Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another Comment On Grading

Chris over at Blowout Cards just tweeted on Beckett's story that a near "perfect" Michael Jordan Fleer RC has sold for over $200,000 per the people over at Scamville, USA. Let me respond by saying that this is further evidence that shows grading is about as subjective and arbitrary as PSA and their autograph fraud detection services. Basically, a guy in texas gets a good copy of a Jordan RC in for "grading." After seeing that it is a good copy, he has a choice - as a human being - about how to continue with "grading" the card. I mean, there is very little concrete differences about what can be a 9.5 and what can be a 10, and no one would ever question a good grade on a card like that, so who is to say he doesnt act with bias.

See, as a human, not a machine, he makes arbitrary and subjective calls due to his inconsolable nature. When Beckett created a grade higher than mint, despite this problem, the goal was not to show the perfection of a card, but to add more reasons for people to submit their cards for "grading." If it was just a scale from shitty to mint, it would only be used as the service it was supposed to be (a fraud prevention device for online sales), rather than a way for people to make money.

Let me put it this way, grading is a complete scam, like most of the other shit Beckett does on a regular basis. Because it is done with only loose standards applied to human eyes, with little reason to question any positive result, Beckett has created a loop hole for their ad vehicle, as well as their big customers.

Ill give you an example to illustrate what I am saying.

Because no one will question a positive "grading" result (no matter how fraudulent it may look), due to increased value of the card in the slab, Beckett has an out. This means if you buy a Beckett 9.5 slabbed card that is really an 8, it is now a 9.5 and no one will question that. Same with the 10 above, as it could really be a 9.5, but no one in their right mind would ever try to dispute that with the prospective loss of thousands of dollars. This also means that for each customer that submits huge orders on a regular basis, Beckett now has the ability to reward them for their business without establishing that the "graded" cards are done so at a lower standard as a favor. If a guy sends in thousands of cards each month to be graded, and consistently receives 8.5s and 9s, he has every reason to stop his submissions or go to another company. If he continually gets 9.5s and 10s, thats more and more business Beckett would receive. Because the "grading" process is so arbitrary and subjective, there is no ability for me to prove this happens, but I have definitely seen the possibility in action with sellers like Wolverine24 and others.

The possibility of helping out a high profile card can also be used as a ridiculously potent ad vehicle, as we saw with the absurd Montana 10 sale, and the previous Jordan 10. Its almost like people cant see through the thinly veiled attempt at promoting the service, and pay the price of a FUCKING HOUSE to get these cards, despite the fact that cracking them and resubmitting them would almost surely result in a lower grade.

There sure are a lot of people out there who cant understand why I despise Beckett as much as I do, but I have my hundreds of reasons for doing so. The fact has always remained, with no objective non-profit regulating body, Beckett has ZERO responsibility to provide a service to collectors that doesnt have huge conflicts of interest built in. Every single thing they do is designed to make them money, not provide you with real information or a realistic view of what is actually happening in the hobby. For that reason alone, the tip of my iceberg was created, and luckily for me, I have developed a great vehicle of my own to show how much of it lies below the surface of the water.


  1. Have those jackballs at Beckett ever released a video showing the grading process? From mail room in, to grading booth, to mail room out? Seems to me, that would be a step in the right direction.

  2. Well said as always. It's a cornerstone of my blog's mission statement in reference to "subjective grading and arbitrary pricing."

    It really is amazing how many people treat everyhting they do as the Bible or gold standard when nothing could be farther from the truth.

    Their tag line really ought to be "If we can charge for it . . . they will come."

  3. Well, said, but in the end you are both the buyers, the sellers, and Beckett too much credit.

    The buyers are literally buying the grade attached to the card, end of story. If all they wanted was the card they'd settle for something that costs less than "the price of a house."

    The sellers are just making hay. Like you said, "good grades" will lead to more submissions, they take advantage of the process.

    Beckett? They sell the grades irrespective of individual cards. They sell them to dealers who sell them buyers. It makes sense that, given they want more business, they produce more high-grade cards and will roll out these "Wow" cards every so often.

    For you, me, and lots of others who understand the system in these terms it's a complete joke. For folks who think a grade "means" something other a "grade" produced by Beckett, it is problem b/c they are being fooled. But I just don;t deal with them.

  4. Freaking graded cards are a joke man. I do have a handful I got from ebay, the grades are just a joke. I have a chris johnson finest rookie that is graded a 9...and I wonder if the person "grading" the card was high or not. Corners have noticeable white showing and what not...and it got a 9. Beckett is a joke!