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Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Dec 11 2012 20:58:26

Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
Ever wonder if bidding on abandoned storage lockers could land you a windfall - or at least keep you stocked with valuable inventory to sell on eBay? Fans of reality television show Storage Wars may be in for some disappointment after news emerged of a lawsuit alleging show producers seeded some storage units with valuable or unusual goods to make the show more interesting.

"On each episode of the show, professional buyers bid on storage units and then resell everything of value at their own consignment stores or to buyers directly."

But one of those buyers, a cast member of the show, filed a lawsuit against cable network A&E and the show's producer, Original Productions LLC. In his complaint, Dave Hester alleges, "although the Series is intended to be a truthful "reality series," depicting people bidding on auctions of abandoned storage lockers, A&E has committed a fraud on the public and its television audience in violation of the communications Act of 1934, which makes it illegal for broadcasters to rig a contest of intellectual skill with the intent to deceive the viewing public."

Many viewers are aware that reality television shows may not be exactly representative of the particular situation they are portraying, but nevertheless, it's easy to believe some people may have been drawn to bidding on abandoned storage lockers as a result of the show. A discussion forum on A&E shows viewers were debating a year ago about whether Storage Wars was staged.

Hester appears on the show bidding against others on storage locker contents for his consignment store called Rags to Riches. Today's lawsuit reveals that, according to Hester, the show was preparing to pay him a fee of $25,000 per episode with a guaranteed minimum of 26 items; $2500 per month for the duration of production; and a non-accountable expense account of $124,500 and a $25,000 signing bonus. He has since closed the storefronts due to the demands of the show and now operates his business reselling on eBay, Amazon.com and Craigslist. You can also find him on Twitter.

Lots of reality shows portraying auctions, pawn shops and picking have aired over the last decade. Will the Storage Wars allegations hurt all of these television shows, similar to what happened to TV quiz shows in the 1950s?

If there are any fans of reality TV shows, let us know what you think of today's news, and whether it matters if reality TV shows are staged.

Will today's news change your viewing habits?

Reading EcommerceBytes Blog: Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Dec 11 22:02:04 2012
Pretty obvious there were staged items as a locker full of Garbage worth about 100 bucks; then all of a sudden the famous words “oh what have we here” and a 10 grand lump of gold is produced (example)
I Still like the programme  and will continue to watch, don’t expect (F)ester to be around long now
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow
       
Wed Dec 12 00:07:30 2012
In my opinion, there's only been one non-scripted "reality" series in the history of television: The PBS show "An American Family" about the Louds. And I was really crushed to find out that "House Hunters" was fake.  
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: Jane Dough This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 00:22:23 2012
I've only seen the show once, but on that episode, the guy opened the back of a picture only to uncover several hundred dollar bills. If only it were that easy!
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 01:28:22 2012
I watch this show all the time.  I never doubted it was at least partially staged, but I enjoyed the characters.
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: nothingnew This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Wed Dec 12 01:37:11 2012
Without a doubt they are all staged. It's entertaining tv. I started out 30 years ago buying those storage's. It's a whole lot of work and sweat buying and cleaning them out. Back then we used to find a little gold or silver even some antiques once in a while. I see guys buying them today still find gold once in a while.  But your average household isn't stocked with good stuff, it's mostly household goods. Never did I buy a locker of junk only to find a treasure trove of original 1960's mint rock an roll band posters in the corner under the crap lol.
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 03:15:30 2012
We like ''Storage Wars'', and just watched the new ones tonight. Of course it is staged!  But, it is fun entertainment.

Unfortunately, some people took it seriously and started buying storage units, and mistakenly thought they could make a good profit. We had a couple in our area.

Watching the show, we always laugh when they bid up a pile of junk, and then are thrilled they will break even, and not lose money. Or, when they say they can get $500 for some old dresser. They overvalue stuff a lot.

And, the strategy they use is hilarious. ''I'm going to show them who's boss and not let them get this unit.''  Just fun characters!

Too bad about Dave Hester. It seems he has been trouble from the start. Looks like greed and ego are everything to him. We wish they would just get rid of him and bring in a new character. He hurts the show. Hope he is gone soon. Yuuup!
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
This user has validated their user name. by: eBankrupted
       
Wed Dec 12 03:54:43 2012
YUUUP! You go Hester!

Hester ruined the $1 ~ $300 bid auction environment permanently. I hope enough illegals immigrate to so-Cal to buy up all his mierda grande. YUUUP!
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: tombaker This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 05:13:21 2012
I watch the show...it does seem that some units are planted with a really interesting item.

The odd thing is why is Hester suing.  He has not been harmed.  And why is he killing the cash cow?

The show does show people loosing money all the time, so were is Hester or others damaged.

The most obvious TELL that its staged.   Is that all the bidding takes place by the contestants against each other.
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
This user has validated their user name. by: Al G
       
Wed Dec 12 09:34:11 2012
ALL of those "reality" shows are just entertainment with a title suggesting that reality has something to do with unscripted.

From the gold miners, to the pickers, to the swamp dawgs and the various stoopid housewives its at best off-the-cuff and at worst scripted.

But, as the late great Utah Phillips once said:
"My God! That's Moose Turd Pie! ... It's Good, Though!"
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: roseland This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 10:29:14 2012
I've heard rumors that those shows were fixed and I've often wondered why only the regulars seem to win the auctions.  The shows are still fun and Brandi is easy on the eyes. At least the original reality shows--professional wrestling--are still real.  :D
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: WhoKnewIt This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 10:40:50 2012
Hester leaving won't be a problem at all.  His ego and self worth is vomit worthy.  Anyone that thinks ANY of these "reality" shows are real are crazy.  It's entertainment pure and simple....beats watching the bland regular channels offerings.  See ya Hester!
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: JohnGermaine This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 10:44:16 2012
Several years ago my husband was talking to a member of the cast, they met casually somewhere, I no longer recall the location. He said the show was rigged, so not surprised at all. The possibility of coming across a ''jackpot'' in a storage locker is not very realistic if you stop and think about it.
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: Red Ink Diary This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 10:52:38 2012
Our neighbor also fell for the hype. Drove 500 miles to an auction, spent a buttload of money he didn't really have on a trailer load of garbage. Then thought he could sell it on eBay, that lasted about a month. It is really sad but you can't fix stupid.  
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: Danni Ackerman This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Wed Dec 12 11:04:38 2012
I'm also puzzled why the lawsuit, maybe Hester really is a good guy under all that tv arrogance hype?
There is still money to be made on buying storage lockers but you have to be savvy and not get caught up in what you see happen on tv.
That is why I wrote my book on the subject.  This may bring prices back down to reality as word gets out!  That would be a good thing for many people who make thier living at this.
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 11:12:53 2012
Did anyone think that it was for real???  So obvious it is staged. The ridiculous high prices (especially Dave) say items are worth as they go through the locker are totally off base. If in fact, the prices of those items were actual prices they sell for, then thousands of people would load up semi trailers and head to CA to sell everything and make millions.
I watched it for just entertainment and see what crazy stuff they come up with next.  Doubt if the show will continue much longer-same stuff, same people etc....
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: dans parts This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 11:14:13 2012
It's entertainment, and red ink's right, you can't fix stupid if someone believes it.

The Yahoo story on this lawsuit this morning said that Hester had already been fired, and the way the article was written, it sounded like his firing was what prompted the lawsuit, not vice versa.

I've been at plenty of auctions, and never liked the way guys like Hester operated - purposely bidding up the items, not to buy them, but simply to make the prices higher.  If he was doing it to PO the other bidders, that's one thing.  If the other angle is that if doing this to PO the other bidders helped drive up the price (and profit) for the auction company, at that point, it seems like collusion with the auctioneer, which is illegal.  So now the bigger question may be, has A&E fostered illegal activity?  Could put them in a heap of trouble.

I'll continue to watch, just for the entertainment.  Could be even more fun if the show actually acknowledges this event, instead of simply Hester going POOF, never being seen or mentioned again.

And don't get me started on the Pickers...
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: Leesantiques This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 11:52:20 2012
So, according to this article which is quoting from the complaint that Dave filed, he was scheduled to make over $900,000 directly from PBS?  And he STILL couldn't make a profit?? Wow!  He really is all ego...

As to the show being staged - of course it is!  But it's still fun to watch.  I just hope that future episodes have the rest of the cast trashing Dave.  :-)
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: iwasjoe This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 12:16:13 2012
Every show needs a villain I think Dave played the part well as does Darrel play the dumb === well the others also do a good job. THEY ARE ACTORS. Dave may have found a conscious or the network tryed to cheat him who knows I think he is right in following his beliefs right or wrong. The show is entertaing but when they try to sell it as real thats where they are wrong.
I was at a auction and seen a guy pay 750.00 for a locker that was obviously staged about 12 totes dressers turned with backs out chain saw on top of a table etc. Totes were empty dressers no drawers and veneer peeling.
I'm sure the guy thought there would be hidden treasures because he watched Storage wars and they almost always find them.Nobody told him they were staged.Watch for entertainment and don't believe any of the BS. Never fall for ( They can't put it on TV if it's not true )YES They can!and DO!  
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: richknobsales This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 12:43:54 2012
There's a sucker born every minute. You have to love the fools who get sucked into every get rich quick scheme. The laws about the TV shows were about the ones where you win money or prizes, not where you are gambling. They show enough losing lockers. Go watch Poker after Dark for a while. Then Storage Wars again. Odds that YOU will win at either - ???
Perminate Link for Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud   Storage Wars Turns to Courtroom Wars with Allegations of Fraud
by: spirit-of-shiloh This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Dec 12 14:07:10 2012
I knew they were stages as one of my daughters knows a guy who was in on it. Typical TV drama.
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