Point Cards






Like a lot of countries, Japan has customer loyalty point cards. There are dozens of them here for all the major chains, and you practically need a larger-than-ordinary wallet to hold all of them. Checking out becomes a bit of an annoyance having to fumble for a given store's card, always greeted with "ポイントカードがありますか?" ("do you have a point card?")

The thing that really sets Japan apart, at least compared to where I'm from, is the concept of using the accrued points. Take Yodobashi Camera for example (a shop that sells just about any kind of electronic devices in spite of its name): anything you buy earns you 1/10th the price in points, which equates to giving you a 10% discount (of what you paid on the given item) toward your next purchase.

Sounds great, right? But it's not: they mark up every last item in the store 10% higher than you would find it on Amazon. So you're never actually saving any money, you're just being lured back to the store again in the future to spend your points, accrue more points in the process, rinse-repeat.

The thing that gets me is, how does this make sense in the age of Amazon? I don't think about the points I will get next time when I buy something, I think about sticker shock of items costing 10% more than they are supposed to when I'm buying at the moment. A quick cursory look at my phone shows cheaper prices with sometimes even same-day delivery online. The cards just turn into a hassle.

Still, if you ever need to shop for things in-person here, for when you can't wait on the mail, you're going to want to sign up for all of these various point cards.

めんどくさいなぁ

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