The membership card problem

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 10:40 PM | comments: 0

It's hard to believe CoasterBuzz Club is over a dozen years old (and the site is older than that). While it was really born out of a difficult situation, where I lost the big money ad provider after committing to a T-1 contract to my house for hosting, in the long run it has helped because of the unpredictable ad market in general.

But from the start, being a software developer and not wanting to be ghetto about the way I run things, I always wanted to automate the production of the membership cards. My solution was to get card stock with a custom die-cut punch in them. I've only ordered them twice, in quantities of thousands. I'm down to a few hundred, and while I still have the die, I don't know if I can find a local printer to use it to rattle off thousands more.

Believe it or not, the cost on those damn things was a little high, just over a dime I think, but I've been able to use the same laser printer for a dozen years to print on them. I have a slightly crappy Access front end where I just push a button and print. So now I have to ask myself if I keep this up or explore a new solution.

At first I entertained the idea that there should be some kind of print-at-home option, with a simple online verification for those worried about fraud. Oddly enough, some of the parks complained that it was fraud prone. I don't really agree with that, and certainly the only one who has something to lose is me.

I've also thought about doing plastic cards. This could in theory be the most elegant solution. The cards cost under a dime a piece in volume, which is less than I paid for the cards, but of course they require a special printer, and those start at a grand. I can play all kinds of games with the numbers to figure out a cost per card, but even once you get the printer paid for, the "ink" is expensive. Over the course of five years, I arrive at a cost per card of around 85 cents.

There is one other problem though, and that's the fact that I would have to write new code for printing. As anyone who has ever had to do that knows, coding to print is the single worst task you could have. It just sucks. That's a serious draw back.

I wish I had a staff to worry about this stuff. I'm in a career stage where delegating is better. :)


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