I guess, in some respects, I've come back around on restaurant punch cards.
I think Subway started it years ago with their stamp cards, and now you can't run a coffee shop, ice cream store, or smoothie place without them. I'm sure Red Lobster would be all over it if they could just figure out how to make a hole punch that looked like a crustacean. I would love it if the trend continued it's way up the retail ladder, and somewhere a guy was getting a free car because he had a little card in his wallet with enough stamps: "Are you sure you want to use this now? Because if you started a new card and got it half full you could get a van!"
Or maybe there's a company that sells exotic animals: "Hey, that's number 10 for you! I'll go get your monkey!" I can just see him there, holding a little yellow card with monkey-face stamps.*
Only it would never happen. There's a cap to where the punch-model will work. Why? Because the only things given away for free are ones that are nearly valueless.
It's a pretty distressing thought. Not only do I regularly buy (or in the case of smoothies, put a down payment on) things that have no real value, but knowing that they have no value I will continue to buy them. I'm aware that fruit, yogurt, orange juice, and whatever roofing compound they sell as "enhancers" and "boosts" doesn't cost that much, and apparently I'm ok with it.
Their promotional endeavors have brought the nature of their business model into stark relief. They sell, for %75 of a full meal's cost, the service of hitting a blender's "On" button. But that doesn't change the fact that there's a solid hour between when I'm done running at the track and when Karate starts, and I need something in my stomach that won't turn to cement while I'm kicking a pad.
So do I want a Strawberry Extreme? Or a Banana-berry treat?
*Gary Larson, my stuff is copyright Sam Cook. So I had better not see this pop up in anybody's one-a-day calendar.