D-Backs Rewards

Prior to the 1999 season the Arizona Diamondbacks unveiled a program they called the “Frequent Fang Program”. This was basically a fan loyalty system where you were awarded points for every game you attended. It came with a really cool credit card looking thing that had a bar code on the back. Around then Bank One Ballpark were kiosks where you could scan your card and you received 10 points for attending that day’s game. As you accumulated points you received Diamondbacks swag. Most of these “prizes” were about as valuable as what you would win in a carnival game at the state fair but there were some that were extremely valuable. For example if you attended 72 out of the possible 81 games that year you were given an autographed baseball bat and had the opportunity to walk around the warning track in a pre-game parade. That was extremely cool. There were of course a few problems with the system such as the fact that it was possible for one person to run multiple cards. There was many a day I stood there and watched one fan scan 20 cards for points. Even with its flaws, the program was valuable. While I loved the little prizes, it was the accumulation of points that really drove me. There was nothing more rewarding than scanning that card and seeing an astronomical number of points to validate the kind of fan you were. It became almost a game as you looked over the shoulder of the guy in front of you and lingered after your turn to compare how many games you had been to versus the other fans. The Diamondbacks fed that competition by awarding lifetime points and pins that commemorated the milestones. I still have a set of these pins hanging on my wall to remind me of how many games I had gone to.

Over the next few seasons the Diamondbacks modified the fan loyalty program including renaming it “Diamondbackers”. They patched a few holes in the system such as requiring you to scan your game ticket along with your membership card so that at least you had to have a one-to-one match-up of tickets to members at the game. The prizes remained and there were even some very cool items such as Diamondbackers specific bobble head dolls, CD cases, hats, and my personal favorite the Diamondbacker’s dufflebags. Most importantly though was the continual accumulation of points awarded for each game. Those 10 points per game were something I looked forward to at every home stand. I think I liked that idea because it was a direct result of me being at the ballpark. I knew how many games I had been to based on the points. It’s really stupid when I think about it. Since I pretty much go to every game I just had to add a zero to the end of the game number and I would know but still it was the fact that the kiosk would remind me and anyone looking how dedicated a fan I was.

For the 2007 season the Diamondbacks changed the program. This in my opinion was a major mistake and one of the few things I regret the Diamondbacks ever doing. They went with an outsourcing company and the program was completely different. Points per game were awarded at a much lower level and the points were based upon ticket purchase rather than ticket used. They also began including dollars spent at specific concession stands (not all of them mind you, just a subset) and dollars spent at the team shop. You would think that someone such as myself would come out ahead since I go to every game, always eat at the stadium and rarely if ever leave without buying something at the team shop. Instead though it was a nightmare to try to manage and it was confusing to even attempt to guess where I was at with point totals. The system constantly lost points and I was always emailing back and forth to have points reinstated that suddenly disappeared. To top it off, the outsourced company went out of business and I was never able to redeem the points for anything.

After a brief hiatus a new program was introduced called the Fry’s Rewards Zone. This program was really part of the grocery store chain loyalty program. Although you could run your card at the ballpark and accumulate points there was no way to see how many points you really had or even if you had your card or had mistakenly grabbed your wife’s card. You were also granted points for buying specific grocery items but because the points were on a per card basis if my wife did the shopping I didn’t get credit for the points. There was no concept of family, ticket holder, or really anything like that. The points would accumulate during the season but it was nearly impossible to find out what your total was or what kinds of things you could spend your points on. It was further complicated by the fact that Fry’s had a similar program with the Phoenix Suns so you had no way of knowing if your points were going to a basketball account or baseball account. At the end of the season all the points were wiped clean and since I didn’t know where to go to redeem the points I basically lost all of them. It has been by far the most frustrating fan loyalty program I have ever seen. It’s sad that I am longing for the day when I could go to 3 games and get temporary Diamondbacks tattoos.

I was really hoping that the team would find an alternative for this program and reinstitute the Diamondbackers club where we could simply swipe our card and ticket and work toward baseball prizes. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. We went to the grocery store last night and after swiping my Fry’s club card my receipt notified me that I had once again initiated the Diamondbacks Rewards program. I have no idea what that means exactly but I am guessing that will mean that I will swipe my card at the ballpark kiosk and then for the next 81 games wonder how many points I have and what that might be able to get me. Honestly, all I really want is a pin that says I am a loyal Diamondbacks fan, maybe a polo shirt, and be entered into a drawing to go out with the grounds crew and replace second base during the game and get to keep the base. I have the perfect spot picked out in the living room where I can mount second base. Come to think of it, this Fry’s program may have been developed by my wife since she commented that the last thing she wants is for me to have an opportunity to mount second base on the wall of her living room.

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