SGC has announced a major change to its grading structure for trading cards. As opposed to offering several levels of service with regards to grading turnaround times, the company is moving to a two-tiered structure effective immediately. The plainly worded levels are aimed at reducing its current backlog of orders, which grew to sizable levels in the wake of COVID-19.
In a letter released by SGC President Peter Steinberg, it was explained that moving forward, collectors will have two options when it comes to grading cards. One level of service is simply titled, “I Can Wait.” As opposed to offering any sort of guaranteed turnaround time for graded cards, the service offers no specific time frame. Priced at $10 per card, it matches the level SGC has charged most customers for years, as Steinberg explained in the letter to customers:
Sure, everyone wants their cards to be graded and shipped back as quickly as possible, but the “I Can Wait” service provides collectors with a great way to take advantage of the most competitive pricing the hobby has to offer. Orders submitted at the “I Can Wait” level are subject to turnaround times that fluctuate with demand, so although we’ll be working like crazy to keep the times down, there may be some unforeseen delays taking place at the time of your order’s processing that were not present during the initial creation of your submission.
SGC says the estimated turnaround time will be updated on its website every few days.
The second service level is titled, “Need Them Now,” which is offered to customers who want a more concrete time frame. According to SGC, this service level will be approximately three to five business days. SGC stresses that even that is an estimate but also says that “customers should not expect to wait far past the five business day mark to see that their orders have been marked shipped and are on their way back to them.”
The catch for that expedited service? The “Need Them Now” service starts at $100 per card.
SGC does state that bulk rates are unaffected by these changes. But for other submissions, it’s either $10 or $100 as a starting point.
How customers react to the changes remains to be seen, of course. SGC isn’t like to have a good handle on that until the changes have been implemented for a while.
Given the price for the expedited service, the “I Can Wait” service is bound to be SGC’s most popular. But the question becomes, how long of a waiting time can collectors expect with that model? As of the time of this writing, SGC as a 40-45 day estimate for cards at this service level.
One key point to mention here is that SGC’s changes are being viewed as $10 or $100 options. That, however, isn’t really accurate. Those are merely starting points and the cost to grade more expensive cards is likely to be higher.
For example, SGC’s prices can be seen here. That $100 level is only for cards valued up to $3,500. In other words, if you have a more expensive card, you’ll pay more. A card beyond that will cost at least $250 to grade. Another example can be seen at the “I Can Wait” service level. While grading for those cards starts at $10, if you have a card valued at more than $250, that price is bumped up to $15. The highest amount for a card at this service level is $85 for a card valued up to $3,500. There is no price for the “I Can Wait” level for cards beyond that. Presumably, those cards would need to be submitted at the “Need Them Now” level.
The letter posted to SGC’s website cites an overwhelming demand as the reason for the changes, which are aimed at helping the Florida-based company decrease turnaround times, which have been frustrating for collectors. Business has continued to increase with the unprecedented interest in graded cards, especially for modern issues.
SGC also saw huge more submissions after competitors PSA and Beckett Grading were forced to briefly shutdown operations a few months ago due to government orders. Backlogs at those two companies have forced many customers to wait far longer than normal and during the spring, SGC touted its prompt turnaround times as an alternative. Now, they, too, are dealing with the same issues.