Think back a couple years and remember the overly gleeful refrain about how Panini points were going to transform the one thing about ripping wax that everyone seemed to hate. In fact, the article I posted back then still gets a ton of hits each day, because the message I ran with then is still as true now as it was. The Panini Points program is a complete fucking joke, and even if there are collectors out there who have found ways to make the system work for them, for the majority of us who populate this hobby, its a source of anger and rage.
In reality, the system does have functionality that COULD be useful if done in the correct way. The main thing about this program is not that its a terrible idea, its because it is solving the WRONG problem. As I have been saying for years, pulling a redemption in packs is not what drives collectors up the wall. Its the fact that 9/10 times, the redemptions take fucking forever to get done. Not all of that is on the company either, its just as much on the league and player as well. If redemptions took a short timeframe and didnt have a reputation, there wouldnt be an issue. Because of the history, collectors have come to associate redemptions as the problem, and not a symptom of a larger issue.
This means that using the points program as a solution for redemptions, isnt really going to do much. Its just going to replace one problem with another, and that’s putting it lightly. In reality, Panini (and every company for that matter) should find a way to incorporate a great method for helping collectors realize investment ROI when the redemption process goes sideways.
Lets face it, I would much rather pull a redemption for a Tom Brady or Kobe Bryant auto than not have those autographs available in products. Other people may not agree, but I would much rather include everyone they expect to be able to sign, than not have those people at all. At the same time, I dont want to wait 18 months for the completed project like I have waited for 6 cards currently in my queue. I also am too afraid to ask for replacements, because like the points program there are a myriad of horror stories out there. I want a slam dunk and a sure thing, and that just isnt available right now. Paying what I did for the redemptions I am waiting on limits what my perceived value of replacements chosen by another individual would be.
The answer is choice. The answer is fulfillment in a way that makes people feel like ROI is achieved. Points just make me want to throw a hammer at someone’s head. Points solve nothing, mainly because the rewards store is as much a game to be exploited as ever, and I dont have the time or desire to play that game. Im actually in the upper class of awareness, because I guarantee there are others who dont even know the rewards game even exists. Bottom line, you need to know when the stuff hits the store, and be ready to redeem when it does. Miss that time? Have fun with your cheap jersey cards that litter the front page.
I say the answer is choice, because there is no reason we shouldnt have a choice to begin with. If a collector pulls a redemption, they should have the choice between the player and the points, and if they choose the player and it falls through, points should be offered. Similarly, Panini should be held accountable to ensure the store is geared towards product specific redemptions, meaning I shouldnt be able to use points from Score to collect cards from Flawless.
Points are trash as it stands right now, and nothing makes me more upset than pulling them in a box. Its even worse when the product is high end, or even if its meant to be an extra hit. It makes me feel like I was shorted a hit, because there is so little I can get for the points, and actually redeeming a 150 point card will almost cost more in shipping than I would have gotten out of the points themselves. Think about it – 150 points goes for 5 bucks, shipping is 4.33. That means the effective value of 150 points is 67 cents, which is terrible.
These things need to go through a complete rebranding, and soon. As long as we continue to see them used the way they are, the more vitriol we will see from collectors that pull them.