Head to Head Comparison: eBay vs COMC

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Almost any sports card collector can tell you that online is where most of us do our shopping whether it is for singles, boxes, or break spots. The internet offers several advantages that local card shops do not, such as being open 24/7, an almost unlimited inventory, cheaper prices, and the ability to really narrow down your search to find that one card missing from your 2003 set. Arguably the two biggest websites and sources for collectors to are eBay and COMC.com.   In the first of my head to head comparison articles, I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of each site and compare and contrast them.

Head to Head Comparison: eBay vs COMC

eBay: eBay is probably one of the most famous websites in the world and easily the most famous auction internet website. Featuring a diverse market of sellers from around the world, eBay offers collectors a convenient place to find really unique and hard to find items or multiple quantities of the same item. Multiple sellers offering the same item, means buyers get a diverse range of prices.   eBay is very buyer friendly and collectors are well aware of this.

The Good: eBay offers the largest inventory of cards in the world. So many sets, players, years, and attributes are abundant. eBay lets sellers narrow down their search for cards by set, year, manufacturer, card attribute (such as cards that are autographed), price range, shipping costs, distance, and time left.   It allows for a great chance to make a deal of a life time, through auctions starting at 99 cents with no cap to a Buy It Now offer, which is a price that automatically secures the card for you regardless of the auction price. Additionally, some sellers let you send your best offer to them for their consideration so you can save some money from their initial asking price.  eBay’s reputation is world renowned and as such attracts a lot of people from around the world.

The Bad: eBay is very buyer friendly. This is a double edge sword. In order to be buyer friendly, eBay is rather hostile towards sellers by nickeling and diming them through sellers fees.   Until just recently, eBay owned PayPal. As a seller eBay usually took 10% or more depending on the final selling price. PayPal took almost another 3% out. For a long time eBay was double dipping from sellers. This can discourage sellers from listing their items or sellers jack their prices up to cover the rather large selling fees. There is a reason eBay is nicknamed feebay amongst collectors. Not every card will show up in the filters eBay has to offer as the seller needs to specify when they create the post. For example if I am selling an autographed card and I don’t check off the card is autographed when I list it, the buyers will not be able to find it when they use the autographed card filter. This prevents buyers from finding a good deal or the one card they are looking for. Additionally, several sellers will put deceptive terms such as “non-auto” to get more traffic to their posts so they will appear in search results when a buyer searches “auto cards”.

The Ugly: eBay is almost the wild wild west in terms of buyer protection. There is little protection for buyers and rather minor regulation and rules for sellers. While I understand policing such a large community as eBay is difficult, sellers are free to describe their item anyway they want. This creates problems when the seller falsely advertises a card or its condition to attract more buyers. Sellers can be unreasonable or even try passing off fake or altered items. While buyers and sellers can report each other, this process usually takes almost a month to fully resolve and is subject to eBay’s opinion. Buyers and sellers are not required to leave feedback which hurts honest well-meaning eBayers as they don’t get the reputation or respect they rightfully deserve. Probably the biggest problem with eBay is shipping.  Shipping costs can vary based on the distance of the seller, how the seller wishes to ship the item, and stacks up per item. Sellers don’t have to pick any standard of shipping. In theory, a seller could pick overnight airmail if they wish and ask that the buyer pays for it through Fed EX, DHL, or UPS, even though it would be much cheaper for the buyer if the seller picked standard 2-5 business day option through the USPS. If you buy multiple items on eBay, you need to cover the shipping charges on each one, which adds up quickly as most standard shipping for a single card is around $2.50.

COMC: COMC (short for check out my cardboard) is arguably the largest competitor of eBay when it comes to the card collecting market on the internet. The site offers several cards from all types of sports and trading card games much like eBay. COMC is relatively new but is gaining popularity and is a nice alternative to eBay. COMC is actually a company and has a few warehouses where all their cards are stored. Sellers submit their cards to COMC and COMC stores them till it sells or the buyer or sellers asks for them bad.

The Good: COMC lets you narrow your search much like eBay but is even more specific than eBay.  The filtering options can help you find a very specific card which is nice if it’s the one card you are looking for. You can search by sport, by team, by player, attribute, set, year, condition, and price.   You can also search by seller, by time on COMC, and a few other things. COMC also offers singles from older years and they are much easier to find and pinpoint than a eBay search.

COMC’s biggest strength is its shipping. COMC charges $3 for shipping whether you order 1 card or 1000. COMC stores their cards at a warehouse so if you see something you like you can buy it, let it sit for a week or two then request they ship it to you. Unlike eBay, you can order multiple cards over a course of a month then when you are ready for it; all cards will be shipped to you for $3. I have only purchased one item from COMC. But, when you do order, you get a scratch ticket with a code and dollar amount that can be added to your account as a credit for your next purchase. Although, I am not sure if you get one ticket per card or per order.  COMC is must more seller friendly than eBay as well as they take around 5% for most cards sold. Sales on COMC cards are usually somewhere between 40-80% off the listed price which is much higher than a eBay sale that is usually around 10%.

The Bad: COMC is a little more difficult for sellers to list items. Sellers must ship their cards to a COMC location or warehouse. Then wait for COMC to receive the order and have one of their staff members open the package, scan the cards in, and create the post on their website. Compared to eBay’s instant posts through their website or app, new stuff getting posted can take some time. COMC is much more known for their singles than anything else. While there is nothing wrong with this and not to say you can’t find them, packs, boxes, complete sets, lots, are much harder to find on COMC than eBay. COMC mostly features a Buy It Now format, meaning a low price auction steal can’t happen like on eBay. COMC does do auctions but they are few and far between. COMC also does not have the worldwide audience or fame that eBay enjoys.

The Ugly: COMC’s biggest drawback is buyers. It’s buying format works but it is rather a hassle compared to most sites. Buyers must purchase a credit for the store through their website before you can buy any cards you see. Credit amounts come in bizarre quantities starting at $25 and go up to $1000. While there is a custom amount option, the minimum balance you can add at a time is $10. You must also do this through PayPal or a debit/credit card; however the site encourages PayPal much more so than credit cards.   It seems rather tedious and unnecessary to have to go through buying credits for the store before you can purchase as opposed to just using PayPal or a debit card. Another option for buyers is to mail in a check or money orders to their address and letting them apply it to your account. Those credits on your account also include the $3 shipping, so if you add $25 worth of credits and buy a $25 card, you would need to go back and add at least $10 more to cover the shipping of the card to you.

 

Final Judgement: eBay and COMC are both great sites and their strengths and weaknesses are notable and unique to them. Where one seems to shine the other doesn’t and vice versa. Overall, there is no clear cut winner. My opinion is that it comes down to your collecting needs and wants.  Both are great for singles. eBay is great for big ticket items, new releases, boxes, scoring a nice auction win at a cheap price, and packs. COMC is great for older (probably older than five years) singles, searching for very specific cards to complete a set, shipping, avoiding seller fees, and rewarding buyers. If you need a card right away (or the assurance you bought it right away) and don’t want to wait for an auction, COMC is probably the better choice for when it comes to lower end singles.   eBay is the better choice for rarer items, hard to find items, and newer card releases. Both sites are fine for card collectors and I don’t have any overly negative opinions of either one.