April 17, 2024

Bucks: Starbucks Uses Snail-Mail Rewards, Too

Earlier this week I questioned why OpenTable insisted on sending checks by snail mail to users who earned rewards points by dining out. It seems that Starbucks, too, uses the Postal Service to deliver reward coupons to loyal latte drinkers.

(In response to the OpenTable post, at least one reader suggested that I stop whining about a relatively minor issue. At the risk of annoying those interested in weightier topics, I am revisiting rewards shenanigans as they relate to coffee, which I consider a big deal.)

At Starbucks, you pay with your Starbucks debit card to earn points, which you can then redeem for a free drink. That struck me as even more questionable than OpenTable’s system, because Starbucks rewards members who are already toting around reloadable cards. So now they have to stuff a piece of paperboard in their wallet, too?

Here’s a thought from Gary of Maine, a self-described “huge Starbucks fan” who posted this on Monday:
“It confounds me why Starbucks couldn’t just ‘credit’ the Starbucks card — which it tracks online anyway — with a free drink credit, or with money, or with anything electronic. You would think they are counting on some percentage of the rewards cards to be lost in the mail, lost in the house, set aside because too bulky to carry, and finally to expire.”

It turns out that Gary isn’t the only one pondering that. “We have heard feedback from customers about the desire for digital rewards and are looking at ways to use the technology to enhance the My Starbucks Rewards experience,” a spokeswoman, Tamra Strentz, said in an e-mail. Specifically, she continued, Starbucks is “evaluating which customer communications should be delivered via traditional mail versus fulfilling them through digital channels.”

When the company started its rewards program, she said, it wanted to be sure that coffee lovers who earned points could use them not only at Starbucks company stores, but also at licensed-locations in grocery stores and airports, which use different payment systems. The company decided that the best way to let all stores honor the benefits, she said, was to mail “tangible” postcards.

In a follow-up e-mail, she said the data integration required to redeem “digitally delivered” rewards isn’t available at all Starbucks locations today.

What do you think? Would you prefer digital rewards, or would you take your free java any way you can get it?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=50f4d12f30d422e3399bfd400d51722f

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