Internet Philatelic Dealers Association Inc

Credibility Counts

Understanding the Significance of Credibility within the IPDA Community.

Credibility Counts

Understanding the Significance of Credibility within the IPDA Community.

Reputation • Knowledge • Integrity • Trustworthiness • Credibility

Words like credibility, reputation, knowledge, integrity, and trustworthiness all mean something important. Especially when it comes to an online philatelic marketplace, these words become even more significant. But what does that mean exactly? Well, let’s break it down.

In an online marketplace, customers don’t get to see items in person before buying them. That can make it hard to know if something is good or not. On the other side, sellers also have a tough time figuring out if a buyer is trustworthy and genuinely interested in what they’re selling.

So, when you’re a philatelic customer (someone who collects stamps) looking for a dealer online, what should you look for? Credibility is a big one. But what does that mean? It means you want a dealer who is honest, has a good reputation, knows a lot about stamps, and is trustworthy.

By focusing on these qualities, you can feel more confident in choosing a dealer you can trust and rely on.

Understanding the power of customer feedback

Credibility Counts IPDA


In the current online marketplace, many stores and platforms allow for customer feedback. This is one way to “weed out” dealers who may have a track record of dissatisfied customers. A good track record of positive feedback over enough time can provide the customer with some level of confidence that this dealer has a good reputation and has earned the right for the customer to examine his or her offerings on a more serious level.

Feedback, of course, is only one tool that can be used to decide dealer credibility and has its own pitfalls. For example, there is no doubt that there are some people who are just never satisfied and will, for whatever reason, leave negative feedback when in fact the transaction had no issues whatsoever. This situation is fairly easy to discover when reviewing a dealer’s feedback record.

Let’s say the online dealer has been in business for a number of years and their feedback record is 100% (rounded up) positive with hundreds or even thousands of responses. But there are a small number of negative items in their feedback within a small timeframe or from only one or two customers or the listed negatives are for multiple items from one customer but they only had an issue with one of the items (bulk feedback). It would be reasonable to conclude that it is possible that these negative items are an aberration and not the norm for this dealer and this dealer is a credible one.

Now, to flip that script a bit. Same dealer with 100% (again rounded up) or less than 100% positive feedback but with a consistent number of negative comments over time from a number of different customers for multiple items and/or issues. This could indicate a track record of less than stellar customer service or worse. So, it is a good first step to check out an online dealer’s feedback record and understand what that record can mean. A reputable dealer knows that a good reputation is hard-earned and works diligently to maintain it as such.


It’s important to go to the right person for the right job. Just like you wouldn’t ask a plumber to rewire your house, a stamp collector shouldn’t buy stamps from a shoe salesman.

A credible dealer should know a lot about stamps, and you can see that in how they describe their stamps in their online store. They use special words that collectors understand to show their knowledge and credibility.

When you start collecting stamps, you learn some basic words. These words describe things like the condition, centering, gum, cancellations, perforations, and color. Some words are objective, like Mint (M) for unused stamps, and others are more subjective, like Very Fine (VF) or Superb (S).

A knowledgeable and credible dealer uses these industry-standard words to describe their stamps. For example, a MNHOG stamp is one that’s never been used and has its original gum intact. It’s like buying it directly from the post office. A trace of previous hinging would make it not qualify for that description. That’s why credible dealers often show the back of the stamp when they say it’s MNHOG.

Another thing to look out for is the use of “catch words.” Words like RARE, SCARCE, and OLD are exciting, but they don’t always mean the stamp is valuable. Rare and scarce stamps are hard to find, and old stamps are just old. Sometimes people think old stamps are worth a lot, but most of the time, they’re not. Their real value is in being a special family keepsake.

Knowledgeable dealers avoid using catch phrases unless they really fit. Most of the time, they don’t. So it’s good to learn the words used by knowledgeable dealers and be careful when you see catch words that might make something seem more special than it really is.

Understanding the importance of expertise and terminology

Credibilty Counts - IPDA

How Dealers's actions define credibility


Making Sure Dealers Do the Right Thing.

Integrity is all about how dealers act when things don’t go as planned in an online transaction. It could be when a shipment gets lost or damaged, or if an item is mistakenly identified. Dealers are humans too, so they can make mistakes. But what really matters is how they handle those mistakes—it shows if they have integrity and are credible.

It’s not always easy to figure out if a dealer has integrity, but one way is to check their store policies. Pay attention to things like shipping costs, return policies, and whether they have policies about stamp certifications and expert opinions. Here’s a red flag: if a dealer charges super high shipping fees for low-value items, it might mean they care more about making money than making customers happy. It’s like paying $100,000 for delivery when buying a $50,000 car—doesn’t make sense, right?

Now, let’s say a dealer makes an honest mistake in their description. It happens, and it’s not the end of the world. The customer should tell the dealer about the mistake, and what the dealer does next shows their integrity. A dealer with integrity will often refund the purchase price and try to find a replacement for the mistaken item. Sometimes, they’ll even refund the item and pay for the return shipping. They’ll do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.

So, integrity can be hard to judge at first, but there are clues to help you decide if you should trust a dealer and buy from them.


Trust is something that takes time to earn, but once you have it, it can make a big difference in your relationship with a dealer. You can get a sense of trust by looking at their track record, how much they know, and how they handle problems.

There’s a saying, “Trust your gut,” which means you should listen to your instincts. Before you make a decision, make sure to do your research on the dealer’s reputation, knowledge, and integrity. If your investigation tells you something isn’t right, it’s okay to say no and find another dealer. On the other hand, if you feel that the dealer is reputable, knowledgeable, and has integrity, it’s okay to say yes and trust them. This means they seem to be credible.

Remember, trust is important, and it’s up to you to decide who you trust when it comes to buying things online.

The Key to positive dealer-customer relationships

Credibilty Counts - IPDA

One person's view using a few examples

Do I make mistakes?  Yes.   I read something wrong or I make a typo.  I guess we all do. The last time I did it was 1992.  Bad error.   No, only  joking 😊

I  make quite a few  every day  if I am honest but  because I proof read very carefully when I am listing stamps to our store I usually pick up the errors.  Yes, occasionally they slip through  but as I often see errors from others it has taught me to be more careful.

And, I learn from the mistakes of others. In fact when I see an error I wonder if I have made the same mistake.  I will usually check a listing if the same or similar stamps are involved.

Here are two examples – perhaps good examples to learn from.  Images exactly as shown in a listing somewhere…….

The first surprises me but I think it can easily be made because when one is listing this period of Bahrain there are usually no or not many images of the stamps in the catalogue as the stamps were from India, as in this example, and the images are found under India.   It takes time to check but it can be worth the time as Credibility Counts.

Simple mistake although in my view not one that should have crept through to a listing from a responsible, let’s say credible, seller.   In fact, just an additional comment here, this is not a one off example of this actual mistake.  A seller who knew their stamps might I suggest not make this error in listing.

Two stamps with the same Scott listing yet they are different stamps, which surely is easy to see.  The left stamp shows the inscription India Postage, the right stamp shows the inscription India Postage and Revenue. The left stamp is Scott 19 with a catalogue value of $10 while the right stamp is correct as Scott 6 and has a catalogue value of $20. Accuracy of identification is very important, and especially when there are such catalogued price differences.

Credibility Counts - IPDA

Here is another example. This one could be the wrong image loaded.  It could be except for the fact the stamp is described in the listing as  “Used”.

Credibility Counts. There are four rather interesting aspects to this listing.

The first was very obvious. It was listed with a buy it now price of USD $43.20.     This is based on a catalogue price of $67.50 as stated in the listing. This is where one could say a simple error as the Mint price was used by accident in stead of the used catalogue price, which is $10

The second point, reading the listing detail more closely one sees there are 2 copies for sale as stated in the “quantities”  section of the listing.  I wonder if I purchased such a stamp what I would actually get?

The third point – well to me  anyway –  and remember Credibility Counts – there is no scan of the reverse of the stamp.  Perhaps there wouldn’t be given there are 2 for sale.  But, even for a $10 stamp I think I would be showing a scan of the reverse. Credibility and all that!

And the fourth point. This one intrigues me.

If you study the image carefully you will see there is a colour distinction between the black background to the right and left (also applies to the top and bottom perforation margins but we do not fully see this as the listing does not show a wider margin of colour) and the black area around the perforations of the stamp.

How can this happen? There is only one answer I can think of. The stamp image has been cropped from another image and then presented again on another black background.

Now one simple error, an oversight ok. Like I say, we can all make a mistake and miss finding it even during a proof read.  But these four together?

Something is wrong, danger Will Robinson!

Credibility counts.  As a collector and buyer do pay attention to the details in the image of the stamp shown for sale and also, what is written, or in many cases, not written, in the description field.  For sellers, please  check and do not make these and similar mistakes. You will lose credibility with your audience, your prospective customers.

Credibilty Counts - IPDA
Credibility Counts - IPDA