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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Redemption Song - A Tale Of Uncertainty

Everyone has had a problem...errr, wrong word choice.

Everyone has had an that isn't it either.

Everyone has had an experience with Redemption cards.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  Experiences can be defined as some type of contact with or observation of the facts or events surrounding the existence, ability to obtain or not obtain, or downright nastiness of a redemption card.  As such, those experiences are mostly unique (albeit sometimes repeated...over and over and over again).  You would be hard pressed to find ten collector's in a row that you could ask the question, "Have you had a bad experience with a redemption?" and not find at least one that has (in some circles, all ten may).

For as much as people get excited about getting the "hits" out of packs of cards, that excitement is sometimes filled with trepidation and uncertainty when those "hits" come out on those super thick, white cardboard slugs.  I am no different.  Let me walk you through my thought process when I unearth one of those scary scratch-offs.

My first reaction is joy.  I know that when I see a super thick card in my pack it can be one of three things.
  1. It is a "decoy" card with all the sexiness of a '52 Mantle you won on auction that was shipped in a PWE from a Canadian post office somewhere outside of Ontario (for those confused, that is bad).
  2. It is a "hit" and probably some type of memorabilia card because why else would it be so thick.
  3. It is a "hit" in the form of a "decoy" with a scratch and sniff sticker requiring the use of a coin which I no longer possess because I just used it to purchase the pack it came from.    
So I shuffle through the rest of the cards in the pack, hoping I won't be further disappointed by what was probably a knee-jerk reaction type purchase and I am getting annihilated on.  Then I see it.  The plain white cardboard slug with a manufactured sticker affixed mostly crooked and text that was printed using a dot matrix printer with recycled typewriter ribbon.  I quickly adjust my eyesight to squint mode so that I can decipher the half faded, half illegible text.  I then immediately realize what I have...either something nice or something, well, not so nice.

Let's assume nice for a moment...My brain reacts in a way that probably most collector's do in that if it isn't a redemption for a player in one of my PCs (either individual or team) I begin to contemplate whether this might be something I really need.  If I am at home and near a computer or my phone is charged and ready to go, I will hop online to see if there have been any of the redemptions or the cards they refer to actively moving on the open market (generally this is via Ebay, COMC, Collector Revolution, Beckett Marketplace, or a couple forums I joined at one time or another).  There is going to be a distinction in price usually between the redeemed cards and their place holders.  Sometimes, especially when a product is new and there is still some excitement, the unredeemed cards have a much higher demand and will get sometimes double, even triple the redeemed value (I can only assume people are paying for that uncertainty I talked about earlier).

Nice or not so nice, in most cases I balk on the selling of the redemption card.  I tried it once and it didn't work out in my favor.  I guess that is because I never can seem to time the market right.  Regardless, I am then left with two options, scratch or not scratch and find a trade partner.  Nine times out of ten, I'm trading with other bloggers/collectors.  They too understand the em...experiences with redemption cards and sometimes just don't want to deal with it.  I completely understand.  So the other 98% of the time, I'm left with no option but to scratch and hope for the best.  

I have personally dealt with Topps, Upper Deck, and Panini when it comes to redemptions but I have no first hand knowledge of trying to get anything back from the other manufacturers like Leaf, ITG, Press Pass, TriStar, or Sage (did I miss anyone?).  So I will just say this...I am one of the fortunate ones that has not had an instance of never receiving a redemption, receiving the wrong redemption, having to receive a replacement redemption, or being told "what redemption?" by a nameless customer service rep.  I know I'm in the minority and I know I must be one of the lucky ones.  The only experience that I have had to endure is the wait time because the act of waiting to receive a card you should have had in your hand in the first place is agonizingly painful.  

A lot can happen from the time a redemption request is made until the time that item reaches your hands.  Players can become injured.  Players can get traded.  Players can go into a slump or become social and public pariahs.  In some cases a player could die in the time it takes to receive your redemption.  What?  It could happen.  It might be a fringe-type freakish event, but it could happen.  But in that time you are waiting to receive the card, the worst thing that happens (I guess the death thing is really THE worst but...) is second guessing the decision to redeem it in the first place.  

I go back and forth with myself, wondering what I was thinking all the time.  It isn't healthy.  But I know I can't be the only one that does that.  In a world filled with collectors, filled with unopened packs, filled with eager-to-be-scratched cardboard, there has to be others that experience the same anxiety, the same uncertainty, the same lack of faith in the system as I (despite never being burned, yet).

There is more to this story.  This is only the beginning of another post down the line.  


  1. Funny you mention Canada Post and Redemption in the same post..I have a very very long story that I will be writing up once it is all finally over. Currently it is on going and I am hopeful something good might come of it, but then again I am hopeful the Devils will win the Cup.

    1. I have only had problems with areas outside of Ontario. I don't know what the reason is.

  2. I am actually in the same boat since I have yet to have a bad experience with a redemption. The only time I had an extended wait was for a Museum Collection card from Champ's, but I knew going in it was going to take awhile.

    While I understand the need for a redemption, and I know i've posted this before, I hate that they expire and UD doesn't honor them (I believe Panini and Topps do but I could be wrong). There are a lot of UD products I'd love to buy going back to 2007-08 and as recent as 2011 but can't pull the trigger because of expired redemptions. If a redemption has to be put into a pack then the company should have to honor it for as long as it takes collectors to pull them.


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