It was a situation clerks have faced again and again: customers upset by the discontinuation of rewards programs at franchises. But business owners say the programs simply cannot continue.
The reason: fraud.
In a world of home laser printers and multimedia PCs, counterfeiting has become increasingly easy. With materials available at any office supply store, those with a cursory knowledge of photo-editing software can duplicate the business-card-size rewards cards once punched at Cold Stone Creamery or the stamps once given out at Subway sandwich shops.
People are counterfeiting Subway stamps? And selling them on eBay, as the article points out? Who thinks to search eBay for Subway stamps?
All of that is certainly bizarre, but perhaps it occurred to someone somewhere that maybe a little technology could fix a problem caused by technology. Perhaps Subway executives have even seen it in action in a grocery store or gas station. Those places only try to get me to sign up for their Reward/Frequent Shopper/Super Saver/Generally Swell Guy cards every single time I shop at their establishments. The thought didn’t even have to be original. Observe. It’s such a basic business technique, it’s stunning that Subway missed it. (Cold Stone Creamery is featured in the article, as well, but I don’t hate them, so I’m only picking on them in in this paranthetical aside. Though, they do sell dairy products, so maybe I should… nah, I’m not that type of vegan. Screw Subway.)
And there’s this to consider:
And while the new system’s upfront costs might be high, it may reap larger rewards for the companies in the long run. As grocery stores have learned, the market research gleaned through establishing databases while handing out discounts can turn swipe cards into a winning formula very quickly.
Which is exactly why I never sign up for those cards or give my phone number to cashiers. I understand that I’m losing out on HUGE SAVINGS, but I’ll take my chances. Except at Best Buy. Best Buy is good. Best Buy gives me gift certificates for swiping my Reward Zone card. I like gift certificates. But I hate junk mail and telemarketers and all that useless, invasive crap. I’ll pay three cents extra for my tofu, thanks. I like the capitalistic idea that they’ll give me the best price without a gimmick and I’ll give them money without hesitation. Everything else is a time-waster. How about this sign on the entrance to every store:
We won’t sell you out.
Subway won’t clean a knife before cutting a sandwich. Why would anyone think they’ll respect customers enrolled in the electronic Sub Club?