Point Break: Loyalty Cards in Japan Thicken Wallets but Lack in Payoffs

Source: Gaijin Pot
Point Break: Loyalty Cards in Japan Thicken Wallets but Lack in Payoffs

I’m standing at the checkout counter of my local Family Mart when the young woman working the cash register asks if I have a T-Point card.

“I do, indeed,” I tell her.

I pull out an inch-thick stack of loyalty cards from my wallet and start rifling through them.

Nope, nope, nope . . . Not this one . . . Ah, here it is. Oopswrong konbini (convenience store). Got it.

I hand her a T-Point card I got from the Asics shop a few years back. When she scans it, the cash register chimes: “Be sure to check your receipt to confirm how many points you have accumulated.”

“Yeah, right,” I grumble under my breath. Whenever I do check, I’m usually disappointed. The T-Point card doesn’t quite invoke the sense of loyalty as does, say, the flimsy paper card from Mother Nature’s Osteopathy. Each visit to the seikotsuin (osteopathic clinic) earns you one stamp. If it’s raining, they’ll give you an extra stamp. Collect 10 stamps and they’ll knead your aching back for free! Mother Nature’s often does a lousy job, but that point keeps me coming back again and again for more shiatsu agony.

Why so many point cards?

The truth be told, I sometimes wonder if the cause of my back pain isn’t that wad of loyalty cards I schlep around. It’s gotten so bad, that I had to purchase an extra folder to take care of the overflow.

According to a survey conducted by the infographic site Zunny (Japanese), Japanese people possess on average 20.9 cards, 10.7 of which they keep in their wallets. At 92 percent, the most commonly carried one is, not surprisingly, a credit card. (Interesting, when you consider that only two decades ago very few people in Japan used plastic.) That dubious T-Point card of …continue reading