As was mentioned in today's Frosty Mug, the BP C'mon Back Club free ticket promotion has returned so seven fill-ups of eight gallons of gas yields you one free ticket to see the Brewers through the middle of August.
Now I was underemployed and poor for much of the 2009 and 2010 seasons so I fancy myself to be a bit of an expert on scoring free or reduced seats to see the Crew. Of the last two dozen games I've attended, I've probably only paid face value for one, maybe two. There's no seat too cheap--no view too obstructed that I won't go there as long as I go there for free.
High on experience and low on class, here are my tested and true techniques for making the most of the BP C'mon Back Club program:
2. Find the pump that has a receipt dangling off of it. If you do this successfully, you've just doubled or tripled your investment in free tickets. I had one gas station attendant tell me that it's not allowed, but I've never seen anything on the official rules. I've also heard rumors that the ticket office is supposed to disqualify cards that have receipts bearing more than two credit card numbers. I've never been denied by this clause, however.
You should buy your gas in increments of eight gallons. Never, ever, under any circumstance is it acceptable to fill your tank up at 14 gallons. My wife, too, knows that if she does this, she should expect complaining.
3. Trash cans are your friends. One of the happiest days of my life was the day I went to buy gas and came home with 10 receipts. The admiration of my buddies more than compensated for the shame and scorn of my wife. It's worth noting that you should know your limits here. You don't want to make a scene dumpster diving so it's best to have a plan going in. Personally, I'll put my arm in up to my elbow--but that's it. And coffee grounds in the garbage can is usually a dis-qualifier.
4. "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Garbage cans aren't the only places you might find tickets. The top of the pump, the ground, and the area near the doors of the gas station might also provide homes to wayward receipts.
5. There's no wrong reason to go to BP. Sometimes I'm running early for a meeting of other obligation. What a waste it would be to arrive at my destination and have to spend 10 minutes in a lobby or waiting room! Solution: Stop by the BP to look around for wayward receipts. Time is money. It's also tickets. Think about it: 8 minutes at BP for an extra stamp toward a free $16 ticket means you're earning about $16/hour. Not bad in these troubled economic times!
6. Know your gas station. Like I said, my strategies don't break any stated rules, but you also don't want things to get awkward. The facts are the facts; some gas station attendants just ask more questions than others. For example, some BP station receipts in Madison say "Fast Stop" rather than "BP." The employees at the BP near my son's old daycare were sticklers on this. But the BP near my apartment (which appeared to provide work to quite the revolving door of dropouts, convicts and other unemployable types) wouldn't have objected to me presenting a receipt for the HDMI cable I bought from Best Buy in 2007.
7. Free Parking. So, I mentioned that some of these unseemly tactics were devised during a time in my life when I was short on cash. You might be asking yourself "What good are free tickets, Steve, if I can't afford to park?!" Problem solved. Use some of your free tickets to invite friends. "Oh, Steve, this is so kind of you to invite me to the game for free. Are you sure I can't pay you for mine?" To which I reply, "No problemo, bro. If you want, why don't you pick me up at the Park and Ride, grab parking, and we'll call it good." Problem solved.
8. Get your family and friends to save receipts. This one is simple enough. If they get you stamps, even better. Probably best not to hassle your loved ones about filling up no more than 8 gallons at a time, however.
9. Return your cards early--OR real, real late. If you want to get your desired games, everybody knows you need to submit your BP cards early. But what if you can't? I've known too many people who've wasted good tickets because they couldn't make the last two or three BP games of the year. But once the tickets to the BP games are sold out (or you can't make those that are still available), they've provided vouchers for select April games. Free baseball is good any time of the year, but it's even sweeter in April when we're all suffering from withdrawal.
10. Enjoy the offseason. By mid-August, the constant 8 gallon fill-ups, the shame involved in obtaining your receipts, and the thrill of the chase will wear you down. Take August 16-February 10 to re-charge and to enjoy the offerings of other gas stations. Fill up your tank all the way. Enjoy some of the excellent cuisine Kwik Trip has to offer. And rest up because come February, it's time to get back on the hunt.