Quoted from JBK:
If advertised as HUo then they must provide a bill of sale or verifiable proof that is HUO. Anything less and I assume its a routed game.
See, that's just not accurate. I have pictures of me removing my NIB games. Bill of sale is easy to fake. Condition is the only decisive way to judge such a thing. A seasoned collector will be able to tell if a game that is advertised as HUO, could in fact be HUO.
If pics are verifiable proof, I do agree with you.
However, I would never use a bill of sale as the ONLY factor in determination the HUO accuracy of a game. I've sold HUO games with a bill of sale and it's nice to have but I really don't think it adds much $, over condition.
It has to be a COMBINATION of things really. Reputation of the seller, bill of sale, pictures, scratches, shooter lane, current software installed, flipper mechs worn out, coin drop evidence, hand wear around buttons, New York lock-bars, how does it play, ect. ALL of those considered TOGETHER will give you the only evaluation that you should really need.
The more telling sign to me of a game being truly HUO is determining how many times it has been moved, typically indicated by careless scratches left by vending employees moving the equipment OR, by loose leg bolt plates and stripped plates where the bolts go in. Another big one that I often see overlooked is how much dust and dirt is in the bottom of the cabinet. The longer it has sat in the upright position and played, the more metallic dust and grime will be present. HUO games will typically be played much less.
Do we really need a Pinside guide to determine HUO? I figured it was mostly common sense.
Sometimes, nothing you observe will tip you off. I once shopped out a HUO LOTR for sale. It was played hundreds of times per week for a long time, in a house where 6-8 people lived. It had a lot of plays on it and there was some wear on the PF.
Likewise, for a routed game that had 15,000 plays on it with a mint cabinet... what if you swap in a NOS play field that Stern sent you when you bought the game, and bought a new coin door for it? THAT would certainly fool the vast majority of potential HUO buyers so, you really just need to use some common sense when shopping for such a game.