I’ve frequently considered writing a shipping best practices guide for trading cards. . .and I think I need to do it, but a few incidents lately have prompted me to write a few quick words about packing/shipping.
First, and most importantly — it is the seller’s responsibility to get the items they ship to the buyer in good condition. Let me repeat. It IS the SELLERS responsibility get the goods to the buyers. Why? Simple – a buyer has nothing to do with how the card is packaged so why should they be responsible for it.
Still not clear, how about an illustrative story? Consumer Bob buys a $2000 laptop from Dell. Sweet! Dell ships that $2000 laptop in a manila envelope with the charger and docking station bouncing around in the envelope. It gets destroyed by the post office, so now that’s Bob’s responsibility to go to the post office to file an insurance claim (that the post office will laugh at because the item was packed horribly) to get his money back because that laptop is HIS responsibility as soon as he pays for it, right? Obviously not, the item would be returned to Dell who would be responsible for sending Bob what he paid for. The same is true for sellers on eBay and other sites as well. Don’t believe me? It’s eBay, Paypal and Amazon policy that the seller is responsible for delivering goods as advertised, they will basically ALWAYS find in favor of any buyer who can prove their items were shipped inappropriately.
On to packing tips. . . this seems so obvious to me, but it must not be. . . after you pack a box shake it — if it rattles, bangs or makes other funny noises don’t ship it! Items you ship are just as likely to get damaged from the packing materials as they are outside forces. Cards rattling around in boxes are going to be rubbing their most delicate areas (corners/edges) against the sides of a hard plastic or cardboard material for their entire journey to the receiver. Same goes for bigger things — fill the empty spaces around the stuff you ship so it can’t move around at all. Keeping it still in the package is going to help it travel well, if you haven’t noticed these mail carriers handle huge amounts of mail every day, and they don’t have the time to carry each one as though it’s full of Waterford Crystal so you need to pack it like they are going to try to break it — just in case someone at the shipping department is having a bad day.
My rule of thumb. . . if I won’t throw it down my steps I won’t ship it. Why? Our precious collectible packages are mixed in with other much less fragile and heavier items — like books/magazines, tools, etc. Not to mention our items are handled by many people and machines who don’t care about the stuff in the package nearly as much as the receiver does. . .
Ok, mini-rant over. . . hopefully there are some useful tips in there. Do yourself a favor, take the extra 90 seconds to package stuff properly — charge more for it if you have to, it’s worth it in the long run.
I noticed a very questionable Katie Holmes autograph on eBay — item 120494988517. I contacted the seller to let them know their card may be a counterfeit . . . You never know how someone is going to respond when you get in touch with them, but this is a perfect illustration of the responses that should make you avoid a seller’s auctions:
I’ve been looking at your auction and noticed this card. I am sorry to tell you I believe your Katie Holmes autograph is a counterfeit.
If you would like more information do a google search for ‘Katie Holmes counterfeit’ or something similar and one of the first links will be a story about fake Katie Holmes Batman Begins cards.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me, sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Sorry, but I pulled this card myself from a pack. Thanks
No reason to apologize, that’s excellent news!
If I buy this card and it does turn out to be a counterfeit you will take it back, right?
Sorry, but I don’t offer refunds. It has been graded and authenicated by Beckett Grading Services, a premier sports card grading company. Plz visit www.beckett.com for more info on their grading service. Thanks.
Huh? If you pulled it from a pack yourself why wouldn’t you guarantee it? I have my theories about that. . .
We’ve seen other fake Katies that are graded, so keep in mind — that is grading, but it doesn’t mean the card is guaranteed authentic.
Finally — Paypal/eBay will get involved and if the card is found to be questionable the buyer will almost certainly get their money back. I just hope they figure out it’s a questionable card quickly after receiving it.
So, if you see high end card on eBay ask the seller some questions — if you get responses like this — RUN! It’s just not worth the risk.
A fellow collector alerted me to this card a while ago. . . They purchased an Angel A24 autograph of Eliza Dushku from eBay back in August. The seller ulrealdealz00 was selling a TON of autographs at all price ranges, including some from Ink Vault. The buyer of this Dushku counted at least 5 Angel A24s sold by ulrealdealz00.
In describing the card the buyer told me, “It was a tiny bit bigger then all my other angel autographs including those in season 4 and had a smoother feeling to the card stock. It also had different crops of the background—but that happens in some Inkworks autos. And the signature looked good to me.”
The buyer went through Paypal and received a refund as the seller didn’t respond at first. Paypal refunded the payment and instructed the buyer to return the card. eBay provided the address to return the card to, and the card was shipped, but was eventually returned back to the buyer as the address didn’t exist.
The differences between the legitimate card and this card aren’t really obvious, I’m hoping to get scans of both this card and a known legitimate one scanned together for a really clear comparison.
Here is the card in question:
I recently contacted a gentleman on eBay who was selling this card. I always approach people on eBay with caution as you never know what sort of reaction someone will have when you tell them a rather expensive card they are trying to sell is likely fake. This particular seller was very grateful and provided some nice scans of a pair of graded Katie Holmes Batman Begins autographs. The one pictured here appears to be counterfeit.
While this isn’t the first Beckett Graded card I’ve seen that has been suspicious this is the first I’ve been able to get good scans of, and it shows clearly that this card is extremely questionable. It has all of the defining aspects of the Katie Holmes I talked about back in September. I also chose to focus on the Katie Holmes cards because they are pretty easy to identify from a scan as being questionable, and much easier to detect in person.
I have a simple question — if Beckett Grading Service didn’t identify this card as a counterfeit what service are they really providing? Some may leap to their defense saying there haven’t been counterfeits in non-sport cards like this before, and while that may be true isn’t in Beckett’s job to be on the front line catching on to this sort of thing? Shouldn’t we expect them to apply the knowledge they have from grading sports cards where there have been fakes for years to our hobby? This card in particular is obviously machine signed — I’m no expert yet I can identify that from a scan based on information provided to me by another collector. Notice the little ‘dots’ at each end point in each line in the signature? Humans don’t write like that, and that little tip isn’t anything particular to this card. Had someone with even a tiny amount of training looked at the signature to determine if it was questionable it should have raised a parade’s worth of red flags waving back and forth behind an enormous drum line.
Really, there is no point in beating BGS up over this now, the point is that just because a card is graded doesn’t mean it’s free from suspicion.
Here is a questionable and a legitimate card both graded, side by side:
Artbox didn’t have a lot to share about the counterfeit Johnny Depp autograph. Their first email to Kris was rather vague, but does confirm the card is counterfeit:
Thank you for the wait.
We had a thorough investigation with the card that you
have sent in, and unfortunately we have come to a
conclusion that this card is not authentic.
The card was not printed within our facility, and the file
does not match with ours.
Please feel free to contact us with any additional
When asked for more details they didn’t have a lot to add, but they do agree that this counterfeit is hard to detect.
Thank you for your quick reply.
It was very hard to distinguish to the naked eye, and I
praise you for catching the small details.
There were several levels that were tested within our
production stages, and one that most stood out was
that the printing process and the material used did not
Thank you again for your patience, and
feel free to contact me anytime.
Hopefully at some point someone can get a real and a fake Depp side by side to determine if there are any easy ways to detect the counterfeit. Thank you to Kris for sharing his story, and to Artbox for following up with Kris.