Collector suffers big loss

Canada Post has no explanation for missing hockey card collection

Terry Roberts editor@cbncompass.ca
Published on March 8, 2010
Joe Yetman looks over some of the thousands of hockey cards from his collection. Yetman recently lost a shipment of the cards worth $5,000 when he dropped them off at Canada Post to be mailed to another collector. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Canada Post officials say they have no idea what happened to a valuable collection of hockey cards that went missing after being posted at its Shoppers Drug Mart outlet on Gibson Drive in Mount Pearl.

"We've done everything we could. It's nowhere to be found," Canada Post spokesperson Genevieve Latour said Friday.

It's not the news hockey fanatic Joe Yetman of St. John's wanted to hear, and he's willing to pay a $2,500 cash reward to anyone who can provide information on the whereabouts of the cards.

Canada Post officials say they have no idea what happened to a valuable collection of hockey cards that went missing after being posted at its Shoppers Drug Mart outlet on Gibson Drive in Mount Pearl.

"We've done everything we could. It's nowhere to be found," Canada Post spokesperson Genevieve Latour said Friday.

It's not the news hockey fanatic Joe Yetman of St. John's wanted to hear, and he's willing to pay a $2,500 cash reward to anyone who can provide information on the whereabouts of the cards.

Yetman, who is 40, has been collecting hockey cards since he was seven, and has accumulated a collection he estimates is valued at several hundred thousand dollars.

For instance, he has multiple rookie cards of some of the game's biggest names, including Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard cards that are valued at $3,000 each. He also had 21 Wayne Gretzky rookie cards.

He has more than one collection of some valuable sets, and decided to sell some of the extras to help pay for a high school graduation gift for his son.

He recently sold a rare set of 1957 Parkhurst hockey cards online at eBay for US$5,000 to another collector in Thunder Bay, Ont.

There were 50 cards, all in mint condition. Half the cards featured players from the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the remainder were of players with the Montreal Canadiens.

Included were Frank Mahovlich and Henri Richard rookie cards, and other well-known players such as Maurice Richard, Dick Duff, Charlie Hodge, Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion and George Armstrong.

He's made many similar transactions over the years with no problems. But things were different this time.

After receiving the funds from the buyer, Yetman packaged the cards and took them to the Canada Post outlet on Jan. 2, and paid $32 in fees to have the cards shipped by Xpresspost.

Confident that the package would reach its destination, Yetman insured the item for $1,100, well below its actual value.

"After sending cards Xpresspost for over 10 years with no problems, I figured there would not be any issues," Yetman said.

It usually takes three business days for an item to reach its destination. But 10 days later, Yetman said he received an e-mail from the buyer, saying he hadn't received the cards.

Yetman checked the tracking number on the package, which showed it was received by Canada Post. But that seems to be where the mystery begins.

It's now been more than two months, and the package still hasn't turned up.

Latour said it's possible the package could have been stolen. She said postal inspectors have carried out an investigation, but with no results.

"We do apologize. This was an unfortunate incident," she said.

She said such an incident is quite rare.

"It's not the type of result we like to have. We try to deliver on time, all the time, and we do that over 95 per cent of the time."

Yetman had to return the US$5,000 to the buyer, and said he has lost some of his confidence in Canada Post.

He said he'll use the corporation again, but will bring his packages to the Canada Post headquarters on Kenmount Road.

He'll also insure his packages for the full value.

Canada Post has settled Yetman's insurance claim, but he's still out several thousand dollars.

Yetman is doing his best to spread the word about his missing cards. He has many contacts in the card collector community, both here and abroad, and hopes that anyone trying to sell the collection will set off an alarm with someone.

"This is a really rare set," he said.

troberts@thetelegram.com