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As Upper Deck’s Customer Care Manager, it is my goal to help educate our collectors and fans so they can have a better experience with our collectible products. I’ll routinely post updates about what we hear on the phones and through e-mails from customers in segments called Ask UD. I hope you find this information relevant and interesting. If you have questions yourself, please feel free to leave a comment and “Ask UD!”
Here are some of the questions we’ve received recently in Customer Care:
Ask Upper Deck: Why do redemption cards expire?
Nick Leslie: “This can be a frustrating situation for collectors, especially due to the licensing changes that have taken place over the last year or so. It appears there is a trend in the market where customers are making the decision to purchase older Upper Deck boxes in lieu of purchasing newer boxes from different manufacturers because there is better value in the UD products. There are dangers in purchasing older products, however. If there are issues with damage, insert ratios, collation or expired offers, there is little we can do to help. Most retailers know this which is why you can normally pick up older boxes at a fairly significant discount, unless it is a product with a red hot rookie class.
“So why can’t redemption cards be good forever? If we made the card, why can’t we just hold on to it until everyone has redeemed it? Well there are a variety of reasons and it’s probably easiest to just spell the major ones all out:
1. Some exchange offers are actually considered sweepstakes so we have to abide by state regulations on those types of giveaways and one of the stipulations is that there is a start and end date to the promotion.
2. Being able to quickly ship out redemption cards is incredibly important to us. Our ability to fulfill cards in a timely fashion is in direct correlation to the total number of different redemptions programs we have open. It is important for us to improve turnaround time on redemption programs by closing out older ones that are not as active because they take away from our ability to get out newer redemptions that customers are more excited to receive.
3. There are issues that come up when storing cards for long periods of time where you are consolidating inventory and moving the cards around frequently. They get damaged so we can’t send those cards out to customers. You just can’t hang on to a condition-sensitive item, move it around and not expect it to get damaged over time. We need to get cards out into the market in due time.
4. We want all redemption cards to get out into the market in time, especially limited-edition cards. When the cards expire we use them for redemption replacements so we can help customers who no longer want to wait on a redemption for something else. They serve as great inventory to assist customers with.
5. We are in business to sell new trading cards. To spend time and resources supporting older redemption programs distracts us from our ability to develop new products. And we want to encourage customers to purchase newer products. By creating an established window of time when trading cards expire, hopefully they are encouraged to do so.
“Our current window is two years from the release date to get your card redeemed. We find that on average, close to 90% of the trading cards are redeemed during that period so it is clear that the vast majority of sealed product is opened during that window. Please understand that if you are purchasing older product you are purchasing it as is, similar to a car that is no longer under warranty. Always be careful before making a purchase like that.
“The best way to eliminate frustration over pulling expired redemptions however is to never put them in packs in the first place. Over the last couple years we have made it our priority to do just that. While it is frustrating to see releases get delayed, it is only in an attempt to include as much live autograph content into the packs as possible. Additionally we have also made it a regular practice to remove redemption cards from a product at pack-out. This means we are actually producing less product and selling less, but it is in our best interest to do so as it provides for a better pack-opening experience for the consumer and ultimately gives the product a better chance to succeed.”
Ask Upper Deck: Can I purchase cards directly from Upper Deck at direct pricing?
“It would be a violation of our agreements with our licensed distributors and retailers to sell directly to consumers. We appreciate the job retailers and hobby stores are doing on our behalf to educate collectors about our products so we support them by allowing them to purchase direct or though our distributors at a discount. They have a lot of overhead they have to work through so it makes sense they would get a small discount on pricing. If you do have a brick and mortar hobby store and wish to purchase direct, check out this link for more details on working with us directly. Additionally if you are located in an area where there are not a lot of hobby shops or retailers carrying our products, you can always look to purchase through Upper Deck’s online store.”
Ask Upper Deck: Is there a way that I can get something of my own signed by an Upper Deck Exclusive Spokesman?
Nick Leslie: “Yes you can through Upper Deck’s Exclusive Signing Program. You can get athletes like Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Tiger Woods to sign your own items and we will authenticate it through our patented five-step process. There are some restrictions on what they will and will not sign. Tiger Woods will not sign art pieces, pin flags or programs from events he did not win, LeBron James will not sign Cleveland Cavaliers items at this time, and Michael Jordan will not sign Sports Illustrated magazines, trading cards or Washington Wizards items. Additionally any game-used items are subject to validation of authenticity. To find more about this program, give our sales associates a call at 1-800-551-8220.”