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Rewards Can’t Always Be Grande
By: Briskman Stanfield
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Offer anyone the chance to win the littlest something and they chomp at the bit. Why? Simple; winning is everything. Or is it?

Nothing is really free, as the cost of the prize is shrewdly woven into the price of some related purchase. However, leading people to think they have won is…well, wonderful! It makes the customer feel VIP important as it reinforces the brand behind a brilliant ad campaign. Lately that is done through rewards membership programs.

In fact, they are popping up daily, from airlines to drugstores. But joining can often feel like a chore, as it becomes a big pain in the ever-growing card keychain. Then it also takes time to set up another account and the patience of an enlightened yogi to decipher a new set of complex rules. Not to mention having to create more usernames and the strongest of passwords that must be added to that growing little black book. Pant! Pant!

Is it really worth the effort? For programs that offer badges and praise, not so much. For the “rewards worthy” programs that offer instant gratification with significant discounts and exciting free perks, definitely!

Which explains why changing rules in a mid-brew is NOT cool, such as the latest news from Starbucks in their recent announcement. (Do we not get enough of that from our healthcare system?) It’s not a good feeling having the perk plug pulled on a rewards program that made perfect sense and worked brilliantly.

Although Starbucks claims the new will be “better” and was even “requested” by the customer, it sounds anything but. For those who had problems learning that tall was the new small, beware the impending rules of two stars per dollar rather than one star per visit. In this case more is not necessary for the better.

Beginning in April, the old 12 stars no longer earn a free cup of joe. It will take 125! But before seeing stars, one must still reach the Gold member level, which now requires 300 stars instead of 30.

Is this the brightest Starbucks idea to come down the pike? Who knows! Apparently, we take our rewards programs for better or worse when we enroll. Which brings the good news: the birthday freebie remains the same, and the bad: only time will tell what’s written in the stars.

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About the Author

Briskman Stanfield is a freelance copywriter and all-around, behind-the-scenes team player.

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