Coffee cards - I have more in my pocket than there are shops I go to

Flickr: Jack has a 'coffee' at The Corner Bistro, SumnerI love coffee* cards. I love free stuff to be fair but I really love coffee cards.

I spend money on something I would anyway, I get a clip/stamp and after a week I get a free coffee ... which I would've spent money on anyway.

Of course, the idea of coffee cards isn't for me to have free coffee, I understand that and play along ... because I'm getting free stuff. It's to bring me back to their particular shop selling the delicious brown, bitter and stimulating beverage.

Trouble is, it doesn't work.

I have, in my pocket, around 10 coffee cards ... some are for places in Wellington (best coffee, best people, best RUGBY TEAM - go the 'Canes!!). I only go to one place - 646 (Columbo Street), which has transformed itself from a dodgy empty coffee place to the best in Christchurch (warm, good music, good read, great service, great coffee - see how car down the list it is :-).

So why have I got all the others - I might go back, I might've though I would go back, I might one day go back more than 4 times*. I probably won't, but I might. And I like free stuff.

Ok, so there's a worldwide issue that Dan Brown has missed - too many coffee cards sitting in back pockets/wallets and purses not being used. How about we come up with a card that:
  • Counts the coffees for ya (wee readout screen built in)
  • Let's you use it wherever you want
  • Can be loaded with money so you don't have to have $3.50 on ya
  • No PIN, just place on a reader and 'beep beep', "Your coffee sir"
I'm thinking a cross between an iPod (for the screen) and the MetroCard (load with money and beep beep). That's all from the coffee drinkers point of view, what about the coffee seller. Maybe that they are tagged (and the wee screen thingy displays where it was from) and you get cheaper coffee at that place, or a free one more often ... in fact, the promotion could be up to the shop and they could automatically load new ones when you buy a coffee and 'beep beep' for it.

If you decide to permanently change your coffee house you could swap the default across and get their promotions, icons and the like.

Cost of production - hmm, bit more than a piece of cardboard ... hmm, more work to do ...

*1: We're talking real coffee and not ya UK/Starbucks bollocks - just so you know
*2: Buy 4 and get 1 free has to be the standard, surely. I'm shocked and horrified when it's anything else!

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