Another area which provokes skepticism of the price guides on my part has to do with what I consider conflicts of interest.
Beckett is generally acknowledged to be THE price guide of record.
Beckett is in the business of professionally grading cards.
Beckett has the capability to influence the values of cards that it grades.
Imagine for a moment that there was only one car dealer who handled all brands of cars. If you wanted to buy a car, you had no choice but to buy from this one dealer. If you wanted to sell a car, same thing. If you wanted to have the condition of your car evaluated, only the one choice.
Now, on the last point, further imagine that an individual decided to set up his own auto condition evaluation business.
Now imagine the single auto dealer putting the word out that only one condtion evaluation service- his- was "correct" and that he was the best at it.
Well, that's pretty much what you have with Beckett today. They grade the cards and report on the prices which, coincidentally, consistently reflect best on Beckett. A comparably graded card from Beckett seems always to sell at a higher price than one from PSA (and other grading companies suffer even more from comparison). Is it because Beckett is actually better than PSA, GAI and all the other grading companies? Or is it because they want to unduly influence the marketplace? How do we know that either is correct or more correct?
Personally, I think the right thing to do would be for Beckett to either get out of the grading business or to stop reporting prices on cards they grade. It is critically important for them to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest if they want to be considered to be impartial arbiters of the hobby.
I've never been a fan of graded cards, but I've had to (belatedly) acknowledge the fact that it has grown almost impossible to sell ungraded single cards anymore because unscrupulous sellers can and will alter cards to cover flaws and people will overgrade their own cards (unintentionally or not, the result is the same), so I recognize that grading does protect both buyer and seller. That admission, though, doesn't mean I have to LIKE it, right?