Talking With Tim: Beckett Subscriptions

Hello COMC Nation. The past week has seen a significant shift at COMC.com with the introduction of Beckett Subscriptions and changes in when Beckett Book Value data is visible.

These adjustments generated a lot of attention, and we received a lot of constructive feedback from our users. We’ve worked on responding to your questions and concerns via our Blog and other social media channels, and recently Tim sat down to discuss some of the most common questions in greater detail.

0:26 Why Did COMC stop displaying Beckett Book Values?

3:15 How are the subscription level prices determined?

3:42 What is included in my Beckett Subscription?

5:51 Why is a Beckett Subscription $31/month and not $10?

6:55 Why doesn’t BV follow a card?

8:42 Can we have a subscription for a team?

9:24 Will there be bundle deals available?

9:51 Will this kill flipping?

11:36 Will this harm casual buyers?

13:19 Why so many changes so quickly?

Hopefully, this better explains this new situation and the direction that COMC is going.  Please feel free to leave your comments below and discuss today’s video.  Also, be sure to keep following us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for further updates as we get closer and closer to The National!

COMC Tackles Redemptions

Redemptions. Trading card collectors have a complicated relationship with these little inserts. They could be a case hit, a stunning autograph, or something much greater. No matter what they represent, however, they all have one thing in common: the WAIT. But we at COMC don’t believe you should have to wait for everything, so we thought we’d do something about it with a never-before-seen service to help with redemption cards.

Redeemed Card

In the past, COMC dealt with redemptions by simply not dealing with them. If an unredeemed card was sent to us, it promptly got sent back to its owner as our service wasn’t designed to handle them. That all changes today, because all unscratched redemption cards will now be accepted for processing and sale via COMC.com.

What happens when a Redemption card is sent to us? Those cards will be sent to our redemption handling team who will begin the redemption process on your behalf. The redemption code will be stored in our system and the scratched card will continue through our normal submission process.

When submitting batches with redemption cards to COMC, we ask that you pack them in the front of your submission and note on your submission slip that redemptions are enclosed. If an expired redemption card is included, we will attempt to redeem it through the manufacturer’s website. If the code is rejected, the item will be put into the user’s returns.

Once the scratched redemption card is on our site, it may be purchased and sold just as any other item on COMC with a few exceptions:

  • Redemption cards cannot be made Vault Eligible. Once fulfilled, the new card will be scanned for Vault Eligibility.
  • Redemption cards cannot be shipped.  Once fulfilled, the new card will replace the redemption card in the user’s account and may then be added to a shipment.
  • All sales of redemption cards are final.  No returns will be allowed for these items.

Please be aware that fulfillment of these cards may take manufacturers months or even years. In the event they substitute a different item for a redemption, the sale is still considered final and the item cannot be exchanged.

You may be wondering how we address redemptions that involve items other than single cards, such as lithographs, unopened packs, or game used jerseys. These items will be handled on a case by case basis and the owner of the redemption card will be contacted about how they would like the redemption to be handled.

A few final notes:

  • Items not currently supported on COMC will be added to the Beta service.  As we continue to expand offerings on the site, these items will become eligible to list at a later date.
  • Hobby store pack exchange redemptions, such as Topps Spring Fever redemptions, will be rejected because COMC is unable to redeem them.
  • Contest Redemption Cards such as the Famous Fabrics Beetles Signature Drawing will not be accepted as these redemption cards only represent a chance to receive an item.
  • Redemptions such as Topps Finest Rookie Redemptions and Panini XRCs will be listed as unannounced on the site. These items will be updated with more details once they are announced.

We are really excited to hear your thoughts on this new service.  We constantly strive to provide a better and safer way to buy and sell and we believe our service has the right stuff to make it happen.  Feel free to tell us what you think in the comments below and keep up with all the COMC happenings on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.

Explaining COMC Return Policies

Hello Folks, and happy Monday!  There has been some recent discussion concerning COMC’s return policies, so we felt it would be appropriate to take some time to clarify, give explanations, and help answer questions.

Return Policy – Buyers

On the buyer’s end, we have what we consider to be the best return policy in our industry.  The buyer has 14 days from the time the item ships to examine their item and, if they don’t want it, have it returned to us.  This very easy and open return policy encourages buyer confidence and security.  This in turn stimulates more sales, which is better for everyone.

Return Policy – Sellers

Regarding our sellers, COMC operates under a very simple principle: We don’t want our sellers to be any worse off than they were before they made the sale.  To that end, we work to shield sellers from various costs associated with buyer returns as well as from having to do any of the more aggravating, associated tasks.  We handle the shipping and receiving, the customer service, our ID teams confirm that the item is the original, and we do the re-processing.  When an item is returned, we carefully and thoroughly examine it to ensure it is the exact card in the exact condition as the one originally sent to us.  Should we verify that it is, we reverse the purchase and return the item to the last seller’s account within 45 days of the sale.  If it is not possible to have the item back into the seller’s account within 45 days, we will credit the seller a restocking fee equal to 10% of the original sales price.

For instance, if I had a $1 return that didn’t make it into my account until after 45 days had passed, I would receive a $0.10 credit.   If a returned item is lost, damaged, or different, we absorb the cost of that item.  We never return damaged or different items to our sellers’ accounts.  In the event that the item is returned in worse condition than when it was sent out, we cover the cost of the card, so sellers don’t even need to worry about shipping wear and tear.

We also vigilantly monitor returns to insure buyers are not trying to pull any scams.  Should we notice suspicious activity, we act immediately to protect sellers and COMC.  We track and block all buyers and users who are using the site maliciously.  As this is a service we provide, it is one less thing for our sellers to worry about.

Who has time do deal with returns…. oh wait…we do.

Explanation & History

Sellers may have noticed this change as we’ve grown as a site and as we’ve partnered with Amazon.  When COMC was a smaller company, we got very few, if any, returns in a given month.  As such, it was much more feasible for COMC to absorb the cost of these cards and move on.  As COMC continued to grow, and eventually synced up with Amazon.com, we were able to provide our sellers a MUCH broader audience.  However, this also brought, not only an increasing numbers of returns, but also a greater potential for fraud against which we need to protect all parties.

A good example of why we cannot absorb all returns ourselves is it would be easy for someone to buy an N/A BV card for a dollar, price it at $1000, and then have his friend buy it and return it for instant profit at our expense.  No business could continue to operate absorbing loss blindly, so we must use discretion and try to create sensible policies that protect all our customers – buyers and sellers – as effectively as we can while still making sure that COMC has a solid foundation.

Additionally, once we teamed with Amazon, our number of returns increased dramatically.  Amazon’s model makes it so easy for people to buy and sell on their site that sometimes you can even make a purchase without meaning to.  Amazon is designed this way.

We Care About Your Satisfaction

We hope that this better explains our policy moving forward, and helps to better explain exactly what we want to do for you in these regards.  If you have any other questions about our Return Policy, please contact our Customer Support folks via Email, or give us a call at 1-800-517-3540.

Changing Times: Classified Ads

We at COMC hope you all enjoyed a relaxing day of BBQ, family, and festivities on Memorial Day.

Barbeque

As many of you know, we began developing a new set of features to help you promote your products and sell on the site.  These have been gaining popularity over the last few months and are now in daily use on the site.

These new promotion features have now made several of our older features redundant, and as such it is time to make a change.  With the advent of our new Port Sale Promotions feature and the Sales feature, the Port Sale Classified Ads and the Auto Accept Classified Ads are no longer necessary.

COMC will no longer have a separate section of promotions for Auto-Accept or Port Sale Classifieds.  We will require that no mention of whether or not the seller is utilizing Auto-Accept be included in the Title or Description of their advertisement.

(edit: after receiving questions and comments from our users, we wish to clarify that sellers can still post ads in the “For Sale” section of the Classified Ads to let buyers know that they will entertain offers – however, they cannot promote any “auto-accept” offers, as these cannot be monitored by COMC staff. All future ads using such language will not be accepted and store credit used for the ad will be returned to the user’s account.)

That is some change change....

That is some change….

By having all major sales and promotions located in one central location, we believe this will eliminate instances of a buyer looking for a sale and not realizing that there were two places to look for deals.  This will be better for buyers as a whole and will also minimize the cost to sellers who have, in some cases, been paying to have their sales running in two separate locations.

From those of you who have already used our new Port Sale and Sales features, we would like to hear about your experience with the service.   Are there any new sales and promotion features that you think we should add to our current selection?

Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.  We look forward to hearing from you folks and as always, please follow us on FacebookTwitter, and our new Google+ page.

Preparing for Growth: Simplifying Fees

We have learned a lot from our first five years, and in a couple weeks we plan to launch a simplified fee structure. One of the primary goals is to make the site easier to understand as we begin to launch new services.

We announced last year that we purchased the domain COMC.com, and that we would eventually branch out into new markets (e.g. comics, coins, memorabilia etc.). One of the major concerns was that the fee structure could get extremely complicated if we didn’t make some fundamental changes. So here is our core strategy.

Simplified the Fees For Buyers

We have about 2,000 sellers and 40,000 buyers. Buyers outnumber sellers 20 to 1. The only fees that buyers need to be aware of are shipping fees. By simplifying our shipping fees, we can make the site easier for 95% of our users. To accomplish this goal, we will be integrating the per-item shipping & handling fee into the published asking price of an item.

Examples: A normal trading card where a seller is asking $0.75 would be listed for buyers at $1.00 and a graded card with an asking price of $24 would be listed for $25.

Simplified Shipping & Handling
All shipping services offered with one flat rate price regardless of the number of items shipped.

Standard: $2.99, 3-5 days to package + USPS First Class Mail
Rapid: $4.99, 1 day to package + USPS First Class Mail
Priority: $7.99, 1 day to package + USPS Priority Mail
Express: $29.99, packaged same day + USPS Express Mail
Local Pickup: FREE (Coming soon to a card shop near you. More details will be released over the coming year.)

Shipping Guarantee
We will package your order and hand it off to the USPS within the specified time frame or we will refund the shipping fee.

How does this shipping change affect purchased items that haven’t shipped yet?
We will track when the per-item S&H fees have been paid. This is like purchasing a forever stamp. Items that were purchased before these changes will still need to pay the per-item S&H fee. This may be a little confusing until these grandfathered items get cleared out of the system. We will try to make this understandable, but it will soon become a non-issue. The Manage Inventory and My Shipments pages will display the corresponding per-item S&H fee.

How does this shipping change affect sellers?
These changes will not require any effort from sellers. When we release this update, all published prices will be inflated by our per-item S&H fee. When sellers set asking prices we will make it easy to specify how much they want for an item or to specify how much they want the item listed for. If a seller is trying to relist (aka flip) an item which already has S&H paid, the asking price will be the same as the list price, and the seller will get the full list price upon sale because the per-item S&H was already paid.

Original owners that want to have some items returned will still have to pay some per-item S&H, but it will be reduced.

Simplified Fees for Sellers

  • 3 simple processing services
    One Month, One Week & One Day. See below for more details. No more Special Sized service. All services can have a mix of raw trading cards and other items.
  • $3 batch fee gone
    Replaced with a simple minimum processing fee
  • Reduced storage fees
    Starting September 1st we will offer free storage for all items for sale at $0.75 or less. This jumps up to $2.50 if you opt in to the $50/month account upgrade. This will reduce what we charge for storage fees by an average at least 30%.
  • Free premium options
    Sellers will no longer have to pay for an account upgrade to set the minimum offer amount, minimum offer percentage, or auto-accept offer percentage.
  • No “fine print” fees
    Everything is simplified into the processing fees listed below.

Simplified Processing Fees for Sellers

All the fine print is gone. This is all you need to know.

One Month Processing
$0.25 / Card for raw trading cards
$0.50 / Item for all other supported collectibles
$5.00 Minimum processing fee per submission

One Week Processing
$0.50 / Card for raw trading cards
$0.75 / Item for all other supported collectibles
$5.00 Minimum processing fee per submission

One Day Processing
$1.00 / Card for raw trading cards
$1.00 / Item for all other supported collectibles
$5.00 Minimum processing fee per submission

Condition Notes
$0.05 for “has flaws” or “vintage wear” condition notes
$0.25 for detailed condition notes or separate COAs

Processing Guarantee
If we don’t deposit your items into your account by 11:59 PM PST on the due date, we will discount the processing fees by 50%.

Raw Trading Cards
Raw trading cards are any trading cards that meet the following specifications

  • Meets the “standard size” requirements
  • They must be raw or in penny sleeves
  • No toploaders or other hard cases
  • No graded or encased cards

If trading cards do not meet these requirements, they will be treated as “all other supported collectibles”.

All Other Supported Collectibles
You can use our service for any of the following.

  • Collectible trading cards that don’t meet the “raw trading cards” requirements
  • Collectible poker chips (e.g. 2005-06 Topps NBA Collector Chips)
  • Collectible coins (e.g. 1964 Topps Coins)
  • Items on our Beta Test list that will be published in a week or so (e.g. Comics, Coins…)

Feedback Wanted Disclaimer
We want your feedback, but please keep in mind the big picture. Yes, some of the fees are going up slightly, and many are coming down significantly or are completely eliminated. As you analyze these fee changes, please keep in mind that we need all of the fees to work together to make sure the system is sustainable and simple.

For example, today the 4 week processing service costs $103 for 500 cards. This is currently the cheapest way to get cards on the site. Soon the cheapest way to get 500 cards listed will be $125, but we are also decreasing the average storage fees by 30% by allowing you to list cards at $0.75 or less for free and $2.50 or less for free if you pay the $50/month membership. It should also be noted that we are reducing the cost of listing 50 graded, encased or jumbo cards from more than $40 to only $25, and we are cutting the cost of next day processing in half.

We are really excited about expanding into so many new markets, and these fee simplification are a critical, strategic step towards our future offerings. You are invited to help us shape these services.

3 Strike Limit on Offers

Today we implemented a new policy to help cut down on unwanted offers. We can tweak the details, but here is now the system currently works.

When you want to make an offer to a particular seller we look at your offer history over the past 90 days. Specifically, we look at all of your offers that the seller has rejected. Then we look at each item in those rejected offers. We consider a counter offer different from an offer that is explicitly rejected.

If you are about to make a new offer that includes an item that has been in 3 or more rejected offers, we will display 3 strikes just beneath the Remove link for that item, and we will prevent your offer from going through until that item has been removed from the offer. See the picture below for an example.

Finalized Shipping & Processing Changes

I have to give a big thanks to the Blowout Cards forum for helping us iron out the details of the changes we are making to our shipping and processing services.

The proposed changes that we mentioned in the last bog post were simply too complicated and they didn’t address some of the concerns of many buyers and sellers. We have listened to the feedback, and we have used the Blowout Cards forum to vet the updated proposal. Here is the plan we expect to go live with on March 31st.

Processing Changes

Processing Status
Starting March 31st, we will add a new section to your dashboard. This section will list the status of any of your shipments that we are currently processing. This will display what stage number in our processing pipeline your transaction is in. This will give you some idea about how close your cards are to making it onto the site. This will also show the due date and how much of your funds are being reserved to cover the processing fees. We will not assign a guaranteed due date until your account has enough funds to cover the processing fees. Once the processing is done and the cards have been added to your account, we will charge your account the exact processing fee.

Budget Processing
The budget processing service which offered no guaranteed due dates is being suspended because our backlog is approaching 4 months, and we can’t afford to hire enough people to satisfy the exponentially growing demand at only $0.10/card.

Standard Processing
This is a new service level. There are no restrictions on the number of cards you send at a time or what kind of cards you send. We simply guarantee 8 weeks or you will only be charged $0.10/card.
* $0.15/card
* 8 weeks guaranteed or it is $0.10/card

Priority Processing
* $0.25/card
* 3 weeks guaranteed or it is $0.15/card

Express Processing
* $0.50/card
* 1 week guaranteed or it is $.25/card

Shipping Changes

Standard Shipping
- Takes 3-5 business days to package orders
- Packages shipped via USPS 1st class
- $3 for first card
- $0.25 for each of the next 99 cards
- $0.15 for each card after 100 cards
- $1 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
- No extra fee for international orders
- Sellers Only: $25 max shipping fee for cards being returned

Priority Shipping
- Takes 2 business days to package orders
- Packages shipped via USPS Priority Mail
- $8 for first card
- $0.35 for each additional card
- $1.50 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
- $10 extra for international orders

Express Shipping
- Orders are packaged the next business day
- Packages shipped via USPS Express Mail
- $25 for first card
- $0.50 for each additional card
- $2 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
- $10 extra for international orders

Minor Processing & Shipping Changes

Outdated

See the Finalized Processing & Shipping Changes post

Shipping Changes

Starting March 31st, we plan to make the following changes to our shipping fees. This change will impact less than 5% off the shipment requests we receive, and it many cases we are reducing the cost of our expedited services.

Just like with our processing service for putting cards on our site, we will have three service levels for shipping cards from our warehouse. We are keeping our budget shipping option as cheap as possible, but because the demand for our service is so high, we have to extend the expected time to package orders with this option to 3-5 days. If you need your cards more quickly, you will need to choose one of the expedited options. Fortunately, the priority and express options are usually less expensive than they used to be.

Budget Shipping
– Takes 3-5 business days to package orders
– Packages shipped via USPS 1st class
– $3 for first card
– $0.25 for each of the next 99 cards
– $0.15 for each card after 100 cards
– Only $0.10 per card if you were the original owner of the card and you just want it shipped back
– $1 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
– No extra fee for international orders

Added 3/9: If you are a seller on the site and want to have a large number of your cards shipped back to you, please contact us, and we can offer return shipping for only $25.

Priority Shipping
– Takes 2 business days to package orders
– Packages shipped via USPS Priority Mail
– $8 for first card
– $0.35 for each additional card
– $1.50 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
– $10 extra for international orders

Express Shipping
– Orders are packaged the next business day
– Packages shipped via USPS Express Mail
– $25 for first card
– $0.50 for each additional card
– $2 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
– $10 extra for international orders

$25 Max Shipping Fee Gone
This shipping loophole is being removed. Make sure to place or order or shipment request by midnight on March 30th to receive the old shipping fees. This loophole was originally intended as a safeguard for new sellers so that they could feel safe using our service with the knowledge that their cards could all be returned for no more than $25. We now have more than 400 sellers, and this loophole was only ever used a few times. However, this is now being used nearly every day by one or more buyers, and in some cases it is costing us well more than $100 in labor costs to package these large orders. Rather than doing this work for free, we now offer a reduced shipping fee of $0.15 per card after the first 100 cards. Sellers can get their cards back for only $0.10 per card.

Added 3/9: If you are a seller on the site and want to have a large number of your cards shipped back to you, please contact us, and we can offer return shipping for only $25.

Budget Processing Service Changes

Starting March 31st, we plan to make the following minor changes to our budget processing services. Packages must be postmarked on or before March 30th in order to not be subject to these changes.

Limit on Game Used & Autographed Cards
Submissions with 10 or more game used or autographed cards must use our priority or express services unless the 10 or more cards are all from the same set. We will assume the priority service is desired if express is not specified. Please proactively separate your game used and autographed cards and label them for either our priority or express service if you don’t want your entire submission to be bumped up to priority processing.

This change is due to the following factors.
– Game used and autographed cards take significantly longer to look up in Beckett. It is simply too costly for us to process these cards at the budget processing rate.
– These cards tend to be more valuable cards, and it is good to get them on the site more quickly.

Store Credit Not Accepted
You must pay for the budget processing service with a check, money order, or cash at the time you submit the cards. We will no longer accept store credit as payment for our budget service. If no payment is included with the cards, the priority processing will be assumed.

We will continue to accept store credit as payment for priority or express processing, but we may extend your guaranteed due date if you don’t have sufficient store credit in your account when the cards are received. Cards will not be added to your account if there is not sufficient store credit when the processing has been completed.

This change is due to the following factors.
– We have a 2+ month backlog of cards waiting to go on the site. In many cases we have been paying for a significant portion of the labor expenses months before people are either earning or purchasing the store credit to cover their processing expenses.
– Our budget processing service is insanely cheap, but our backlog is getting extremely large. We want to encourage people to use our priority service so that we can afford to hire and train more employees.

Getting your cards on the site faster

As you may have noticed the demand for our services is starting to skyrocket.

In an attempt to help satisfy as many people as possible, we are going to start making some changes to help speed up the process of get cards onto the site. Below are a couple things you can do to help us out.

No Toploaders
In order to get our high quality scans of every card we need to remove them from the holders they come in. Penny sleeves aren’t too bad, but toploaders and other hard cases take way too long. The time we spend removing cards from toploaders or screwdowns could be spent getting more cards on the site. To help keep the pipeline from backing up we are now going to charge $0.05 extra for each card that needs to be removed from a toploader or hard case.

The fees page and the instructions for how to ship to us have been updated to reflect this change.

Group your cards by sport
You can also help us speed up the process by keeping cards from the same sport next to each other. Having the cards all mixed up causes it to take longer to identify them.