Redemptions: the Good, the Bad, the Expired
By Matt Lambe aka bradyfanatic1224
Pulling a redemption can be a time to celebrate, especially when you look at the checklist and realize that your redemption is for a shield, one of one autograph. At the same time, it can be a time of anger, rage and disappointment. Looking at your shield, one of one autograph from 2008 Exquisite and realizing that most companies will do nothing to help your expired code. I’ve had my own personal positive and negative experiences with redemptions. I’ve noticed most people on Sports Card Forum absolutely despise redemptions. I thought we should explore the reasons why we have so many redemptions in today’s hobby.
Like many collectors who’ve dealt with redemptions, the one that sticks out in my mind is the negative experience. In 2005, my local card shop had some packs left of 2002 Upper Deck Authentics. I hadn’t ever tried opening these before, but I liked the design because it was similar to the 1989 Upper Deck (Ken Griffey Jr. RC pictured below) baseball set.
A few packs in, I was ecstatic that I had pulled a Troy Aikman autograph redemption. After looking it over, I realized that it was 6 months past its expiration date. Thinking that a simple phone call to customer service would help, I called the next day. I realize that their job is to follow the rules and read the policy to make sure it’s clear, but you’d think they’d at least act like they felt bad. Sure the customer service representative might not know much about sports cards or sports players, but they have to realize that missing out on a card is tough for collectors. After a couple minutes on the phone with them, I knew that the redemption was nothing more than another decoy. My positive experiences have far outweighed my negative ones. From dealing with replacements to the Russell Wilson Contenders redemptions, companies can be quick and professional. I’ve always treaded lightly with older products going forward because of this.
A lot of collectors will look at the companies to blame for having an abundance of redemptions. I think an equal part of the blame should be placed on the collectors/consumers. The demand for more new product continues to be strong, even with redemptions popping up everywhere. Demand is ultimately what drives more brands being created and released. Even with the uncertainty of redemptions being fulfilled, they still do very well on the secondary markets. That reason alone shows me that redemptions won’t go away in favor of reducing the amount of product on a yearly basis. So far this year, Geno Smith has 288 different autographed cards and no redemptions (not counting Exquisite). Jordan Poyer has only 56 different autographed cards and has several redemptions. Sure you see people every now and again threatening to boycott a brand because of redemptions. Will this work to affect how companies use redemptions? I can’t see it working. Am I saying that I love redemptions? Of course not, I don’t like the idea of waiting for a card that is owed to me. I know that I have to accept them though to keep the hobby going and the new brands hitting shelves. I’d rather have the products come out on time, and have a few redemptions sprinkled in. Let’s face it, we all can’t afford the 10 card pack Flawless Basketball (MSRP: $2,035/dacardworld.com) and a chance to avoid redemptions.
Is there a reason that you’d stop buying packs/boxes? I’ve asked myself that question multiple times over the last couple years. I’ve had periods of time where I haven’t purchased many packs/boxes, but I’ve purchased singles. If you think about it, purchasing singles is still supporting the breaking of boxes, cases and packs. Sure you didn’t directly open a pack, buy a box or bust a case. That card came from someone ripping it though. More than likely by you buying the card, you’re reloading the money train to head to the card station for another visit. Obviously buying singles takes the risk out of opening wax and that satisfies some. The rush and the fun you get from opening packs is what inspires others.
That little voice inside each of our heads still gives us the thought that we’ll pull that huge hit. I won’t lie, that’s what keeps me going back for another box. In conclusion, the bottom line for me is that I can’t blame the card companies because I’m encouraging them through buying. Redemptions are just a product of the beast. Sometimes it’s a love to hate them and sometimes it’s a hate to love them situation.
Glimpse of my redemptions over the last 3 years, yet I’m still buying
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