Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Keep spare change on 'customer loyalty' card

Instead of giving change, store credits an account on customer's 'loyalty card'.
  (+15, -2)(+15, -2)
(+15, -2)
  [vote for,

Many stores, at least in the U.S., have "customer loyalty cards" which offer customers discounts on certain purchases in exchange for allowing the stores to track purchase habits (and, in some cases, enforce quantity restrictions on sale items). Many stores also feature machines which will count customer's loose change and offer a voucher good for abour 92% of the money deposited.

I would propose that stores could enhance the utility of their loyalty cards for customers who hate having lose change in their pockets by:

-1- Allowing 'loyalty card' customers to throw any lose change they have into a counting machine and receive full credit for them in a mini-account tied to their loyalty card.

-2- Allowing customers to opt to have any sub-$1 change from cash purchases credited to their account rather than dispensed as change.

Doing this would offer at least three benefits to the store:

-1- Cashiers would no longer have to spend time counting coinage offered to them by loyalty-card customers, nor would they have to spend time counting change. Although automated mechanical dispensers in some stores eliminate the latter time, they do not elimianate the former.

-2- The store would get to keep float on what would likely be an average of nearly $0.50 in customer accounts. Although this wouldn't amount to much, it would still be worth something.

-3- People who accumulate loose change would have an incentive to shop at the store in question and join the loyalty program to receive the benefit of no-fee counting.

-4- Customers who hate having loose change in their pockets could benefit from not having the store give them any. This might make them feel more inclined to shop there.

supercat, Dec 05 2004

UPromise http://www.upromise.com/
A 'painless' system of donation -- does not incorporate spare change, but maybe that could be an option. [reensure, Dec 05 2004]


       I recently read an article about those cards. Apparently the US is one of the few countries wherein stores are permitted to force membership in order to receive discounts. Most other countries outlaw this, and loyalty cards are driven by awarding points that can be turned in to collect awards. Discounted prices are available to all, card or not.
waugsqueke, Dec 05 2004

       I could do this if I had the retailers' help; frankly, I was never good at UPromise.
reensure, Dec 05 2004

       [supercat] you are a retailing genius.
neilp, Dec 05 2004

       I spent a long time as a cashier and to tell you the truth, it takes almost no time to count out change (unless you've been drinking). What might be even better is if they made this card that worked at all stores and you just kept all your money on it.. maybe tied to a bank account or something?   

       I guess I just like change, it gives me something to throw at small children or donate to charity.   

       Adding in this system would have a pretty cost to the retailer (which gets passed to us) and it would invariably break down at some point.
photojunkie, Dec 06 2004

       [photo] //What might be even better is if they made this card that worked at all stores and you just kept all your money on it.. maybe tied to a bank account or something? // - I think you're talking about a debit card now..
neilp, Dec 06 2004

       [neilp] My debit card has fees that are too high for this to work. $1 (not a US dollar though) for every transaction. You'd be better off throwing the coins away.
caspian, Dec 06 2004

       [caspian] You have to pay to use a debit card?? Who charges you, the bank or the retailer? The whole point of debit cards (in the UK at least) is that they are a secure and cheaper form of transaction for the banks and retailers to process than cash, so they all want people to use them. Plus your spending habits can be tracked. Last year in the UK we spent more with plastic than with cash!   

       Rather than throw the coins away why not give them to the charity collector standing outside the shop?
Belfry, Dec 06 2004

       Oops, I was assuming an EFTPOS/ATM card is an debit card, not sure now if that's true. The bank charges tranaction fees. It's a savings account so it's not really meant for high use, but most of the everyday accounts charge (smaller) fees for transactions too. I've only seen one that doesn't, it has higher than average monthly fees instead though.
caspian, Dec 06 2004

       Many moons ago when I was small, the world shifted from the £10 type of pricing to the £9.99 type of pricing. I was told at the time (by a cashier) that one of the reasons for this was that having the customer waiting for the cashier to take the 1p out of the till was that it made it much harder to the cashier to scam the shop. Previously they could pretend to operate the till then simply pocket the cash as the customer walked away, this becomes much harder when the customer is waiting for the cashier to open the till and get the 1p change out. True? Don't know, but it sounds reasonable.
wagster, Dec 06 2004

       [wagster] I think you were around for when £10 became £10.99. One of the biggest reasons this is done is that retailers figured out that people don't really consider the change as part of the price of an item... at least not very hard. They can charge more as long as it's not a whole dollar... weird...
photojunkie, Dec 27 2004


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