How long is too long when waiting for a redemption card to arrive? Six months? A year? Two years? More? My most recent redemption took nearly four years of waiting, followed by four weeks of nagging, but it finally arrived.
Recently, in my never-ending request to clear the piles of cards off of my desk, I found a redemption card that I had redeemed long ago. This was supposed to get me an autographed Akim Aliu rookie card from the 2012-13 Panini Limited Hockey set. I opened a box of these cards way back in mid-2013, registered the redemption number via Panini’s website, and then forgot about it. So did Panini.
Since Aliu has played for my hometown Chicago Wolves before making his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames, I was excited to get a signed rookie card of the Nigerian-born winger.
However, a few things happened that made getting this card impossible.
First, Akim Aliu was not re-signed by the Flames at the end of the 2012-13 season. He ended up spending the 2013-14 season on minor league contracts with two different AHL teams. You would think that during the long hours of riding a bus to places like Worcester and Reading that he’d have plenty of down time to sign some cards. Nope!
Then at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, Panini America had their NHL and NHLPA licenses revoked, which made Upper Deck the sole manufacturer of licensed NHL trading cards.
I’m guessing that, at this point, getting Aliu to autograph a bunch of trading cards from two years ago — or even a bunch of clear stickers to affix to said trading cards — was no longer a priority for Panini America.
So, the redemption was out of sight, out of mind as far as I was concerned, while Panini probably had other things to focus on than to try and settle up outstanding hockey redemptions.
Which brings us to this year. When I rediscovered this redemption card, I thought that I must have gotten it by now. Panini always delivers. But when I looked it up, it showed that I registered for the redemption on July 2, 2013 and that the order was still open.
Unable to find a way to explain my problem via the web form on Panini’s website, I put out a request for help via Twitter.
Hey @PaniniAmerica who can I contact about a long-overdue redemption card that I am still waiting for?
— Sal J. Barry (@PuckJunk) February 9, 2017
Initially, Panini was quick to answer.
— Panini America (@PaniniAmerica) February 9, 2017
The next day, I contacted their Customer Service Twitter account.
@PaniniCSM Can you help me with an outstanding redemption? I’m still waiting for a card from 2013.
— Sal J. Barry (@PuckJunk) February 10, 2017
A day later, they replied.
@PuckJunk – What is the 6 digit redemption number for it?
— PaniniCSM (@PaniniCSM) February 10, 2017
— Sal J. Barry (@PuckJunk) February 10, 2017
Five days later, and no reply. So I reached out again.
— Sal J. Barry (@PuckJunk) February 15, 2017
No answer, so I started contacting every Panini Twitter account I could think of.
— Sal J. Barry (@PuckJunk) February 16, 2017
Eight days later, still no reply, so I tried again.
— Sal J. Barry (@PuckJunk) February 24, 2017
Three days after that, a reply!
— PaniniCSM (@PaniniCSM) February 27, 2017
We then moved the conversation to direct messages. It only took 19 days of tweeting, but hey, this was progress!
The Panini Customer Service Rep was very polite and helpful. I stressed that I didn’t expect the exact card that the redemption promised. The Customer Service Rep asked what players I might like as a replacement, so I listed out the best Blackhawks circa 2013: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Corey Crawford and Duncan Keith. They said they’d get back to me.
Four days later (March 3), I followed up via a direct message on Twitter, but no reply.
Three days later, I get home and see the dreaded “you missed a package” notice stuck to my door.
Package? But I’m not expecting a pa…oh, that’s right. Panini must have sent me something.
The next day, the package from Panini was delivered, as someone was around to sign for it. The package was kind of big for a redemption card. For a moment, I panicked and thought that Panini might have sent me a box of their 2015-16 Anthology Hockey to make up for the promised Aliu card. That would have sucked.
Upon opening the envelope, there was a box. Inside the box was a smaller envelope.
Inside the smaller envelope was…
Sure, had I gotten this Brandon Saad autographed rookie card in 2013, that would have been pretty rad. He was an up-and-coming Blackhawks prospect then. The card is a signed and numbered rookie card, so I feel that Panini tried hard to give me a comparable card from a team that I liked.
But at the same time, a box of 2012-13 Limited contained only seven cards, whereas Contenders had around 90 to 100 cards per box. In other words, getting a rookie card from Limited was a more expensive and difficult task than getting a rookie card from Contenders.
Overall, I am happy with the effort that Panini made to compensate me for the promised card that they could not deliver. I’d much rather have a signed card of a player that I enjoyed watching and who is still a star in the NHL today than a late-season call-up who played in a handful of games.
What disappoints me, though, is that I if I hadn’t been a borderline pest on Twitter, nothing would have come of this. It is the card company’s responsibility to deliver what was promised — or make other arrangements, as Upper Deck expertly did for me in 2013 — and shouldn’t be the responsibility of the consumer to dog the card company to do what they were supposed to do in the first place. ■