Letter to Upper Deck – The SQUEAKquel


Back in October of 2009, I wrote my first letter to Upper Deck, returning a jersey card where the swatches didn’t match the photo. The card pictured 4 Minnesota Wild players, but two of the swatches used were from other teams (Nashville and Los Angeles).

Generally, I am lukewarm towards most jersey cards. However, getting a card that pictures a player with one team, but uses a jersey from another has been my number one collecting gripe.

In keeping my word, I sent back 3 mismatched jersey cards to Upper Deck…

How I wish the swatch on this card was green…
Flyers photo, Senators swatch.
The swatch on this card is green, as it is from a Wild jersey.

I also sent back a Game Patch card because of a bent corner.

And here is the letter that I sent:

April 9, 2010

Dear Customer Service,

This year, Upper Deck has released a lot of great hockey cards. 99.9% of the cards that I have received in packs have been perfect. However, I have enclosed a few of the cards that have some flaw or problem. I was wondering if I could exchange them.

2009-10 Upper Deck Series 2 – UD Game Patch # GJ2-AH – Adam Hall 06/15
This has got to be one of the nicest cards I have ever pulled from an Upper Deck product. Unfortunately, the lower left corner is bent. Is there any way I could exchange this card for one without defects? Since the card is limited to only 15 copies, I understand if you cannot replace it. I would be willing to accept any other patch card that is free of defects.

2009-10 Fleer Ultra – Ultra Uniformity #UU-MF – Manny Fernandez
2009-10 Upper Deck Series 1 – UD Game Jersey #GJ-DC – Dino Ciccarelli
2009-10 Upper Deck Series 2 – UD Game Jersey #GJ2-RE – Ray Emery
Each of these uses a game-used jersey swatch that does not match up with the team that the player is pictured with. While I understand that the swatch on each card is from when the player was with a different team, this unfortunately has been one of the biggest drawbacks to collecting Upper Deck hockey cards. Take the Dino Ciccarelli card, for instance. If you are going to issue a card that features a piece of game-used jersey from his time with the Red Wings, why use a photo of him with the North Stars, and not the Red Wings? I know such matters are not controlled by Customer Service, so perhaps you could pass my feedback on to the brand team.

Anyway, I was also wondering if I could exchange these three cards for ones where the swatch matches the team depicted (e.g. a Bruins swatch on a Bruins card)? The player or team does not matter to me. Though I am partial to the Chicago Blackhawks, I would be happy with any replacements you could provide.

Thank you very much for your assistance in this matter.

Your customer,

Sal J. Barry

As you can see, I was very polite and clearly explained why I was not happy with those 3 jersey cards of Cicarelli, Emery and Turco.

I also suggested that they forward my feedback to the brand team, so that the people who actually make the decisions can see that hockey card collectors don’t like mismatched jersey cards.

About one month later, I got a reply…


Thank 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 meet these standards.

The “form letter” part of their response goes on for a bit, so I’ll cut to the chase…

Unfortunately, we are unable to fulfill your request for product replacement. With your permission we have exchanged your original damaged cards for different replacement cards of equal/greater value to make the situation right.

This was in regard to the damaged Adam Hall Game Patch card. The replacement that they sent…

…was a Joffrey Lupul Game Patch card, number 1/15. I don’t think I’ve ever received a 1-out-of-anything before. I was pleasantly surprised with this card. Upper Deck is very good when replacing damaged cards.

But what about the other 3 cards of Ciccarellli, Emery and Turco? They were returned to me, with the following explanation at the end of the letter…

The NHL doesn’t require us to match the picture with the swatch, therefore these cards are not damaged.
Sincerely,The Upper Deck Company

So there you have it. The NHL does not require–or does not care–if Upper Deck mismatches swatches and photos. 

This bothers me because jersey cards drive up the price of a box of cards. If you compare a product like Victory ($1 per pack) and Upper Deck ($3 per pack) the only REAL difference is that you can get a few jersey cards in a box of Upper Deck cards. The jersey cards double or triple the price of a pack, but usually  sell for only $3-$5 each. And putting the “wrong” swatch only makes the card harder to get rid of less desirable to collectors.

So I ask my fellow collectors to follow suit. If you get a crummy jersey card, send it back. Let Upper Deck know that you are tired of these garbage “hits” driving up the price of the cards you collect. Considering all the financial hardships Upper Deck has dealt with in the past few months, maybe they will finally listen to what their customers are saying.


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

9 thoughts on “Letter to Upper Deck – The SQUEAKquel”

  1. what I would like to know is WHY?

    Why wouldn't they just use a Red Wing pic of Dino? Are there green swatches out there?

  2. Well, they must have had a North Stars jersey to cut up.

    But they could have done a Red Wings version of the card too. That would have rocked.

  3. Maine Mariners? Like the old AHL team? Nice.

    Upper Deck's excuse is pretty sad. They make some great cards, but they also do pull some lame stuff…

  4. This is the reason I didn't send the damaged Champs cards I pulled from one of my boxes back. I just figured they would find a reason to screw another collector.

    At least they "upgraded" you on that Hall.

  5. DFG, I think Upper Deck would replace your damaged cards. They just don't want to "take back" any Franken-cards 🙂

  6. Does the Lupul card really sell for as much as the Hall one considering the less than stellar patch? I dont know but that original card has one great looking patch, that's for sure.

  7. True, the Hall card had a way better patch than the Lupul card Upper Deck sent as a replacement.

    But I think Lupul is a better player, the Ducks are a better team and the card has a better serial number–1/15 sound better than 6/15, right?

    Plus, the bent corner would really make the card hard to sell/trade, especially since it is of a non-popular player.

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