Topps Tribute baseball officially released today and I was looking forward to see breaks of it, before joining in some group breaks later tonight. For the first look, I always default to Brent Williams' Twitter feed, you may know him as brentandbecca; in my opinion, the undisputed king of case (NOT group) breaking. So I was disappointed when I saw this tweet:
If the rep did notice an issue, then the company would have to decide whether to try something with less gloss or a matte finish over the autograph space; or even a simple switch of pens.
If it wasn't noticed at the time of printing, a red flag should have been raised at the first signing session. What should NOT have happened; was to have all the cards signed and packed out looking anything like that Steve Carlton above.
As for the dual autographs, who thought silver would be a good idea? A medium-tip blue Sharpie would have done the job there. Or... was it also too glossy for Sharpie to adhere to?
This release will not help Topps' reputation within the collecting community, as they're already viewed by many as a company with a customer service and redemption problem. This also should point out the problems with exclusive licensees. Fed-up collectors have no choice but to go back to Topps if they want baseball cards with full logos for the next five years.
So what should you do if you've already pre-ordered Tribute? I'd try to sell the sealed boxes personally; but I have to think that if this problem is as widespread as it seems to be, those boxes will take a price hit in the secondary market.
In my opinion, all damaged cards should be returned to Topps. Now, the problem there is that they are not known for being overly fair with replacement cards. Hold on to your wrappers & box UPC's for now (a great idea that Brent proposed on Twitter earlier) -- in case they do announce some sort of make-good program. If nothing comes of this in the next week or two, I would send back all damaged cards and outline what you think would be a fair replacement (not that this will have any real bearing, but it's still good to set expectations -- and be fair when doing this -- a Carlton Fisk auto is not worth a Sandy Koufax in return). When you send that package, make sure you also send photocopies to both MLB & MLBPA's licensing divisions -- tell them what the forced monopoly MLB has created with the Topps exclusive deal means to you. To me, it means less options and less reliable customer service. After all, what real incentive is there to help a customer when they can't go elsewhere?
It will be interesting to see how (or if) Topps even responds to this issue.