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opinions from the head lemur
[Posted] Wednesday, August 01, 2001

The great stock hunt

As a result of the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov instigated by Adobe Systems Incorporated, I vowed to purchase a share of stock, simply to be eligible to attend shareholders meetings to let them know in person how I felt.

I believe in Money for Stuff. I have money, you have stuff, let's swap. A relatively simple concept that has fueled market economies and made people rich. I have written on how to trade Money for Stuff. What works and what doesn't.

The best place in most cases to buy stuff is businesses the specialise in the what you are looking to buy. Cars? A Car Dealer. Computers? A Computer Store. Who has Stocks? Stock Brokers.

Last Monday morning I set out to buy 1 share of Adobe Systems Incorporated. The brick and mortar world is my first stop.

I went to 4 Brokerage Houses. (Marketing weinies take note- They were not selected by branding, they were selected for my convenience. They were selected by proximity to my house, not for any other reason.)

Being a virgin in the investing world, I knew that there were things I didn't know. But a good salesperson will take you buy the hand and lead you to the promised land of Money for Stuff.

I am armed with Checkbooks, Credit Cards and Cash Money. In most cases this is enough ammunition to win the war in the business realm and emerge victorious with stuff. Having bought houses, cars, computers groceries and sundries, I have done my part to promote the market economy.

You cannot buy 1 share of a publicly traded company by walking in the door of a Brokerage House and asking. But wait don't leave yet, it gets better.

First stop: Quick and Riley
Cute little office next to a Starbucks. A Gentleman steps up and inquires if he can help me.

I explain that I want to buy a share of stock.(I have done a little homework here and know what I want)

"Yes, I would like to buy One share of Adobe Systems Incorporated, at the market and would like to order the Certificate for delivery".

He turns to one of his co-workers who brings up the stock. He informs me that the commission on the trade will be 50 bucks and the certificate will be 15 bucks.

"Great", I say, "Let's do it"

" You need to open an account", he says.

"Listen" I say, "I am not an Investor. I don't want an account, I want to buy one share of stock."

"You need to open an account", he says.

"Here I can Pay in Cash" dragging out a roll of bills to show my serious intent. He physically recoiled stuttering that "Brokerage Houses Do Not Deal in Cash."

"Okay, How about a check?", waving a pair of checkbooks, "Business or personal, You Pick."

"We do not take checks"

"Credit Cards?"


I am thoroughly confused at this point. I have legal tender which almost makes this guy break out in hives, business and personal checks, credit cards, a valid drivers license and this guy whose job is to sell stocks, won't accept any of the normal methods of payment.

"So How does one BUY Stock?"

"By opening a trading acccount with a Certified Check or a Bank Wire Transfer."

"Okay, How much to open an Account?"

"$2,500 "

"Let me see if I have the gist of what you are saying. To Buy One share of stock, You want me to open an account by giving you a Certified check or a bank wire transfer for 2500.00 bucks for a transaction that has a real dollar value of maybe 110 bucks, that you will hold for 7-10 days, charging me a fee to open and close this account, filling out the most invasive form I have ever seen, that seems to have only one missing question, that being whether or not I wear boxers or briefs, to have the privilege of swapping Money for Stuff "

"I wouldn't put it in those terms, but basically yes."

Next Up: Merrill Lynch
Marked Parking Areas, Personalised Elevator Buttons, calm waiting room and more fax machines than I have seen outside of a Staples. For the sake of brevity, you may insert the above conversation here. Same deal at Paine Webber and Charles Schwab. A note here, You need 5000.00 bucks to play at Charlies.

8/9/01 Note: Paine Webber is different. There is an explanation Here

After 3 hours of this conversation, I came home and Called the SEC in California. They don't regulate how they do business, they regulate the way they do business. Same deal at the California office of NASDAQ. Trust me, this distinction is subtle but allows Brokers to keep folks with just a few bucks or who are buying very small amounts of stock out of their offices.

I went surfing on the web and found CSFB Direct. Account opened in under 10 minutes. I am waiting until friday to be sure that I will not be getting spammed. I will be buying my one share of stock online and all you brick and mortar guys can go ___________________

By the way Dmitry Sklyarov is still in jail.

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