Yesterday did not just mark the end of the 2009 Major League Baseball season, it also marked the end of being able to accumulate points on your Fry’s D-Backs Rewards card. For the past three years the Arizona Diamondbacks have teamed up with Fry’s grocery store chain for their fan loyalty program. For those of you unfamiliar with the program let me give you a little background.
Fry’s, a Kroeger branded grocery chain, has a value card that if used when buying groceries at one of their stores, the shopper is given a break on the price of some items. In many cases the items are store-branded merchandise that they are hoping consumers will try. My wife is a firm believer in these shopper cards and she has a full deck of frequent shopper cards from all of the food stores in the area.
Fry’s has teamed up with the Arizona Diamondbacks to offer the D-Backs Rewards program. Points are accumulated for buying merchandise from their grocery chain that can be redeemed for Arizona Diamondbacks merchandise.
It is not just groceries that can earn you points though, you can also gain points by attending an Arizona Diamondbacks game and sliding your Fry’s card along with your game ticket at an identified kiosk to receive 5 points for every game you attend.
The game attendance is where I typically get most of my points. Over the course of a season I will attend approximately 81 home games at Chase Field. I try to run my card at each game which means by the end of the season I would have roughly 405 points on my D-Backs Rewards card. I say roughly because there are some games throughout the year where you are rewarded with double points (10 points total) as an incentive.
You are able to accumulate points beginning on Opening Day and going through the last game of the season. Once the season is over you have a month in which to choose your prize. Prizes range from merchandise such as hats, shirts, and jackets to autographed memorabilia to baseball experiences.
The D-Backs Rewards program replaced the now defunct Diamondbackers fan loyalty program that the Diamondbacks began in 1999. In the earlier Diamondbackers club you were awarded 10 points for each game and you received prizes by attaining a certain level of points throughout the season.
The prizes started out simple enough with things like a T-shirt, hat, or note pad. They progressed to things like movie passes to Harkins Theater, clocks, and bobble heads. For the most dedicated of fans who reached the top level of the program (usually capped at the 70 game mark), the prizes were much greater.
One year we received Diamondbacks duffle bags with an embroidered Diamondbackers logo on the side (we still are using these bags and they become a conversation starter whenever we travel). Another year we received a randomly selected autographed baseball bat from one of the Diamondbacks players (I was fortunate enough to get Luis Gonzalez that year).
These gifts and trinkets were a badge of honor and signified the level of commitment you had for the team for a specific season. The Diamondbacks also counted lifetime points that went with you from year to year and those dedicated fans that stayed with the team for multiple seasons were provided special gifts such as pins that signified the number of games you have been to based on point total.
Each season we looked forward to seeing what the Diamondbacks came up with as prize totals for the Diamondbackers program. Granted most of these were on the same level as a stadium giveaway item but it was the fact that I had earned the item that made it special.
With the D-Backs Rewards program I feel less connected. There are no prizes to earn I simply accumulate points. The point total is never shown on the screen at the kiosk and the web site for looking up my total is frustrating to navigate.
While some of the prizes are sort of cool like autographed baseballs, pictures and bats; most of the prizes are so limited (only one or two available) that rarely is there anything there for me to redeem when the season is over.
This season I really had my heart set on an autographed baseball bat. I really didn’t care who autographed the bat, I just thought it would be cool to have a bat from the 2009 season to go with the one I got in 1999.
As the season was coming to an end, I frantically tried to find out what my point total was. That should have been a simple feat but it actually took me several tries to get into the system then more time to find the screen that showed my total.
What I find was rather disappointing. By going to the games I calculated I had roughly 400 points but the autographed bats started at 700 points. Not only that but the 700 point bat was sold out so the first available bat was a Chris Snyder bat which was valued at 900 points.
It was rather frustrating to learn that if I went to every Arizona Diamondbacks game that was played this year I was still less than halfway towards earning a bat signed by an injured back-up catcher. It was even more frustrating when I stopped to consider that my kids were in the SRP Renewables Kids Club and they earned twice as many points per game as I did and at the end of the season they were rewarded with a parade on the warning track before the game. It just didn’t seem right.
Rather than mumbling and grumbling I decided that I just needed to find a way to get some more points. In the past two years in this program I got absolutely nothing (prizes were sold out or my points couldn’t buy enough to make it worth it) so I was determined this year would be different.
Armed with my Fry’s card and a grocery list from Trina I headed to the store. According to the program details I receive a point for every dollar I spend on merchandise that is tagged as a D-Backs Rewards item. I ran from aisle to aisle looking just for these stickers. I figured I needed at least another 300 points to be able to get even a baseball.
After spending two and a half hours grocery shopping (I felt like I was at a game pitched by Doug Davis, it went that slowly), I went to the check stand with two heaping shopping carts. You can imagine my wife’s surprise when I began unloading the car filled with groceries.
We now have something like 12 pounds of cheese, 20 boxes of crackers, and enough Kroeger branded product that we could be a satellite store for Fry’s. While my wife and kids tried to find a place to store the cornucopia of grocery items I came home with I ran to the computer to see my point total and to see what I could get with my points.
I ended up with 712 points total. All of the bats in that point range were sold out as were most of the autographed baseballs. I was finally able to find a Chris Young Autographed Baseball for 700 points that was still available so I cashed in my points for that.
I’ll spend the off-season on a steady diet of crackers, grated cheese, and soda but at least I will be content in the knowledge that for my dedication to the program I was rewarded with an autographed baseball. In the meantime I have added, “build new pantry” to the to-do list for the off-season. I am going to need a much bigger food storage facility if I want to try and get a bat next season.