You’re ready to sell your collection and you’re taking the Do-it-Yourself approach. You’ve signed up for Stamps.com using that sweet, sweet podcast promo code. You’ve stocked up on boxes and bubble wrap. The kitchen table is the shipping and receiving HQ. Every contingency you can imagine is well in hand. But what about the ones you can’t imagine? Here are some of the lesser-known mishaps that can happen when shipping out a collectible.
Shipping Damage In Package
Let’s say you have listed a mint-in-package toy. When it sells, you put it in a properly sized box and cushion it cushioning void fill. You are confident that the delivery guy could hurl your package to the porch from the sidewalk and the factory sealed box inside would be A-Okay. Unfortunately, the one place you can’t add void fill is inside the factory sealed box.
One of the primary concerns in designing toy packaging is how attractive it looks. For action figures, that means a tray that grips the figure and accessories tight on three sides. When force is applied just right, those accessories or even the figure itself can pop right out. You now have a free-floating item inside the sealed package, lowering the aesthetic and material value.
Likewise, some die-cast vehicles are shipped attached to plastic pegs under a hard plastic dome. Those plastic pegs can snap when jostled the wrong way. That causes the car inside to crash into the dome every which way, damaging it. If there’s more than one car in the display package, you get a multi-car pileup with multiplied damage.
The traditional method of packaging an action figure or 1:64 scale diecast car is gluing a plastic blister to a colorful piece of cardboard. Modern plastic blister packs often have tabs that wrap around the cardboard, which provides added security for retailers and collectors alike. However, older toys (and homages to them) are glued directly to the front of the card. This leaves them vulnerable to just…falling off.
Older figures may suffer a bit of bubble separation as they age depending on how they’re stored. Once the seal is broken, the chances of it completely failing rise considerably. Some of modern retro-styled lines come unglued if you look at them funny. The worst offenders in our experience are Star Wars Black Series 3.75” figures and Funko-era ReAction figures. All this means no matter how well you pack a figure up, there’s a chance that it won’t be sealed anymore once the buyer gets it.
As the popularity of online shopping has grown, so has the criminal enterprise of stealing packages off porches. Obviously, everyone’s heard of porch piracy, but it’s not often considered an issue when shipping collectibles – after all, these are niche items! However, package thieves grab indiscriminately these days. It turns their racket into a numbers game, but with the right resale outlets even pilfered cat food brings in a profit. We don’t know how well porch pirates do in selling multi-thousand-dollar key issues, but we know a few out there have ended up with them.
Offsetting The Unforeseen
Insurance is the best way to offset these problems. All shipping companies offer it, and it is a must for more valuable pieces. Yes, it adds to the shipping cost, but it’s always better to be out $9 than $6000. That said, buyers looking to re-sell an item might balk at the expense as it will hurt their bottom line. It becomes a delicate balancing act, as no one enjoys a business transaction that devolves into an argument.
Signature requirements are the best way to avoid porch pirates. However, they’re not foolproof. Most shippers offer online signature confirmation, allowing recipients to authorize the unattended drop-off of their package. If that happens, the customer is still likely to come to you seeking recompense. It also doesn’t protect against misdirected deliveries, either due to delivery person mix-up or a buyer’s failure to update their address.
You can skip the customer service headaches by giving them to Back to the Past! We might be a tad biased, but we pride ourselves on getting clients the best value for their collection with absolutely no extra effort on their part. If you want a no-hassle collectibles-selling experience, give us a call! And if you have a question or comment on this or any other collectibles topic, let us know below or on socials @b2pcollect.