Growth Spurt, Correction Requests & Condition Notes

Our recent growth spurt
You may have noticed that we have been busy lately. We currently have 39 employees, and 18 of those employees started this calendar year. Our team is incredibly awesome, they are coming up to speed very quickly, and we are solid. Some of you have felt our growing pains, but I am confident that these were short term hiccups along our growth path. We have learned from many mistakes and have significantly improved our processes so that we can continue to scale up to meet the demand.

Our Identification Team has recently grown from 5 full-time employees to 8, but that still hasn’t been enough to keep up with all the cards people are sending in. So we recently made offers to 4 more people to join our Identification Team, and we are hoping to hear back from them shortly.

What does all of this growth mean?
We are finally starting to get caught up on things that fell way behind while we were shorthanded. As we start getting ahead, we are going to use some of our spare resources to start many new projects. You will hear more about these new projects over the next several months.

Today we had kick-off meetings for our new charity and social media teams. It is fun being a part of a dynamic and excited work force. As we are growing, we are creating a culture that is diverse and inspiring. It was great to see that nearly half of the company wanted to be strategically involved with helping launch our charity initiatives. I am proud to be a part of a company with such a caring foundation.

Correction Requests
Regarding getting caught up… I apologize that we have fallen so far behind on correction requests. I have given the Identification Team a goal of getting completely caught up by the end of the day on Monday. We are changing the priorities of the Identification Team so that we never fall behind on correction requests again.

Over the weekend I built in a number of improvements to our system so that the Identification Team can deal with corrections more quickly. If you place a correction request, it is now much easier for the team to contact you, to contact the card owner, or to contact Beckett if they need further information. Also, just like we now use Zendesk to make sure our Customer Service Team responds to emails within 1 business day, our Identification Team will get to see how long it takes them to respond to correction requests, and they will soon have a goal of responding to all correction requests within 1 business day.

Condition Notes
Part of the reason why increasing our Identification Team from 5 to 8 people wasn’t sufficient is because people have been sending us significantly more vintage cards. We have made our policies for how we list vintage cards more strict, and it now takes a team of 3 people to review all the cards that potentially need condition notes.

In the past, we didn’t bother documenting anything that you could see in the scan of the card. Unfortunately, over the years we have learned that people often don’t pay close attention to the images, and we end up paying for any replacements or refunds. This has been exaggerated by selling cards through Amazon. On Amazon there is no way to provide anything other than a stock photo, so people have to rely on the condition notes to make their purchase decision. With Amazon’s very forgiving return policy, we have to absorb a lot of returns.

Vintage Cards & Condition Notes Fees
We have ultimately had to rethink how we list vintage cards and how much we charge for condition notes. Instead of charging a fee for each card that needs a condition note, we plan to simply have a different fee for vintage cards, just like we have a different fee for graded cards. It isn’t actually the typing of the condition note that takes the time. It is looking carefully at the card to inspect it for issues that takes the time, and we have to do that whether a card needs a condition note or not.

Currently we charge $0.20 to list raw cards and up to $0.25 for each condition note. That is up to $0.45 per card for vintage cards. It turns out, we have been losing money doing this for vintage cards. As a result, we need to adjust our fees. I guess if you think about it, it shouldn’t be too surprising. Grading companies charge $10-$20 to grade a card, and we have been trying to do a portion of what they do for only $0.25.

Vintage Cards & Storage Fees
From our analysis, we should be able to provide a sustainable service if we simply charge a flat $0.50 for all vintage cards (pre-1980). This will allow us to completely get rid of our condition notes fee. This however pushes the price point for listing vintage cards significantly higher than our $0.25 free storage threshold. In order to address that issue, we are also making plans to increase the free storage threshold up to $0.75 for everyone.

These fee changes will likely get finalized and take affect later this summer, and they will make even more sense in context of all the changes we will be making for the new COMC website. I am sure this will spark a lot of discussion, and as always, we want to hear your feedback.

FYI, our shipping experiment that sparked such a lively debate was so wildly successful that we are considering a revolutionary spin on how we charge for shipping fees on the new COMC website. Hint – It is related to why we are considering increasing our free storage threshold to $0.75.