Yesterday evening, eBay announced that all sellers will be required to formally authenticate any trading card with a value in excess of $750. This rule will only be applicable to single ungraded cards being sold in the categories of collectible card games (CCGs), sports, and non-sports.
This decision is part of the continued expansion of the eBay Authenticity Guarantee which protects buyers from purchasing counterfeit or fraudulent merchandise. The policy is not entirely new to the marketplace as it already exists for various categories including watches, shoes, luxury handbags, and now collectible cards.
Are Counterfeit Cards Actually A Problem?
Counterfeit trading cards are a very real and legitimate threat to the trading card game industry. In some cases, the very same factory responsible for printing the real card is also printing counterfeit versions of it on the side. While it’s unlikely you’ll see this practice with Pokemon, it has unfortunately occurred with many smaller brands. It’s virtually impossible to tell the cards apart.
In an investigative piece we did last year, we actually managed to find some counterfeit cards being sold on Amazon. Can you tell which one of the above cards is real and which one is fake? The sad reality of the situation is that it is well within the scope of counterfeiters to effectively clone most cards being sold on the market. When it comes to expensive collectible cards, this can be a huge problem.
How It Works
When a purchase is made, the seller will be required to ship the product to a third-party authenticator who will perform a comprehensive analysis of the card to ensure its authenticity. It should be noted that this service merely authenticates the card — it does not grade it. The inspectors will tag the product with a unique QR code which can then be scanned by customers to verify the card’s legitimacy.
Upon reading this announcement, the first question I asked myself was: who the hell is performing these inspections? As it turns out, eBay has commissioned the good folks over at Certified Collectibles Group to perform the service. While CGC does not hold the same reputation as PSA or Beckett, the name is far from being considered illegitimate. Some critics even argue a CGC 10 is harder to score than a Beckett or PSA 10.
The effects this will have on the marketplace are unclear. The vast majority of ungraded cards do not sell for more than $750. Furthermore, cards in excess of this value are likely already graded which disqualifies them from the authentication mandate. However, eBay is planning to expand this mandate to include graded cards as well sometime later this year.
While this extra layer of bureaucracy could slow the buying process down, sellers should take solace in the fact that the mandate works both ways. Buyers returning merchandise will also be required to send it back to the authentication service for another inspection. Once the returned merchandise is verified, the inspector will return it to the seller to complete the return process.
It was not mentioned whether or not this service would result in extra fees for the seller or buyer.