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Another Note On Beckett

Posted by houstoncollector on December 23, 2008

I was informed that Chris Olds at Beckett had made a post which touches upon the current furor surrounding the blogosphere, and I thought I would discuss that here.  Also, I want to point out that I have responded to Chris’s comment via email, and have opened the door for any constructive discussion that Beckett wishes to have with me, or any other blogger.  Because, in our hearts, I think we want Beckett to return to how they were in our youth.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t care quite so much about it, and bitch so much about it either.

Here’s the link to Chris’ post:  http://beta.beckett.com/group/185223/Sport-Attribute/Forum-Message-Board/Baseball/?tab=Discuss#ViewArticle

Here’s the text:

A lot of the conspiracy theorists don’t realize — and have never cared to ask, learn, etc. — a few things about how Beckett works.

But it’s simple and it’s all laid out on the masthead on Page 2 of the latest BSCM (286). There are separate DIVISIONS for the company that do different things: Editorial, Sports Data Publishing, Sales & Marketing, Finance, Technology, Web Commerce and Services, Logistics & distribution, etc.

The people who write stories (editorial) aren’t grading cards (a portion under Web commerce). The people who sell items for individuals for Beckett Select (Web commerce) aren’t writing about them (editorial) or pricing them (sports data). There are distinct divisions between the divisions. Those who give away free cards for users of this site? They’re not part of the editorial staff. That’s marketing through the Web commerce group — though sometimes we have our own contests here and there from editorial. (See upcoming magazines. You’ll find them.)

Most businesses are multi-faceted. I came from newspapers where there are all kinds of staffs — editorial, marketing, advertising, etc. The people trying to sell you newspapers or getting sponsorships for giveaways aren’t the same people putting the newspaper together or doing stocks pages.

What follows isn’t what I emailed him, but it’s essentially the same information.

You’re right, Chris.  Most of us do not know, and don’t really care that Beckett is a multi-faceted business with different divisions.  You do have a point here.  However, let me explain /why/ this is so:  It isn’t about that Beckett has different divisions.  It isn’t even about whether or not Beckett is doing something wrong or not.  It’s about the perception involved, and between the box breaks, the horrible acting of Tracy Hackler and others, the amount of breaks which have had lifetime hits, the general juvenile attitude that Beckett collectively has taken with the blogosphere and their own boards at times, people PERCEIVE that something fishy is going on.  Why shouldn’t we?  No one has given us any indication that it hasn’t.  

On the box breaks, contrast the two examples, please:

First, you have the standard Beckett break:  Tracy and whoever else does the breaks (I honestly haven’t been watching), are hand-delivered a box by the manufacturer, who talks up the product and gives the sales pitch.  The guys at Beckett break the box, but don’t seem really enthused by what they’re doing.  Nor do they seem really in touch with the product or even the players, and for the most part don’t show any knowledge on the topic at hand.  They generally act disinterested, smug, and at times juvenile.  This is similar to the 10 year old kid who showed off all the GU cards over on Gellman’s site.  “I got this.  I got this.  I got this.”  Blah blah blah, with no emotion at all.  

Now, imagine Beckett traveling to a card shop in the Dallas area, with 15 to 20 collectors lined up, cheering the release of (let’s say) 2009 Upper Deck Spectrum (a mid-level product).  The cameras are rolling, the guys are chattering back and forth, and in walks a UD representative with someone pushing a sealed case of the product.  The case is opened, four or five collectors stand before a table, and a box is taken from the case and put in front of the collector.  They rip into it, and start exclaiming over the pulls.  One of them hits a 1/1 jersey auto of Alex Rodriguez, and goes absolutely ape.  Everyone’s cheering, they’re obviously having a good time, and the cards are highlighted as they should be.  Beckett and Upper Deck both come off smelling like roses and they’re suddenly relevant again.  

Imagine the same thing happening at the 2009 National, ON FILM.

As far as articles, put out the call to bloggers to write on a specific topic, request that they submit the blogs to Beckett, and use the best one in the magazine, and post it on your page with a link to the blog in question.  Increased traffic to the blog, good will from the blogger, and again, transparancy. 

Beckett needs to avoid the illusion that something fishy is going on behind the scenes at all costs.  This is why many of us have lost faith and are completely blasting your company out of the water.  Change how you do pricing.  Instead of having Beckett Grading Services, rename the company “Exquisite Grading” or something, and remove the Beckett name from the equation.  Don’t sell items on eBay under the Beckett name.  Have Beckett be the Price Guide Authority, and create new brands for the other sections of Beckett’s business.  It would avoid any illusion that they’re all one entity, and would avoid a lot of the issues.

The choice is yours, Beckett.  Either evolve and change with the times and industry, or continue to dodder along before someone finally puts you out of our misery.

I hereby open the floor to anyone at Beckett or Tuff Stuff to contact me, or any other blogger.  Let’s have open discussion.  Let’s be adults about this.   Yes, it’s a business to you, Beckett, but it’s our hobby, and if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, and we have no problem burying you.

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One Response to “Another Note On Beckett”

  1. donsherm said

    To be fair I have not purchased a Beckett magazine or price guide in over four years. I also have never used their online services. I will address those at the end of my comment.

    I think that you have hit the nail on the head in this whole situation with one word “perceive”. To be fair Beckett has been accused of “setting prices” in their price guides since the early 90s. I don’t think that will ever change. But to stay on topic, Beckett can do some simple things that would help their image in the eyes of collectors out there.

    I understand that there are separate departments within Beckett that handle things, and they are organized apart from each other. But, you have to remember that Arthur Anderson had a consulting business and an audit business that were separate (just used a well known example, not trying to be harsh). If the two departments are separate, but under the same company umbrella, there will be the perception that there might be a conflict of interest. You could have one division grading cards and a separate division putting the cards up for sale (with a commission I would assume). What could stop the graders from “inflating” the grade a little in order to fetch a higher price on sale? That reason is why our Bond rating agencies do not sell bonds, they just rate them. If they also sold them then there would be a conflict of interest.

    Now, for the magazine and price guide. I don’t buy the annual guide each year for one basic reason, money. I only bought one for cataloging purposes. I would like to see some sort of CD issued annually that would do the same thing as the annual (similar to the Card Collector software) but not cost as much. You could develop a large database of cards and publish an updated version annually for collectors and have it compatable with your online price guide. I have not purchased a magazine in years due to content. I used to enjoy reading the articles back in the early 90s, and they were informative. It seemed that the magazine eventually went the way of only looking at what was hot and did not do any articles on historical sets, new discoveries, history, etc. The same thing happened, in my eyes, with Baseball Cards Magazine and it eventually folded.

    Thanks for your time in doing this.

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