I promised I would write this anonymously as the person doesn’t want people to know who he is.  Earlier this week I was contacted about someone who had a question regarding whether or not Topps would stand by their products, even after a decade.  He had a 1999 HD Topps card that had been autographed by Derek Jeter.  The card was purchased in 2000 and placed in a safe deposit box at the bank.

He recently retrieved it wanting to sell it and here is what he found:

A very faded Jeter autograph.  He first listed it on eBay but no one would buy it at $150, then he listed at $100 and again no buyers, he dropped it to $75, no buyers there.  He then listed it at $59.99 and he got a buyer.  I asked him if he had contacted Topps and they said no dice, they don’t replace cards after one year.  I can understand that if it was torn or ripped or even sun faded, but after seeing the card, I know that it’s just a bad pen that was used for the signature.

When asked why they don’t stand by their products, they told him that they couldn’t be held responsible for how long the ink would remain on the card.  After hearing that I was floored.  What they are saying to customers is that if the ink fades, it’s your problem, thanks for your money.  So how good do you feel about your mojo from the early 2000s now?  Knowing there is a chance the ink will fade over time, does the idea of owning a disappearing Jeter autograph thrill you?  Topps doesn’t care.

Upper Deck has seen the same issue with their Sweet Spot cards (see the blank autograph below).  However I have heard that they do take care of their customers by issuing a card of equal value for your wiped clean card.  I’m not an Upper Deck guy but I have to say at least I feel better about buying their products.

UPDATE: Topps is sending out product to help the guy out!  Very nice of Topps to do that!


What is your take on the situation, should card companies stand by their products no matter what? Especially when it comes to autographs?

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16 responses »

  1. jj says:

    I think this is the real issue, sure the ink may fade, and yes on a high end card that sucks, but Topps, Upper Deck have a business to run, and how can anyone prove that the card was not faded by other means besides the ink. Look at the 1996 signature series, autos still are bright and on card and don’t have that issue. If they were to replace every card that someone had an issue with, people would find a way to loop hole the system, collectors just have to find a better way to preserve the autograph.

  2. bamlinden says:

    While it’d be nice for a card company to replace a card that a person has just had sitting away in a box, by doing so opens the door for anyone with devious ingenuity to take advantage of the situation as well.

    You can’t say yes to one and not the other, you can’t say no to one and not the other.

    Some card companies are saying no.

    Much like a lot of products out there with a limited warranty, I can accept that.

  3. Mike says:

    Yes, I agree companies should stand by their product. Replacements are always an issue. Redemptions,well that’s another story. I believe if companies are going to have an expire date on redemptions then products should be clearly marked “May Contain Time Sensitive Redemptions” & All products should be removed from Retailers Shelves & Not Sold! once Redemptions become expired. Maybe even extend to 5 years. Gift Certificates used to pull the same crap & now it is illegal to have expire dates. Time & Time again We read about expired redemptions beeing pulled. This waiting 2 years for a Redemption & then finding out the player never signed is just as crazy. Yes companies say we’ll replace it with a comparable card BUT think about the Collectors who buy one on-line & never get it. To me they are just Short Prints to my Decoy Set. lol

  4. Hackenbush says:

    I’m so glad I never bought any of the Sweet Spots from the year with the faded signatures (I think it is only one year like that). Kudos to Upper Deck.

  5. While I don’t know why some of Topps early chromes autograph cards are fading, It’s pretty obvious why the early sweet spots are fading. Autograph ball collectors for some time have known that the best way to ensure the life of a graph is to use a ball point pen, preferably blue since the other colors do change or even fade with time. What did Upper Deck do? They issued cards (using the same baseball leather mind you) that were signed with nice bold looking markers. 10 years later, so many of these cards are now faded. Just keep that in mind when purchasing cards signed on leather.

    • grandcards says:

      What Upper Deck did in the Sweet Spot case is only 1/2 the story–the big(ger) issue in my opinion, is that they did not use the same ball leather. Instead of using a high-quality leather ball, an MLB ball, e.g., they used a crappy material that may be leather or may be synthetic. Regardless, just like any autograph with any type of pen on a bad ball, the ink has bled and faded away. Just think, an extra $3 to produce a card could have saved them so much headache.

  6. Kevin says:

    Same kind of thing happened to me. A few months ago, my dad stopped off at our local card shop and bought a few packs of 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends and pulled a Yogi Berra autographed card that should have looked like this…

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Yogi-Berra-1999-Upper-Deck-Century-Legends-Epic-Auto-/220734112127?pt=US_Baseball&hash=item3364c7417f

    Unfortunatly the one he pulled was not signed. I don’t think it ever was, as there is no sign of ink on it at all, and since it is an on-card auto, you’d think there would be an indentation, even a slight one, but there isn’t. I contacted Upper Deck via e-mail twice, including scans of the card, but I never got a response to either e-mail.

  7. blevins26 says:

    It’s nice when a company helps out the affected party in a situation like this. It builds goodwill and, with the power of the internet, the story can spread like wildfire. Although the dollar cost might seem high, I’m sure they make it back and then some in positive feedback. I know that when I hear this type of story, it ABSOLUTELY impacts my buying decisions and I think a lot of people in this hobby feel the same.

  8. No Good Card Shops in New Orleans says:

    No way,Topps shouldn’t be held liable because the guy waited so long to check on his cards. If the card or memorabilia is that important or valuable then it’s your responsibility to be a good curator of your valuables.

    Regarding other comments, redemptions that expire are a scam and it’s a shame companies take advantage of collectors this way. I firmly believe crad companies have the storage space to house redemptions from years past, and if a player never signed then they should immediately inform customers when they try to redeem the codes.

  9. Tim H. says:

    Let us not forget the “Canned Pinnacle” cards from 1996/97. Talk about fading autographs! My Barry Sanders auto is barely visible now. Grrrrrrr! And that card never saw the sunlight!

  10. Michael says:

    All of the ones listed on ebay past and present look fine, except for this one. Looks like it’s not a Topps issue from what I can see.

  11. Pablo says:

    I’ve not had fading autographs on cards, photos, mini helmets, hats, or footballs yet. But I’ve had two fading autographs on two baseballs already of Mike Darr and Phil Nevin. Maybe, it isn’t a good idea to get autographs on baseballs anymore since the autographs fade so quickly and easily. What I can’t understand, however, is how autographs can fade away at all on cards or other items, especially if they are not exposed to sunlight.

  12. Jay says:

    Being taken advantage of by a corporation is something new ? Reality > Its all about the money they can make .Dont kid yourself thinking otherwise. VERY suprised Topps is doing something to help.

  13. Offy says:

    If you open a tin of 2007 Sweet Spot today and get a faded card, Upper Deck will not send you something for compensation. They may have done it closer to the release date or when the ink started to fade, but now it’s buyer beware just like any of their product that had redemption cards in it.

    • sanjosefuji says:

      Offy – I’m glad you brought this up. When I read that, I was thinking… they’ll replace a faded autograph, but fulfill their redemption cards in a reasonable amount of time? I’d be more pissed than I already am.

  14. sanjosefuji says:

    Oops… I meant, “but they won’t fulfill their redemption cards in a reasonable amount of time.”

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