So, I wrote a letter to Upper Deck…

Way back in March 2008, I got this card in a pack of 2007-08 O-Pee-Chee Hockey:

card

As you can see, it is a Quad Jerseys card of four Minnesota Wild players: Marian Gaborik, Pierre Marc-Bouchard, Adam Hall and Pavol Demitra. I instantly hated this card because it features a purple swatch next to Demitra. Why would you put four Minnesota players on a card, feature four swatches swatches of their jerseys, but use a Kings jersey for one of the players? It doesn’t make sense, and it ruins what would otherwise be a fantastic card.

Would you make a game-used card that featured a game-used swatch of a Kings jersey worn by Wayne Gretzky, but use a photograph of Gretz with the Oilers? No, that would be stupid, and kill what could otherwise be a nice presentation. Yet, each year Upper Deck gives us cards of showing a player wearing the jersey from his “new” team, but using a swatch from a jersey from his “old” team. I once got a card of Marc Savard that pictured him as a Thrasher, colored the card in Bruins colors (and said “Boston Bruins” at the bottom) and used a swatch from a Flames jersey. That was one messed up card.

So, I’ve decided that I will no longer accept this. On September 15, I sent the Minnesota Wild Quad Jerseys card back to Upper Deck with a letter explaining that I did not want this “defective” piece of merchandise.

Dear Customer Service,I recently pulled this “Quad Jerseys” authentic game-used memorabilia card from a pack of O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards. Naturally, I was excited to get it, as these cards are hard to come by – one in about every 288 packs.

However, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment and frustration because there is a defect on this otherwise great card. This Quad Jerseys card features four players from the Minnesota Wild Hockey team – but the swatch in the lower right-hand corner is purple. Never in the team’s ten-year history have they ever worn jerseys containing purple. So, I am not sure why a purple swatch was placed on this otherwise wonderful card.

I understand that you may not have another copy of this card available to exchange for this defective one. I would gladly accept any other jersey card in lieu of this one, as long as it has the proper-colored swatches on it. It can be of any hockey team (though I am particularly fond of the Chicago Blackhawks).

Thank you very much for your assistance in this matter.

Your customer,

Sal J. Barry

To make sure this letter did not get “lost”, I sent it via Signature Confirmation, so that someone would have to sign when the Post Office delivered it. On September 18, it was delivered and signed for by someone named “Ventura”.

On September 30, I received a padded envelope from Upper Deck. It contained a letter–mostly the typical “form letter,” but the bottom is actually personalized to my particular case…

SalThank you for your recent replacement request. The Upper Deck Company strives to produce the highest quality trading cards on the market and we apologize that the card(s) you recently purchased did not meed these standards.

We are however more than happy to replace any damaged cards from our replacement stock and hope you will enjoy the enclosed replacements.

We offer product replacements for our valued customers for 8 months or while supplies last, which ever occurs first. Factory stamped cards will be replaced with factor stamped cards. However, laser printed cards are replaced with hand-numbered replacements.

Thank you again for your continued support and we look forward to assisting you in the future.

Unfortunately, some of the cards you have submitted that are noted as “Not Replaced” are either past our product replacement period or we have depleted stock on them. We replace cards for 8 months from the product release date or until stock is depleted.

Hello Sal,
The Pavol Demitra swatch is purple because we used inventory for when he played with the Kings. Even though it isn’t his Minnesota jersey, it is still game-used and authentic Enjoy yourcard.
CS

Sincerely,

The Upper Deck Company

(The typo “yourcard” is theirs, not mine. *I* use spell-check.)

Upper Deck returned the Quad Jerseys card, explaining that the card was not defective–they just knowingly used a swatch from the wrong team. But it’s cool, because Demitra was a King at one time, just not when he was pictured on this card. Their fuzzy logic is frustrating.

Perhaps as a means to placate me, UD’s customer service also enclosed this 2007-08 Upper Deck Black Diamond “Gemography” card of Patrice Bergeron.

card

So, I gained an autographed card–which is always nice–but still have the same lousy Minnesota Wild jersey card with a swatch from a Kings jersey. Plus, I just now realized that the gray swatch used for Adam Hall is from his days with the Nashville Predators, making this card an even bigger piece of crap. Had I noticed that before, I would have mentioned that in my letter too.

I did not do this as a means to “extort” an autographed card from Upper Deck. While I did ask for a replacement card, I told Upper Deck that I did not care what it was so long as the jersey was “right”.

As we collectors, we should not accept “defective” memorabilia cards, where the swatch is not from the same team as the player pictured. Seriously, who wants that in their collection?

So here is what I propose: if you get such a card in a pack of 2009-10 hockey cards, where the jersey swatch is not from the same team as the photographed player, send it back to Upper Deck. Let them know that you will not accept such a defective card. And it is a defect–not in the manufacturing process, but in their thought process. Remember, these game-used memorabilia cards are what drives up the cost of hockey cards–if we are paying for something, we should be paying for something we want.

Who is with me on this?

mm

Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

18 thoughts on “So, I wrote a letter to Upper Deck…”

  1. I agree with you…it happens with baseball cards ALL the time. I know why they do it, but it doesn't make it right. Good post.

  2. Then join me on my quest. Spread the word to fellow baseball fans that we won't accept this anymore.

    If Upper Deck wants to use old jerseys–fine. Just use them with an appropriate photo, logo and colors so that we have something we want.

  3. A couple years ago I pulled a Mark Parrish card with the Wild logo on it (as he had recently been traded), a photo of him as a King, and a 2 color Islanders swatch. If only it had something related to his time with the Panthers on it too.

  4. That is one of the best, most refreshing posts I have read in a while (except for mine of course…). It's funny because it's true.

    I have a similar card I just got in a trade for my Bill Guerin collection. It is a Ultra Uniformity with him in a Sharks Jersey, the Card says New York Islanders, and the swatch is a 2-color Stars jersey. I thought I had something unique but apparently not.

    I know it wasn't your intention but that's a pretty nice Bergeron auto.

  5. I'm with AL, I don't seem to get much of anything. Last 20, 30 packs I've bought – across numerous brands – all I landed was a 09-10 Fleer rookie redemption … that's something, at least, right?

  6. I think Upper Deck is close to closing up shop.

    They have been in decline for several years – as a soccer and hockey card collecter – I am in perpetual disappointment.

    My response has been to stop buying their product. No form letter – no problem.

    But you have my support for what you did in returning the card.

    cheers

  7. Chuck lol your crazy, Upper Deck is NOTT closing down. Upper Deck is the MOST STABLE sports card company bar none and isn't going anywhere. They pretty much bought out all thier competition. Score, Topps, O-PEE-CHEE and so on. The decline has to do with the market and the market only. It has and will continue to fluctuate as time moves forward. I agree with everyone, defects are unacceptable. Problem is Upper Deck, even tho they say they care, at this point in the game they don't have to. They told you they strive to produce the highest quality trading cards on the market lol it's kina easy when you have NO competition. I'm sure they have a room full of hockey card overstock to shut us costumers up. It's sad, it really is, but the simple reality Sal, there is not nearly enough people that share your persistence.

  8. Justin, Upper Deck does not own Topps. They merely "rent" the use of the brand-name "O-Pee-Chee". But they have no competition in hockey cards because of bad licensing decisions on the Player's Association. The main problem is that as long as people "put up" with what Upper Deck wants to sell us, the market won't change.

  9. got 1 card from uperdeck artifact of criss osgood pictured in a st louis jersey, card saying play's for detriot, but the card jersey swatch is from the islander's. it is one i look at say wtf

  10. I can see how this could be a bit of a mar visually to the card, especially from a company who had produced some of the most beautiful and high quality cards since they started in 1989 (Upper Deck). And while I've got about 10 jersey cards out of packs and none of them have had this problem, it wouldn't bother me if it was a different team jersey pictured from the swatch as long as it was their sweater at some point because I look at it in a deeper sense; it's actually more like a signature card because (on a microscopic level) it carries the player DNA from their use of it, and now I have a piece of that player. No, THAT didn't sound creepy. Now if Upper Deck made a GREVIOUS error and put a Ducks swatch on a Linstrom card, I'd march down the street and b*tch slap them with it.

  11. Jim, thanks for adding your (creepy) comment 🙂

    Just kidding.

    By the way, Upper Deck has gotten swatches wrong, or put the wrong autograph on a card (the player signs a sticker that is supposed to be affixed to a card of them, but it gets put on a different player's card).

    By the way, I just pulled ANOTHER jersey card where the photo and swatch DON'T MATCH. Guess who will be writing ANOTHER letter to Upper Deck…

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