Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring Expo 2009 : Bust or Boon??

Well, I finally got around to making some time for a review of the card expo I attended this past weekend. I have made a few references to it earlier on my blog both here and here. Suffice to say I had gone in with heightened expectations and perhaps a touch of delusion.

My main goal of this show was to get autographs from the four Hall of Fame baseball players that were appearing. Paul Molitor, Juan Marichal, Rollie Fingers and Ferguson Jenkins. What made things even more appealing was that all the money collected from their appearance went to the Ferguson Jenkins charitable foundation. Athletes that charge people for their autographs have a special place in my heart and it usually is the same place I keep reserved for telephone solicitors and politicians. However, if the proceeds can go to people who ACTUALLY need the money then I have an easier time shelling out the cash.

Firstly, I learned a very valuable lesson even before I was out of the car. If you plan to take pictures and document the event it is best to make sure that your camera battery is CHARGED!! Never shall I make that mistake again. The autograph session was scheduled to run from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Circumstances beyond my control delayed my departure for a couple hours but still left me enough time to make the session, so I thought.
I arrived at the show a little before 1:00pm and made my way inside. The area in which the autograph sessions were taking place proved a little non-descript but not impossible to find. I asked one of the session organizers where items for signing could be purchased and was directed to their setup. $100 dollars later I had 4 official National League baseballs ready and willing to accept the signatures of the HOF'ers. As I walked around the corner to where the booth was set up the first person to catch my eye was Ferguson Jenkins. He was standing up and putting on his jacket. Beside me was Rollie Fingers and he was asking Fergie if Juan Marichal was "ready yet". I quickly found one of the attendants and asked her if the players were taking a quick break before returning. She informed me that they were, in fact, leaving because they had a dinner to attend that evening. However, they were taking peoples items they wished to have signed, the people's information and you could come back on the Sunday and pick up the items. Having not seen Paul Molitor anywhere I inquired as to if he had even made the signing and was told he had not but was signing a few things in the back and would have the rest of the items brought to his hotel room that evening.
As I was talking to the attendant I noticed on the table in front of me a sort of "menu", if you will, with the "donation costs" listed based on items. I asked if the cost of the items purchased included the autograph itself or if there was an additional charge. She told me that if you purchased a baseball or bat that it included the signature. So I told her I had these four balls to be signed but was not sure I would be able to make the trip back on Sunday to pick them up. She asked where I had purchased them and I told her from the organizers. She then proceeded to inform me that they were not a part of the items that the foundation were selling and would be subject to a $20 per signature donation.

That pretty much sealed my decision.

I immediately went back to the person who had sold me the baseballs and told them I would be returning them for a refund. This is where things ALMOST became unglued. The zipperhead behind the counter asked me why I was returning them. My response was simple.

"Because, I am."

The next waste-of-space that came over started into me about what my reasoning was for returning the baseballs. So, I figured I would indulge this one.

"Number 1, the baseballs being sold at the signing table are cheaper than these AND they include a signature."
"Number 2, 100% of the money I spend over there goes to charity. 100% of what I spent here apparently, does not."
"Number 3, I am returning these because you made me give you two reasons WHY I want to return these."

After some further discussion back and forth they finally found someone who knew how to credit a credit card. Apparently this in itself is a skill that is only bestowed on a chosen few, much like the quest to destroy the Ring was bestowed upon Frodo. Had I known this I would have seriously considered majoring in it in University.

With the bitter taste of appalling customer service in my mouth and a bit of disappointment lingering in the air I decided to start checking out what the show had to offer. What started out so poorly soon worked its way to being a rather successful outing.

More on that in part 2.....right now dinner calls.


1 comment: