UPPER DECK & THE CUP – A FAIRYTALE
By Linda Mankefors aka razzamaztaz
Each year the release of the Cup always baffle us, by its charm, beauty, mega-hits, extremely expensive cost, and finally its problems. It’s a product you absolutely love, but with a distinct grudge. This year I’ve noticed Upper Deck has gone to great lengths to avoid damages, reading all box breaks and talking with fellow collectors the issue with damaged patch cards seems to be a thing of the past. But single white patches and a poor collation still hunts us somewhat.
This article will be about the collation. Upper Deck takes pride in hand-picking the cards for each tin, a sign of quality and care. Yet sometimes it goes horribly wrong. A few members here on SCF have opened their share of tins, and most are in various degrees happy, some ecstatic, and some just pleased. But a few have big concerns with this product. Especially as they spend their hard-earned money on the most luxury quality products there is in the world of hockey cards. I am personally one of those few. After saving my money the whole summer I grabbed a tin from Sweden’s biggest hobby store.
What I pulled was only 4 cards, whereof one base card, and the other 3 cards consisted of two low-end hits and one medium hit rookie. Everyone I asked seemed to think something was quite wrong. Many suggested the box had been tampered with, but the box was bought at a very reputable store. Why the strong reaction? Well the Cup simply shouldn’t have this sort of collation, at least not without one of the 4 cards being a really big hit. Without a case hit, there should always be 5-6 cards. But if the box is untampered, how could this be?
I took on trying to find out as I have strong feelings about customer rights. So I emailed Upper Deck, described the situation and demanded to get a reply from a CEO at a higher level. A few days later Nick Leslie, Customer Service manager, wrote back. He wanted to discuss the issue, and thus called me on the phone. I was both surprised and impressed with our little talk. My annoyance and quite frankly anger was replaced by a positive feeling. Nick started with explaining how the Cup is done, there are only a select few higher up employees hand-picking these cards. Those pickers all know their hockey, one is from Beckett, the others are industry guys or “home-grown” so to speak, just like Nick who started at an early age with Upper Deck, growing up at his father’s baseball hobby store he had hobby love from the start. Security and quality control is essential to this product and they take great care of assuring it. The Cup is simply made by die-hards and with a lot of pride.
Sounds wonderful, but it’s a big jump from that – to the poor collation. Nick explained it with human error. After a long trying week with the weekend looming over their heads the employees simply may slip just slightly at the end of Fridays, and thus such a box slips through. It’s not meant to, and he means very very few boxes turn out that way, but just sometimes they may. This is why they got 15000 cards made. Only 10000 cards are placed in the tins so they got 5000 cards as replacements, they are mainly meant for damage card replacements, but can be used for situations like these too.
At this point he suddenly asked me to send a list of players or teams and he’d pick out some nice cards to send me. This took me by such surprise I actually forgot to ask some evil scoopy journalist question and instead sat in awe. An unusual turn I didn’t expect. After that, the big wait started. Our conversation was many weeks ago, but I’ve finally got the bonus cards in my hands today, and it’s not a small bonus! Five very beautiful cards are now sitting at my desk. In all glory here they are:
I’m impressed with Nicks attempt to please the customer in all ways he can, to make up for any error that shouldn’t have happened. Few other companies would take such care. I’m also impressed with the obvious love he got for his work and Upper Decks products, it’s reassuring they care that much. But, I won’t sing a love song to Upper Deck all the way, they still got a few issues we all want to be a thing of the past, white patches, huge delays in product release and collation, but that being said, I’m still in a bit of shock of the positive handling from Nick. A behavior other card companies should take note of and try to copy!
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