Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Early Christians, early lions.

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be running too far out in front of the rest of the pack... And, honestly, that doesn't seem to be that far ahead.

This weekend I received a coupon in my email for an additional 25% off anything at Barnes and Noble, on top of my existing Member discount. Given that Members get 10% off all paperbacks, 20% off all hardcovers, 30% off many new release hardcovers and a whopping 40% off bestseller hardcovers, an additional 25% off is nothing to sneeze at. So tonight I marched into my local B&N, picked out what I wanted, and kept on marching up to the register. Once there I whipped out my iPhone and showed the clerk the code she needed to punch in to give me my discount.

Said clerk shook her head. "I'm sorry, sir," she said. "I need to have a printout of the coupon."

My face fell. "But the code you need is right here on my screen. Look. Right there."

She shook her head again and pointed to an envelope next to the register. "I need to have the physical copy to put in this envelope in order to prove that you used the discount."

The mind boggles. So, essentially, B&N is saving a decent chunk of change by placing the printing charges onto the shoulders of their customers. Environmentally this makes some sense, since theoretically the only ones printing the things will be people who actually use them, thus saving boatloads of poor, defenseless recycled trees, but still – if you're going to go digital, then bloody well go digital – legal restrictions be damned!

Any e-coupon system worth the bits it's built from should be smart enough to not only look up a Member's code, but then also change the record in the database to mark that the code's been used – which, incidentally, is an infinitely faster system then stockpiling crumpled, inkjetted printouts. C'mon, people – join the 20th century already!


My coupon got mailed to me via USPS. Sucker.

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