I spend a lot of time writing in coffee shops which, apart from being the best way to waste money I don’t have, means that I have a selection of loyalty cards to choose from.
There are so many loyalty schemes that it’s actually hard to be loyal to any one retailer. My most favoured loyalty schemes are the most simple; using a flimsy piece of card and a stamp. Every time you buy a coffee, you get a stamp. 9 coffees = 9 stamps = 10th coffee free.
I’ll stretch to the slightly more complex points system, in which you earn a certain amount of points every time you buy coffee. These points are converted into a cash value. When you have lots of points, you can use them to buy coffee.
I rarely go to Starbucks, because I don’t want to be one of those pretentious people who goes to Starbucks to write (so I just go to other coffee shops instead). I wasn’t aware that they had a loyalty/reward scheme, until a recent meet with my SIL, who kindly gave me a Starbucks card (which I thought was a gift card until the first time I used it). When I presented the card at Starbucks, I was a tad thrown when the guy was all “Oh, let’s just see how many points you have on here” and I realised it wasn’t gift card and assumed it was a points reward card instead. I paid, using the card, thinking it had deducted a certain amount of points.
For my second visit to Starbucks, I decided to pay with cash and collect some more points. Sadly, this caused a surge of confusion.
Starbucks woman: So which are you paying with?
Me: Er, cash. I just want the points on my card.
Starbucks woman: [stare].
Starbucks woman: have you got cash on your card?
Me: I’m not sure, a friend gave it to me.
Starbucks woman: [Frowns] In what context did your ‘friend’ give you this card?
Me: She just gave it to me, she doesn’t drink coffee that much.
Starbucks woman: So how much is on the card?
Me: Er, I have no idea. I just want the points.
Starbucks woman: I’ll check it for you. [swipes it]. You have £2.50 left on your card.
Me: Okay. But I just want to pay with cash, I’ll save the points.
Starbucks woman: [sighs] We don’t do points. They’re stars, and you have to pay with your card to get a star. When you get 15 stars, you get a free drink.
Me: [Gives look of utter confusion]
Starbucks woman: Here’s a leaflet explaining how it works.
Then she sent me away, because I was causing a backlog in the queue of people who did understand how the reward scheme worked.
But, it turns out that the new reward scheme outraged thousands of Starbucks customers up and down the country. That’s right, even people who understand how the scheme works are pissed off.
I’ve spent some time going through the leaflet, to save myself further embarrassment. If you wish to avoid a Starbucks reward scheme faux pas, then please consult my handy six step guide:
Step 1: Go to Starbucks, pick up a Starbucks card at the till, put money on it, then use the card to buy coffee. For every coffee you buy with the card, you get a star.
Step 2: You then register the card online.
Step 3: On your next visit to Starbucks, buy more coffee using your Starbucks card. This puts you at Green Level. Green Level doesn’t really mean anything. At Green Level you get a free coffee for every 15 bought on your card. If you buy coffee with cash, you don’t get a star.
Step 4: Of course, if you use your 15 stars to get a free coffee, then you’ll forever stay at Green Level. Although, that doesn’t mean you lose out or anything, because the next level is GOLD LEVEL, which equates to the exact same thing as Green Level, except you need to buy coffee another 35 times (after the original 15).
When you reach GOLD LEVEL you get free shots of espresso (which almost no one wants) and free soy milk (which almost no one wants and only costs an extra 50p anyway).
Oh, and you still only get a free drink for every 15 you’ve already bought.
Step 5: You could keep saving until you reach 100 stars. This is PLATINUM LEVEL which still means you only get a free coffee after buying 15, but you also get half a free muffin for every 10 coffees*
Step 6: Keep saving until you reach 200 and you’ll reach DIAMOND STUDDED SIREN LEVEL to get… well… free coffee for every 15 coffees purchased, plus free napkins!
Okay, so I made up Steps 5 & 6, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is where the reward scheme was headed. If you’re only ever going to get a free coffee for every 15 you buy, then what’s the point of having levels in the first place? Also, to reach Gold Level (i.e. free espresso and soy milk) you’d have to spend about £250 at Starbucks.
*sigh* I miss those days where you could just buy coffee with your iPhone…