After years of frustrations with fulfillment turnaround times for its autographed card redemption, Upper Deck is giving itself a time limit.
Pledging to ultimately eliminate redemption cards completely at some point, Upper Deck is promising to fulfill autograph card IOUs within 45 days, as long as collectors work through a hobby dealer participating in a new program.
Athletes who are slow to return autographed cards to Upper Deck have put the company in a difficult position at times. Promising to deliver autographed cards, the company instead had to put the redemption cards in packs, forcing collectors to wait for months and occasionally, a year or more to receive their cards. Many autographed cards were never returned by the athletes and Upper Deck was forced to make exchanges with collectors.
Last fall, Upper Deck identified and partnered with over 200 direct hobby shops to serve as Preferred Redemption Centers for the company. The goal was to offer enhanced service to these shops for fulfilling redemptions on behalf of their customers who pull winning cards from packs.
Upper Deck says if the autographed card is not available after 45 days, the hobby retailer will receive a message asking if they wish to have the card exchanged. If they choose to have it exchanged for the customer, they can submit a list of what the customer is interested in and a comparable card will be sent out within the week. If they want that particular card, they have the option to continue to wait as well.
“We realize every collector is different,” said Chris Carlin, Hobby Marketing Manager for Upper Deck. “Some people want to move on and get a replacement piece after a few weeks. Other collectors are not so concerned with how long it takes and want us to continue to chase these athletes down until they ultimately sign. We will assist our customers with whichever option they prefer.”
The company claims to have reduced the total amount of autograph redemptions being released in sets over the last few months as well.
“We have chosen to work more with players we have great relationships with and who we know can get the autograph cards back in a timely fashion,“ said Carlin. “These partnerships with premier athletes have allowed us to enhance content and reduce the amount of redemption cards we have to use. Senior management spends a lot of time looking at ways to reduce the number of redemption cards released in our products. From our President on down, we are dedicated to keeping the number of redemption cards in our products as low as possible. Our ultimate goal is to release every product on time, without redemption cards entirely.”
Upper Deck has also recently added several Canadian hobby shops to the Preferred Redemption Program. For a list of Preferred Redemption Centers in the US and Canada, click here.