The Redemption Situation and My Suggestions

Topps recently confirmed to a few bloggers that called in that they were in the process of making staff changes in customer service. As a result, redemption replacement requests would be on hold until the change was implemented. This could be a while, and as a result, there are a lot of angry people. With the National Show coming up in August, this is about the worst possible time this could happen.

Bottom line, there needs to be a venue for customers to collect on the redemptions they are owed, even if replacements need to be made. That goes without saying. This is a disasterous PR situation for Topps, and I am really disappointed that this decision was made.

Instead of just complaining, here is what I would do to redemptions overall, but I realize money is always a factor. Hopefully a big investment is made.

1. Create a replacement system that is user friendly

Right now, no company has a replacement system that is easily maneuverable. My guess is that the companies want to make it as difficult as possible for people to exchange their redemptions, so this was never an investment they want to make. I think it could mean the difference between the hundreds of BBB complaints and the time needed to work through those, and having happy customers.

Here is what you do. Create a profile page where collectors input redemption codes. Start the countdown the day the code is entered. At a certain timeframe, the redemption replacement page becomes accessible. On that page, a collector gets a list of cards that are available on a tiered system. Therefore, the more valuable the redemption, the better the replacements are. They can choose which cards they want, and they receive documentation stating the replacement is their choice. Once a card is replaced, that’s it, the page is deactivated in their profile. Because all redemptions are done on codes, this should not be too big a stretch. Its going to take money to make it work, but its worth it.

A secondary effect of a system like this is the ability to add in a trade system. Collectors could trade up to better tiers, or they could trade with other people to get more redemptions they want.

2. Create a points system for people that redeem a lot of cards

The more cards you redeem, the longer you wait, the more points you get. Once points are accumulated, you can spend them on cool stuff. Hobby boxes, blue wave style giveaways, etc. It would make redemptions WORTH waiting for. There could also be a VIP service where the massive accounts could get special perks. Although this is already in place in some ways, it will get people chasing that status.

3. Activate a live chat feature with customer service

Instead of making people wait on the phone, have a live chat feature available where the lines dont need to be clogged. The companies can weed out potential scammers by seeing profiles attached to the chat, and the people with more redemptions in the system can even get VIP status. Reward people for their patience instead of punish.

Twitter and facebook are also good options, but more accessible customer service is always a good thing. People are expensive to staff the line, but none of this will ever get better without focus on getting butts in the seats to take on the work.

4. Install updates that give collectors statuses on their cards

Topps is having major issues because there are ZERO updates after the codes are entered. Upper Deck had this for a while, but it wasnt as detailed as it should have been. Panini is in the same boat, but they have a blog to showcase big signings. If you are going to tell someone to wait, at least give them updates – out for signing, in house and awaiting construction, awaiting shipping, etc. This isnt rocket science.

5. Dont promise what you cant deliver

We get that athletes are fickle, but if there is no contract for the signing in place, dont offer redemptions. I have heard that redemptions have been offered before without actually knowing if the guy will sign on the dotted line, and that is inexcusable. Its one thing if the subject agrees to sign eventually, and then doesnt. Its completely different if the subject hasnt even agreed to terms.

6. Offer extra box content for wax with redemptions

If a collector pulls a redemption, give them an extra hit in the box to make up for it. Its only fair.

Its obvious this is a long process, but there needs to be a fix and fast. I cant even stress how much customer service is important to a business. Recent studies have shown that 53% of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience. Redemptions are not necessarily a bad thing if they are done right.

10 thoughts on “The Redemption Situation and My Suggestions

  1. This all makes sense, but how would you stop abuse of the system? For example, I have a few redemptions out for a player. It has been the number of days that is required so I can get a replacement. This player, then gets hurt ( as can easily happen in football) and his career is likely over. Everyone goes into the redemption and opts out of his card and picks up another player, which happens to be his rookie replacement (who value skyrockets, but the redemption system can’t factor that in). Could this cause a shortage for that player? Are you hedging your investment by buying redemption? These are thing from the business side that have to be considered.

  2. Wasn’t the system you initially describe exactly what UD outlined before tanking? It would be glorious and collector friendly. Therefore, it shall never happen.

  3. I have always thought that Panini has the worst system of all. They seem to wait on hot players or rookies that do not sign, and then wait until they flame out until the card gets replaced. An example would be waiting for an Tony Hunt Autographed RC that when redemed was booking at 100.00, but wait 3 years later he’s out of the league replace him with an Onterrio Smith Autographed RC after he’s been banned from the NFL? What a joke. I always said the the replacement should have the same value as the card that was initally redemed.

  4. I think one issue with an automated replacement system is that the companies don’t want collectors to be able to “see” the cards that they have in their “inventory”. It will bring up too many questions about why those cards weren’t packed out.

    What about a hit only set specifically for replacing unfilled redemptions?

    Imagine……….2013 Topps Redemption

    It could be a cool bit to appease customers whose redemptions go unfilled for more than 6 mos. 1 card per pack, all autos, retail value of $15. Every customer receives a minimum of 1 pack or a number of packs equal to book value (if higher than $15), always in customer’s favor.

    This would be relatively “low touch” for Topps, meaning they could automate it rather than having to deal 1 on 1 with every customer who is upset because their redemption isn’t filled. Plus, as a collector, at least I know what I’m getting if I bust a box and get a redemption that doesn’t get made.

  5. I see your point, but who says they list everything they actually have anyways? No one would be that stupid.

    Wait….

    Forget I said that.

  6. You want to force manufacturers to get there act together??? Boycott them!!! Nobody is forcing you to buy redemption filled products….

    As a matter of personal policy, I never buy wax of any product containing redemptions. If enough collectors adopt the same attitude, you can bet the manufacturers will start improving things PDQ.

  7. MFW13–If you never buy wax of any product containing redemptions, then I guess you must never buy wax.

    The least companies could do would be to publish a list of which cards are live and which are redemptions. To my knowledge, the companies don’t do this. Come to think of it, it almost seems illegal to advertise that a product includes an auto of a player and not include the auto in the product. Based on the recent performance, a redemption can’t really be counted on to get you the auto it promises.

  8. Looks like Topps is making no changes during their month shutdown. I had two redemptions pending that were almost a year or over a year old and both came in the last two days replaced.

    I feel that Topps has shutdown so they can send replacements for redemptions. If you have any redemptions at Topps, I would highly expect to see replacements rather than the card you have on order redeemed and I would expect them to arrive within a month as Topps clears the backlog without caring that you got the card you reserved in their system.

  9. Would You Make This Trade?

    Topps Owes me:
    2012 Topps Chrome Bryce Harper Auto Variation could be numbered to 199 or could be numbered to 5. No way to tell at this point. Depending on the variation I have seen it go for 200-900 on Ebay.

    Topps is offering me:

    2012 or 2013 (were not clear and I was stupid not to ask) 5 Star Mike Trout Silver Signature numbered to 50.
    Depending on the year I have seen similar cards go for as low as 134 and as high as 300. None seem to have the same run (out of 50), so not a perfect match, and therefore unable to determine the value.

    Harper is my favorite player on my favorite team. I think Trout will probably end up having the better career. 5 Star is a better line than Topps Chrome.

    Would you stay with the Harper or take the Trout?

  10. Especially considering that with the way Topps conducts its business… I may never see the long promised Harper. I called in immediately, and they told me it was out for signature… in NOV 2012. in DEC 2013 “its out for signature”. On ebay… there are plenty! Why can’t I get mine? Frustrating. Unsure on how to proceed Trout vs Harper? I dunno

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