I'm sorry to be so blunt but it's true. But read on because there is good news for true collectors in this post.
SPORTS CARD FRAUD and CROOKS ARE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH ONLINE AND THERE LOOKS TO BE NO END! eBay actually adapted itself to allow the crooks selling sports cards to basically do whatever they want as is well documented on all my eBay blogs. Card sellers charge whatever they want for Shipping & Handling (in July, 2013 I was charged over $12.00 for (10) regular sized cards with a seller whose only S&H statement said "$3.00 Economy Shipping" & his postage was under $2.50 in a USED bubble envelope!!!) and to help AWFUL SELLERS LIKE THAT ONE eBay removed the pages which made this against the rules! Those page headings used to be: FEE AVOIDANCE, HIDDEN SHIPPING FEES, and OVERCHARGING SHIPPING & HANDLING. You used to be able to put those terms in their Customer Service search box and get a direct link to a relevant page- THAT NO LONGER HAPPENS! I have direct links to those pages which no longer exist and this only changed a few months ago!
There's only one Price Guide left and it's run by corporate a-holes who don't know this hobby from a hole in the ground. The writers for Beckett are people most true hobby experts never heard of or are old Beckett writers who exchanged their morals & integrity for a continual paycheck from Beckett Media. The "NEW" Beckett (post Jim Beckett's retirement) is nothing more than a bad 2000's Tuff Stuff Price Guide. Almost no prices reflect the actual selling prices of any cards that matter (anything besides base cards and easy to pull inserts: usually more than 3 per box).
So we have a hobby with no Price Guide worth using. The result right now is sellers charging outrageously high prices and no one in their right mind is buying cards at those prices. No one is selling, no one is buying- so where does that leave the hobby. In flux, that's where. The only cards selling well on eBay are cards that start at .99 cents or close to that, but then you stand a better than 50% chance of being charged an outrageous SHIPPING fee and there's NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT THAT WILL MATTER! I have been going after the worst sellers on eBay like tntnorthnj and eBay has done NOTHING to them in the year I've been fighting to stop them! Just read their regular flood of negative/neutral feedback...
THIS IS WHAT EBAY'S RULES ARE REGARDING SHIPPING & HANDLING AS PER MY 15+ YEARS BUYING/SELLING ON EBAY AND ACCORDING TO EBAY'S SHIPPING & HANDLING SPECIALIST WHO I SPOKE WITH FOR AN HOUR IN MARCH 2013 (who few people ever got to speak with): You are only supposed to charge your actual cost for postage & supplies (if you are calculating in things that cost less than a few cents you need to STOP SELLING you cheap SOB's) plus a handling fee of .50 cents. You must find the cheapest way to do this as well which has almost always been using eBay's PRINT SHIPPING LABEL link. IT IS NOT THE BUYER'S FAULT THAT YOU ARE LAZY and/or STUPID! For instance you can buy QUALITY bubble envelopes right on eBay in lots of (25) or more for around .25 cents each WITH FREE SHIPPING! So the excuse that the seller paid $1.29 for the envelope at the Post Office is the seller's own STUPIDITY! The Post Office is the ABSOLUTE WORST PLACE to buy padded envelopes! They don't even sell bubble envelopes- which are the safest for cards. Size #000 is the best overall & will fit up to a (35) count plastic card case or (10) top-loaders.
You also must manually type all your exact rules in the item description area (to avoid problems). Since shipping a bubble envelope that weighs 3-ounces is currently $1.69 using eBay's Print Shipping Label FREE service (with Delivery Confirmation!), you must start shipping at no more than $2.50. For combined shipping you cannot exceed .25 cents for each additional card. Plus you MUST have a listed MAXIMUM shipping fee. Since you can easily fit over (20) cards of different thicknesses in a SMALL PRIORITY MAIL FLAT RATE BOX for $5.15 (FREE D/C) and the box is FREE, your maximum fee cannot be more than $5.15 and you should be GLAD the buyer bought that many cards from you!!!
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THAT PERFECT LOGIC? BECAUSE IT ELUDES MOST EBAY SELLERS THESE DAYS???
Right now there are more than twice as many card sellers charging an UNLIMITED FEE for shipping. This means if they start shipping at $2.50 & .50 cents for each additional card (WHICH IS AGAINST EBAY'S RULES) you can easily wind up paying $8.00 or more for shipping and you are giving that seller more than $4.00 PROFIT from S&H FEES (also AGAINST EBAY RULES). Right now going to the Post Office to ship your cards is the WORST THING YOU CAN DO! They charge $2.97 as the STARTING shipping fee for a bubble envelope that weighs 2-ounces or less!
Many may not like what I'm going to say here, but I've always been overly honest so why stop now? The Internet had so many more honest, intelligent, caring, empathic people prior to around 2002. There were Internet ethics and etiquette that were followed by nearly everyone before 2002. By 2002 computers were getting so easy to use that every idiot finally could figure out how to work a computer (at least partially) & now they are all online which COMPLETELY RUINED a great thing! Before 2002 everyone loved learning from others, and those who were educated in any specific talent enjoyed teaching others for free. Those who taught knew what they were talking about (for the most part) and those looking to learn something could trust that the sites teaching were also (for the most part) accurate. There used to be many educational web sites, even Government site that would send you information on almost any topic you could think of FOR FREE! NOW THAT'S ALL OVER BECAUSE OF IDIOTS WHO ABUSED THE SYSTEM THAT WORKED FOR INTELLIGENT PEOPLE ONLY! All there is now is Wikipedia & how many of you donate to them whenever they ask? I DO & SO SHOULD EVERYONE WHO USES WIKIPEDIA ON A REGULAR BASIS! If they go away: the entire Internet is doomed...
Just when I thought a web site had a chance to overtake eBay's rule over sales in our hobby (COMC), they expanded TOO FAR to the point where the biggest jerks from eBay charging those CRAZY HIGH prices (that no one is paying) are all on COMC now charging the same crazy high prices. Just to keep up with the Jones'- many of the GOOD sellers from COMC raised their prices to keep up with the flood of jerks which makes no sense to me whatsoever. BTW- there are MANY sellers on COMC who have the EXACT SAME CARDS on eBay & COMC at the same time. So often cards they are selling on eBay sell and the buyers never receive their cards because they already sold on COMC for more money! This is fraud that no one predicted but MANY SELLERS are now doing! Then the poor buyers who won the card for a decent price on eBay are lied to with the lamest excuses. And once again: EBAY IS USELESS NOW IN HELPING BUYERS AVOID THIS & NEVER PUNISH THEIR BIG SELLERS ANYMORE! All you get is your money back that the seller tied up for 10-days or more & you get nothing for your wasted time and loss of a card you probably REALLY WANTED! COLLECTORS HAVE MORE POWER ON COMC, IF THE PRICE IS TOO HIGH- DON'T BUY IT! The sellers will get the message and they have to pay storage fees at COMC so the longer their cards sit & don't sell the more money they lose.
For now everyone needs to STOP COLLECTING which means stop buying!!! BUYERS HAVE ALL THE POWER, WE JUST NEED TO USE IT!!!
I know this is much harder to do than say more than most of you know. Most collectors have invested so much of their time into learning this hobby to be a smart collector, so stopping collecting will put a hole in your life. I am homebound and bed-ridden with a terminal illness so my ONLY way to collect is to buy on eBay or COMC. So at least stop impulse buying completely and stick to completing sets that you are making for one year.
JUST STOP IMPULSE & BOX BUYING FOR ONE YEAR!
TOPPS NOW THINKS THEY CAN RIP US OFF WITH REDEMPTION REPLACEMENTS WITHOUT US EVEN ASKING FOR REPLACEMENTS!
We need to regain control of the card companies as well. Even Topps has now taken advantage of redemption cards to rip us off! They created 2013 STICKER ONLY AUTOGRAPH cards that are part of no set at all to use as replacements for autograph inserts we are owed! These cards will likely never be in any Price Guide, NOR SHOULD THEY BE!!! Plus it is against Topps' leagues licensing to put prices on cards they created this year and released this year. THEY ARE DOING EXACTLY THIS by sending these cards as a "card of similar value" for ON CARD (in many cases) autograph inserts we are owed that are listed in price guides. They sent me a Doc Gooden sticker autograph FAKE CARD for a 2012 Allen & Ginter Guy Bluford ON CARD autograph I was owed when I told Topps "I will wait as long as it takes to get this autograph" as he was the first black astronaut to be in space. A life-long drug addict given in exchange for an astronaut of unquestionable ethics. You can't get Topps by e-mail AT ALL anymore and it take 20-minutes or more of holding to get them on the phone last time I tried & I am too weak from General Myasthenia Gravis (in it's worst stage) to even hold a phone for more than 10-minutes! HMMM, was I ripped off? You decide...
8/23/13 TOPPS UPDATE:
After 8-months and speaking with at least six different people at Topps, I couldn't get anyone to do the right thing with my long overdue redemptions, or they'd just outright LIE to me. So at 3AM or so a week ago while I was on one of my often three day insomnia binges I decided to call Topps and browse their phone directory to see if I could find an Executive to leave a message for regarding this fiasco. This was a longshot that I thought would never work based on everything else I had gone through with Topps since Jan 7th 2013.
I found one and three days ago I got a call from a Topps Production Manager. He said he was asked by the Executive to call me. He said he was very sorry for everything I had gone through and he will make sure this gets fixed correctly. He sounded very sincere and said a woman would call me in a few days to sort out what I'm owed and what I will be happy with as replacements.
Sure enough, the next day this woman called and also sounded truly caring and honorable. THIS IS WHAT I EXPECT FROM TOPPS!!! I truly hope that this will again be the way Topps handles Customer Service issues again for everyone.
She called me so fast that I didn't even have time to think about what I wanted- but I'm kind of glad that happened. I decided to give everything I get to my Pain Management psychologist's niece who's dying from a rare form of Pulmonary Hypertension. I was still owed (11) redemptions that were passed the Time2Swap date. And there were the (5) redemptions I received absolute junk common RC's from THREE years ago for. Eight of them were for 2012 Ginter Relic cards that I was making a Master Relic Set for the terminally ill young girl I've been buying for since she was 8-years old, she's now 14 and is still very sick but thank goodness she's still here with us. Doctors said she'd never live anywhere near this long, so I can only hope that the cards are helping keep her alive which only inspires me to get her more. So I asked for two boxes of 2013 Allen & Ginter for her. Then they said they were going to send several autographs for me & her. And the Production Manager who first called said they have hundreds of returned product packs they'd like to send me for my next yearly donation. The woman I spoke to also stated this. She told me to give her a few days to get everything together and then I'll be receiving several boxes.
The today 8/23 I received two boxes from Topps: AGAIN SUPER FAST!!! I received one of the Ginter boxes and about (80) loose packs and two (800)-count boxes with loose cards. I'm sure they wanted to get me something as fast as possible once they checked their records and saw what I told them was 100% true how many times I spoke with Customer Service since January which accomplished nothing but more headaches.
SO AS OF RIGHT NOW, TOPPS IS IN MY GOOD GRACES AGAIN AS LONG AS THEY HOLD UP TO THEIR ENTIRE END OF THE DEAL.
THE MORAL: YOU HAVE TO CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU ARE OWED (OR FOR BETTER CARDS IF YOU WERE SENT JUNK REPLACEMENTS). THE PROBLEM IN THIS HOBBY IS THAT IT IS DOWNSIZING MORE THAN MOST REALIZE AND GETTING TO A PERSON THAT CARES ENOUGH TO HELP CAN BE A MAJOR PAIN IN THE BUTT!
I ABSOLUTELY HATE NOTHING MORE THAN STICKER AUTOGRAPHS!
I was lucky enough to tell the mail room employee exactly this at Playoff who created this idea in January, 2001. I was present for his "Thank you" party thrown for his "brilliant" idea at Playoff in June, 2001. I told him his idea will kill the collecting of these cards eventually and true autograph collectors will never take to this idea which they never did, like myself. I have been collecting autographs since 1989.
More coming as I am able. I'm always here to help a fellow collector. It may take a few days, but I ALWAYS respond to all e-mails.
James McCay aka Cardcop -since 1997 (the one & only)