FULL DISCLOSURE: We have half a dozen Panini Redemptions pending with Panini. We reached out to Panini (multiple times) but have yet to hear back from them (we will update if they respond).
Here at GoldCardAuctions.com, we believe that knowledge is power and we strive to be the best source for card investing news and research. We want the people who share our passion for cards to be able to collect and invest with peace of mind. So, when something happens that calls into question the honesty of a major supplier of cards, we want to make sure our readers are protected and informed.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH PANINI REDEMPTION CARDS?
Before we get into the controversy and the lawsuit it caused, let’s cover some basic background. Panini America is the U.S. based subsidiary of the Panini Group, based in Modena, Italy. Founded in 1961, this global company has over 1000 employees, $640 million in annual revenue, and is one of the biggest players in the global sports trading card market. Today, they make some of the best high-end collectible cards.
Redemption cards are a contentious issue when it comes to sportscard collecting. To have signed cards available for sale, trading card companies have to send the cards to athletes to be signed. When the players don’t sign the cards in time or don’t send them back to the company, playing card companies don’t want to give up the revenue, so they insert IOUs called Redemption Cards into their packs. Sometimes these cards are redeemed for the real card quickly, but sometimes it can take years. Even worse, in some cases, the card you get can be a different card that’s less rare and less valuable than the one you’ve been promised.
WHAT’S THE CONTROVERSY?
The law firm of Martzell, Bickford & Centola has filed a class-action suit alleging that Panini America hasn’t been fulfilling its redemption cards or honoring its promises to consumers. Lawyer Michael Roche hired the firm to file the suit on behalf of Panini America customers who tried to have their redemption cards fulfilled but didn’t receive their promised memorabilia, even in the extremely wide 4 to 8-month delivery window.
Not only are the cards not being sent to customers on time, but Panini doesn’t actually guarantee the exact card or even the same player promised by a redemption card. They reserve the right to replace the promised card with a “comparable” card, with little detail on what they consider comparable (more on this later).
Mr. Roche claims to have knowledge of collectors who have many unfulfilled redemptions. Some collectors have been waiting up to 2 years without receiving promised cards, more than 3 times the maximum wait promised by Panini America. Even worse, when replacement cards are sent, the cards are apparently of far lower value than the ones promised by the redemption cards.
As a result of these anti-consumer behaviors, Panini America is being sued in accordance with the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as a variety of other state laws.
PANINI’S SIDE OF THE STORY
In defense of Panini, we understand that signed cards aren’t entirely under their control. Sometimes players take longer than planned to return the signed cards and sometimes they just don’t sign as many as promised. There are factors that Panini can’t control. Also, the policy of compensating customers with “comparable” cards is, in theory, a nice thing to do to make sure that customers aren’t left with nothing when an athlete doesn’t honor his or her commitments to signing cards. With official wait times of 4 to 8 months, it seems Panini recognizes the logistical difficulties of the situation.
WHAT DO UNBIASED 3 RD PARTIES HAVE TO SAY?
With Panini and the customers suing each disagreeing over where the blame lies, we turned to other parties not involved in the suit to get other perspectives on the story. Unfortunately for Panini, what we found doesn’t cast them in a very good light. An article on ripoffreport.com seems to echo many of the claims made by the people suing Panini. The writer of the report in question says he knows that Panini says that athletes, not signing cards are the reason for delays and substitutions, but he goes on to question that excuse, as he’s been waiting 15 months for his redemption card to be fulfilled. He notes that as Panini makes these claims, “new cards are released in different forms, many of which are autographed by that same star in question.” The writer points out that these issues seem to happen most often with the most valuable cards and concludes that “Panini is using excuses that are completely invalid.”
Another take on this issue comes from Sal Barry at puckjunk.com. In a story that’s becoming more and more familiar as we look into the Panini redemption card controversy, Mr. Barry pulled an Akim Aliu rookie card redemption card from a Panini pack and waited 4 years without receiving anything from Panini. He had to launch a social media effort to publically get Panini’s attention before he finally received a card. He says that “what disappoints me, though, is that if I hadn’t been a borderline pest on Twitter, nothing would have come of this.”
However, rather than the very valuable card from a 7 card set promised by the redemption card, Mr. Barry received a replacement from a hundred card set for a much less valuable and less popular player. Sadly, this seems all too common.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN AFFECTED by Panini Redemption?
Here at Gold Card Auctions, we’re card experts, not legal ones, so we don’t know how this lawsuit will shake out, but if you’ve had issues with Panini sending you lower value cards or not sending you cards at all, it’s possible you may be able to join the lawsuit against them. If that the case, here is the contact information for lawyer Michael Roche:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 504-723-0748.
As always, Gold Card Auctions just wants to make sure you have all the knowledge available to make the best decision for you.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR CARD INVESTORS?
We’d advise that you hold off on acquiring any new redemption cards from Panini while we see how this situation plays out and whether Panini will change their policies around redemption cards. However, with their real, printed cards, we don’t see the loss of value as they’re still some of the rarest and most sought after cards on the market. We’ll keep you up to date if this scandal starts to affect the rest of Panini’s business or card values.
We’re going to be staying on top of this story as it develops and we’ll bring you regular updates as the situation unfolds.