If you're a New Yorker, odds are very good you have a Duane Reade "Dollar Rewards club" card in your wallet (or attached to your keychain). Non-New Yorkers are surely familiar with the concept -- the cashier scans the card when you check out, and your "account" receives "points" for whatever you buy, and every so often (when you reach 100 points) you get a coupon for $5 off your next purchase. Since DR has a stranglehold on the drugstore market in Manhattan -- and a store on every other block -- I end up shopping there a lot, and I'm all for saving money once in a while. I once heard a guy giving the cashier a whole speech about how he didn't have a card and he didn't want one, because the company was just using it to track his purchases and he wasn't going to be part of their scheme (and the cashier was like, Whatever, guy, I'm just supposed to ask if you have a damn card). Perhaps that man is right -- I wonder if he's still holding out? -- but I have enough soapboxes to stand on already; I can't be bothered to care about whether my pal Duane is keeping an eye on what I buy. I don't have anything to hide, aside from my addiction to Pepperidge Farm Brussels cookies. And there's no shame in that.
The only time I give any thought to the DR "Dollar Rewards" program is when I actually have one of those coupons (which print out at the bottom of your receipt) and I have to remember to use it within two weeks. Otherwise it is not a big part of my life, and that's how I think it should be. (Apparently you can keep track of your account online, but if you do that regularly I think you might need a hobby.) I mention it because I think it provides a helpful contrast to the "rewards" program at D'Agostino's, one of our neighborhood supermarkets. D'ags has the most complicated customer-rewards program I have ever encountered. I feel like I would need to take a night school course just to get a grasp on how it works. The husband signed us up a while ago, figuring it couldn't hurt, and I attached the little fob he gave me to my keychain. However, neither of us had any idea what "rewards" we would earn, if any, and subsequent shopping trips didn't make this any clearer. We always came home with a handful of receipt printouts pertaining to said "rewards," but aside from reading material we weren't getting much out of it. We decided that they were, for all intents and purposes, Schrute Bucks.
And then! Yesterday! The husband came home from a D'ags run and announced, "I saved money with our Schrute Bucks!" He says the cashier asked him if he wanted to apply his "Greenpoints" to the orange juice he was buying. Already we can pinpoint a problem with the D'ags system: They shouldn't have to ask you if you want to save money. There should be no decision-making involved. He said yes, of course, and we're not complaining about the $4.20 we saved. But we still have no idea why we saved it. This explanatory printout, which we studied for a good 10 minutes, hasn't been much help.
As you can see, I blacked out any potentially identifying information -- and I suspect I blacked out a lot more data than necessary. It's not that I'm paranoid; I just have no clue what any of these numbers mean! That's how impenetrable I find this whole program. We have a "target" number of "lunch purchases"? Says who? And it gets even more complicated -- check out this exciting opportunity.
WHAT THE HELL, D'ags. Why is this so COMPLICATED. I think it's the little "S&H" logos that are really throwing me off -- what is "S&H"? And do the icons mean something, or are they just there to confuse? I can't believe I'm wasting all this time thinking about it. And I don't even get 5 extra minutes of lunch for my troubles! Have any of you cracked the code? Can you fill me in? I'm totally at sea here.