On November 23, the online trading card store Check Out My Cards (www.COMC.com) had a “Black Friday” sale. For you Canadians, that is what the day after American Thanksgiving is called, since it is the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season. Retailers would “black out” the schedule for that day–meaning, NO ONE was getting a day off on the day after Thanksgiving; everyone had to show up and work because it would be so busy.
The Black Friday Promotion: Many of the cards on COMC were marked down from their original asking price and shipping was free if you ordered 10 or more cards. Plus, you were given 10 cents store credit for every card you bought. I believe this sale was to help push traffic to beta test their new website, as the old site (www.CheckOutMyCards.com) is being phased out for the new one (www.comc.com).
A Bit of Background: For those unfamiliar with COMC, their business works a bit differently than other online card sellers like Sportlots or the Beckett Marketplace. Those who wish to sell their trading cards through COMC actually send their cards to COMC, who in turn scans and lists the cards, and then ships them when ordered. This is good for buyers, because you might purchase cards from 20 different sellers, but only pay shipping from the COMC warehouse.
I was going to order from COMC in the past, but until recently their shipping policy was different, charging you an initial fee plus a per-card fee. For example, fellow blogger Shane ordered 169 cards and spent almost $50 to ship an $86 purchase!
So, you can see why I was reluctant to order from COMC. But as I mentioned before, they were offering free shipping on orders placed on Black Friday, negating this extra (and excessive) shipping charge.
Without further ado, here is my review of my COMC purchase.
Website Ease of Use – 5 out of 5: As many of you may know, I am a professional web designer, so I tend to scrutinize sites more than your average card collector. But this is a review of my overall experience of ordering from COMC, and not just their website.
COMC’s new website was intuitive and easy to use. At the top is a big search box so you can type in what you are looking for; a MUST on any retail website.
Search results show up quickly, and you can easily click on any keywords you initially searched for to see more cards of a given player, set or year. You can also filter for rookie, memorabilia, autographed or serial-numbered cards.
The list view pages–where you see all cards of a player, set or year–are well-designed and offer multiple viewing options to suit your web browsing habits. COMC defaults to a left-to-right gallery view, but you can easily toggle to a top-down list view, a thumbnails-only view and a text-only view.
Pages default to 12 results per page–too low, in my opinion–but you can easily change this to up to 100 items per page. Items can be sorted by price, book value, release year, print run or card number.
Speaking of which, COMC lists the cards in proper numeric order. For example, the Beckett Marketplace will list card 1, then cards 10-19, then cards 100-199, then card 2, then cards 20-29, then cards 200-299, and so forth. This always annoyed me greatly, so I am thankful that COMC orders the cards the way they should be.
Prices – 3 out of 5: Look for any card on COMC, and chances are you will find multiple sellers offering the same card at very different prices. For example, a 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier Jaromir Jagr rookie card–ungraded–ranges from $4.73 to $8.00. Some dealers opted to discount their cards by 20% or more on Black Friday, while others did not.
During the sale, each card’s “book value” was listed alongside its price for each card. I thought this was very helpful in making decisions of what to buy. An “asking price” of $15 for a card “worth” $15 makes me want to look elsewhere first. But if I saw the card had a book value of $15 and an asking price for far less, I did not hesitate. I hope COMC restores this feature.
Common cards were listed “Less Than $1” for their book value. But common cards were COMCs biggest weakness when it came to prices. Cards that should realistically sell for between a nickel and a quarter tended to be priced between 50 to 75 cents. For one card, paying a bit much is no big deal. But if you needed 30 cards to finish off your 1992-93 Upper Deck Hockey set, would you really want to spend $21?
On the other hand, “middle of the road” cards were priced to move. Cards withink the $5 to $20 range were priced competitively, and usually far lower than so-called “book” value. I bought many 2010-11 Artifacts cards, with Beckett values of around $5 for between $1 and $1.50. I also nabbed a Cam Fowler redemption RC (BV of $12) for $5.69 and a Nino Niederreiter redemption RC (BV of $15) for $6.25. Suddenly, overpaying for a few commons did not seem so bad.
Shipping Time – 4 out of 5: I ordered cards on Friday, November 23 and received them on Friday, November 30. I think one week is a fair turnaround time for a card order, especially since mail gets slower around the holidays. There are ways to get your cards faster from COMC, but that depends on your shipping option. Which brings us to our next point…
Shipping Cost – 5 out of 5: Yes, I did get free shipping, but COMC is now charging a flat rate of $3.00 per order, which I think is extremely fair. You can upgrade to “Rapid” shipping for $1.99 more, or Priority Mail for an extra $4.99. There even are faster and more expensive options, too. Orders using basic shipping are packed within a week, while all other shipping options pack and send your order within one business day. Some of these cards I’ve needed for 20 years, so a few extra days won’t affect me.
Packing – 5 out of 5: COMC offers buyers the option to add 20 cents per card to have a card placed in a toploader before shipping. Most of the cards I bought were cheap, so I was not going to pay extra. COMC’s business is selling cards, so of course I’d expect them to be well packed.
But, COMC exceeded my expectations for how my order was packaged. I ordered 58 cards. They came packaged in a 300-count box:
Considering that this is COMC’s lowest-priced shipping option, I was extremely satisfied. Obviously, I would not expect a larger order (say around 300 cards) to be double-boxed, but putting every card in a penny sleeve by default goes a long way in keeping cards “ding” and edge-wear free during transit.
Overall: Ordering from COMC allowed me to get many cards that I needed from different sellers, but they were all shipped from one location. In the future, this will give me the best of both worlds: a wide variety and inexpensive shipping. COMC is great for mid-to-higher dollar value cards, but not the most cost-efficient way to purchase numerous commons.
For $3 shipping, I suggest you check out Check Out My Cards and see if they can help you fill a few holes in your set. You can visit their website at http://www.COMC.com.