In what was only inevitable, both SGC and PSA, two of the hobby’s largest third-party grading companies have hiked prices.
The deluge of cards submitted to the grading companies has resulted in nearly unfathomable wait times and the grading companies are trying to put a halt to submissions….well, by raising prices.
The story at PSA is two-fold. First, if you hadn’t heard, the parent of PSA – Collector’s Universe was acquired by an investor group, which includes collector Nat Turner. Turner has voiced his desire to improve upon the existing operational infrastructure at PSA and to provide much-needed investment to improve upon the existing processes.
In a recent letter to customers from PSA President Steve Sloan, PSA provided a new pricing structure, hiking the ‘Regular’ service card submission from $50 to $100, while at the same time raising the declared value to $499 (from $199) on Collector’s Club ‘Value’ submissions. They also hiked the ‘Value’ rate to a minimum of $20 per card.
Note that this pretty much means if you are thinking of making any volume submissions to PSA, it is a mere necessity to have a ‘Collector’s Club’ Membership –which is only $99/Year at the Silver level.
PSA also raised the ‘Express’ grading service level to $150 (from $75), the ‘Super Express’ level to $300 (from $200), with ‘Walk Through’ service jumping to $600, from $500. Note this will make anyone sending in a card for a one-time submission to ensure that they are going to benefit from paying such a high sum to get their card graded.
Along with price increases, PSA announced new ‘Complete Through Dates’ (or CTD). From their own words:
“A service level’s Complete Through Date is the day before the date of the oldest open order in the PSA system for that service level. In other words, it represents the date by which PSA has completed orders through. The CTD is based on the order entry date, which means the day the order was formally entered into the PSA system for authentication and grading.”
On PSA’s new Customer Communication Center you can see continually updated Complete Through Dates. Note these are the dates as of this writing (March 7th) and are subject to change.
Note that these CTD's only represent when PSA has entered your cards into the system. You can utilize these CTD's to compare your order to see where you are in relation to their oldest submitted orders. There is still going to be a fairly lengthy wait to receive your cards on any Regular submission and especially any Value based bulk submissions.
SGC, like PSA and Beckett alike has been overwhelmed with grading submissions.
And they at times were running up to a 16 week backlog, but based on their latest communication, it seems like recent investments have completely erased this backlog:
The SGC backlog is completely nonexistent and it is never coming back. All of the apologies, the updates, the setbacks, the blood, sweat, and the tears have led us to this point. SGC is back and we’re ready. It’s built, guys, it’s ours now. This is our grading company, the grading company of the people, and the grading company of the future.
Part of me has to wonder if this is just because PSA has been the de-factor choice of grading submissions and maybe SGC's backlog was a bit easier to contend with-because notably PSA is still quite backlogged.
SGC also announced a price hike on their base rate to $25/card from $15/card. On their website, SGC estimates a 20-25 business day turnaround on a standard submission. If they can live up to this sort of turnaround time, I wonder if maybe they could cut into some of PSA's territory.
This brings up a dilemma for collectors---wait the extra time to get an order back from PSA, or submit to SGC at a quicker turnaround time, yet with a card that might ultimately have a lower resale value.
Have any grading experiences with one of the third party grading companies?
Let us know how long your orders have taken and whether you might consider going to SGC if it means a quicker turnaround time.