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 from what we are hearing over the phones and receiving via e-mails from customers in segments called Ask UD. I hope you find this information relevant and interesting. If you have questions yourself, leave a comment and “Ask UD!”
Here are some of the questions we are receiving in Customer Care right now:
Ask Upper Deck: Why does my patch card have just one color on it? Doesn’t that make it just a jersey card?
Nick Leslie: “Patch cards are definitely very similar to jersey cards, but they are definitely more rare. A patch card is a part of the player’s jersey that has usually been sewn on to the jersey. Patches for patch cards are usually taken from a player’s jersey number, nameplate, team name, team logos and league logos. Depending on the sport and team, patches can be one color or multiple colors.
“In terms of scarcity levels, jersey cards are more common than patch cards as there is more regular jersey material on a player’s uniform than there is patch material. Single-colored patches are more common to multi-colored patches as there is generally more single-colored patches on a player’s uniform than there is multi-colored patch material.”
Ask Upper Deck: What is Upper Deck doing to stop sellers from tampering with patches on trading cards?
“Generally multi-colored patch cards carry a premium in the secondary market because not only are those cards very pretty, but they are also more rare than single-colored patch cards. In fact, it is not uncommon nowadays for some unscrupulous sellers of single trading cards to attempt to alter or change out patches in trading cards. There are a variety of hobby sites that post information about this practice like this that I read just yesterday.
“Usually these people are called out for this practice and receive terrible feedback on eBay as a result. You don’t last very long in this industry ripping people off and word travels fast about people who are engaging in this practice. From a legal perspective, this is a copyright infringement issue when someone is changing our product and misrepresenting it as something else. Unfortunately it is very difficult to prove that in a court of law, but as a company with a strong reputation in the industry, we are always looking at ways we can stop that practice. Patch-fakers be warned: Every auction you post with an augmented Upper Deck card could very well come back to haunt you in court.
“Consumers often say that we should just take pictures of all the patch cards before they go out, but that is not a foolproof method. We offer replacements for trading cards in the event of factory damages as a service to our customers and many collectors take advantage of it. Cards are replaced with a new version that has a different patch. Once replaced, however, these new cards with different patches could create a lot of confusion in the market. And speaking of damage, that is another huge issue with scanning all these cards because the more you handle them, the more apt they are to get damaged. We try to handle the cards as little as possible before they make their way into packs. Also, how do you handle situations with redemption cards? Our main goal is to get those right out to customers when they come in so holding up everything to take images of them has some drawbacks associated with it. There are other issues as well that come up in terms of where these images would exist and whether or not collectors would even know to check for them.
“The next way to attempt to protect the consumer from this practice is through innovation. We’ve explored a variety of ways to make cards tamperproof including encapsulating patches, using stronger adhesives and inserting dye packs into the card. There are some significant costs that go into these methods and we have incorporated some of them (not the dye packs, that gets messy), but unfortunately we haven’t found a full-proof method yet. And I stress the word yet. Innovation and authenticity are the cornerstones of our business so we will make strides here to eliminate this practice from the market.
“In the meantime the best way to protect yourself is through education. Take time to educate yourself by reading up on hobby forums on the subject and remember if something looks to good to be true, it just may be. Here are just a few articles that will help you learn more about this practice and how to protect yourself:
Sports Cards Uncensored: http://www.sportscardsuncensored.com/?p=17
I Am Joe Collector: http://iamjoecollector.blogspot.com/2009/09/fake-patch-ebay-seller.html
Ask Upper Deck: Why doesn’t my Upper Deck Authenticated item show up in your hologram database?
Nick Leslie: “The Upper Deck Authenticated hologram database is a great tool to check up on a UDA piece that you invested in. We didn’t move this service online until 2002, however. For items that are older than that you can call Upper Deck Customer Care to verify the authenticity of your piece at 1-800-551-8220. Some holograms after 2002 will not be in the online database either which usually means that they were signed at a show or event where we could not get images of the pieces here at our headquarters. You can also verify the authenticity of those items by contacting our Upper Deck Authenticated Customer Care team.”
Ask Upper Deck: How much are my Upper Deck cards worth?
Nick Leslie: “We get this question a lot as collectors frequently pull cards they are excited about and want to know what they might be worth. While we are in the business of creating collectibles, we are not in the business of pricing them. That would be like printing our own money. We let the values get determined by the secondary market as cards are sold through various channels.
“There are a variety of different price guides in the market that you can use to determine values, the most well known being Beckett. If you have a hobby shop nearby, they can help you out with assessing the value on your cards as well. Perhaps the best method that collectors use nowadays however is checking completed auctions on eBay. By seeing what a person actually paid for a particular card, you have a very real and accurate barometer of what cards are selling for. It is free to check, but you do need to be set up with an eBay account.”
Ask Upper Deck: Are the Monta Ellis 2005-06 SPx Rookie cards ever going to be completed?
Nick Leslie: “YES! This has been quite the ongoing project where there we experienced issue after issue, but we are pleased to say they were finally completed this week. We are in the process of reviewing the cards for quality and we will send them out after that. This was definitely not a normal situation, but we are happy to bring it to a close.”