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December 17, 2012

Yuuup, Storage Wars Auctions May be Rigged

Filed under: Business — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:49 am

Storage Wars MrConsumer admits it — he is a fan of Storage Wars, the A&E cable series. In the show, the contents of abandoned storage lockers are auctioned off each week to the highest bidder. There are four recurring and quirky cast members, who, along with members of the public, bid blindly on these storage lockers in the hopes of finding some treasure amongst the junk. The cast members almost always win a storage locker in each auction, and many times they find an antique or other unexpected treasure worth thousands of dollars.

Now, one of the four regulars, Dave Hester (famous for placing bids by exclaiming “yuuup”), alleges in a lawsuit that the show is rigged. He claims, among other things, that the producers “salt” lockers with high-value items to heighten excitement when a successful cast member “finds” it, and that they assist the less well-financed cast member bidders who would not otherwise have enough money to pay for the storage lockers on which they are bidding.

Hester spoke out about these problems to A&E executives, suggesting that these practices were in essence rigging a game show, which is against federal law. Hester says he was then fired after the producers had already exercised an option to renew his $25,000 per episode contract. He filed a lawsuit against them last week.

*MOUSE PRINT: Excerpt from lawsuit:

Storage Wars suit

As a regular viewer, MrConsumer always wondered about several things in this “reality” show:

1. With dozens of bidders present at most auctions, how is it that the cast members almost always seem to be the winners?

2. Why would cast members bid often thousands of dollars for abandoned junk, that on its face, is worth no more than a few hundred dollars?

3. If such valuable items were stored in these lockers, why wouldn’t the true owner have paid the minimal storage bill or removed the valuable items before failing to make monthly payments?

4. With cast members seemingly only bidding against each other as the prices rose beyond what an average citizen would bid for a pile of used household goods, were the producers subsidizing those above fair market value bids?

Now we may know the answer.

*MOUSE PRINT:

As we have asserted before, some of the worst mouse print is the mouse print that is missing. There is no disclaimer in the television program credits stating that the producers of the show offer financial assistance to some bidders and that some items are “found” for dramatic effect.

A&E has had no comment on the lawsuit yet, but earlier this year said in a statment, “there is no staging involved. The items uncovered in the storage units are the actual items featured on the show.”

• • •

13 Comments

  1. I don’t have a source, but I have read that an executive of the show admitted that the contents of some lockers were moved and combined with other lockers to make them look more appealing. The executive did not admit to faking items, just moving them around.

    I have never watched an entire episode of one of these storage locker or pawn shop shows, but like many things on TV, I do not want to see something that is touted as real, but has all sorts of producers and directors who are supposed to make the show more appealing.

    In one episode I saw them bid on a locker and then behind a pile of junk was a vintage car. It’s not difficult to believe that someone MIGHT store a vintage car in a storage locker, but it is tough to believe that they would abandon it.

    I also have a problem with the amount of money that they bid. I assume that they make each bid with the intention of making a profit off of the items within the unit. When bids get into the thousands that has got to be a losing proposition. As mentioned in the post, there may either be rigging or subsidizing going on. We don’t even need to get into why Hester chose to expose the show now that he is fired. I assume that if the bids were always rigged he would have had an aversion to them when he first started collecting paychecks.

    Reality TV has long been a misnomer.

    Comment by Wayne R — December 17, 2012 @ 8:21 am
  2. I don’t know if it’s rigged or not (probably) but it is plausible that all these items were found, just by only slowing select lockers. I.e. if Hester buys 100 lockers, surely at least a few have cool things in them, only air those few and it seems like every other locker has valuable treasures.

    Comment by Bryan — December 17, 2012 @ 9:05 am
  3. Rigged or not, I don’t watch. Life is short. What does watching this add to it?

    Comment by Marty — December 17, 2012 @ 9:39 am
  4. I really would never compare this to a “game show”, I mean, I thought for people like Dave Hestor, this was his JOB. And funny that he sues them when he was a part of what he is suing over??

    I do like the show, but always found it funny when a locker is 100% junk but then miraculously they find one box in there that has something worth thousands of dollars.

    As for how are the cast members the ones that win, well, I’m sure they film dozens of locker purchases and then show you the 3 or 4 where they did win.

    Why they bid thousands on things, well, I do think that experience does help them in seeing things that most would not see, or that “gut feeling”. Even just seeing random clothes laying around, you can tell if they are nice clothes (even if worn a lot) or just junk clothes.

    And I can see them cutting out showing non cast members bidding, the show is to highlight their cast, not the others, and if you show the others too much or have them talk too much, you have to start paying them.

    Comment by Tina — December 17, 2012 @ 10:40 am
  5. Actually, one of my bigger issues is when they value the items, I would love to see how they sell the stuff for what they say it is worth.

    Or when they buy a locker for $800 then, even at their high valuation, say they can get $1,000 and say how they made a profit. So, you spend all day driving to an auction, then hauling the stuff out, then putting it in your store, then trying to sell EVERYTHING you bought and you might get $200 and you call that a profit (and that profit gets taxed). I mean, if you aren’t selling it for double what you paid, you aren’t making a profit, that is the way it is. Taxes alone take out a good 30% of your “profit”, gas money, overhead, your time, etc… take up at least 50% or more of your “profit”.

    I mean, they even show them sometimes selling stuff on ebay, that takes a lot of time to enter the items, then pay your ebay fees, paypal fees, shipping and handling fees.

    But as far as seeding lockers, one of the most fishy was when Barry bought that empty locker for like $2 that basically had a dresser in it, he opens the dresser to find those old time fly traps (or was it the old time glass fire extinguishers, I forget which) that were worth hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. Gee, really? LOL

    Comment by Tina — December 17, 2012 @ 10:44 am
  6. One more “rant”, the very last episode, when Jarrod “found” that Planet of the Apes vest in the locker. I’m 100% sure that was a plant. Made no sense for that one item to be in the locker they found, then they miraculously take it to a store that looked like all they sold was Planet of the Apes memorabilia, the guy there had his POTA t-shirt on, saw the vest, knew 100% it was real. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they just got the vest off of that guy and planet it in the locker.

    Had the locker had other Hollywood type memorabilia or even just had that “feel” of someone that collected stuff or was in to movies, then it might be believable.

    But this show isn’t that bad, that rip off series Storage Hunters is extremely bad and every episode is 100% fake. I mean, they had one where they opened the locker and it was a meth house and the meth guy was right there, bought the locker back and closed the door. Yeah, right. Plus, every episode they stage such fake fights, etc…

    At least with Storage Wars, I think the rivalries and fighting between people are pretty real, I’m sure they have bid against each other many times and have had scuffles.

    Comment by Tina — December 17, 2012 @ 10:50 am
  7. Do you remember when A&E stood for Arts and Entertainment? The arts were dropped long ago, and the entertainment is, of course, a subjective call.

    Comment by Marty — December 17, 2012 @ 1:04 pm
  8. 1. With dozens of bidders present at most auctions, how is it that the cast members almost always seem to be the winners? As many have pointed out, they would film thousands over a season and only show dozens to keep the public interest. Who wants to see a ton of auctions go to faceless people and never know anything about the locker?

    2. Why would cast members bid often thousands of dollars for abandoned junk, that on its face, is worth no more than a few hundred dollars? Because a. they don’t know what is behind the junk and b. like an eBay or beezid purchase, when participating in auctions, there are many, many people that get caught up in the game.

    3. If such valuable items were stored in these lockers, why wouldn’t the true owner have paid the minimal storage bill or removed the valuable items before failing to make monthly payments? Working in local government, you’d be surprised the things people abandon, ruin, etc. Just check out the show, Hoarders, or others like it. Hoarding Buried Alive is definitely a real show (though I can’t say that some reactions are coerced or anything like that), as my department has been contacted before when the show was searching for hoarding homes. Some of those people have thousands of dollars worth of treasures, sometimes in storage lockers, garages, etc, that are either ruined eventually or abandoned for financial reasons (in the case of a storage unit).

    4. With cast members seemingly only bidding against each other as the prices rose beyond what an average citizen would bid for a pile of used household goods, were the producers subsidizing those above fair market value bids? I believe A&E actually does fund some if not all the cast members. I think I have read before that Barry and Jared receive money to bid. Not sure on the others…

    I’m not sticking up for the show. I do love the show (though not Dave so much), but I take it for what it is: a TV show. If it is fake, it’s fake I guess.

    Now we may know the answer.

    Comment by Laura — December 17, 2012 @ 2:51 pm
  9. An answer for question one:

    The show is only going to showcase the bidding for the lockers that the people on the show that have signed an agreement to be on the show have won.

    An answer for question two:

    For some of these people they have made a career out of buying storage lockers before A&E, Spike TV, Tru TV, And the Travel Channel started airing these types of shows. You can win like the lottery with one of these lockers.

    One answer for question three:

    The owner of the locker dies, no other family member knows about the storage locker and then it goes up for auction.

    I do not know what to say for number 4. The prices for the lockers have gone up since the show started and the people going are gambling that something super pricey is in the locker. It does not matter where you live, the price of storage lockers have gone up since the shows aired.

    10% of the lockers on Average are going to be good lockers in the end.

    You have to also ask the question how much is Jarrod and Brandi getting per show?? Do they need the money that A&E just pays them to keep the business they have open?

    To Tina and all: I could never really like Storage Hunters as I found the fighting to be awkward and not in the other shows.

    That one Barry locker was sold for 2.50 and not two bucks. That locker had 4 old glass fly trap things worth 2 grand. With only one item in that locker that was the wooden dresser that the people could see it is a pure gamble as to weather it is a was winner or not. A scratch off lottery ticket can easily more than 2.50, so not much money is lost if that locker was pure junk.

    I do want agree with you on the pricing of the items, plus sometimes we only see them go through half a locker and then we have like the profit tally on just that part of the locker. I would like to see the final price they sold some of the items for.

    A&E could be plant the lockers with some juicy stuff in them, but even in the end with the ratings they get they still wind up a winner.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — December 17, 2012 @ 2:59 pm
  10. And one more answer for question three:

    Some people just do not know how valuable an item is. It is like watching the PBS show Antiques roadshow. Some people go on the show and are asked how much you thing you think it is worth and they say 400-500 bucks. But the appraiser comes back with a 2000 dollar value.

    I will say that none of the regulars on the show are pure antiques and collectible experts, that is why they take that one oh so special item to an expert to get appraised.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — December 17, 2012 @ 3:07 pm
  11. “The items uncovered in the storage units are the actual items featured on the show.” This is what the producers said. But they didn’t say which storage unit or when, i.e., they could have been discovered at one auction and then “salted” into a storage locker featured on the show. Too many unanswered questions, but still fun to watch the characters.

    Comment by jb — December 23, 2012 @ 1:07 pm
  12. “…The items uncovered in the storage units are the actual items featured on the show.”

    That statement would make more sense (though not necessarily more believable)if it instead read,
    “Items featured on the show are the actual items uncovered in the storage units.”

    Comment by Big Bill — December 24, 2012 @ 7:12 am
  13. This show, along with Parking Wars and Ice Road Truckers was once entertaining to watch. But as these series progress, the cast of characters all seem to get bigger, and sometimes obnoxious egos.

    Comment by Big Bill — December 24, 2012 @ 7:21 am

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