Card collector sues Panini America over redemption cards

One of the most ethically questionable things sports trading card companies do is insert special redemption cards into packs. Upon finding one of these cards in your pack, you can mail them in to redeem them for an actual card. Why not just insert the cards? Because they don’t exist yet. The card manufacturer has not created them yet.

It is ethically questionable because collectors often have to wait for months or even years to get their cards.

One collector is fighting back. He’s suing Panini America in U.S. Federal court.

From Sports Collectors Daily:

Kevin Brashear, a collector from the Dallas area, has filed suit in federal court there, accusing Panini America of violating the State of Texas Deceptive Practices Act.

Brashear and his attorney, Scott Bickford of New Orleans, filed the putative class action lawsuit last week, alleging that the process often leaves collectors holding the bag when the promised autograph never materializes.  He also claims the expiration dates on redemption cards shouldn’t be allowed and that the stated time of 4-8 months for receiving an autograph after inputting redemption card data is often ignored.

I’m not a lawyer. I don’t understand why  Brashear is suing Panini America in U.S. Federal court. Shouldn’t he be suing them in Texas? The law in question is the Texas Deceptive Practices Act.

Card collector sues Panini America over redemption cards - Bent Corner
A typical Panini redemption card. Instead of waiting on LeBron James to sign stickers that can be placed on cards, the wait is due to Panini figuring out how to etch crystal meth with a laser.

If I pulled a redemption card from a pack of cards, I’d immediately sell it on eBay. I never want to wait on a sports card company to do the right thing. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather get money for the card while I could.

I do not know Kevin Brashear, but I wish him a lot of luck with his lawsuit. I’m hoping the judge orders Panini America to pay Brashear lots of money and then for good measure, orders CEO Mark Warsop to be Brashear’s personal butler for at least 90 days.

Then and only then would justice be served.

Sports Card Radio: Raffles, razzes, and girls that look like boys

If you’ve ever listened to Sports Card Radio, a podcast about sports cards, you probably know that host Colin Tedards is not a fan of raffles. It’s where someone takes an unopened, factory sealed box of sports cards and charges people for the privilege of getting all the cards from a specific team. The team you get is random and is assigned by the person conducting the raffle.

For example, a box of baseball cards contains 30 teams. A person holding a raffle will sell 30 slots to baseball card collectors, mostly over the Internet in chat rooms. Each slot sold represents a team. Once all the slots are filled, the person holding the raffle will randomly assign each slot a team. One slot is assigned the New York Yankees, and another is assigned the Colorado Rockies, and so on and so on. The packs in the box are then opened, usually over a webcam, and people get the cards belonging to players from their assigned team or slot.

People like Colin believe the activity is a raffle because not all teams are of equal value. Participants pay money without knowing what team they will be randomly assigned.

The practice goes by different names because state and federal law strictly regulate raffles. PayPal, the payment gateway most used by people holding group breaks, specifically prohibits raffles. Because of this, they are often called razzes, razzies, or group breaks.

On the latest episode of Sports Card Radio, Colin interviewed Josh Cade, a very popular and seemingly successful group breaker. The interview was probably the most uncomfortable 34 minutes of audio I’ve ever listened to, including the time I was tricked into listening to a Jimmy Buffett CD.

The conversation was extremely hostile and antagonistic. It was also very confusing.

For instance, when Colin asked Josh to describe the process, Josh said the following:

“What you do is, is put everyone’s name in a randomizer, okay, so everybody has a chance at the same thing for the same value per spot. So basically all you’re doing is mixing up the names, half the people will get into a break, the other half will get the same value in cards. So, it’s really an equal opportunity for everybody, just some getting this part of it, some getting cards.” (0:55)

This doesn’t make sense to me. Doesn’t everyone get the break that pays to get the break?

What was even more confusing was when Colin told Josh that what he was doing seemed a lot like a raffle. This was Josh’s response:

“What seems like something, so, if you see a girl walking down the street that looks like a guy, you say, “oh, that seems to be a boy, but it’s really not a boy, okay, so I don’t know if that’s a good example or not, but something that seems like may not really be what it is. So that may not really be a boy, even though you may think it is. But if you talk to ’em and then oh you are a boy, then you know for a fact. So what seems like something and what really is something are two different things, do you agree? Because a while ago, you said something about a raffle, then you said, “Well a raffle seems like, it seems like…”, well, does it seem like or is it? That’s what I’m asking you.” (6:22)

I believe Josh was trying to say that just because something seems like something, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something. I’m not sure why he chose to provide an analogy involving a transgender person, but in his defense, he probably doesn’t know why he did that either.

Colin then asked Josh why he does these raffles:

“Because some people can’t afford to necessarily buy stock outright, so, they can either take a chance on getting into breaks or they take a chance on getting their other side of it, and getting cards. So they win, their money is at work. That’s why.” (12:21)

It’s hard to believe that something can involve money, chance, and winning, and not be a raffle. Those seem like to me all the major ingredients to a raffle.

When Colin asked about Josh’s business partners and investors, he said the following:

“You’re not dealing with retards, in this, I’m telling you, I know your last name is retarded, but the fact is, we’re smart business people. As much as it hates and pains to you to understand that, we are smart businessmen. We know how to cover our tracks. We know how to do things legally.” (14:02)

How to cover their tracks? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a reputable or legitimate business describe themselves this way.  Typically the phrase is used to describe the concealment of wrongdoing.

When Colin asked Josh to clarify what his definition of a raz is:

“So a raz is a fictitious name that we gave to (inaudible). It’s like a game. So basically the game we play is a gambling game. It’s a game where some people can get into a break, some people get cards. You just don’t know what you’re getting. But you’re getting equal value of money worth of product. So, I guess that’s the definition of a raz. What else are you looking for?” (22:04)

A raz is a gambling game where people don’t know what they’re getting, but it’s not a raffle. Got it.