Feeling overlooked in the redemption card waiting game

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IOU

By Ryan Cracknell | Hobby Editor | Commentary

Redemption cards stink. Ask just about any collector, including Josh Donaldson, and they’ll agree. And while the past year or so has seen improvements and fewer of them out there, that doesn’t help those still waiting. They can leave a bad taste, especially if they’re left outstanding for an extended period of time. It’s even worse when you notice the player has live autographs in newer products from the same manufacturer.

Last October — as in 2014 — I submitted a redemption for an autograph. I’m still waiting on it. I’d pretty much forgotten about it until recently when I noticed a 2015 autograph of the same player from the same manufacturer inserted live in packs.

I could call out the company and the player, but I don’t really see the point as I’ve heard of similar things happening to collectors from multiple manufacturers.

And even when the players aren’t top-tier stars, like the outstanding autograph I’m waiting on, it still feels like a cup full of vinegar being poured on a fresh wound. I doubt I’m alone in the feeling.

I understand the reality of redemptions. That doesn’t mean I like them. It also doesn’t excuse them. Often, but not always, it’s a matter of athletes dragging their feet.

How does that explain when a more recent card arriving before one that other collectors are owed? Or why other versions of the same card I pulled are live as well, yet I’m still waiting. In real-world terms, redemptions are like an IOU. Generally, we try to get that promise fulfilled as quickly as possible. I’d like to think that manufacturers are the same way.

Maybe my situation is an oversight that slipped through the cracks. Perhaps the card company was looking ahead and had multiple years of autographs signed in one sitting. My guess is that all it will take is a message being sent to get some sort of resolution.

But why should it?

The onus on redemptions shouldn’t be on the collector. They’ve already been put out by opening product and finding a promissory note that’s a lot less exciting than the real thing.

At this point, I’m going to wait it out. It’s a card I’m not overly interested in and will probably pass on to someone I know will enjoy it more than me. It’s also not something particularly valuable. But that small card that I’ve yet to receive may have other repercussions where I’m less likely to spend more money on similar products.

Instances like these can turn a collector off of a sport, manufacturer or even collecting all together. Even if redemptions are a necessary evil, collectors should have to wait as little time as possible. One would think that all older redemptions would be fulfilled before any new cards arrived signed.

Situations like these are limited. But all it takes is one bad experience to cause a ripple effect that reaches past one unhappy customer.

All card companies have gotten better at communicating where in the processing flow a redemption is with their websites. Again, it’s not perfect, but at any time I can go in and see if something has been shipped. Here I am over a year later in this instance and nothing. The most unfortunate part is that I could go and buy the newer version of the card right now and get it within a few days.

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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26 comments

  1. Dan C. 13 November, 2015 at 14:19

    I have cards from 2011 and 2012 that I will never receive. Apparently I have to call to receive replacements, but who knows what I’ll receive.

  2. Dan D 13 November, 2015 at 14:21

    Registered a Panini Kobe redemption on April 4 2014-still waiting….. How many Kobe’s have I seen since then?

    And what about the redemptions that are fulfilled as sticker autos? That is very frustrating.

  3. oldgoldy97 13 November, 2015 at 14:58

    I feel your pain. I’m waiting on an Odell/Landry dual auto from 2014. I’m also waiting on a couple Contenders autos from…2012! At some point you would thing the manufacturers would like to get their slates clean.

  4. nonboater 13 November, 2015 at 18:07

    I just received 2013 Topps Chrome Auto Nolan Arenado, 2014 Topps breakout moments Luis gonzales
    Better late than never. I did send in 2014-15 Fleer Hockey rookies this year and turn around was resonable.
    About 6 weeks.

  5. Jonathan W. Iwanski 13 November, 2015 at 18:58

    As long as people keep buying products with redemptions, companies will keep making them.

  6. Wayne Martin, Jr. 13 November, 2015 at 19:57

    I recently had an experience with Topps regarding redemption cards I thought I’d share. I had redemption cards pending for:

    2012 Topps Heritage Minors J.D. Martinez Real One Auto
    2012 Bowman Platinum Tyrell Jenkins Prospect Auto
    2013 Bowman Inception Prospect Auto Barrett Barnes
    2013 Topps Pro Debut Claudio Custodio Autograph

    I waited for 2-3 years for these to be filled when finally I saw that they had all been shipped in 2 separate shipments about 2 weeks apart. When they arrived, I discovered that all 4 had been replaced by different autographs. For these 4 entirely different redemption cards from 4 entirely different products, I received 4 2014 Bowman Draft Ryan Ripken autographs, all exactly the same. Now, I understand that sometimes the card companies can’t fulfill the specific card they promised for unforeseen reasons, but you would think that the company could at least provide different cards for different redemptions.
    I called Topps to ask about this, explaining that I had submitted 4 different redemption cards (3 of which I had specifically purchased online to work towards completion of that autograph set) and I received 4 exact same cards in fulfillment. They were no help whatsoever. I sent in 4 redemptions, I was sent 4 autographs. Case closed!

  7. Danielle 13 November, 2015 at 20:46

    It’s not like we (collectors) have much of a choice though as redemptions are in every product these days. Though we could always choose to stop collecting completely I guess?
    Still remember certain redemptions from 7-8 years ago (unexpired at the time) that were replaced then. So instead of Pence RC auto or perhaps someone else, I received Colon from 9 years prior to that? Ah, redemptions! Though 1995 UD was great to get those gems fulfilled and timely!

  8. Frank Caporusso 13 November, 2015 at 21:33

    How about a 2014 Topps Dynasty Willie Mays auto patch /10 that I’m still waiting for!!! I contacted Topps via e-mail and of course no reply. All his autos are redemptions and I’m guessing he will not sign anything else due to his age and failing health. Topps has the worst customer service and don’t get me started on Panini redemptions which currently stand at 26 outstanding from 2012 and up.

  9. Mark C 13 November, 2015 at 22:01

    Here’s a fun one: I submitted a redemption request back on November 2009. When did I get my replacement?

    July 2015

    The company sent me a nice autograph card of a future hall of famer numbered XX/25 but I couldn’t believe it took over 5 1/2 years.

  10. ronfir 13 November, 2015 at 22:29

    Redemptions stink period! You pay out your money and hit a redemption, enter the code and wait and wait. If the card is not PC, you give up and call the company and give them a list of players / teams you collect. Package arrives and it is something else. Also when you pulled the card as an example Beckett prices the card at $250. But months and months or even years later when you call for a replacement, Beckett has dropped the price to $100. What does the card company do? They use the lesser amount so you are ripped off again. Boo on redemptions! I pulled a 2015 Tribute dual auto of Hank Aaron / Ken Griffey Jr. We know the problems Topps had with Tribute autos so I called Topps and was assured the dual would be made without problems. Almost nine months later still no card. Aaron and Griffey have had multiple autos issued since Tribute. Calls to Topps yield only we don’t know when you will get your card. If I asked for a replacement I know the card Topps would send wouldn’t be equal to the redemption.

  11. Joe 13 November, 2015 at 23:51

    This is the reason I stopped buying packs & boxes! I got sick of having to contact the BBB time & time again on these con artists. I was ready to contact the Atty General on fraud charges. How can they insert redemption cards A That expire & B take as long as they feel like to fill & then with what they want!

    A How can a redemption expire when the card is supposed to be IN THE BOX! They OWE you that card!

    B How can redemptions have expiration dates when the companies have no timetable on PROVIDING THE CARD????

  12. Richard 14 November, 2015 at 13:12

    I offered the solution to this over a decade ago.
    Panini sort of implemented it with their version of the points program.
    The problem is, the selection is inadequate.

    I avoid buying redemption cards. I made the exception for Bowman Platinum because I want
    the rookie cards that are part of the set and as long as they are universal about it, with everyone
    getting the card, or no cards at all being made, I know I will at least have the set done.

  13. Jared M 14 November, 2015 at 22:18

    I wouldnt have a big problem with redemtions if the boxes im buying still had what is advertised on the box.if it states theres 2 autos inside,there better be two autos inside.Redemptions should be a bonus.I feel like the companies just flat out lie and false advertise.i dont go to the store and buy a 12 pack of beer and find a note inside saying that im owed a couple beers.i cant sell a 5 card lot of Kris Bryant autos and ship 3 of them with an iou for 2 more when or if i get them. In my experience Topps is way worse the Panini.Ive had good success with Panini filling redemptions and they almost always fill long expired ones too.With Topps its a miracle if you can get them to answer an email or send out some junk cards as replacements for cards they owe you from 3 years ago.

  14. Matt 14 November, 2015 at 23:06

    Seeing autographs from a player live in products while you’re still waiting for a redemption is bad, but I’ve seen plenty worse from Topps. For one, how about seeing the very card you’re waiting for released in a later product? That’s what happened with Matt Reynolds’s Bowman Black autographs in 2012 Bowman Sterling / 2013 Bowman Chrome. I had to buy the card twice to get it once.
    http://www.collectthemets.com/the-many-autos-of-matthew-reynolds/

    Even worse, you could see the card you’re waiting for turn up live in the same exact product that the redemption card came from. 2013 Topps Tier One was loaded with partial redemptions, and not just for the cards with print runs in the hundreds. I have a Jeurys Familia Copper Ink parallel that I’ve been waiting 2 years for now. Even though there are only 25 (50 if you count both of his cards) of them, some were live and some were redemptions. That’s another one I can probably forget about ever seeing.

    The worst though is when the card you’re waiting for isn’t even autographed. 2012 Topps Series 1 had five Tom Seaver relic cards, limited to 10 copies each, inserted as redemptions. 2012 Topps Series 2 had one Tom Seaver relic card numbered to 50 inserted live. Almost 4 years later, there’s still no sign of the relics from Series 1.

    I should probably call Topps sometime to find out what their problem is, but I really don’t feel like waiting on hold for a few hours to deal with a company that clearly doesn’t care about its customers. I get enough of that as it is already, I don’t need it from something that is supposed to be fun.

    And I also need to find out what’s taking Panini so long with their 2014 Panini Elite Extra Edition Michael Conforto autographs. At least Topps turned around theirs from 2014 Bowman Sterling fairly quickly.

  15. David Johnson 15 November, 2015 at 17:18

    I have an outstanding redemption from 2008. I know the card was made, as I also have the live card. I know the card company won’t be able to fulfill the redemption and can only offer a replacement (since they lost their license for the sport that the redemption is for). What is frustrating is that they have made no effort to contact me to ask if I want a replacement. According to the fine print, they were supposed to just send a replacement after a certain period of time. My guess is that they have a bunch of well overdue redemption cards and ignore them all until a person requests a replacement, that way they can hope that the person either forgets, leaves the hobby, or gives up waiting and they never have to send anything out.

  16. Mark 16 November, 2015 at 10:18

    A lot of people banging on Topps here, but almost all of my redemptions with Topps have been fulfilled. Panini, on the other hand, owes me a list of redemption cards a mile long.

    The cards companies need to end redemptions for cards they don’t have. Either wait for the cards before releasing the product, or move on without the cards. Plan ahead and get the autos signed well in advance. The companies know their deadlines. Plan, plan, plan. The only redemptions that are appropriate are for oversized premiums that are on hand, with the cards sent immediately upon a redemption request.

  17. jeremy 16 November, 2015 at 12:22

    I am still waiting on a 2012 Panini Contenders Football auto. Have called them so many times I have given up. They keep telling me they will send a replacement but yet to receive anything. I haven’t bought any Panini products in over a year and this is the main reason. I had an issue with Topps as well but they at least sent me a replacement and about 10 packs of cards for the inconvenience.

  18. Tom 16 November, 2015 at 15:45

    A tale of two (and my only two) redemptions:

    Topps fulfilled a Greg Maddux redemption within two weeks of submission.

    Panini has yet to fulfill a Bobby Cox redemption within two years of submission.

  19. teddyB 5 December, 2015 at 07:32

    What I can’t figure out is this: Topps has almost all their other Kris Bryant cards signed and shipped out EXCEPT the Tier One autos that came out in May???? Here we are in December, I check the Redemption Report every week (when they feel like updating it), and I still see no Tier One Kris Bryant autos. Now, I have a feeling the reason for this is that Topps hasn’t even printed the cards yet. Sometimes they’ll reply on their twitter as to why a certain newer redemption hasn’t went out yet is because “they have to schedule a printing” then get it signed.

    I just hope I’m not waiting until next Spring for this card, which I’m sure I will be. Topps has been a little better lately with Redemptions, a few of the Bryant cards I redeemed were in my hand after 5,6 weeks or sooner. But this Tier One, that they famously just had to announce to push their product, is nowhere in sight.

  20. rod_e_15 9 December, 2015 at 22:30

    I’m waiting on a Bryant five star as well entered it in early October still says pending even though he signed them the week of November 19th

  21. teddyB 2 February, 2016 at 18:57

    So did that Five Star Bryant ever come rod_e_15?

    I know that Topps said on January 14th that the Kris Bryant Tier One cards have been signed and they would begin shipping “within the next week”. Well here it is, Feb. 2nd and no change in the status of my redemption on Topps’ redeem.topps website, still says “Pending”….AND I’m seeing base cards of the Bryant Tier One auto popping up on eBay already with 3 or 4 listed so far.

    At least one is from Asia, so somehow Topps sent people in Asia a card before us in the USA which seems messed up. I saw another listed from the very state I live in as well, plus another one from Michigan so they are starting to pop up in the USA at least but I live close to where Topps ships out from and usually I get my cards first a couple weeks before the rest of them go live, guess not in this case! Maybe because I’m waiting on a colored SP, maybe they are just shipping the base cards first?

    Only good thing I see so far is that the base card is #’d /75. Glad they didn’t pump out a bunch of them, only thing I worry about with Tier One is that there will be different poses, like they did with the New Guard Autographs. I pulled a 1/1 this year of a New Guard auto, gold ink, and I go look on eBay and a very similar card is already selling for $400 bucks I was pretty upset seeing as how a 1/1 should be just that and there was another for the same guy in a different pose with 1/1 stamped on it too?

    I just know that lately I’ve really backed off Topps and collecting in general, they are just getting out of hand with all the Redemptions and everything, plus taking way too long to get people the cards they are owed (sometimes years- when I’m bored sometimes I read the Better Business Bureau reports against them and it makes me pretty nervous when I know they owe me a pretty big card yet).

  22. teddyB 24 February, 2016 at 04:13

    nice! Glad you got it. Here it is…Feb. 24th and I’m still waiting. I haven’t got the promised email update from the lady who emailed me that she was going to look into things for me yet so I called and I didn’t catch the guy’s name but wow did he really infuriate me.

    I told him they’ve already hit eBay, the 2 people I know have got their similar cards in the mail weeks ago, and he looked it up in the inventory and tells me………MY CARD has not been made yet or signed and it “might be a while but I am welcome to keep checking the Redeem.Topps.com website every MONTH or so to keep an eye on it. I said uhm, excuse me? They are on eBay how is it not made? People I know have got theirs sent to them how is mine not made? He said I can’t comment on why or how they got theirs, I’m just telling you in our system it says UNVAVAILABLE….I said well is it possible that the card is somewhere along the pipeline headed to me now? He said NO. Nothing has been sent, implying that sometimes they get a certain amount of the initial print run back at first and then they go and do a neat little write up on the Redemption Update page that says that card…is DONE! When in reality they’re only sending out a few and making others continue to wait.

    I can’t believe this company. Time after time they do things like this, well I haven’t been buying any of their new products and I don’t think I’ll continue to support this kind of deviant behavior anymore. I spent sickening amounts of money with this company throughout my life, its time to cut the toxic relationship out of my life once and for all I think.

    • Ryan Cracknell 24 February, 2016 at 23:39

      This type of situation came up at the Industry Summit. Topps mentioned that sometimes they get the cards back for redemptions, some might be returned damaged or the signatures smudged, etc. So if there are 25 people waiting for a card, they might be expecting 25 but when they return in-house they only have 10 they can actually use. Then they go and create the cards again. That was the reasoning they gave for a similar type of situation.

  23. Chris 4 December, 2018 at 15:41

    I have been waiting on a Topps 2017 Update Bryce Harper Red Parallel Auto, I emailed them and no response I tweeted them and sent a DM, and wasn’t even rude and I got blocked from sending them messages. They promised me a card that books for at least $300 to $500. I don’t think I will be buying topps boxes anymore

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