Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is older wax worth the risk?

Joba Lately I had been drawn to 2007 Bowman Best.  I watched a bunch of box breaks online and looked at the checklist and it looked like a great product.  The checklist is small and since you get a veteran, rookie and prospect autograph in each mini box, you’ve got a good chance of pulling something good.  If you buy a full box of three mini boxes then you should get some great cards.

My card shop had a couple of mini boxes sitting around and I had sold some stuff on eBay and decided to take a chance on one of the mini boxes.  2007 had a good rookie crop that has held up pretty well over the years and more and more prospects are being sought after.

I started opening the first of five packs and right in the middle (where all of the hits are located) is a Joba Chamberlain autographed rookie.  Yay!  Wait, the card looks like it was bitten by a snake.  Boo!  Since this card was in the middle of a pack of pretty thick cards, the only way that damage such at this could have happened is either during production or packaging of the product.

I know that Topps will only offer replacements for cards produced in the current year, but I figured that I would e-mail them to see if they would do anything since this card was clearly damaged by them.  I’ve got my receipt, wrappers, DNA sample, etc. that Topps requires for people to get cards replaced.  I’ve also got a witness to the card coming out of the pack in this condition since I opened the box right at the card shop where I purchased it.

Topps wrote back stating that they only replace cards in the first year after being manufactured and that after that first year the product is considered memorabilia.  So, if you purchase a product on the day it comes out, you’ve got just under 365 days of a “warranty” on your cards.  If you purchase a product a year after it comes out, you’ve got no “warranty.”  Imagine if everything worked like that?  Buying a previous year’s car and having it come with no warranty when you buy it.  Buying a year old TV, trying to turn it on unsuccessfully and being told that you can’t return in.  Those comparisons might be extreme, but I don’t see why sports card manufacturers should be held to different standards.  Of course, they can’t be expected to replace cards if someone decides to open a box of 52 Topps or even something more than 10 years old, but something less than 2 years old?

I understand them not having the exact card on hand to do a one-to-one exchange, but even when you pull a damaged card from a current year’s product, there’s no guarantee that they’ll have an exact replacement on hand.  (As I found out the hard way.)  I just wanted Topps to make some sort of effort to make this right.  I might be spoiled because I work for a company that is considered to be one of the tops in customer service in any industry, but I don’t think that I’m expecting too much.  They have to send me replacement product for my damaged Dwayne Wade auto; why can’t they send me replacement product for this Joba?  (Out of curiosity, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau to see if that could get me anywhere.)

The risk factor gets even worse when you consider expired redemption cards.  Look at what redemption cards have done to prior years of Finest Basketball which become a rookie-less product with expired redemptions.  For a little while, I toyed with the idea of picking up a box of 2006 52 Rookie Edition, but there are way too many redemption autos in that product that are now expired.  It’s bad enough to pull an autograph of a player that you can’t sell for a dollar, but with my luck I’d pull a redemption card for a big hit that I now can’t get.

So, if you’re going to buy “vintage” (and by vintage I mean more than a year old) wax you’ve got to face far too many risks.  First off, you have to hope that you don’t get any damaged products.  Anyone reading this knows that damaged cards happen way too frequently these days.  Even when you can get replacements, having to pay to send the cards back and then wait for their return (which usually takes around 2 months) is ridiculous.  Next you have to dodge expired redemption cards.  Upper Deck has made things a little easier to bear by extending the time frame for a lot of their redemptions, but that’s usually the amount of time it takes to get your redemption fulfilled anyway.

(Now is probably not a good time to look for a card company to sponsor this blog.)

I’m getting sick of redemption cards in general and I think that card companies should start some sort of expired redemption card amnesty program.  You should get something for these cards.  It isn’t the fault of the collector that these cards weren’t ready when the product was produced.  It should be something along the lines of what is left over from unredeemed redemptions.  It might not be from the same sport as your redemption card.  It might not be from the same year, but you should get something.  I’d rather have an autographed scout card than a redemption card full of legal copy telling me why I just got screwed.

To me, it seems like card companies should be doing whatever they can, within reason, to keep collectors happy before even more people give up on the hobby.  I’ve got a whole series of posts about the level of customer service I’ve experienced from different card companies and after I move at the end of the month, I hope that get that series started.


pricelesspursuit said...

I don't understand why companies can't give a redemption time of 5 years (or something extra-extended like that)... I gotta imagine it'd only help maintain a set's value. I guess they make more by putting them in repacks? Who knows, man. I've never pulled a redemption that had expired (or any redemption, for that matter) but I can't imagine being too happy about it. Since I buy mostly old wax, I suppose it's only a matter of time before this happens...

Offy said...

That's the thing. It is going to become a bigger and bigger problem as years go on. Products have increased in value due to production costs involved in including autographs, purchasing memorabilia and producing relic cards and if you pay that inflated cost and don't get the cards that you are supposed to get, it is frustrating.

If card companies don't want the hassle of redeeming these cards for more than a year then they should stop putting redemptions cards in products. If they don't have the card in time then it isn't included.

The Mojo Hand said...


Im in the process of locating the email address to the head of quality control for Topps. This might help. Let them know about your blog as well. I will see what I can do.


The Mojo Hand said...

Can you imagine 09 Stadium Club lol!

Offy said...

The thing is that Topps does an amazing job when the product falls within their guidelines. I've got a post with all of the details in the works, but they did an amazing job in replacing my damaged Dwayne Wade autographed mini. It just frustrates me that when you've got a card that was so obviously damaged during production that they won't do anything to resolve the issue. There's no huge cost to them and they keep a customer happy.

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