Monday, November 17, 2014

CGC Comics: How Much Does It Cost From Canada?

I wanted to document exactly how much it cost to ship my comics to CGC and get them back (I live in western Canada).  This is not a rant about CGC itself, or their grading process, or their holders, or any of that stuff.  I did, however, want to document the slabbing process (partly because of my own bad memory) and partly because I had a bit of a difficult time finding out the process and the cost (the REAL cost) when first starting out.

For those who are new to the whole process of "slabbing" comics: there is tons of information online about CGC (Certified Guaranty Company, found at  So this blog is a tracking of the cost for me, a Canadian, shipping my books down to Florida and back to Canada.  How much does it really cost?

One of the comics I did NOT submit to CGC.  Sigh. 

(Note: these are 2014 prices—if you are looking at this from the far-reaching future, these might look great in 200 years.)

CGC Membership: $140.14 Cdn
This was the "premium" $120.00 US per year.  What this gets me is 4 free CGC submissions and access to the website to look up CGC census data, access the forums, etc.  What I personally cared about was the coupon for the 4 free submissions.

Shipping My 4 Raw Books: $30.00 Cdn
You can use Canada Post, Fed Ex, Purolator, etc.  I chose Canada Post.  It cost about $30 to ship the books from my home and native land to sunny Florida.  I always wonder why they would have a comic-book-grading company based out of the one place nearby that can get a hurricane, a flood or invaded by the communists.  Every time the weatherman says it is windy or rainy there are comic book fans getting ulcers. 

Even if it is a relatively tiny package, you have to ship "Expedited Parcel" which has a tracking number (good) and insurance (very good).  You also should ship the 4 books in a box (not an envelope) and stuff it good with paper, bubble wrap and extra sheets of tough cardboard).  I didn't have any problems and the shipment arrived right away (around 7 business days). 

Grading: Free
Well, kind of free... remember to include the coupon in the box and the books get graded as part of the premium package that I already paid money for.

Return Shipping To Canada: $72.78
Hello!  Be on the lookout for the priority shipping back to Canada.  Good news is that it gets back to you quickly—the bad news is that it is a bit more expensive than it was to send it down there.

Total Cost for 4 CGC Books:  $242.92 Cdn
This works out to about $60 per book (Canadian).  So if you are going to get only these 4 books graded, make sure to have the books be either a) super in-demand, b) super high grade, or c) books that you personally really want to get graded.  Typically, people will send in 4 "high end" books (like silver-age Marvels, or expensive 10 or 12-cent comics) for this tier.

Because I had already paid the annual fee, I figured I would give it a shot and submit 30 modern books as well to see if I could average down the costs.  My logic: I had thousands of comic books, at least 30 (hopefully) worth CGC-ing from the modern era, and I already had the annual membership, so that gave me a slight discount (and the ability) to submit more books.  Same deal, but this time I was submitting 30 modern books.

Shipping 30 Modern Books To Florida: $30.00 Cdn
Again this was through Canada Post as an Expedited Parcel and it worked out to about 30 dollars.  Here's a tip I learned: open up a PayPal account and ship the books through the PayPal account.  You can get a small discount (like 5 to 8 per cent).  Also, knowing what I know now, I would have submitted the 4 higher-end books along with 30 moderns.  Just fill out 2 invoices and send them together all in the same box.  Live and learn!

CGC Fees for 30 Modern Books: $660.01 Cdn
The fees worked out to $22 per book (Canadian) to get them CGC'd.  Now this will no doubt change over time (exchange rates, etc) so again this is 2014 prices, with exchange, with a credit card.  This apparently includes the return shipping as well.

I had heard horror stories about CGC taking forever to grade books.  The total time spent between shipping the books and getting them back was 62 calendar days (so about two months).

Return Shipping:  $22.78 Cdn
The package was shipped back through Federal Express.  It arrived in one huge box that looked like a 28-inch TV screen had arrived.  It was heavy (30 books).  So exciting!  This was the big question mark in the whole process—the return shipping was included in the CGC charge.  The only thing I actually paid was the customs "brokerage fees".

I personally did not get hit with any duty, and I didn't fill out any special forms.  CGC indicated on the shipment that the books were being re-imported and I guess the customs guys liked it.

Fed Ex has to stay in business somehow, so they charge a "brokerage fee" to get your books from the United States through customs into Canada.  It's not technically duty... it's more like a "service fee" to ship it. Grumble grumble.

Total Cost for 30 Modern Books: $712.79
This does not include the membership (because I already paid for it).

Total Cost for 4 Silver Age Books Plus 30 Modern Books: $955.71 Cdn
Let's call it an even $950 Canadian dollars, after it is all said and done.

$950 Cdn
34 books total
$27.94 Canadian per book to get slabbed

This isn't meant to persuade anyone to CGC their books or not—simply an accounting for Canadians to figure out what the real fees are if anyone in Canada is interested (and obviously this is a ball park amount since shipping rates could be different depending on where people live and what service they use).

I think that some people see $18 listed for a modern book on the CGC website and so we factor in maybe $20 for the book when making a purchase.  However, shipping (especially to and from Canada) can be very expensive, especially if someone doesn't ship stuff all the time.  The actual price to CGC the books was more like 150% of that, at around $28 per book.

Tips to save money:
  • If you have a bunch of stuff to send in, consider waiting and do it all in one year (rather than send a little over multiple years).  It costs a lot of money (like $30) to send one item, four items or twelve items—the postage is not much more for each additional book on a "per book" basis.
  • Really a take a super-critical look at your books.  If there are any defects whatsoever, the grade of the book will fall (and often fall a lot).  Remember, each book is going to cost you about $30 (Canadian) so be very critical.  ANY fold, crease or tear, or scuff, or anything will bring it down.
  • Consider opening a PayPal account to create a shipping label—the difference between sending one parcel through PayPal ($25) versus two Canada Post "at the counter" parcels ($60) is definitely worth the time and effort.

Good luck and happy hunting for that great comic!
One of my actual comics.  Yay!  Something came back  higher than a 5.0.