Schneider: Biggby says bye-bye to B's on cards

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EAST LANSING – So, I return from Mexico, via Manton, to learn that the discrimination I documented four months ago is on the verge of extinction.


No longer will the black B’s on Biggby frequent-customer cards be marginalized. No longer will the green B’s enjoy favored status. In fact, all the B’s soon will buzz off, replaced by – what else? – plastic cards that speak to computers.


Biggby president Michael McFall said Tuesday that the new cards are not only a more efficient way to reward customer loyalty, but they can also function as debit cards.


A customer can deposit a lump of money. Then, with one swipe of the card at a Biggby store, pay for his morning coffee and register his loyalty. As with the original cards, 12 purchases yield a freebie.


Wealth of information


The big tip for Biggby, McFall acknowledged, is all that data on the coffee habits of their customers – all in one convenient computer program.


The old cards are redeemable at the stores until Dec. 31. If you have, for example, 5 B’s on your card, you’ll get 41 percent off your next cup.


The revelation of inequality began, as you may recall, in July when Jeffrey L. Nyquist of Okemos – a highly caffeinated attorney – issued an indictment against certain inconsistencies practiced by franchisees in the East Lansing-based coffee company.


Nyquist was a card-carrying Biggby customer. Every purchase came with a B stamp; 12 stamps got him a free cup of coffee – theoretically.


The thing is, Nyquist got his caffeine fixes from various Biggby stores.


Some used black stamps; some green.


And at least one green stamper wouldn’t accept cards contaminated with black stamps.


This from a company that abandoned its original name – “Beaner’s” – out of fear of offending Hispanics?


Glut of B’s


McFall explained at the time that the company was working to resolve the discord among the B’s.


One problem was fraud. Using bootleg stampers, thieves were filling blank Biggby cards with fake B’s. McFall actually bought a Biggby stamper on eBay.


Some store owners adopted unique ink colors and became suspicious of colors not their own.


The other part of the problem was that some store operators were overly generous in their application of B’s, forcing other operators to live with the consequences of stamp inflation.


McFall said the new cards will be accepted at all Biggby stores, and that they are fraud-proof, or at least fraud-resistant.


Call John Schneider at 377-1175, send a fax to 377-1298 or e-mail


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