Buried under a multi-million card backlog of submissions, PSA announced late Tuesday that it was immediately suspending virtually all but its highest priced services.
The news comes over four weeks after the company announced it was increasing prices for some services in an attempt to slow down the avalanche of orders from dealers, collectors, auction houses and others who have been submitting unprecedented numbers of sports and gaming cards for authentication and grading. A backlog that’s been growing for more than two years grew worse as rumors began to spread late last month that a price increase was coming.
“The sheer volume of orders that PSA received in early March has fundamentally changed our ability to service the hobby,” admitted PSA President Steve Sloan, in a letter to customers. “The reality is that we recently received more cards in three days than we did during the previous three months. Even after the surge, submissions continue at never-before-seen levels.
Given our growing backlog, it would be disingenuous for us to continue to accept submissions for cards that we will be unable to process in the foreseeable future. It’s an unpleasant conclusion, especially after the March 1 price increase, but it is necessary to properly serve the customers who have already submitted to PSA.”
Sloan says virtually shutting down the services priced from $20-$150 per card will allow staff members to dig into the orders it has been unable to process and focus on its most impacted service lines. The company will take a “tiered approach” to bringing those services back, with the hope of being able to bring all of the suspended services back by July 1. In essence, it’s a three-month window to allow the company to catch up.
Collectors Club members will have their memberships automatically extended to match the duration of the Value suspension.
Most of the backlog is for cards printed in recent years, thanks to secondary market premiums being paid for cards that are rated at the highest level. The booming market has attracted the interest of new collectors and investors who have been submitting a high volume of cards. Bulk submission businesses have exploded across the country, with individuals charging small premiums per card to handle the paperwork and shipping processes for collectors and dealers.
Even in the middle of the pandemic, PSA shipped over 715,000 total collectibles back to customers in one quarter of 2020. That number has undoubtedly increased in the six months that have passed since that quarterly report.
PSA announced Monday it was leasing additional space in the Santa Ana, CA office park that serves as its headquarters in an effort to increase efficiency. The company has been on a hiring binge for months and now employs 783 people—362 more than it had on staff just 15 months ago.
New Collectors Universe Chairman Nat Turner told us several weeks ago that the company was hoping to expand into other locations across the U.S. and overseas, something Sloan says “will help diffuse submissions across multiple locations and allow PSA to tap into new grading talent across the hobby.”
PSA’s backlog of trading cards stood at over one million a year ago. That figure may be as much as 10 million or more now. Collectors who’ve been submitting cards over the last year have found themselves waiting multiple weeks for their shipments to even be logged into PSA’s system after they’ve been received and six months or more beyond that before the cards are shipped back to them.
“This change will help get your cards back faster while maintaining the quality and accuracy you expect from PSA,” Sloan wrote. “We are working around the clock for you, and we appreciate your support as we grow our capacity.”
In the meantime, collectors who had still planned to submit cards despite the recent price increase will have to decide whether to wait up to three months to have the chance to do business with the hobby’s largest grading companies or opt to send their cards to one of the other major firms.