One of most successful customer rewards incentive programs ever is the Canadian Tire Cash Bonus coupon, a.k.a. "Canadian Tire Money." One of the most sought-after rewards item is the Canadian Tire $1.00 coin.
Canadian Tire Cash Bonus Rewards
Canadian Tire is one of Canada’s largest and most successful companies that engages in retail merchandise such as hard-goods, apparel, home improvement, hardware, and petroleum, and more. It has a service branch (financial and automotive) and owns several other companies such as Mark’s Work Warehouse® and PartSource® auto parts jobbers.
Canadian Tires has a reputation for innovative advertising, making the prospect of shopping there appealing. Popular and successful television commercials around the Christmas holiday season have featured such slogans as “Give like Santa, Save like Scrooge” and “Scrooge-Approved Prices.” For my American friends whom are most assuredly not familiar with Canadian Tire stores, it is comparable in many ways to Western Auto retailers.
As a retailer, they are probably best known here in Canada for their unique cash bonus or customer loyalty rewards program known simply as “Canadian Tire Money.”
Canadian Tire Money is printed scrip that is given to customers based upon the amount of money spent on purchases, and the rewards money is redeemable for its face value against a future purchase.
Introduced in 1957 by the wife of the founder A.J. Biles, this program has been a success for the company, emulating similar rewards programs in the automotive filling stations at the time. The design and trademark logo and mascot have become well-recognized entities on these notes.
This cash bonus program was so popular that in 1961 it was expanded to include the retail stores as well as filling stations. Its vaguely similar appearance of these notes to Bank of Canada notes (‘Canadian paper money’) does not go unnoticed despite being slightly smaller than the genuine Canadian currency.
The Canadian Tire money is only redeemable at Canadian Tire; it is not considered to be private currency but a rewards program. The bills themselves state that they are a ‘cash bonus’ to delineate any confusion as to their actual purpose as opposed to ‘legal tender’ which is 'real currency.'
Will That Be Cash or Canadian Tire Money?
In one bizarre instance back in 2004 in Moncton, New Brunswick however, an ATM gave out Canadian Tire scrip instead of cash. The bank admitted the err and repaid the surprised customers, citing that the error likely occurred from a business customer that handles and packages their own daily cash and receipts may have by mistake co-mingled the Loyalty Rewards with the Bank of Canada currency.
Interestingly, if a customer purchases an item from Canadian Tire and receives the loyalty scrip and later returns the merchandise for a refund, they must return the scrip as well or their refund is reduced by the amount of the rebate. If you think about this, it is to say that a $100.00 purchase gets maybe $10.00 in Canadian Tire paper scrip; a 10% mark-down rebate to be used against a future purchase.
But If you return the $100.00 item for a refund and fail to bring in or return the $10.00 scrip, this amount is deducted from the refund. You only receive a $90.00 refund, leaving you to wonder if the $10.00 ‘fake’ money was not really worth a genuine legal tender $10.00 bill.
While at first take this appears untoward, but businesses are not legally required to transact refunds and legally, they are permitted to deduct the amount of any ‘reward program’ from the refunded tender. It makes sense really because otherwise an unscrupulous customer could make large purchases and receive reward money, then return the merchandise for the full price and walk away with the $10.00 bonus money, which can be applied towards the cost of goods at another location. While this sounds petty, could easily happen and it is theft nevertheless.
While only redeemable at a Canadian Tire retailer and have no determinable value elsewhere, the scrip is an item that is often stolen in home invasions for its actual value in redeemable merchandise from the retailer. Attempts to counterfeit this cash bonus scrip have been thwarted in the past.
According to Wikipedia, a German man in the mid 1990s was intercepted before leaving for Canada with some 11-million dollars of forged Canadian Tire scrip. In another case, an Armenian man was caught with allegedly over 45-million in forged Canadian Tire notes. -As if any Canadian Tire would not be suspicious of any purchase that large paid for using store scrip. it could be reasoned that the forged scrip was to be sold on the ‘black market’ within Canada at a percentage of face value, netting a profit for both the seller and the buyer.
End of Canadian Tire Money?
It appears that the paper loyalty program may be coming to an end however. There is talk that Canadian Tire Cash Bonus rewards may switch to an electronic points system, collected and redeemed on a plastic card for that purpose similar to the Air Miles Rewards program. While probably cheaper to manage, this would be more convenient for the consumer to not have to count-out that dreaded fistful of wrinkled paper bills for redemption at the point of sale. Downside is that often people donate these nearly worthless scrips to charity institutions, church or community drives, etc. where every dollar helps and every item the store sells is desperately needed, somewhere. Most Canadian Tire stores even have a 'drop box' for customers to donate their received scrip to charity, if they chose to do so.
A New Fervor: The Canadian Tire $1.00 Coin
On Dec. 2nd, 2009, Canadian Tire offered a metal coin instead of paper scrip. The shiny coin would be given on purchases of $25.00 or more, and features the familiar images of grinning Canadian Tire fictional mascot Sandy McTire. These coins are mint-quality and collectible items struck by the Royal Canadian Mint.
The early fervor for these coins was apparent as sellers on e-Bay were hawking these coins for between $25.00 and $50.00 apiece in the early weeks of this new program.
A second strike (image: left) of the $1.00 coin has since been issued using the same obverse (front) Canadian Tire logo design with a different reverse design. It appears that now this second issue is exhausted as well. I for one eagerly await a possible third strike of this unique and proof-quality collectible coin.
While officially the Canadian Tire customer rewards program is not dead, drastic changes may be in store by the end of this or next year. However, if these coins and other innovative loyalty program incentives are as successful as they appear to be, there might be a resurgence of these venerable icons of Canadian consumerism and they might stay as they are.
Ultimately profitable for the company, if coins are given as customer loyalty reward cash but are collected and hoarded instead of redeemed for discounts on in-store merchandise, this affects their bottom line in a very positive way. It is like a price increase in their merchandise without the sticker shock, for the cost of the merchandise will not have to change. -It’ll just cost the customer 10% more.