Condition Reviews, Security & New Video

Vintage Cards & Condition Reviews
You may have noticed that all pre-1980 condition notes have been changed to “Pending condition review. Please review the scan.” This is because we have started a new condition review process. Once we have completed our condition reviews, we will start cleaning up the old condition notes. This will take several months. You can watch this video to learn more about the condition review.

Graded & Conditional Pricing
For years graded cards have been listed on Check Out My Cards with N/A for the book value. Last week we added support for graded pricing and conditional pricing to COMC.com. This allows us to give a more accurate book price for anything that has been graded or condition reviewed. Check Out My Cards hasn’t been changed and still lists N/A for the book value. You must use COMC.com to see the graded & conditional pricing.

Basic Condition Reviews
We are currently in the process of doing hundreds of thousands of basic condition reviews. This is something that we do for free as part of the standard processing service for vintage cards. For the basic condition review we simply lump cards into the following buckets: “Poor”, “Poor to Fair”, “Good to VG-EX”, and “Unreviewed”. You might notice that the naming of these buckets has already been updated based on customer feedback since the video was posted last night. Thanks for helping improve our service!

  • Poor: Any card that is in Poor condition.
  • Poor to Fair: Any card that in less than Good condition. Typically this would be Fair condition cards, but it also includes cards that are on the border between Poor and Fair.
  • Good to VG-EX: Any card that is less than Excellent condition. This would be any Good, VG, or VG-EX card, and it could also include cards that are on the Good/Fair border.
  • Unreviewed: Any card that we haven’t reviewed yet or that we think might be in EX or better condition. This is where nearly all of the cards on the site are today.

These buckets have been strategically chosen because they will significantly reduce our need for condition notes and because we can assess them quick enough that we don’t need to charge anything extra for processing.

Detailed Condition Reviews
By the end of the year we plan to add a command on the Manage Inventory page where the owner of a card can request a “$2 Condition Review”. When this is selected, we will remove the card from the seller’s account, we will scan the item with a 36X zoom instead of our standard 4X zoom, and then we will have 2-3 employees carefully review the condition in detail before putting the card back into the seller’s account with a new Item #. Cards that receive this service will be listed on the site with industry standard conditions (i.e. MINT, NM-MT, NM, EX-MT, EX, VG-EX, VG, GOOD, FAIR, POOR) and with a new Super Zoom feature that can go all the way to the 36X zoom. We just started doing some of our first 36X zoomed scans yesterday, and they look amazing. These items will also be eligible for the new Vault service that we plan to launch in the next few months. Stay tuned for more details…

Grading
When we release the detailed condition review feature, we will also be releasing a similar option where the owner of a card can have us send the card off to get graded. This will be just like the detailed condition review only instead of our employees doing the condition review, we will send the card off to Beckett, PSA, SGC, or KSA to get graded. We will do the same 36X zoomed scan before sending it off and after receiving it back. This will help ensure that there are never any mixups. We expect this service to be much more convenient than sending items directly to the grading companies, and we will pass along the savings we can achieve by doing bulk submissions.

Security
Our existence is directly dependent upon the trust we have earned from our buyers and sellers. The security of each person’s items is of utmost importance to us. We consider every potential security breach with extreme scrutiny. We would not be able to offer our current services or any of these new services if our customers didn’t completely trust us.

We realize that our company is built by humans, and humans make mistakes. That is why we put so many extra precautions and security measures in place. Every time a mistake is made, we study it to determine why it happened and what we can do to minimize the chances of it ever happening again. Over the past 5 years, we have built an amazingly elaborate and resilient system for processing, storing, and shipping cards. As we grow we continue to face new challenges, so we are contently in pursuit of better and more secure ways of doing things.

Over the past year the company has nearly tripled in size, so we have definitely felt our share of growing pains. I am not going to claim that we are perfect. We have made our fair share of mistakes, but I know that we always strive to give the customer the best experience we can.

How we Handle Potential Security Breaches
Yesterday we had an opportunity to exercise and evaluate our security procedures. It was brought to my attention that one of our largest sellers thought a shipment from last month didn’t make it into his account. Fortunately, he is very good about always sending us notifications every time he mails a package. This was a critical piece of our investigation, and it allowed us to narrow down what to look for.

We had one investigation team review all of the pictures and videos we recorded of his packages. They were able to verify that we took pictures of all 12 of the tracking numbers that he had submitted. They also had the videos of how we transferred those 12 packages into 23 batches.

Another investigation team reviewed the 23 batches. We tallied all of the cards deposited, counted the few cards set aside to be returned, and double checked that we didn’t forget to identify any scanned images. In the end the margin of error between his estimates and our counts was 0.03%. That is 3 in 10,000 cards. So we are confident that all 12 packages made it completely into his account.

At the end of the day we are glad we have so many checks and redundancies in place, and we are fully confident that our systems are solid. This investigation was a great test of our dedication to excellence, and the strength of our teams. Every item we handle is a sign that someone trusts us with their property, and we never forget the responsibility we have to handle all of our inventory with respect and diligent security.

Improved Incident Escalation
One of the fall-outs of our investigation was that we discovered a couple other customer issues that we had started investigating but had not resolved in a timely manner. This was an unfortunate consequence of our rapid growth and record setting workload, but we recognize how important it is that all potential mix-ups be resolved quickly. As a result, we have instituted a new policy that requires all such issues be escalated all the way to the CEO (that’s me) if they are not resolved within 48 hours.

As always, we see situations like this as opportunities to improve. We care about our customers, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that you always get great service. Rest assured that we will constantly strive to ensure that we are always the safe & easy way to buy & sell collectibles online.

38 thoughts on “Condition Reviews, Security & New Video

  1. Just to restate a section from the blog post above, we mean it when we say that we really are listening to feedback. In Tim’s video he uses the terms “Poor”, “Not Good”, “Not Excellent” and “Unreviewed” for our new review ‘buckets’. Since making this video we have already incorporated some great feedback and we have updated the names of the categories as follows: “Poor”, “Poor to Fair”, “Good to VG-EX”, “Unreviewed”.
    I’d also like to add that when Tim says “buckets” he is of course using the term metaphorically. I’m guessing that wasn’t a big concern, but you never know when someone is going to hear that and get worried.
    Thanks!
    -Jeremy

    • Thanks Guys
      I am glad you went away from the Not Good and Not Excellent bucket. When I first saw some of the changes I was wondering what the heck was going on. It would be nice to get a heads up that these changes are forthcoming prior to seeing them first time on some cards in our inventory. Thanks
      again for all of you hard work.

  2. “Fortunately, he is very good about always sending us notifications every time he mails a package. This was a critical piece of our investigation, and it allowed us to narrow down what to look for.”

    Please clarify this for us. Is it as simple as filling out the form on https://www.comc.com/Manage/AddCards.aspx, including adding the tracking number at the bottom of the page? Is there anything else we should do so your team can be prepared if something were to go wrong?

    • Hi, thanks for asking. It really is just as simple as submitting that form with a tracking number. Our system gets notified whenever that happens and it really helps our receiving team know what to expect.
      Appreciate the question!
      -Jeremy

    • A fairly accurate estimation of card quantity is very helpful. We know that some people deliberately underestimate this count by as much as 75%, erroneously thinking they are charged for our service when their batch arrives and trying to keep their initial investments down. We don’t need an exact count but it does help us if the estimated quantity is near the actual. It’s much tougher to track down if there is an issue if the actual quantity is 1200 cards and the estimated quantity from the seller is 500.

  3. Thank you for posting this video! The conditional pricing makes a lot of sense, and it is more user friendly on COMC.com than on checkoutmycards.com. I hadn’t realized that you could see the conditional price on COMC because I’m still using checkoutmycards for the most part.

    I certainly appreciate the effort to group cards by grade, but it would be nice if a buyer could also opt to see all of the examples of a particular card in the same “bucket” (including slabbed cards if possible).

    I also hadn’t realized that you can now filter a search on COMC by jersey / auto / team, etc. This is a HUGE development, worthy of its own blog post and shouting from the rooftops.

    I would recommend some other filters: “At least 50% off guide”, “At least 75% off guide”, “At least 90% off guide”. That way, even people who don’t have access to the full guide prices can still hunt for bargains, and you won’t have to publish the actual guide prices to the public. It might also be useful if there was some sort of icon next to a card if it was at least 50% off guide, and a different icon next to a card if it is at least 90% off guide, etc.

    Another filter that would come in very handy would be one where you could filter a search by number of cards on the site, and if you could filter a seller search by just the cards which are the lowest on the site.

    For that matter, the more filters, the better. I’d love to specify a range of years, a range of percentage off asking price, a range of book value, etc. I know in the past, COMC has always felt that these sorts of searches would use more bandwidth, but I imagine that it must require a lot more bandwidth when a buyer like me clicks on thousands of listings to buy a few dozen cards.

    Your Black Friday email mentioned something about an upcoming “sale” feature where a seller could specify a percentage off guide and their cards would automatically be displayed at the discounted price. The email indicated this would start “next Friday”, but I am unclear whether that means today, or a week from today. And if the feature is active, it’s unclear to me how to activate it.

    Thanks! Keep up the great work!

  4. If it’s too much hassle to see all the cards in one bucket, the next best thing would be a button on a card listing, where you could search the site for every example of that card with one click. For instance, say you’re looking at 1958 Topps #150, Mickey Mantle [Good to VG-EX]. You can click a button to see more “1958 Topps”, you can click a button to see more “Mickey Mantle”, and you can click a button to see more “New York Yankees”. If you could click a button to see more “1958 Topps #150 Mickey Mantle”, then it would be easier to find all of the copies of that card available in all grades.

    • You can always see the book value of cards you submitted on consignment from the Manage Inventory page, but if you bought cards or if you want to see book prices when browsing search results, you need to sign up for that. We will be making this easier to find, but for now you can click on the Book Prices link on the footer of any page, and then follow the instructions to sign up for a free one week subscription. Until we finalize more details with Beckett, you can keep renewing the free one week subscription.

  5. I want to hear more about grading since I’ve never done it and it just always seems too expensive to bother with…….but this……could change that feeling of dread.

  6. One feature I would especially like to see is for a seller to be able to subdivide their port into several “mini-ports”. Each mini port could have its own auto accept rules and could be sold as one lot in a port sale.

    This would be especially useful now. Say you’ve got a low grade vintage card which books for $200 in High Beckett. Under the old paradigm, you might price that at 10% of book value, or $20. If you had a port sale, you might accept 10% of “book value” for your port, and that card would effectively net you $20.

    But now, the displayed “book value” of the card is $20. So your $20 asking price is full book. If you have a port sale and someone offers 10% for the port, they’re effectively offering you $2 for that card.

    What I’d really like is the ability to open a second account (or a third or a fourth), and then to easily transfer cards from one account to the other. In one account, maybe all the cards are bargain priced – 10% to 20% of book, and auto-accept is aggressively used on top of that.

    In the other account, the cards are treated with more respect. A $50 “book value” card is treated like it’s really worth $50 and not $5 or $10.

    It’s very common for card dealers to have special cards in their glass case and a bargain bin where stuff is blown out. It would be nice if there was some way to easily do this with COMC.

  7. In general, I like your vintage condition changes. However, I have one huge concern. Your biggest problem with vintage cards has been the extreme inconsistency depending on which employee made the decisions on notes or buckets. Now that you will link your bucket choices to Beckett values, it will be even more important that your assessments be reasonably fair, accurate and consistent. Ideally, you would have a limited number of staff doing vintage reviews and these people would be experienced in vintage material. Also, some type of quality review would be in place. Can you expand a little about how you will insure consistency?

    If a seller feels you have incorrectly bucketed some cards, is there a cost free way to request a second opinion? Most cards are not valuable enough to pay $2 for a full review.

    As a primarily vintage seller, I will feel much better with a little more information on how you will avoid the significant inconsistency and unfairness in vintage hamdling of the past several months.

    • As a seller, I actually appreciate the new condition guides, I sent in a whole bunch of card (delivered at the National actually) and many of my vintage cards were Poor to be generous. The previousl way of saying “has faults” actually caused me to price my cards higher than they should have been. I have fixed most of those cards and look forward to the condition review being completed so I can accurately (to the best of my ability) price these cards in accordance with Beckett pricing

      As a side note, I was very frustrated by October (and granted my 4000+ card inventory was a tad stale) that for a 2 week period during the month I sold exactly 3 cards. Well my National submission hit at the end of October and I’ve sold many cards (including for me some very highly priced cards) — and that makes me more encouraged to send even more card to COMC, I’m in my yearly review of my entire inventory I hope by December 1st to have the next shipment be mailed

      .

    • This is an excellent point, and exactly why we have made so many changes recently. We currently have a team of about 30 people processing the cards that get submitted. About 10 of those people do the identification of the cards. We now have as select group of only 4 people that do all of the condition reviews. To ensure that we have consistency, we do two independent condition reviews. If both condition reviews are consistent, that is the condition that is applied. I added some code to remove most of the old vague condition notes at that point (e.g. has flaws, vintage wear…). If they don’t have agreement, we either have a third person do a condition review or they discuss there differences and come to a consensus. As they do more an more condition reviews, we expect that this group of 4 will become more consistently aligned.

      Regarding a cost free second opinion… We will first have to see how common it is that people feel they need a second opinion. I don’t want to create a precedence where people always request a second opinion because it is free. We might be able to do something where you get a certain number of free “Second Option Requests” for every 1,000 cards you submit.

      • Your use of a smaller group to review vintage cards and the two opinions are excellent changes. I am very optimistic this process will lead to the best handling of older cards since I have been on your site.

        If you do offer some limited number of free second opinions, please do so based on existing volume of vintage cards as well as new submissions. Those of us who have previously sent in cards or purchased cards on the site have already paid the price for condition notes in the past.

      • You could also set a dollar value for the card regarding free second opinion…IE cards with a NRMT value of $100+ are valid of a free second opinion. People purchasing those cards are more likely to be condition sensitive than cards that are worth $5. You’ll probably getting many more of these requests for high value items.

    • Every vintage card currently on the site is being reviewed by at least two employees. This activity is taking place over the next several weeks. If the two employees review a card and do not come to a consensus on the bucket it should belong in a third employee will also assess that card’s condition in order to create a majority decision. Under the initial run of cards reviewed to this point less than 1% have needed that third party involvement.

      As for cards currently entering the system, the same setup has held true. At least two people view every vintage card found to need attention as a bucket candidate, the initial employee who sorts the order and a member of the condition review team who evaluates what has been moved into the condition review pipeline. In most cases a third employee identifies the order, giving each card another round of evaluation.

  8. The issue that I have seen is, I have seen some cards that are not being reviewed that are much worse than cards that are being reviewed…If i have a card in the VG/EXC bucket I have to price it lower than a card in the bucket that is not being graded….Lets face it buyers will be doing most of their purchasing in the first bucket that are considered the nicest and this is where the problems will arise……….As a buyer I wont look in any bucket other than the non graded bucket and unless everything is graded perfectly (which is near impossible)This new system in not only unfair but flawed

    • That might be a little excessive. The only cards without condition notes that should have them are ones that were submitted before condition notes were invented (maybe serial number 3000000 and earlier). Granted, this solution doesn’t address those cards, but it’s a small percentage of the cards that need the attention, and that percentage itself will only drop over time.

      • I disagree that the percentage without comments is small. Just look at some of the higher valued cards that have been reviewed already. It is surprising how many relatively poor cards later than 3000000 have no comments.

        I assume they will eventually look at all of them – at least I hope that is what they plan to do.

      • Look at 1971 Topps Phil Niekro card. The 7TH Card is in worse condition than some that are being reviewed so he will be able to get more for that card since it is considered EX/NM.I have seen hundreds and hundreds of these instances

  9. Lee: All vintage cards are being reviewed equally. No card is currently considered EX/NM. The reason you are seeing a minority of vintage cards without the pending notation is exactly as it was pointed out earlier, that they were on the site prior to the initial implentation of condition notes over two years ago and remain unsold. You can rest assured that this example will be properly reviewed along with all the other copies of this card.

    • Although upon further review it does appear this particular card could be an anomaly. I have contacted Tim about this for his review of the example.

      • I feel that the problem isn’t the actual putting them in grade categories and grading them so to speak as much as putting them in different buckets..Everything should be in one bucket so everything gets equal exposure and it will also lessen the damage when cards are graded improperly,which is unavoidable.

  10. A positive move on the graded cards. I never felt the previous system of “grading” did right by the seller or the buyer. This new system assuming you have folks who know how to grade will be an asset to the site.

  11. Lee: your request for one bucket for everything seems to be in direct conflict with your request for your specific example to be singled out for its condition. We can only deal with vintage cards one of these two ways, and due to rampant returns, confusion about the system, and complaints based on incorrect assumptions that certain sellers were being given preferential treatment we must choose the latter option because the former didn’t work.

    AAA: I can’t give you the complete resume of my team but they do have an extensive background in evaluating condition. Each of them has dealt almost exclusively in vintage cards for an extended period of time with an emphasis on BGS, PSA, and SGC graded examples, been involved in the day-to-day operations of a brick-and-mortar with an online presence, where accuracy is paramount in order to build both a positive reputation and a repeat customer base, or both. As for me, I have over 32 years continuous experience with all types of cards (no “I grew out of it in high school” break) and have yet to reach my 40s. Before gaining employment here my previous job was to identify and list inventory for one of the Beckett marketplace’s 10 largest dealers, where as you’re well aware you must accurately list cards by condition with the lack of images, while also being in charge of running their eBay auctions. I’ve also maintained my own eBay seller presence since the days of 8 digit item numbers. I have yet to have one card in either locale returned based on inaccurate evaluation of condition in well over 100k transactions.

    With all that said, and I can’t stress this enough, there is no need to worry about the total accuracy of one member of my team when AT LEAST two of us will be evaluating every single vintage card that is already here or will be submitted. Most grading companies if not all of them don’t even set two pairs of eyes on a card, and we do that at no additional charge to the seller.

    • Chad. Thanks for the info. Based on my interactions with the staff of COMC I have no doubt that with the clear standards you guys are working under the cards will be in good hands. When I said “assuming …..” I really DID assume you guys had folks who knew how to grade. Like you, having been a collector/dealer of cards for about 35 of my 39 years. Honestly with that backround I would have had a hard time with terms like “vintage wear” or “has flaws” because those vague terms go against everything we have been taught over the years. Grading cards is a strict and programmed task with some room for interpretation when assigning a grade but the general grading standards haven’t changed in years and the terms have been in place longer than either of us have been alive. So I think you guys will do much better under the new guidelines. It is encouraging me as a seller to send in more graded as I think it will provide a smoother seller and buyer experience.

  12. I have to say, that I love reading all of the feedback submitted and the replies from the staff. Definitely another plus of the site

  13. I have some questions on the vintage review that have come up as I have gone through some recent changes.

    1 What does COMC Reviewed Authentic stand for? 50 or 100 1961 and 1962 Post Baseball cards were added and this was the comment. These did not involve autographs or any obvious reason for an authentic comment. Are Post cereal cards going to be treated differently than other vintage cards?

    2. As the process goes forward, how will buyers and sellers know when all of a particular card have been reviewed? For example, several 1962 Topps #2 Roger Maris cards have been reviewed and several others have either not been reviewed or were determined to be EX or better. At what point can I assume that cards left with no Review status were actually looked at and were considered to be EX or better?

    3. Once you start reviewing a specific card such as the 1962 Maris #2 card, will you try to complete a review of all of that card or will it stretch out over a long time? I think it would be best to try to finish one card rather than shot gunning parts of many different cards.

    I would appreciate some feedback from someone at COMC on these questions. Thanks for your help.

    • Rob:

      1. Post cards are labeled Authentic – Hand Cut when they are cut from the box inside the guideline that all of these cards have printed on them. This is the same standard PSA uses when they review these cards, and we have determined that labelling these cards as Authentic is better for all involved than labelling them as Poor or Poor to Fair. In a few cases where they are in absolutely terrible shape they have been or will be reviewed as Poor, and in cases where the guidelines are clearly visible we have assigned or will assign an appropriate condition.

      2. If the card hasn’t been reviewed it will continue to display the Pending note.

      3. We ran an initial group of higher priced cards to test the system. Going forward we are reviewing in chronological order by year.

      • On question number 2 above, many vintage cards do not have any condition note nor do they have a pending review note. Will these cards be reviewed or forever left where they are now? If they will be reviewed, how will we know when the process is done. The problem I am having is that, I assume, all cards that are not below EX and placed in one of those buckets, will be left with no bucket title or comment. Your new procedure will only work if ALL vintage cards are reviewed and either placed in a lesser condition bucket or are, by default, left where they are and assumed to be EX or better. Is that what you are planning?

      • Rob:

        Please give us an example of what you are referring to. Lee brought a similar issue up earlier and Tim committed an update that should have addressed it. Also, are you using the new or old site when perusing the inventory?

        We are reviewing every vintage (pre-1980) card on the site, a process that is likely to take weeks if not months. Any card left without either Pending Review or a lesser condition should be assumed to have been found to have met criteria for inclusion in the Unreviewed bucket. So the answer to your question is Yes, that is what we are planning.

      • Thank you for getting back to me. I have not found a card today that doesn’t have a Pending Review comment. I will let you know if I run into any in the future but it appears that all my questions are resolved. I’m not sure if something was changed/corrected but it looks good now. I am using mostly the old site.

  14. I deal strictly in vintage baseball cards. Right now I am very hesitant to purchase any vintage cards being added as there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty as to what the card being purchased will ultimately be described as.

    The vast majority of cards I have purchased on the site for the past 6 months or more I was generally very careful to avoid any cards with condition notes and I stuck to cards with item numbers that happened after the condition note process was implemented. Now all those cards have notes on them saying pending review and we are being told it could be several months before the notes are done. Hopefully this process puts these cards back into the no condition note category that I bought them in and that they are not placed into the three shades of bad buckets.

    It is not likely a road I wish to go down but part of me thinks that I bought cards with no condition notes and if ultimately they do have condition notes put on them or get put into the bad buckets perhaps I should be able to return them. This is the same treatment that the Amazon purchasers have been given so would it not be fair that this be available to the COMC purchasers as well?

    What I would really like to see is a posting that says we can assume that any card with a item number greater than xxx can be purchased with no concern that it will later be subject to yet another round of condition note reviews and will not get put into one of the bad buckets.

    • I agree Coco..Bottom line is a lot of cards we bought to flip before the Bad Buckets were introduced we have to take a loss on now……… I think that my main concern is that if a lot of buyers feel the same as I where as not only will I not buy cards in any of the 3 bad buckets I wont even look in them.I have yet to sell a card in any of the bad buckets not that i have that many in them yet (probably a hundred or two)

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