Today I had one of my random epiphanies on how to make the world a better place. I’m sure you’re curious to know what I came up with, aren’t you? Did I solve world hunger? Eliminate homelessness? No I did not. But I’ll tell you what I did realize…
The key to everything is invisible points.
It all started when I was clipping coupons. And by “clipping coupons” I mean selecting digital coupons through an app on my smartphone and loading them onto my loyalty card through the magic of The Cloud (or something). Rarely do I actually cut coupons made with paper, and it’s even more rare to remember to use said pile of random coupon papers. Which is why I generally stick with magically throwing digital coupons into The Cloud (or whatever mythical interwebs entity handles them).
Anyways, I was couponing when I stumbled upon an interesting deal. If I bought a gift card to Subway, I could get 200 fuel points for the Kroger gas station. But I had to hurry — this coupon expired soon.
So I swung into action. I called The Husband and told him we were having subs for lunch because there was this coupon I wanted to use so we could get more points for gas.
“Mmmkay,” he said, which in Husband speak translates to “I want the sweet chicken teriyaki on Italian, please.”
After claiming the coupon, I went to Kroger to purchase the gift card. I picked up a $25 card — the lowest denomination I could get that would be eligible for this deal. And it was the only one they had left. When it came time for me to select my method of payment, I chose to whip out my points-earning credit card. This particular card racks up airline points. I’ll have to double check, but I believe today’s purchase earned enough airline points to be redeemed for a free peanut. But not the kind they just hand out to anybody and everybody on the plane. No, sir. I now have enough points for a GOURMET peanut. (I think.) After checking out, I got a receipt with an invitation to take a survey which would earn MORE points. You best believe I am all over that survey, because dang it I want my points!
Eventually I leave Kroger and make my way down to Subway. Apparently word had spread about this deal and everybody in town wanted those fuel points. Because shortly after I started ordering my food, a line formed that went out the door. Thankfully things moved quickly, and soon I was on my way, feeling proud of myself that I earned airline points and fuel points and DANG IT I FORGOT TO SWIPE MY SUBWAY CARD TO GET SUBWAY POINTS. This realization was frustrating, but overall I was quite pleased with my points-earning mission.
So let’s review, my friends:
- I invested almost an hour of my time on this quest.
- I spent $25 dollars.
- The fuel points between the coupon and the survey equal about 20 cents off gas, which with my car’s tank equals about $2 of savings.
- So I spent $25 dollars to ultimately save $2.
- But wait a minute, I have a coupon for double the fuel points all summer.
- So I really saved FOUR DOLLARS.
- I am awesome. Points are great. All hail points!
Anyways, as you can see, I am clearly motivated by the promise of these fanciful points. I am far more motivated to chase points than I am to go to the gym, clean my house, or any number of other important things that I haven’t really done today. And I am not the only one. I’ve known many other people who are far more devoted to the points system than I am. They’ll buy gift cards for one thing to pay off another thing, so they can get points to buy more cards for more things. (Which will earn them more points on the credit card used to buy the first batch of gift cards, which can then be redeemed for more gift cards, which can be used to buy the things, which can rack up loyalty points at the store, which can be used for…)
I think eventually some super shopper person — given enough time and points motivation — will come up with a strategy to eliminate the national debt through a series of buying and using gift cards along with redeeming points. Let’s get that person in congress, shall we?
Clearly these points are the adult version of the famous sticker charts we all had in kindergarten. You know what I’m talking about. The one where if little Jimmy can go the whole day without whacking another kid over the head with a toy truck he gets a sticker. And if he gets a whole week of stickers, then he can choose something from the toy bin. The toy bin, as we all know, is a bunch of junk. It’s full of crappy little knick knacks that no one in their right mind would pay for. (At least not individually. If you can get a box full of Crappy Little Things for a bargain price, suddenly it’s an amazing deal.) But little Jimmy loves it. Because he earned it with stickers.
Since behavior management by stickers works so well in kindergarten, I wonder if there’s a way that individual points could somehow be used to improve adult behavior. I can see it now…
TRAFFIC COURT JUDGE: Mrs. Barry, this is your third speeding ticket in a month. Add that to your three offenses last year, and it’s clear you have a problem. You still have an outstanding balance from 2017.
MRS. BARRY: I’m sorry, your honor. Please have mercy on me. *prepares to turn on the waterworks to earn sympathy*
TRAFFIC COURT JUDGE: I see no choice but to impose a $500 fine on top of what is already owed.
MRS. BARRY: SERIOUSLY?!? Screw you! *flips tables in a fit of rage* I will never stop speeding, EVER!
But if we introduced a points system, it could look like this…
JUDGE: Mrs. Barry, this is your third speeding ticket in a month. Add that to your three offenses last year, and it’s clear you have a problem. You still have an outstanding balance from 2017. It is the recommendation of the court that you enroll in the points program. For every day that you don’t break the speed limit, you’ll earn 100 points. Getting caught speeding will cost you 2,000 points per offense.
MRS. BARRY: *leans in with curiosity* Go on.
JUDGE: Once you earn 100,000 points, you’ll receive a $25 gift card to the store of your choice. Additional cards can be earned for every 50,000 points after your first card.
MRS. BARRY: Where do I sign up?
JUDGE: There’s more. You can get a 15,000 point bonus for every friend you enroll in the program.
MRS. BARRY: I WILL SIGN UP ALL MY FRIENDS.
JUDGE: And for every five friends you recruit, you earn an additional 10,000 points AND you get entered into a drawing for another $25 gift card!
MRS. BARRY: NO ONE WILL EVER SPEED AGAIN! NOT ON MY WATCH! I WANT ALL THE POINTS!
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Maybe no one is THAT motivated by invisible points. But could you imagine how great this world could be if they were? Roads would be safer. Debt could be eliminated. And most importantly, there would be a lot more drawings for free stuff.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check my points balance.