I think for the most part, collectors don’t have a problem with redemption cards. It’s all of the hoop jumping, delays and expirations that make collectors loathe those pack-inserted placeholders. My annoyances with Upper Deck and their handling of the expired Ken Griffey autograph redemption that I pulled were well documented on this blog. Now I have two more stories to add to the pile.
I recently posted the results of my 2011 Finest Baseball break. I did really well in the break, pulling one of the best cards possible, but it’s pretty crappy to have both of the hits in your box be redemption cards. I redeemed the Hosmer gold dual relic auto right when I got back from the show, knowing that it was a live card. It’s now two weeks later and I still don’t have the card. What’s worse, the card has had a tracking number listed on the Topps website for a week with no tracking information. That means the card, my card, is packed up and sitting somewhere in Topps instead of it being in the mail on its way to me. That makes me feel that Topps doesn’t really care. I asked support and they said that they send stuff out in batches. Are you kidding me? They should be shipping stuff out every day of the week. I paid for this card, it is my property and they should be rushing to do whatever they can to get the card to me. It’s not like it’s even an on-card auto. They just didn’t manufacture it in time for release.
That’s nothing compared to Panini though. You would think that Panini would be better since they have a fancy website where you enter your redemption codes, open claims for damaged cards and other correspondence with the company. The only problem is that no one seems to be checking the site any longer. I remember that you could select between two periods of time that you’d like to wait on your redemption before Panini contacts you about a replacement. I think they are 3 months and 6 months, but I can’t remember for sure. Either way, the amount of time that I waited was far longer than any of the choices given.
I would send messages periodically through the Panini website asking what my option were for a replacement, but I never got a reply. After a year of waiting for the Cheryl Miller autograph, I finally decided that it was time to get something else because there’s no way that this card is ever going to exist. I tried the website again, but no one got back to me. I called and left messages with their support department and no one ever got back to me. It wasn’t until I contacted Tracy Hackler on Twitter that someone from Panini finally contacted me and told me that they’d be sending me a replacement card (at a $25 value) along with some packs of Hall of Fame Basketball.
It is now 3 weeks later and I haven’t seen a thing from Panini. You would think that after keeping me waiting for a year they would want to do something to make me happy as quickly as possible. That doesn’t seem to be the case though. At this point, I feel like they should be sending me a case of Hall of Fame Basketball. The product was a huge flop anyway and there’s still a ton of it out there. They should have lessened the amount of autographs that were numbered 499 and above. That might have made this product a hit.
I won’t even get into the problems that occur when a replacement card doesn’t match the card it is replacing. I might have to go another round with Panini once my redemption card arrives. I had to do that with Upper Deck when they sent the first replacement for my Michael Johnson autographed card. In the end, I would up with an awesome Paul Pierce on-card auto, but I wonder why that wasn’t sent in the first place when I told them I was looking for a Celtics card as a replacement.
You’ve also got issues of availability. That’s especially evident with things like the Home Run Legends in 2012 Topps Baseball. There are many people who don’t have a card shop near them that they can get to in order to redeem the cards.
I’ve got to give Upper Deck some credit for their upcoming World of Sports release. Sure, it’s unlicensed. Yes, last year’s release was a flop. Yeah, this year is likely to be a flop as well. You know what though? There are absolutely no redemption cards in this set. That’s a good thing. When you can possibly pull players such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Tiger Woods isn’t that important? Having pulled a Michael Jordan autograph out of a pack, I can say without a doubt that it was 100 times more exciting to pull the actual card. Pulling a redemption card for the auto would have been a huge buzz kill. I probably would have just sold the redemption card and never had the opportunity to hold a Michael Jordan autograph in my hand.
So, I think with some changes, the stigma around redemption cards could change. Card companies have done well in extending redemption expiration dates to around 5 years, but having them expire at all is never going to be ideal. Turnaround times need to be quicker. Communication needs to be better. Panini has made great strides with this and Topps followed suit for a little while, but their support on a whole has been really lacking lately.
Hopefully there will come a time when redemption cards are a thing of the past, but for now they’re one of the worst parts of the hobby.
“Will you ever rest…”