that copy magic books and allow free downloading. Being a huge book fan, that just disgusts me.
Cyberqat
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So... I happened to audit a business law course at one point. AIUI from that class, legally, this guy was walking a very fine line.

A salesman may NOT lie about anything that is "material to the sale." Doing so is the definition of fraud. So IF someone bought it specifically because they thought they were getting a bargain, legally the salesman probably committed fraud.

There is one kind of lie that is allowed, and that falls into the caveat emptor space. Its called "puffery". If the salesman claims something that is obviously on the face of it ridiculous, then he is not liable if you believe him.

For instance: "This car goes like a jet airplane!" If you claim fraud later because jets have a significantly higher maximum velocity then your car, you'ld probably lose.
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
edh
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So are magic dealers commiting fraud or puffery?
Magic is a vanishing art.
saysold1
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We have used the "puffery" term in Real Estate for many years, although Realtors (as salespeople) are not held in very high regard.

Realtors many times mention that a home like this just sold a few years ago for $600,000! ...But fail to mention the other side which is that this home is now worth only $250,000 today. The Realtor may scream that now is a perfect time to buy - also failing to mention that prices are predicted to fall even further.

So giving selective information (like it or not) is the nature of the beast.

Any fairground in the United States has hucksters selling "as seen on TV" products purported to be worth more than what they might sell for elsewhere. There is no surprise there - I go into those booths with a skeptical attitude.

I think this whole thread is getting way to deep. Puffery is part of sales like it or not, buyers need to be aware.
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DelMagic
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"I think this whole thread is getting way to deep. Puffery is part of sales like it or not, buyers need to be aware."

I probably helped to move it off course a little myself.

The initial question had to do with what would you (a magician) have done in this situation due to the specialized knowledge we might have about what we were witnessing. So, certainly all buyers have to be aware, but the what about our roles? My general thoughts on this given above lead me to think I would approve of someone calling out the pitchman on the facts of the pitch. I seriously doubt though that I would have the assertiveness to do it myself.
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