Baseball fan looking for a new team

(Stepping away from my 43 for 44 list for this lengthy blog post.)

Nineteen years can be a long time. Baseball careers may not last that long. My dog didn’t last that long. Heck, I’ve been married for a shorter amount of time (but we may pass that milestone).

But if you’re a season ticket holder for the San Diego Padres, it means nothing, at least to the front office.

Let me back up a bit. I became a San Diego Padres season ticket holder in 1997, jumping on the bandwagon after their 1996 season. 1997 sucked, but I didn’t jump off that year. The reward? The glorious 1998 season.  The decision to renew each year was a no-brainer: of course I would support my team. I wasn’t a full or half season ticket holder; I had a modest 13 game (at that time) package. I was happy to support an organization that seemed to appreciate my business, even if it was a drop in the bucket. At the time  it was a special thing to be a season ticket holder. Sure, you got the gifts all the season ticket holders received (like seat cushions), but you had the flexibility to exchange your tickets for any game you wanted.  And I understood why the full season ticket holders got baseball bats and got to walk on the field; they spent the money, so they should get the fancier extras.

As with everything, change happens. There were no more gifts in my renewal package, the ticket exchange policy became less liberal (no more exchanging Tuesday tickets for Saturday games), we now became “Members”…but I still renewed.

Until 2015. For the first time, I hesitated. The cost, the performance of the team, and the changes of the ballpark made me re-think if this was a good idea.  I hesitated long enough to be wooed by the 21 Service Team. A free game, free food, and the promise that we would be “grandfathered in” for the ticket exchange perk and we would probably get a good chance for All-Star Game tickets. So we renewed. And we renewed this year. Sure, we saw the ticket exchange perk removed from the literature, but thinking we were grandfathered in, we didn’t think it applied to us. (Such entitled thinking!)

Well, it doesn’t.  But just to make sure, I sent out this email:

Hello 21 Game Service Team!

My husband and I had tried to exchange two of our tickets for another game, but were unable to do so because Blue Members no longer had benefit.

Would you please let us know why we are no longer able to exchange games? We don’t understand why this flexibility was taken away from us. We have read the ticket exchange policy and understand that only half & full season ticket members can exchange games. (We are aware of Unused Ticket Nights, but in the past the dates were inconvenient for us and/or on days we already had tickets for.) We are long time season ticket members (since 1997) and we were told last season by a Padres ticket representative that we would be “grandfathered in.” Having this flexibility is one of the main reasons we have continued to renew our season tickets. We can only hope that a mistake was made and we will be able to exchange tickets in the future.

Thank you so much for looking into this!

I received a reply the next morning:

We made a decision last August to update our Membership exchange benefit.  A “2016 Ticket Exchange Policy” was included in your mailed renewal piece that you received in August as well as in the emailed renewal piece.  The first sentence of that policy states “The San Diego Padres Ticket Exchange Program is a benefit exclusively for 2016 Platinum and Gold Members.” We apologize if you missed that update when renewing for 2016.  

Ok, it was worth a shot. And upon further review, this is old news. But the wording, “The first sentence…” felt a little snarky. But oh well, perhaps this person was tired of answering this question. If she stopped there, it would have been fine. But she goes on:

This decision was made for multiple reasons including inventory demands and use and abuse of the ticket exchange benefit.  Just like airline tickets (Business Class vs. Coach), a car (Mercedes C class vs. S class), etc. when you buy different versions of a product you are rewarded with different benefits.  We have chosen to reward based on number of games you are committed to versus spend, location of seats, etc.  We felt it was important to continue to give Blue Members numerous benefits while differentiating that experience from the Gold and Platinum Memberships.  We understand that change is not always welcome but we hope you enjoy the season and take advantage of the 6 Unused Ticket Nights for the games you are unable to attend.

Now, this really bothers me. For me, the true colors of this organization really stands out. I may be a “Coach” ticket holder. Heck, you can call me a Yugo if you want. But removing one perk to make the others memberships look better, well, that sucks.

Final paragraph:

 Please reach out with any other questions and we will do our best to answer them. Go Padres!

Notice anything missing? How about a thank you? How about a “thank you for your nineteen years of loyalty?” How about a “thank you for supporting us for 19 seasons, and of which – if my count is right – 2/3 of them were losing seasons? How about a “thank you for purchasing tickets, even if our product isn’t First Class?” (sorry, that’s my snarkiness coming out)

I get it, money talks. The ones who spend more money will get rewarded. This is a business, and they want to be able to make as much money as they can. But I don’t understand how alienating fans will help their bottom line. Of course, it just makes more room for the visiting team fans, like the Mets game last Saturday.

I wish I could be the fan they want me to be. I’m just someone who will give you my loyalty and a bit of cash. Anything beyond that is beyond my means. And this makes me sad.

Tl;dr My breakup letter with the Padres.


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