Coffee & Tea

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf dumping its free drink cards!

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Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf dumping its free drink cards!

PayOrPlay | Aug 20, 2005 04:15 PM

At my local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf this morning, I saw a poster announcing that they will be discontinuing their long-time pink, brown, and green card programs for frequent customers. The stated reason: increasing forgery of these paper cards. They will stop issuing new cards toward the end of August and will stop stamping the old ones, and accepting them for free drinks in mid-October.

Imagine that--a cottage industry in Pink Card forgeries. Has it come to this, that forgers have been driven into the phoney-coffee-card business, as it becomes more difficult to copy "new and improved" U.S. paper money?

I never did quite figure out what the brown and green cards were for, but it seems like I have been carrying a frayed pink Coffee Bean card in my wallet for years. This was one of the best frequent user programs in the business: Buy 12 drinks, get 1 free, and the free one could be a big ol' multi-ingredient Ice Blended even if the paid-for drinks were all single cups of coffee. Sort of the coffee shop industry analog of Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards Program (which is also being retooled right now). Even better, because unlike Southwest's program, the Coffee Bean cards have no time limits, practically speaking, so even a very occasional customer like myself could count on a freebie every so often.

The poster said that they would be introducing a replacement system "soon." No specifics, but the company website has some info about a new smart card program now being tested in San Francisco, which will allow you to pre-pay for your drinks as well as keep track of your purchases. http://coffeebean.com/cbc_perksinfo.asp

Phooey, I say, I will miss that old scrap of pink paper. Anwyay, if you're carrying one around, better get it in before October. (Although I wonder some legal eagle--s/he'd have to have a lot more interest in the issue than I do!--might make a claim under California's law that prohibits time limits on gift certificates.)

Of more immediate interest to those in Coffee Bean Land (Cal, NV, AZ, and all over the Far East and Middle East), Coffee Bean's "summer special" Banana-Caramel Ice Blended is terrific, if you're looking for a sweet, relaxing, non-coffee dessert substitute. (There are two other summer specials--the Belgian chocolate coffee drink is pretty good, but I thought the strawberry cream tea was awful.) They probably do mean it when they say "limited time"--we are still in mourning over the wonderful caramel rooitea ice blended they sold for a few months some years back.

Sure, I can make my own banana-caramel drink at home for a lot less, with my trusty new Osterizer blender and a big bottle of Guittard caramel sauce (Bonne Maman caramel sauce is even better, but a little too expensive to use regularly in milkshakes)--but you can't carry a blender around in your car, can you? (Can you?)

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