THE BLACK LABEL GRADING JOURNEY EXPLAINED
Since we opened our business, we have had many queries from new and experienced collectors on the ins and outs of the grading process. So, we thought long and hard about how to explain this in the best way we can.
We operate as an intermediary for card grading services via Beckett. On the face of it, it might seem simple… you send us your cards, we send them off for grading and we send them back to you once your card has been encapsulated. In reality, there are multiple steps your card goes through on its grading journey… so instead of trying to summarise this into one or two paragraphs – we thought we’d detail this in a blog post. Our very first blog post in fact!
STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR SERVICE LEVEL
Before you send us your cards, make sure you fully understand which service level you would like. We offer a range of service levels which are predominantly differentiated by turnaround times.
Turnaround times are the time it takes Beckett to grade your cards. These timings do not include our processing times or the time it takes to ship your cards to and from Beckett. Remember that external factors can influence these turnaround times and many intermediaries and grading service providers are experiencing long delays during the pandemic. We understand delays can be frustrating and so we aim to keep you updated with the progress of your cards once we’ve received them.
For each service level, you can get a discounted rate for bulk submissions. This means the more cards you send us in one submission, the cheaper the cost per card.
You are able to view the service levels currently available on our dedicated pricing page.
STEP 2: SUBMIT YOUR CARDS
Once you have chosen your service level and you are ready to submit your cards, complete the submissions form and post your cards to us.
We use a PO Box to receive submissions. A PO Box is an address set up via the Royal Mail service. This means if you are sending your cards to us from overseas, you will not be able to use this address. Likewise, if you are sending us your cards from the UK and you do not want to use the Royal Mail service, you must contact us for an alternative address.
Print and complete the submission form and include this form with your cards. Package your cards securely. We suggest using cardboard, masking tape, top loaders or semi-rigids to protect your cards in transit. Unfortunately, until the card is in our possession, we cannot ensure its safety. We’d hate to see your cards arrive damaged in any way.
Once your cards are secure, pop them in the post. Many of our customers send their items recorded delivery but it is up to you which Royal Mail service you choose.
STEP 3: PROCESSING
Once your cards have arrived – we carefully unwrap them. This, for us, is one of the most exciting parts! We are very careful to open each and every package… it’s often a case of pass the parcel with surgeon precision in removing tape and revealing the cards enclosed.
Your details will then be processed on our system and we will notify you via email that your cards have arrived safely.
In order to prepare your cards for Beckett we must gather a certain amount of detail on each and every card. This can take a long time and is one of the benefits of using an intermediary service like Black Label Grading. Grading companies require a large number of details for submissions including set name, variation and predicted value.
Once each card has been processed your cards will be re-packaged in semi-rigids and placed in its own container, ready for submission. It’s a delicate job and we make sure the environment we do this in is kept clean and most importantly drink free! No teas of coffees allowed when we are processing.
STEP 4: PAYMENT REQUEST
I bet you were wondering… when do I pay? We don’t request payment before you submit your cards to us. This is so there are no faults made at payment stage as our pricing structure has many variables.
We request payment once your cards have been received and processed. We send you a payment request with directions on where and how to pay in an email. Usually this takes place in 24hours following receipt of your cards, however it may take longer depending on the number of cards in the queue. This is why we ask customers to kindly allow up to 2 weeks for this request. The request for payment will always be made before the submission deadline.
STEP 5: SUBMISSION TO BECKETT
Right… you’ve paid, and your cards have been processed and are ready to go. We ship cards once a month and this is always 5 working days after the submissions deadline. The submission deadline is found on our homepage of our website and is updated monthly. The deadline is often the third Friday of the month.
Your cards are shipped to Beckett via Fedex and are insured during transit. You will receive a notification the moment your cards have left our facility.
STEP 6: BECKETT GRADING SERVICE (BGS) PROCESS
BGS resides in Dallas, Texas. Once our monthly submission (which includes your cards) has landed at the BGS offices, each package is opened and logged on their systems.
Next the cards are placed in ‘bins’ and securely transported to invoicing. This is where we receive the first email to notify us of the actual turnaround time and due date. This will be passed onto you.
Each ‘bin’ is then taken to the vault. A secure location for cards awaiting the next step in the process. Cards are returned and stored in their bins in the vault between each step in the grading process.
The next department is verification. These experts make sure the details of each card is correct and rectify any that aren’t.
After verification, the cards are graded. They examine authenticity first then move onto the cards condition. A numerical subgrade is given for Centering, Corners, Edges and Surface. The overall grade is then determined using an algorithm. The algorithm uses the subgrades numerical values but is not the average.
Once the grade has been determined, the cards are sent to be labelled and encapsulated. The encapsulation for both the card and its label is called ‘Slabbing’ and involves an ultrasonic welding machine. Once complete the ‘slab’ is ready for shipping.
The cards are then shipped back to the UK. You can read Beckett’s full process here.
STEP 7: RETURNING YOUR CARDS
Once we’ve received your cards back from Beckett, we will notify you immediately via email.
We remove your cards from its package, check them over and re-package them securely for each individual customer.
At this stage we will ask you whether you want any enhanced shipping back to you. All our items are sent back via Royal Mail signed for delivery. You may want to add further insurance options and we are happy to discuss this with you.
Once they’ve left us, we will finally notify you they are on their way.
So… as you can see, your cards go through a lot on their grading journey. In fact, there are a lot of experts and carefully managed steps involved to get your card back to you safely and securely.
We hope this blog post has helped you to fully understand the grading process. If you have any further questions, please get in contact. Our friendly team is more than happy to help!