Monday, April 20, 2009

The Big Evils - Are We Looking At These Things The Right Way?

I want to write about something here that I have spent a lot of time covering on this blog, mainly the aspects of the industry that I cant stand. Rather than going into long winded rants about why these things suck, I think its about time to discuss why they exist in the first place. If you have further insight, please let me know, I am in the business of learning here, and you can help.

Event Used Jersey Cards

Man, if there is one thing I hate, its these cards. Basically paying the players to come by and do a try on session with about 1000 jerseys, some of them not even they're own. Most of the time, collectors don’t seem to mind and still pay through the nose for the logos and everything like it, but have any of us really thought about why they exist?

When it comes down to it, I want jersey cards of my favorite players, and so does most of the hobby. The problem is, with most companies wanting to produce the jersey cards AD NAUSEAM, there just isnt enough material to go around. If you conceive a plan for the jersey cards produced in a year, there are in upwards of 200 per player. Many of those cards are numbered as high as 1500, meaning that there is a shitload of material needed. With each rookie only playing in 16 games if they are lucky, we can expect that few jerseys will be available, if any. Add in that there are 3 companies competing for them, as well as collectors with deep pockets, and you see where I am going. In reality, without event used cards, we may get 5 cards per player, and Exquisite and NT would not be possible. That is not acceptable to me, so my anger about them is a little misplaced, maybe. Does this mean I will go and mortgage the house to buy the lot of them? No, but as long as the event used footballs disappear, maybe I will be less focused on it.

Sticker Autos

We all hate sticker autos, we just do. Its been around since the earlier part of the decade, and it has become a staple of getting a product out. Its become so bad that Topps hasn’t produced an on card high end set for 2 years (material signed cards don’t count).

Why do they exist? Well, planning and means tend to be the answer, and here is why. In order to get cards signed, you need to have the cards, period. Most sets arent produced early enough to be signed by the players, and that means that they need a backup plan. Think about it this way, do you think a player has time to sign his cards during the season? Probably not as much. For baseball this leaves a minimal time to get things signed, and football a little more. You also need to have a rep at each signing, or at least someone to witness all the sigs. Yes, this is what it has come to. If you combine both of these things, you can understand how hectic it may get. Add in the economy, and all of a sudden SPA and Exquisite become much more impressive, and NT becomes less of an issue.

Redemptions

Another of the big evils of the industry. Most of the time these cards are filled, but more often then not, it takes a ridiculously long time to do so.

We all pretty much understand why redemptions happen, but maybe our hatred should be focused towards the athletes AND the manufacturer rather than just the manufacturer. Now, UD has taken a lot of flack for their redemption process, but at least they have done a ten fold better job then topps when things get fucked up. That’s the good thing. The bad thing is that most people don’t really understand how far in advance the cards have to go out. It’s a long ass time, and if you consider the time frame that the season runs through, it becomes ridiculous. Really, as with stickers, planning usually takes things to the next level, which I applaud UD for taking control and really getting their shit done.

Maybe one of the things we need is a more updated way of getting the info. Instead of "Athlete committed to signing soon," give us a time frame for the signing - if there is one. If the player hasn’t scheduled one, let us know. Transparency is the gift of the gods, lets use it.

Patch Databases

Oh my god, what I would give to have an online patch database. Company A could scan each patch to be available for all collectors to avoid fakes. DLP has taken a step to institute marking the cards, but you cant see that before you buy on eBay.

In reality, even getting this done for Exquisite is next to impossible due to the way the product is manufactured and packed out. The people who would scan the cards are in a different state than the people who make the cards, which makes it very hard to get it sorted out. Add in that with some sets, scanning 400,000 different cards can be crippling to any workforce. It should just be a practice of those in the know to educate as much as possible about fakes, and pass along this mantra: "IF ITS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS." Plus with eBay having multiple versions of each card usually available, you are pretty much guaranteed that an acceptable one will come along eventually.

Customer Service

One of the biggest complaints of most collectors is a lack of customer service. Things don’t get fixed when they should be, and when they do it takes a long time.

Customer Service for any company is usually a focus, but most of the companies who succeed are gigantic. People like Disney, Google, and Apple, the leaders in customer service, have hundreds of thousands of employees. Companies like UD and DLP do not have enough manpower or money to invest tons of time and resources into customer service from what I imagine. My company has probably a quarter of the base that UD has for their customers, and yet our customer service takes up a whole building. Add in the growing number of problems from the secondary market, and you can imagine how a lack of people and resources will take its toll. Im guessing there is 25 people who work in customer service pre-drop, and now much less. We will just have to understand that it’s a tough time for everyone, and to give them a chance.

You guys all must be wondering why I decided to take the sides of the people who have shown continually that money is the only interest they have, but in reality I am starting to realize that my rage may have been pointed in the wrong direction on some of these issues, not all, but some. Besides, I wouldn’t say I am not any less angry about any of these things, just a little more open minded. Maybe having the ability to take on the question in your mind is a good enough start.

10 comments:

  1. Ah, redemptions. I recently had the joy of dealing with 5 UD redemptions. Two of which were no longer available and replacements were requested. I received 3 of my redemptions (including the replacements) within 2 weeks of redeeming. Heck, the replacements were decent too. I'm still waiting on my Wolly Mammoth Champs card and a mystery cut, but apparently they are being processed. Either way, no horror story for UD from me... Yet.

    Now, EW pieces. I hate them. I loathe them because for all you know the player ran the length of a table full of jerseys touching each one. I MISS the old DLP stuff where you saw a picture of the actual jersey on the back of the card.

    I guess this is why I keep buying older products, more often than not.

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  2. I completely understand why sticker autos are used, but I have no interest in owning cards with them. They are rarely inconspicuous, cut off the players auto, and won't last long-term. They are the hobby's version of junk-food; made for a quick thrill, but not good for the personal collection.

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  3. They are rarely inconspicuous, cut off the players auto, and won't last long-term.I think the long term effects have yet to be determined. I think as long as the cards are protected, the stickers should be fine. As for the cut-off, I completely agree, that sucks for players with big beautiful sigs.

    As for the inconspicuous, I think they have become completely inconspicuous when they are done by a company that does them well. UD shouldnt be using many stickers this year, but last year on UD draft and SP RC threads, many of the stickers looked like they were on card.

    Topps on the other hand, has a ton of problems.

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  4. There has to be a way to implement a patch database. I'll admit my ignorance when it comes to the process of card production, but I can't help but think that someway, somehow there's a way to implement this without the card companies taking a bath. I would even be willing to pay some sort of fee to have access to it.
    I can deal with some sticker autos and rookie event used jerseys, but this whole fake patch crap is absolutely destroying the hobby. Ebay is flooded with so much fake crap that I find myself passing on cards that very well may be legit just to be safe.
    The first company that makes this dream a reality will have me as a customer for life.

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  5. Here is the problem with customer service at UpperDeck, They have four people that pick up the phones during the week, Barry, AJ, The Guy, The Girl.
    Barry - has all the answers is quick and helpfull does not collect but very porfessional, if u get mad or call him to often he gets mad. However knows his shit and can hoook u up

    AJ - remembers ur voice/name asks u how u are by far the nicest guy at UD whenever I call UD I ask for AJ he collects and knows when something is damaged or u miss a hit hell hook u up. He even asks you who you like or what box u want or free packs.
    for example i had a $100 completely damged card and I called AJ and this is how our conversation went:
    AJ: I saw the gehrig gu thats a nice card man I have one and I love it.
    Me: thanks man kinda sucks its damaged though
    AJ: um yeah i saw the damage its pretty bad, we need to do a full replacement unfortunatley, who do you collect?
    Me: I'd love to get a braun auto b4 the season starts!
    AJ: Okay (after 10 mins) is this okay a 08 ryan braun spx auto and a 08 ultimate collection box baseball? about $120 worth
    me: that great man thanks cant wait especially getting a prerelease box thanks man

    thats a short version of the conversation as u can see AJ is the best

    The other guy and girl who work there are like all other sports comp reps.... clueless

    ONTO TOPPS:

    U call them u will get a different person every time. They dont collect and are on a different world then the QA dept. umlike with UD they wont send you what u ask and alwasy asay that ur card is 1-2 weeks from being shipped
    when u write them a letter for a missing hit from now one I just ask for a case hit in return becasue the past two time sit has worked... Got me a pujols plate auto from triple suck for my mini box that cost me $50 on ebay, why i bought it.... another time


    hope u liked the post!

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  6. i dont see why your so in love w/ UD ... i pulled 2 redemptions from the same box of spx this year ... i also traded for a dorsey spx auto rc jersey which his lazy ass didnt sign only to receive a ray rice auto from low end regular ud set no jersey not even short print and its not like hes any better than dorsey (UD seems to think just because they give you a offensive player for defensive player they did you some huge favor), i complained they made it kinda right after an extra 2 months and several emails ... im still waiting from last may for my peterson/lynch dual pig skin auto (seriously how long do i have to wait ???)... i had 14 redemptions from ud products in 08 1 in donruss 1 for topps and i quit buying ud products well before sp authentic came out i hate to think what my redemption total would have been at had i kept buying their boxes UD gets a big fat F for customer service and redemptions in my book

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  7. Gellman, I couldn't disagree more. Once again you have outdone yourself in the stupidass rant department. You are truly a douche. Congratulaions!

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  8. Wow, you really came to the wrong place looking for trouble. Go back to Little Miss Beckett magazine. I hear that Chris Olds is looking for someone to help him do a column on his favorite subject: feminine hygene products. Good luck with that.

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  9. What in the hairy fuck did that assanine comment even have to do with this post?

    How was this a rant?

    What is there to disagree with?

    Gellman, why do you get all the friggin whack jobs here?

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  10. halloffamehawk, I couldn't disagree more. Once again you have outdone yourself in the stupidass rant department. You are truly a douche. Congratulaions!

    ReplyDelete