Just got back my submissions from CGC on-site. I am not happy these cases are way too tight. I don't want to hear anyone say they have this under control. This is pathetic. First couple of photos show where the pressure of sealing the case is causing the staples to not only indent the book, but it is getting marked up now. The last pic might be good old fashioned damage and not the color rub issue, but it was not on the book when I submitted.
How do you sell a 9.8 that clearly has damage to it?
Out of 20 books 5 are damaged. That's 25% for any math wizards out there. To me this is not an isolated incident and is clearly an issue with they procedure and materials.
1. I have been using CGC on and off since 2010. 2. I am a CBCS Authorized Witness, and have been submitting books to them on and off since 2015. 3. I have been an active participant in discussions on the new holder, and consider myself a critic of CGC's current situation. You'll find my comments on Facebook and throughout this thread. 4. The books in question are of commercial interest to me and will be available for sale. 5. I'll be uploading pictures in the next post!
About a week and a half ago, CGC posted this on their Facebook page:
We would like to thank everyone for their feedback on CGC's new holder. The overwhelming majority of this feedback has been positive and many customers have expressed to us that the new holder's optics and construction are a significant improvement for the hobby.
Our customers also made us aware of a few minor issues, including a slight wavy appearance on a small percentage of submissions. We reacted immediately to this feedback by conducting a thorough investigation of the cause, which we have identified and rectified. We learned that a majority of the wavy books had gone through CCS prior to CGC and that a recent CCS process change, when combined with the new holder, was producing the unanticipated waviness. We addressed the situation with a minor modification to the CCS process and do not anticipate that this issue will reoccur at any point in the future.
In a few instances, there may have been other factors that caused a slight wavy appearance. However, based on the careful inspection of the encapsulated books we are producing and the feedback that we have received, we are confident that we have addressed those issues, as well.
It is important to note that no books have been damaged whatsoever. If anyone thinks they have a holder that exhibits a slight wavy appearance, CGC would be happy to evaluate it and, if we agree with your assessment, reholder your book at no charge, as well as cover your shipping expenses. If we feel that reholdering is not warranted, we will still cover your shipping expenses. Any such returns will receive Fast Track service.
Innovation often comes with unexpected challenges. A major manufacturing upgrade is particularly difficult and unfortunately, despite months of testing, a few minor issues were missed. CGC is committed to providing the best products and services. We therefore responded quickly to the feedback we received to determine the cause of the issue and address it.
CGC will continue to serve as the hobby's innovator, having established itself as the first, most respected and largest third-party grading service, with over 3 million books graded. We will always stand by our services and do the right thing for our customers and the hobby.
We look forward to seeing many of you this weekend at Wizard World Philadelphia. As we will be grading onsite, all attendees will have an opportunity to view our new holder and we welcome any additional feedback from you.
...to which I replied:
Here's what I don't get. If the case is causing waviness on the book, that IS damage. If left in the case too long, I imagine that damage becomes permanent (sure, it can be pressed out, but that is so ridiculously not the point). It's lucky people are catching these examples early, but I'm not convinced it's as simple as a harmless "wavy appearance".
I was quickly engaged by two Facebook members who I personally have categorized as trolls, but they did point out that I was a CBCS AW, and in their opinion, that invalidated my point. It was a long conversation so I won't post it here but it's still up on Facebook for those who want to read it.
At that point, Brittany McManus reached out and the conversation went like this:
do you have any book currently that you are experiencing issues with? Would you like for us to reholder them for you and fix any issues you are experiencing?
I appreciate the offer, but I have yet to send in any books for the new holder due to the issues. This is why I am interested in the progress of the new holders - I do, in fact, have a few I've been considering sending in for awhile but won't until I personally feel all the issues have been addressed.
understandable. When you do feel comfortable please contact me directly and I'd be happy to help you out and answer any questions you may have: firstname.lastname@example.org
That is a very fair reply - thank you very much. I will take you up on that.
We then took it to email. For the sake of transparency, here is verbatim what was said.
Thanks very much for taking initiative in helping alleviate my concerns. As I mentioned, I have at least two books sitting in a box that I have considered sending to CGC, but I cannot reasonably justify doing so given that there appears to be a strong chance that they will be damaged or obscured by the new case.
The primary question that has yet to be directly answered is this: as demonstrated in the active thread titled "New CGC Case" on your own boards, the waves are appearing on a noticeable amount of books of a variety of sizes and origin. Though Harshen claims that these were due to an error in the CCS pressing procedure, several customers have complained that their books are showing waves when they were pressed by a different pressing service, or weren't pressed at all. What is CGC's most updated stance on the waves, given the above information?
Additionally, there has been much talk about improvements to the Newton ring situation. What exactly has been adjusted? What has changed in the slabbing process that reduces the severity of these things when they appear?
There was at least one example of a customer's submission being returned, AFTER the free reholder, with Newton rings that had either not changed or in a couple or cases, gotten worse.
What is CGC's response to these two issues?
I look forward to hearing from you. As a gentleman kindly pointed out on your Facebook post, I have done work with CBCS but I support both companies when good work is done and customers are treated properly. I actively follow this topic and comment where I feel it necessary because I care about your service, and have used it a number of times since I started actively collecting in 2010.
Thank you so much for reaching out. Competition is always good in any industry as it gives clients a choice and it encourages everyone to have their game faces on!
That being said I am here as a customer service rep to remedy any issues you are having. Some of your questions I am unable to answer because I'm not directly involved in those processes.
I have seen the books coming out of encapsulation today and yesterday and last week and the problems that were brought to our attention have been tackled one by one.
I understand your hesitation, as this whole new holder process has had some growing pains, but I would like to fix any books that you have that you are unhappy with.
Please let me know
Thanks very much for the quick response. I absolutely agree with you that competition is good by nature, and will only serve to benefit both companies and customers alike.
I appreciate your candor and generosity, and the fact that you're probably working off the clock to reply to mine and similar requests. However, you haven't given me anything to work with here by not answering a single one of my questions.
I'm approaching this situation as a customer yet to send comics to be graded in the updated case, and what I'm hearing from you is that you're only able to provide me assistance if I've previously received a case that has problems. Also, am I to assume that if you're tackling each problem one-by-one, that there has been no catch-all update to the design that will circumvent future problems?
If I send these comics in, will they be at risk of developing waves, and will the Newton rings be present, reduced or otherwise?
I appreciate that your position is not directly related to pressing, grading, encapsulation or quality control. I believe given that my questions are in regards to those topics, I'd love it if you could connect me to somebody who may be able to answer my questions in more detail.
Thank you very much, and I appreciate the help!
I realize that I may be unable to answer some of your more detailed and in depth questions about certain processes or procedures, but I can however hopefully answer some.
The Newton rings are a result of plastic touching plastic. It happens all the time not just in our product but in general when two plastics are pushed together. This rainbow effect was present in our old holders as well, and in the industry for quite some time. When the beginning holders were rolling out the effect was much worse and we have since been successful at minimizing it, but it is still present on the holder, just way less.
Your books will not be at risk of developing waves. That has also been fixed.
These changes have ALL been interested implemented and the product looks great.
I don't know if what I can offer can put you at ease, and for that I apologize. If you want to send some a book in to try out for yourself I can offer you a free grading and you can be the judge of it yourself.
Let me know I want to find some way to help.
If I may, you've so far gone above and beyond what I've ever previously experienced with CGC's points of contact. Truthfully, you've caught me off guard there. For that, I honestly thank you, despite any frustrations or hesitations.
I want you to know it never even crossed my mind to ask for a free grading - if anyone is requesting that having not already submitted books needing fixing, perhaps that is a little too much to ask. But if that's the offer on the table, I'd like to discuss it under the pretense that I will share the results of my grading factually and without bias for the sake of informing my fellow collectors - and if what you're saying is true, then I will share my positive findings.
Could you tell me a bit more about what you can provide me with this free grading, in regards to tier and any possible shipping compensation? Is the offer for the two books previously in question, or just one?
As a followup, I realize I have provided no details regarding the books themselves.
Both are Moderns, one ashcan sized and one standard comic size, valued under $200.
You should share your findings honestly and unbiasedly. You are a collector and you should protect the collecting community. You're one of them! I respect that and it shows excellent character
Here's what we can do,
You can send in two books to my attention and I will get them graded for you free of charge, reimburse you for shipping them to us and also ship them back to you for free.
Let's stick with the Standard tier of service and I can insure each book for $1,000 each.
You can send them to:
*Address removed for courtesy's sake*
All you need to do is package those books safety and send your information with them (shipping address and phone number)
Does that work for you?
I'm sold. Thank you very much for understanding my position and doing what you can to assist. This gesture and your kindness have moved CGC's customer service up several pegs in my book.
I will package and ship the following books to the address you've provided, and will send confirmation as soon as they're in the mail.
Thank you again and I will touch base with you shortly. 😊
I'm really really really glad I am able to help!
I think you will be pleased with the outcome. I look forward to handling your books personally and making sure they will meet and exceed your expectations:)
Let me know if you have any other questions and also send me a tracking number when you have it so I can keep an eye out for these.
Though Brittany offered me Standard service on the two books, they were both processed within two days of arriving at CGC, leading me to believe they were put through the Walkthru service instead. The invoice attached with the books I received says June 9th, and the package was shipped on June 10th.
AND NOW... THE VERDICT.
Let me start by saying that Brittany has been incredibly kind and genuinely helpful throughout the entire process, seemingly for many customers needing their books regraded. That must not go unnoticed. Also, as you can read for yourself from the above transcript, I was direct in my line of questioning and though she didn't know the answers, she remained polite and offered every solution she had available to her.
I really was caught off guard when she offered me the free grading, and even further surprised to hear that the Walkthru service had been used. That is over $300 CGC lost on this deal, and that to me shows that they have immense confidence in the holder at this point in time.
I really don't understand why I was chosen for free grading, and I would be very curious to know if others have received a similar offer.
I am still disappointed that I learned nothing from Brittany regarding the process and I still feel kept in the dark, but Brittany is correct - now that I have these two books in hand, I'm capable of making a first-hand judgement call.
...which is this:
NEWTON RING: There are Newton Rings around the left, right and bottom edges of the books. They are only visible at certain angles and in certain lighting situations, but are certainly there. On the back cover of the Bartman #6, they make the white areas look dirty and fuzzy to the point where I don't feel I can tell the difference between damage, dirt and the rings. The staples have the black dots that other members have recently pointed out that look like ink transfer, but according to Dre, are simply intense Newton Rings. On the Bartman and Radioactive Man #1, the staples and spine are so heavily affected that it does look like someone carefully dipped it in bubble fluid before encapsulation. Yes, at certain angles, they're not an issue, but I'm looking at an old CGC slab right now with a Newton Ring that was much harder to see and didn't obscure the book.
I don't absolutely hate them, and these books are near-perfect anyway, but they do run the risk of hiding flaws or restoration. That is undeniable. If we can accept that this is simply the science of the plastic and that it's unavoidable, then fine, it comes down to personal preference. But I still wonder if the better option would be to find two plastics that DON'T create this reaction.
WAVINESS: None. The books like perfectly flat. HOWEVER, there is definitely a warp going on on the internal Mylar of the Bartman #6. It doesn't look like the book is affected, but I will keep a close eye on both of them over the coming days and weeks and report back.
ALIGNMENT: The Bartman #6 is ever so slightly crooked, which I chalk up to standard margin of error. I had to look closely to be able to tell.
CLARITY: Well, on the parts where there aren't Newton Rings, the clarity is fantastic. It does look like you're holding the raw book at certain angles in the slab... but again... Newton Rings.
VERDICT: CGC has not delivered on promises to reduce the Newton Rings. If CGC employees are saying they look better, that's likely out of their own opinion and not based on any actual fix. These look and feel the exact same as the ones I held in Seattle (though ironically, those did not have rings) and I doubt there was any fix implemented.
On that note, I will withhold judgement on the waviness issue until a few weeks from now. The warping of the mylar does concern me, but if the book doesn't move or change shape, we're all good.
In terms of customer service, I personally am very conflicted. Brittany has clearly been working very hard to solve customers' problems and for that she deserves a promotion - but at the same time, the fact that nobody, INCLUDING Brittany, has been able to answer anybody's questions about the new holders beyond "everything's fine now" and "it's either CCS, CBCS or the Boards' fault", is unacceptable. I still have no idea if these two books will become damaged, or if the Newton Rings will hurt my ability to sell these books. If either of those things happen, I will report back. But as so many members have said, it's the fact that it's a complete gamble at this point that is so not going to fly moving forward.
NEWTON RINGS ALONE ARE NOT THAT BAD, in my personal collecting opinion - it would seem others consider them a dealbreaker, and I won't suggest they're wrong.
IF the only current issue is the Newton Rings and sales appear to remain more or less consistent, then I personally will strongly consider resuming using CGC for some books alongside using CBCS for others. If there is no clear benefit to using CGC, I will not use CGC. I hold all three companies to the same standard (which is why I stopped using PGX and started using CBCS).
We need a grading company that is reliable, consistent, approachable and that simply works for what it's meant for. I regret to inform that at this point, I feel this experiment has been inconclusive and we as collectors and dealers will have to continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds.
As a final note, thank you again to Brittany McManus for being the bright light in this more or less dark and confusing tunnel.