Historical Suggested Prices

About a month ago we rolled out our first version of Suggested Prices. Based on the feedback of many COMC customers, we have revamped our model and just released v2 of our BETA Suggested Prices. This time we have included some charts to help you analyze our suggestions.
SalesData

For those of you not familiar with our Suggested Prices, you can learn more here.

As I mentioned in my original announcement video, we have the cleanest set of historical sales data ever complied. This gives us a unique opportunity to provide relevant price suggestions without having to factor in so many variables.

Our Suggested Prices are still in BETA testing. We want your feedback. Here are some important details about the COMC Suggested Prices.

Data Sources
We only use COMC historical sales data. We do not factor in sales from any other websites, and we do not use any other guides or services. All of the COMC Suggested Prices are based on a mathematical model that I designed and implemented. We have made no attempt to replicate or mimic any other guides or services. We fully expect that you will find our Price Suggestions to be very different from other guides or services. My goal was to boil down a bunch of numbers into a few easily digestible suggestions. Here are the goals I tried to achieve and what numbers went into generating each suggestion.

  • Suggested Retail Price (SRP): The SRP is intended to be a fair asking price for a retail store. This is currently just a standard markup on our Suggested List Price. We figure it is fair to expect to pay a little premium in order to see the item in-person before buying.
  • Suggested List Price (SLP): The goal of the SLP is to be a reasonable List Price that a seller might use to put an item up for sale on COMC. The SLP is based on the total price that buyers actually paid to take possession of their items. That means we only factor in items that were sold and shipped when generating the SLP. While this is based on confirmed sales, it is not an average. An average or median would leave no room for buyers to make offers without constantly driving the price down. Instead we have factored in a little bit of room for people to negotiate prices.
  • Suggested Wholesale Price (SWP): The SWP is intended to represent the price that sellers can reasonably target if they are trying to sell their item quickly. Often buyers in this price range are purchasing with the intent to resell. That is why we refer to this as the “wholesale” price. This factors in all sales on the site, but we treat port sales and other large offers with a grain of salt.

Chart Elements
Bar charts have been added to the top right corner of each card details page. Bar charts, with additional lines representing suggested prices, have been added to the popup you see when you click on card prices. The bar chart represents the number of items sold in a given quarter (3 month period) for that particular card. The rightmost bar represents the sales for the current quarter, which will just be a portion of a quarter. The sales from all the different conditions and grades are lumped together in the bar chart. The lines represent the SRP, SLP, and SWP. The points are measured on the last day of the given quarter. The rightmost point on the line represents the current Suggested Price. The chart shows the last 15 full quarters and the current quarter.

Partial Sales Data
Because the rightmost bar represents only a portion of a quarter, it will often appear lower than other bars. This does not typically mean that sales have been decreasing for an item. It more often means, that we are simply in the middle of a quarter and we are still adding to the total sales for that quarter.

Charts with No Lines
Some listings do not have enough historical data for us to generate a Suggested Price. You might even find some listings that used to have Suggested Prices, but they no longer have suggestions. This is because we consider older historical sales as less relevant. If the total relevance that was factored into a suggestion is too low we discard the suggestion. Years ago, this data was more relevant and our model may have been able to make older suggestions.

Extrapolation
The current model only looks at historical sales of the exact same item in the same condition or grade. Later this fall we will begin factoring in similar products and conditions. This will help enable us to make price suggestions for items such as printing plates. While we may have never sold a particular printing plate, we may have sold a different color of that plate or other printing plates of that player or other printing plates from that set. These data points can help us make recommendations for items that we haven’t sold yet.

Vintage Suggested Prices
We know that vintage card prices are very condition sensitive. Please take all pre-1980 COMC Price Suggestions with a grain of salt. Because we have not factored in detailed condition ratings, we may choose to completely turn off these suggestions if we find that they are too misleading.

Frequency of Updates
We re-run our analysis every night. If a player has a great game, the sales from today will be factored into tomorrow’s model.

Historical Suggestions
You might wonder how it is possible for us to offer Suggested Prices that go back 4 years when we only started offering these suggestions a month ago, and I have to say, that is very perceptive of you. You see, I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos about Astrophysics, and I recently stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. As a result I was able to find two colliding black holes and hitched a ride going faster than the speed of light in order to run the model at different points in time over the past several years.

Actually, I just designed the mathematical model so that I can plug in any point it time and it will generated the suggestions based on the historical data before that point.

Changes from V1
We got feedback that the Suggested Retail Price from our first version of Suggested Prices was too inflated. This feedback has been incorporated into the new mathematical model we use for the new version of COMC Suggested Prices. If you notice an SRP is lower than what you remembered, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the value is decreasing. The entire model was adjusted. It is best to refer to our charts to understand the direction the market might be heading.

Feedback Wanted
Please go play with the site, find interesting data, and discuss it in the comments below and on other forums. We will be monitoring the discussion to find ways to improve our suggestions.

New Search is Live + Free Promotions & Free Shipping

The new search infrastructure that I mentioned in my last video is live, and it is now the default search. To compare it to our old search, you can simply check or un-check the Use New BETA Search checkbox. Note, the old search results may be a couple days out of date. We are measuring how fast updates appear with the new search infrastructure. If there are lots of promotions or other activity, it looks like it might take a couple hours to reflect all of the new prices.

UseNewBETASearchWe want to stress test the new search infrastructure, so please try it out. As an incentive, we are allowing sellers to run FREE Sale promotions for the next week, and we are also offering free shipping on orders of 20 or more items. Shipment requests must be submitted by midnight PST Wednesday, July 23rd. Items purchased from Advanced Reselling Mode are only eligible for a $3 shipping discount.

New Search Features
You will noticed that the filtering options offered on the left have changed a bit with the new infrastructure. It is now a LOT easier for us to add new search related features. You can expect to see new features light up from time to time over the next several months. This is some of the ground work for our new SRP.

Search Performance
Search results are consistently snappy. No more really slow searches. Also, the new search infrastructure has the ability to automatically scale up to support any level of demand (in theory). That is what we want you to test.

For the first time we have decoupled the search functionality from the rest of the website. This means that the database that tracks asking prices and ownership of items is no longer bogged down with all of the search requests. This is a big deal. Last Black Friday our database server was basically maxed out the entire weekend. Now we should be able to support more than 10 times the traffic and still have great performance.

Feedback
Let us know what you think of the new search. What search features would you like us to add?

Card #15,000,000 & The Modern Baseball Card Investor

TheModernBaseballCardInvestorAbout a week ago I got an email from Jeff Hwang, author of The Modern Baseball Card Investor.  I first met him at the Industry Summit in Las Vegas a little more than a year ago, and we had a really good conversation about the baseball card market.  His book is now done, and he wanted to send me a copy of it. I just got my copy in the mail the other day, and was pleasantly surprised with how well he described COMC.com in his Enhanced Liquidity section of the Introduction (pg 30-31).  eBay got a paragraph and we got nearly a full page.
JeffHwangAuto
Jeff did a great job of summarizing the difference between COMC.com and other sites.  It captures the essence of what has made us successful.

Here is an excerpt…

The online consignment site COMC.com has further enhanced the liquidity of lower priced cards by creating a centralized online exchange where all the cards listed online are in one physical location, and can be traded multiple times without being shipped.  Launched in 2007 as CheckOutMyCards.com, COMC.com allows users to submit cards to the company’s website in Seattle, where the cards are scanned front and back and listed online for a small fee, as little as 25 cents per card.

In contrast to eBay, where a seller typically incurs both eBay and PayPal fees for every transaction made, a seller on COMC instead receives store credit for the full amount of the sale, and pays a further cash-out fee only upon cash out – similar to the way a stock investor only pays a capital gains tax upon selling a stock, and not while holding.  Meanwhile, a buyer only pays shipping if/when he wants to have the physical item shipped; he can turn around and relist the item without incurring a shipping cost (the card is already located in COMC’s warehouse), or can otherwise save on shipping costs by waiting until he has acquired multiple cards.

As such, users can flip cards for profit on COMC.com without ever physically being in possession of an actual card, the same way a stock investor can trade stocks online without ever physically being in possession of a stock certificate.  But more importantly, the site dramatically improves the liquidity of low-priced cards by lowering the otherwise prohibitive transaction costs associated with them – most notably shipping costs, as well as the time it takes to list and sell and then ship such cards.

At the sports card and gaming collectibles Industry Summit in Las Vegas in March 2013, the company announced that it had listed it 10 millionth card, and had to that point shipped 3.6 million cards to 75 countries.

2000 Upper Deck MVP Pro Sign #IB - Isaac Bruce - Courtesy of COMC.com
Card #15,000,000
I thought it was fitting to announce that just today (writing this on Friday July 11th, 2014) we identified item #15,000,000 as 2000 Upper Deck MVP Pro Sign #IB – Isaac Bruce, deposited it in Fiber1’s account, Fiber1 put it up for sale, and I purchased it.

Not only have 50% more items been consigned with us since March 2013, we have also shipped 50% more items to buyers.  That is more than 5 million items shipped all over the world.

Thank you COMC Nation for making this possible!
 

 

 

Making Steady Progress

Catalog Progress
The sheer volume of work in order to build out the sports card catalog from scratch has been monumental.  I am so impressed by the efforts of our team and the COMC community.  We updated 195,000 listings in just the past 7 days, and our catalog has grown by nearly 15% to more than 3.4 million listings in just the past three weeks.

We estimate that we are about 90% done with the first stage of the catalog (set names, card #’s, and descriptions).  We have already started collecting a lot of extra data such as autograph type and college teams, and throughout the rest of the year we will continue collecting more of this data.

Sales Update
You may have noticed that sales have been steadily improving. In fact, the past week was the best week since our switch over to the new catalog on April 1st. As the catalog continues to make progress our sales have steadily rebounded.

Manufacturer Checklists
We have started cross-referencing the COMC catalog with manufacturer checklists in order to find errors and fill out missing data.  If we were simply importing data into a blank database, this would be a very simple task.  However, we have 15 million scanned cards that we are using to verify the data.  As we are comparing the images to the checklists, we are not only finding and fixing mistakes we have made but we are also discovering discrepancies between the manufacturer checklists and the products they actually produced.

Our goal is to build the most accurate catalog of sports cards that were actually produced.  There are many websites that replicate the manufacturer checklists, but they are not 100% accurate.  You really have to do the work to compare the checklists to the cards that were released to get the most accuracy.

The catalog we have now is a work in progress. We will continue to do “heavy construction” throughout the rest of this year, and we will continue investing in the catalog on into the future. These are just some of the things we are doing to get to our goal.

See below for a list of products that we have completely cross-referenced.

Processing Backlog Progress
It has been a balancing act for us to dedicate effort to both the catalog completion and the backlog of items that people have submitted for processing.  Fortunately, we have made good headway since my last update.  The backlog of past due items is less than half of what it was, and we expect the vast majority of the rest that is past due will be done by the end of July.

With our Basic processing service, we don’t charge anything until your items are linked to listings in our new catalog and the scans have been uploaded into your inventory.  At that point you can start selling your items, but the catalog data may not be complete.  If any portion of the set name, card number or description is still missing, we don’t charge any storage fees.

Basic Processing Guarantee
We guarantee to have the items in your account within 8 weeks.  Anything that misses that window will only be charged 50% of the normal processing fee. If you still have items that are past the 8 week guaranteed due date on August 1st, we will credit your account 12.5¢ per item, effectively giving you free processing for anything that still isn’t done.

Basic Processing Expectations
By August 1st, we will have almost nothing that is past due.  This is also the time of year that we normally run a processing special in conjunction with the National Sports Collectors Convention.  This year’s promotion will be limited to one 550ct box per user so that we don’t get too flooded.

By this fall, we expect to average 4 weeks for basic processing.

Edits and Correction Requests
With our limited resources, we have not been able to stay on top of all of the incoming edits and correction requests. Our energies have been focused on the most expensive items. Once we get caught up with the processing backlog that is past due, we will make a push to get caught up with all of the edit and correction requests. Our goal is to be fully caught up, and start maintaining a 48 hour turnaround by September. In the meantime, if you have a couple important items that need to be corrected or are missing data, please feel free to contact us and include the corresponding item ID.

Complete Catalog Information
We have nearly complete catalog information for many vintage sets.  In the coming months we will be reviewing them to confirm that they are complete.  For now, here is a list of modern sets that we have cross-referenced with manufacturer checklists in order to confirm that our catalog is complete and accurate. Most of the product below are from Panini and Upper Deck. We have started working with other manufactures such as Topps and Leaf to get more checklists.

Baseball
2014 Panini Donruss
2014 Panini Prizm
2013 Panini America’s Pastime
2013 Panini Cooperstown Collection
2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition
2013 Panini Golden Age
2013 Panini Hometown Heroes
2013 Panini Pinnacle
2013 Panini Prizm
2013 Panini Select
2013 Panini Triple Play
2012 Elite Extra Edition
2012 Panini Cooperstown
2012 Panini Golden Age
2012 Panini National Treasures
2012 Panini Prizm
2012 Panini Signature Series
2012 Panini Triple Play
2012 Panini USA Baseball National Team
2012 Playoff Prime Cuts
2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition
2011 Panini Limited
2011 Playoff Contenders
2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition
2008 Upper Deck Documentary
2007 SP Authentic
2007 SP Authentic By the Letter Autographs
2007 SP Authentic By the Letter Rookie Signatures
2005 Donruss Classics
2005 Donruss Throwback Threads
2005 Leaf Certified Materials
2005 Upper Deck SP Collection
2005 Upper Deck Sweet Spot
2003 Upper Deck First Pitch
1999 Upper Deck

Basketball
2013 Upper Deck All-Time Greats
2013-14 Fleer Retro
2013-14 NBA Hoops
2013-14 Panini
2013-14 Panini Court Kings
2013-14 Panini Crusade
2013-14 Panini Elite
2013-14 Panini Gold Standard
2013-14 Panini Innovation
2013-14 Panini Intrigue
2013-14 Panini Pinnacle
2013-14 Panini Prestige
2013-14 Panini Prizm
2013-14 Panini Select
2013-14 Panini Signatures
2013-14 Panini Titanium
2013-14 Timeless Treasures
2013-14 Totally Certified
2012-13 Absolute
2012-13 Elite
2012-13 Elite Series
2012-13 Fleer Retro
2012-13 NBA Hoops
2012-13 Panini
2012-13 Panini Crusade
2012-13 Panini Flawless
2012-13 Panini Gold Standard
2012-13 Panini Immaculate Collection
2012-13 Panini Intrigue
2012-13 Panini Preferred
2012-13 Panini Prizm
2012-13 Panini Select
2012-13 Panini Signatures
2012-13 Playoff National Treasures
2012-13 Prestige
2012-13 Totally Certified
2011-12 Limited
2011-14 Panini
2010-11 Elite Black Box
2010-11 Panini Threads
2010-11 Playoff National Treasures
2010-11 Totally Certified
2009-10 Classics
2009-10 Court Kings
2009-10 Panini
2004-05 SP Authentic
2003-04 UD Glass
2002-03 UD Glass
2000-01 Upper Deck Slam

Football
2014 Panini Hot Rookies
2014 Score
2013 Panini Absolute
2013 Panini Black
2013 Panini Certified
2013 Panini Contenders
2013 Panini Crown Royale
2013 Panini Elite
2013 Panini Limited
2013 Panini Momentum
2013 Panini National Treasures
2013 Panini Playbook
2013 Panini Prizm
2013 Panini Prominence
2013 Panini Rookies & Stars
2013 Panini Select
2013 Panini Spectra
2013 Panini Totally Certified
2013 Prestige
2013 Score
2013 SP Authentic
2013 Upper Deck
2013 Upper Deck Rookie Lettermen Autographs
2012 Certified
2012 Crown Royale
2012 Gridiron
2012 Limited
2012 Panini Black
2012 Panini Contenders
2012 Panini National Treasures
2012 Panini Playbook
2012 Panini Prizm
2012 Playoff Prestige
2012 Prime Signatures
2012 Score
2012 Totally Certified
2011 Timeless Treasures
2010 Donruss Elite
2010 Panini Threads
2010 Playoff National Treasures
2009 Playoff National Treasures
2009 Upper Deck First Edition
2008 Donruss Gridiron Gear
2007 Donruss Gridiron Gear
2007 Score
2005 Donruss Classics

Golf
2014 SP Authentic

Hockey
2013-14 Fleer Showcase
2013-14 O-Pee-Chee
2013-14 Panini Dominion
2013-14 Panini Playoff Contenders
2013-14 Panini Prizm
2013-14 Select
2013-14 Totally Certified
2013-14 Upper Deck Trilogy
2012-13 Fleer Retro
2012-13 Panini Rookie Anthology
2012-13 Score
2011-12 Panini Certified
2011-12 Panini Elite
2011-12 Panini Playoff Contenders
2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology
2011-12 Panini Titanium
2010-11 Donruss
2010-11 Limited
2010-11 Panini Luxury Suite
2010-11 Panini Playoff Contenders
2008-09 Upper Deck Montreal Canadiens Centennial Set
2005-06 Upper Deck
2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup
2005-06 Upper Deck Victory
2003-04 SP Authentic

Other
2010 Upper Deck Major League Lacrosse
2010 Panini Century Collection
2009 Upper Deck 20th Anniversary Retrospective
2008 Donruss Americana Sports Legends

Non-Sports
2013 Panini Beach Boys 50th Anniversary
2013 Panini One Direction

Soccer
2014 Panini Prizm World Cup

Status Update & Seller Tips

Catalog Status

The trading card catalog we began building from scratch less than 6 months ago now has just surpassed 3 million listings, and we have have scans of more than 90% of these listings. Just in the past 7 days we updated 190,000 listings, more than 5% of our catalog. This pace is made possible because of the tens of thousands of hours that COMC Nation has logged on the COMC Challenge.

While our crowd sourcing effort has already collected most of the critical data, we are still processing that data and improving the volume and accuracy of our catalog. We will continue to introduce new challenges, but we will not likely need the same amount of effort we needed previously.

Processing Status

We deposited more than 100,000 items into accounts last week and we are on pace to deposit the vast majority of the past due items by the end of the month.  There may still be some stragglers from obscure sets, but that will be less than 1% of our current pipeline.

Last year, our One Month processing service took 30 days on average. Over the past 6 months, our new, Basic processing service has taken about 39 days on average. Our goal is to get that average down under 28 days, and we expect that will be possible later this summer. In the meantime, we have some tips to help you get items on the site as quickly as possible.

Seller Tips

  1. Always use the Submission Wizard to ensure we have all of your information correct.
  2. Make sure all of your cards are oriented the same ways and sort your cards by thickness to speed up the process for our identification experts and our scanning team.
  3. Submit as many items as possible from products that have complete catalog information (see list below). We can process items much more quickly when we have the manufacturer’s entire checklist fully integrated prior to processing the items.  Also, buyers can easily find your items when they have complete, accurate descriptions.
2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Signatures #S-LME - Lionel Messi - Courtesy of COMC.com

2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Signatures
#S-LME – Lionel Messi

Here is an example of the value of tip #3. It typically takes 2-3 weeks for us to process 2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Soccer cards with our Basic processing service, about twice as fast as our current average.

Complete Catalog Information
Soccer
2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Soccer Cards

Baseball
2005 Donruss Classics
2005 Donruss Throwback Threads
2005 Leaf Certified Materials
2008 Upper Deck Documentary
2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition
2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition
2011 Panini Limited
2012 Elite Extra Edition
2012 Panini Cooperstown
2012 Panini Golden Age
2012 Panini National Treasures
2012 Panini Prizm
2012 Panini Signature Series
2012 Panini Triple Play
2012 Panini USA Baseball National Team
2012 Playoff Prime Cuts
2013 Panini America’s Pastime
2013 Panini Cooperstown Collection
2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition
2013 Panini Golden Age
2013 Panini Hometown Heroes
2013 Panini Pinnacle
2013 Panini Prizm
2013 Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks
2013 Panini Select
2013 Panini Triple Play
2014 Panini Donruss
2014 Panini Prizm

Basketball
2004-05 SP Authentic
2009-10 Court Kings
2009-10 Panini
2010-11 Elite Black Box
2010-11 Panini Threads
2010-11 Playoff National Treasures
2011-12 Limited
2012-13 Elite
2012-13 Elite Series
2012-13 Panini Crusade
2012-13 Panini Flawless
2012-13 Panini Immaculate Collection
2012-13 Panini Prizm
2012-13 Panini Select
2012-13 Panini Signatures
2012-13 Playoff National Treasures
2013-14 NBA Hoops
2013-14 Panini
2013-14 Panini Court Kings
2013-14 Panini Crusade
2013-14 Panini Elite
2013-14 Panini Gold Standard
2013-14 Panini Intrigue
2013-14 Panini Pinnacle
2013-14 Panini Prestige
2013-14 Panini Prizm
2013-14 Panini Titanium
2013-14 Timeless Treasures
2013-14 Totally Certified

Football
2005 Donruss Classics
2007 Donruss Gridiron Gear
2007 Score
2008 Donruss Gridiron Gear
2009 Playoff National Treasures
2010 Donruss Elite
2010 Panini Threads
2010 Playoff National Treasures
2011 Timeless Treasures
2012 Gridiron
2012 Panini Black
2012 Panini Contenders
2012 Panini National Treasures
2012 Panini Playbook
2012 Playoff Prestige
2013 Panini Absolute
2013 Panini Black
2013 Panini Certified
2013 Panini Contenders
2013 Panini Crown Royale
2013 Panini Elite
2013 Panini Limited
2013 Panini Momentum
2013 Panini National Treasures
2013 Panini Playbook
2013 Panini Rookies & Stars
2013 Panini Select
2013 Panini Spectra
2013 Prestige

Hockey
2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup
2010-11 Panini Luxury Suite
2011-12 Limited
2011-12 Panini Certified
2011-12 Panini Titanium
2012-13 Fleer Retro
2012-13 Panini Rookie Anthology
2013-14 Fleer Showcase
2013-14 O-Pee-Chee
2013-14 Panini Dominion
2013-14 Panini Prizm
2013-14 Select
2013-14 Totally Certified
2013-14 Upper Deck Trilogy

Multiple Categories
2008 Donruss Americana Sports Legends
2010 Panini Century Collection

Help us prioritize which products we work on next. What are the top three sets you would like to see added to this list?

A Peek Under the Hood: Processing Fees

How does COMC calculate and charge processing fees?
This is a question that frequently comes up so I would like to take a few minutes to explain exactly how we calculate and charge processing fees.  This is particularly interesting recently because of our new partial deposit functionality.

The Basics
In case you didn’t already know, you don’t have to do all of the work to list items online when you want to sell them.  You can simply box them up and ship them to us.  We will do all the work to list them for you.  Learn more here

In order to provide this service, we need to charge some fees.  The least expensive service is our Basic service, and it takes 2-8 weeks for us to process your items through our patented system.  It only costs $0.25 per standard raw trading card for this service, and our goal is to process your items in less than 4 weeks on average.

Unfortunately, we are a bit behind at the moment because of the massive amount of work we have put in to building a new sports card catalog completely from scratch.  We are now 85% done with the basic catalog information, but that last 15% will take a bit of effort.  What this means is that some items have missed their 8 week guaranteed due date.  For those items we only charge 50% of our normal processing fees.

Well, that is what’s supposed to happen, but due to some growing pains we had a couple of bugs that caused these fees to not be charged correctly, and I will explain those below.  Last year, the odds of us missing a due date were about 1 in 700 and our system for calculating and charging fees was a bit simpler.  This year, we had to make some innovative changes to how we process items so that we can do everything more efficiently, but it is now a bit more complicated.

How We Used to Do It
For the past several years, when we received your shipment of cards, we would estimate the processing fees up front, charge your account, then begin processing the items.  When the processing was completed, we would deposit all of the cards at one time into your account, and we would update the estimated processing fees to the exact processing fees based on the items that went into your account.

If you were to closely monitor your store credit history doing this process, you would have noticed a fee charged to your account when we first received your items.  Later, once we completed processing all of your items, that original estimate would be removed, and the correct, final fee would be charged to your account.

How We Do It Now
For our Basic processing service, we no longer charge anything up front.  When your items arrive, we simply create a placeholder transaction.  We then process your items in efficient groups of similar items based on the themes for the week. When items are ready to be deposited in your account, we no longer wait until all of your items are done before letting you start to sell them.  Instead, we partially deposit the transaction and only charge you for the items we processed.

This is where the complexity has come in recently.  Because we have a huge demand for our processing service and because we are using many of our sports card experts to create the new COMC catalog, we have some items that are taking more than 8 weeks to process.  These items are supposed to be charged 50% of the standard processing fees.  That is how we stand behind our guarantee.  As you can imagine, we lose money if we don’t hit these due dates, so we are very motivated to do everything we can to meet those deadlines, but sometimes it simply isn’t possible.

Prioritizing Due Dates
We have 30 employees that all help with different aspects of our processing system.  This doesn’t count our shipping, administration, and other teams.  As you would expect, they have a variety of responsibilities, experience, and skills.  In order to give you the best experience possible, we only have certain employees tackle the hardest cards.  Many of the newer employees can help out with easier items and can pass on the more difficult items in order to avoid mistakes.  As a result, we do not process items in the exact order that they arrive.  So, some items that are more difficult to identify need to wait on some of our experts, while others that were easy to process may get done sooner.  Processing items exactly in the order they arrive is inefficient, so we have to charge more for that.  That is a significant part of why we need to charge $1 per Premium item in order to guarantee 3 day processing.

Bug #1
A couple weeks ago, we discovered the code that discounted the processing fees for past due items was only in the code path we use for final deposits when a batch of items is completely done.  This was the first time we missed any due dates with our new partial deposit system.  So I changed the code to make sure that we also give the discount when we calculate fees during partial deposits.

In order to fix up existing transactions that had been overcharged, we simply needed to do another partial deposit or do a final deposit.  In either case, we completely recalculate the fees, delete the old fee that was previously charged, and charge the newly calculated fee.

When we do a partial deposit, we send an email notification that explains how the fees were adjusted and what items were deposited.  In some cases, this resulted in people being charged a negative amount (a.k.a being credited) even when we deposited some items into their account.

Bug #2
Great, Bug #1 was fixed. We were factoring in our 50% discount guarantee and not overcharging our customers.  For the next couple weeks, everything looked good.  People were getting their overcharged credits back, and then I got an email yesterday informing me that we were crediting some people back even when they weren’t affected by Bug #1.

So I walked through the code and realized that I had missed one line of code when I incorporated the 50% discount into the partial deposit code path.  I forgot to recalculate exactly which items were now past due.  So the code assumed that everything that hadn’t been recalculated was past due if we were now past the due date.  It didn’t factor in any of the items that had already been deposited over the past couple weeks before the due date.

This bug has been fixed, and now people are being charged the correct processing fees.  Unfortunately, some people were affected by these bugs, and they got a couple confusing emails where there account was overcharged and/or undercharged and finally, correctly charged.

In Closing
I personally apologize for any confusion this bug may have caused you, and I want you to be assured we will own up to our mistakes and fix them as quickly as we can. I care deeply about the experience you receive with our service, and our entire team is doing everything we can to give you the best we can afford while also making it as cost effective as possible.  This is a hard challenge to balance, and we are not perfect.  However, at the end of the day, I hope you enjoy our service more than any other.  After all, that is our mission. “Optimize Enjoyment: Maximize what you care about; minimize what you don’t.

Free Promotions, Free Shipping & Improved Search

More than 4,000 people have tried the COMC Challenge. Our progress on the catalog is amazing.  We are so grateful for all of your efforts.  We have been progressing at about 1% per day.  Just three weeks ago we were at 60% of the basic set name, card #, and description data.  Today we crossed 80% of the basic information.  We expect to reach 90% by mid May  The last 10% will likely be a long-tail that takes several months to finish.  Along the way we will have many errors we will needed to fix up, but by the end of the year we will have an amazingly rich and accurate catalog.

To celebrate the amazing progress, we are letting our sellers run a FREE Sale Promotion and we will be offering Free Shipping to buyers as well.

BlakeGriffinImprovedSearchFree Promotions – Sunday to Sunday
Hundreds of sellers will be running Sale Promotions from this Sunday through the following Sunday, May 4th.  Get ready to take advantage of the savings!

Free Shipping
To accompany all of the great sales running next week, we will also be providing FREE shipping for orders of 20 or more items.
Note: If you were the original consignor of an item or if you bought it in Advanced Reselling Mode, you will be eligible for a $3 discount instead of free shipping.

New Inventory
We just deposited more than 100,000 new items into sellers accounts in the past week.  We are now fully caught up on Premium and Mailbox processing services, and we are making progress on getting our Basic service back to it’s 4 week average target.

Improved Search
Last night we re-enabled the ability to browse by Players and Team. Over the next few days we will be hooking up the ability to filter your search by attributes such as Serial Numbered, Memorabilia & Autographed.

We have already started to see some really cool improvements to our  new catalog.  For example, we have college teams now.  Ironically, this improvement has created the need for an improved Browse Teams page because we now have thousands of Teams instead of just a few hundred.

I can’t express enough how grateful we are for having such a loyal and supportive fan base.  Thank you for helping us through this transition!