An amazing story and a question

An amazing story and a question

Postby ponzu » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:39 pm

First the question. Has the Starbucks.com program where you could design your own card ended, replaced with eCards? I used in in 2007 to design my own card, which I used for a few years until I got tired of adding swipe marks, so I registered it to my account and retired it.

Now the amazing part. When I uploaded a photo of the card to Flickr, a friend - not a collector, but a graphics artist and a fellow Starbucks addict - liked it so much he offered first $100 and then, when I refused, $150 for it. Talk about an indecent proposal! :shock: I had to do it. I did not want to sell it, but I thought of all the older and international cards I could never afford, that I could finally get. So I sold it and blew my big bonanza in about three days on eBay. I don't feel bad about selling it, but I feel I could have done better pacing myself with the acquisitions. I think I made a mistake of not buying more expensive US cards, like Ichiro, and buying instead a bunch of Japanese and Taiwanese cards in the $5-$10 range. I know that I will never come close to completing those countries, so what was the point, right? I am not a very disciplined or methodical collector, I guess. They are just so... beautiful and different from ours and I had always lusted after them.

Anyway, to think that when the "make your own card" program was on, those cards were not even considered collectible. And now I sold one for $150! My friend actually used the "think of it as an artist selling his art" line on me. It worked.
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Re: An amazing story and a question

Postby speedbump_ca » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:22 am

Hi. I just registered here though I have briefly looked at this site in the past.

I saw your question and have an answer, at least as of a couple of months ago.

The customized cards as they had them ended sometime between summer and fall of 2011. Right around the time the Australian "partner" card showed up. It now appears that that partner card is an unofficial card but authentic. That is, it is likely that either a store or district manager purchased a bunch of them for his/her employees and used the customizable and personalizable features to create them as gifts. I haven't been able to find out how much money was placed on that card, however, though I have purchased one of them. I have heard that not all stores in Australia (that is, not all partners) got them but I know for a fact that at least one store did.

Anyway, as soon as *I* realized that the card was customizable, I attempted to go to the website to confirm it but it was gone already. I personally used the site to create 30 cards to honor my dad after he died in June, 2011. So I know the site was active in June or July.

I thereupon called Starbucks to inquire about it. I was told that the program has been "suspended." The person I spoke with in customer service said that there were planning to re-introduce the cards sometime later. So far, no sign of it...

What is interesting and aggravating is the new co-branded cards which are a subset of the customizable cards. That is, these exist in only four designs onto which personalizations can be added (including a logo.) I wish I had realized that before I bought 3 UCSF cards at an average cost of around $500 each. :-{

A person can purchase a customized VISA or Mastercard or Discover card easily...I know, I just had one made for my son. It wouldn't surprise me if Starbucks were to offer the opportunity to have a unique design placed on a card with their logo on it. At that point, of course, the cards become valueless...because of so many possibilities, etc.

I disagree with buckscards in their comments about the customizable cards. They indicate that there are infinite variations. That's not quite true. There *are* infinite variations if one considers personalizations. There are *finite* variations using simply the combinations of customizable features that they offered. Using the basic templates, however, the subset is even smaller. At this point I can't offer support for my statement since the program isn't there now but, at the time I estimated fewer than 100 basic templates (with the variations including adding a person, changing the person's look, adding accoutrements to the wardrobe, etc.)

To get $150 for a beat-up customizable card is a real coup! Consider yourself lucky. You do bring up a point, however. In the future, any customizable cards from the past will become more collectible, I think, due to their increasing rarity. This would include the obnoxious personalized cards, too, I think. (e.g. "To my best friend, Martha, for her love")

Don't know if I added anything of value here...sorry it isn't timely to the date of the question.
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Re: An amazing story and a question

Postby Stuart C » Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:39 am

A few of the older generation "customizable" cards have turned up on ebay over the past few years, but to the best of my knowledge the average going rate was about $25.

The new so-called "co-branded" cards have been selling at $100's of dollars ... until people latched on that some of them had been produced specifically for the collector market. There are undisputably some which were produced as promotional/advertising tools, and it is of course up to the collector/buyer how he wants to classify these.

One important difference between the above is that the new co-branded cards have a minimum print run of 100, whereas the customizable cards could theoretically be unique.

I may be stating the obvious, but at the end of the day "a card is worth as much as somebody is prepared to pay for it", and in Ponzu's case that seemed to have paid off well !!!

As a postcript, I personally object to the new generation of cards such as UCSF being called "co-branded". They are purely overprinted cards on one of 4 generic designs. In my opinion, the only true co-branded Starbucks cards are Royal Caribbean, Yahoo & Coach since they are genuine promotional items and each has it's own unique design.
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Re: An amazing story and a question

Postby Scott » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:34 pm

I agree there should be some distinction between those two types of cards. Starbucks isn't the first company to do this, on the manufacturing side we referred to them as "generics". Maybe a different designation is in order like "Co-Branded Generics", "Custom Generics", etc?
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Re: An amazing story and a question

Postby speedbump_ca » Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:33 pm

Thank you both, Scott and Stuart, for your positions. I agree with both. I am pissed that I paid so much for the UCSF cards before realizing that they weren't what I thought they were. The only bright spot, in the future, is if the cards are to be reproduced/reprinted again, the serial numbers may/(may not?) escalate. On the customizable card blanks, the serial numbers remained 6042 throughout...so maybe these new cards won't change, either...don't know...

As to what to call them, I do believe that another name is in order. I do also believe, as Stuart states, that so far the only true co-branded cards are the three he mentions. There are at least two cards that fall into an in-between category, in my mind, and one is the Australian "partner" card (that was probably printed in a small run for just one store) and another card that I possess that was made for Nieman Marcus. That card's print is lower than the customizable options allowed (I checked it carefully prior to the site's disappearance.) The NM card was clearly a customizable blank but not used in typical fashion.

These four new templated cards (and the customizable were also templated, with lots of options) could simply be called "templated designer" cards or "company templated" cards. Do you agree to not call them customizable or co-branded, then? Again, anyone willing to buy a minimum of 100 cards can submit any sort of little simple logo to add to the template. This could be an organization or a business or possibly some commercial venture and maybe even a private person (don't know if Starbucks will accept "anything.") How about "4-pattern" cards? I think if enough of us can agree, we can guide future references to these cards.

Thanks for the inputs...
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