Citing heavy demand, PSA suspends most card submissions

The card grading landscape is changing again.

At the end of March, PSA fired the first shot. Despite price increases, the company just can’t keep up with demand caused by a recent surge in collecting.

In a letter dated March 30 from Steve Sloan, the company’s president, PSA announced an immediate suspension of the majority of its submissions.

Given our growing backlog, it would be disingenuous for us to continue to accept submissions for cards that we will be unable to process in the foreseeable future. It’s an unpleasant conclusion, especially after the March 1 price increase, but it is necessary to properly serve the customers who have already submitted to PSA. 

Effective immediately, PSA is temporarily suspending our Value, Regular and Express service levels. This will allow us to fully unbox and receive the recent surge of orders and focus on our most impacted service lines.

I should be clear — all of PSA’s services are not being suspended. Rather, only the most popular ones for their $20, $50, $100, and $150 pricing points. PSA is still grading the expensive stuff valued at $2,500 or more (grading prices on those start at $300 per card). The company is also continuing to re-holder cards for $10 per card.

So when will things get back to normal? According to the letter, PSA hopes to bring back back suspended services by July 1 — three months later. That tells us a few things.

First, as I’ve said before, card grading is essentially a license to print money. Demand and interest in graded cards is such that it’s a tremendous moneymaker. If PSA is shutting down most of its grading services, it tells you how bad things have gotten — bad in the sense of having so much demand that they cannot keep up. PSA likely had hoped that by raising its prices, submissions would slow down. That either hasn’t happened or they haven’t slowed nearly enough to keep up.

Second, it’s important to note the July 1 timeline. While the company wants to reopen those services by then, that’s far from a guarantee. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the grading landscape over the last, say, two years, it’s that it’s unpredictable. There have been reactionary measures taken place to unexpected demand. Several times. So any sort of timeframes at this point should be taken with a grain of salt.

Look, it’s obviously a good problem for PSA to have. And, in the long run, it’s good for the hobby in the sense that graded cards have gotten more folks into the hobby. As I’ve written before, the more people interested in cards (regardless of what those cards are), the better. But if you’re a collector that is regularly submitting cards, it’s drastically limited your options in the meantime.

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