By Scott Kozlowski aka scottkoz20

From time to time when browsing various forums and posts, I will see some signature from some members that state some information about shipping using a Plain White Envelope (PWE ).  Some of the verbiage states “If you ship in a PWE, I will return the card” or “If you use a PWE, I will not trade with you”.

In general, shipping using a PWE is frowned upon, but not against the rules.  Specifically, on sportscardforum.com, the only item that mentions something about shipping comes with a 5 point infraction.  This infraction states that “Bad packaging/shipping causing the cards to arrive damaged
(It is your responsibility to make sure cards are sent safely and securely)”.   The rule itself makes no reference to how you ship, just that the card or cards arrive safely.

So if shipping using a PWE is frowned upon, why do some people do this?  In my experience, it comes to 2 main reasons.  The first reason has to do with the experience level of the trade.   Some newer traders simply do not think about or are educated in respect to different types of shipping methods and/or specifically using different shipping products, like a bubble mailer.  The other big reason I have found is using a PWE to ship can save a member on average $1.50 to $2 per trade!  They only need a stamp that costs 44 cents to ship a card in a PWE as oppose to almost a $1.40 to ship in a bubble mailer.  The PWE costs a $1 for a pack of 80 whereas a bubble mailer can cost 59 cents or more for 1, depending on where you purchase your bubble mailer.

Now I know that there are plenty of members that are reading this article thinking that they rarely have any issues when making a trade using a PWE.  Others, including myself, could tell you horror stories about getting a card in a PWE.  Personally, I am not a fan of shipping using a PWE.  I believe that the extra cost of investing in bubble mailers and additional shipping is worth the effort.  However, is there any hard data to prove or disprove shipping using a PWE is harmful to cards?

I have never seen or read information on this topic.  I was interested to see what the results would be if I sent out a bunch of cards to users using a PWE.  So, I asked SCF members if they would be willing to help out in this project by receiving cards in a PWE.  I found 14 members that were willing to help out. The members live as close as 1 town over from me in Western New York State, to as far away as the Pacific Northwest.

Method Used

Each of the members that volunteered will be receiving 3 envelopes.  In the envelopes they will find a single card. 14 of these envelopes will have no protection at all for the card, 14 more envelopes will only have a penny sleeve protecting the card and the last 14 envelopes will contain a card inside of a penny sleeve and top loader.  In addition, half of the envelopes have included a “Do Not Bend” marking on the envelope while the other half of the envelopes will not.

The breakdown of the 42 envelopes looks like this:

  • 7 envelopes with a card that has no protection and no “Do Not Bend” marking
  • 7 envelopes with a card that has no protection and has a “Do Not Bend” marking
  • 7 envelopes with a card that has penny sleeve protection and no “Do Not Bend” marking
  • 7 envelopes with a card that has penny sleeve protection and has a “Do Not Bend” marking
  • 7 envelopes with a card that has a top loader and penny sleeve protection and no “Do Not Bend” marking
  • 7 envelopes with a card that has a top loader and penny sleeve protection and has a “Do Not Bend” marking

What I have asked each of my volunteers to do is, when they receive their cards, to please scan or photograph the card and include any damage they see to the card.

Expected Results

My hypothesis for this experiment will be:

  • All 7 envelopes with a card that has no protection and no “Do Not Bend” marking will have some damaged.
  • All 7 envelopes with a card that has penny sleeve protection and no “Do Not Bend” marking will have some damaged.
  • All 7 envelopes with a card that has a top loader and penny sleeve protection and no “Do Not Bend” marking will have some damaged.
  • 4 of the 7 envelopes with a card that has no protection and has a “Do Not Bend” marking will have some damaged.
  • 3 of 7 envelopes with a card that has penny sleeve protection and has a “Do Not Bend” marking will have some damaged.
  • None of the 7 envelopes with a card that has a top loader and penny sleeve protection and has a “Do Not Bend” marking will be damaged.

I’m predicting that 2/3rd of the envelopes sent out will be damaged at some point in the trip from my house to the SCF member’s house.  While the data sample size is fairly small, I believe this can help prove or disprove the notation about using PWE’s will damage cards.

So what are the results? Check back next month for Part 2 of this article.