Starbucks Pulls the Plug on ‘Jonathan’s Card’ Experiment
Well, you knew someone would ruin it.
Jonathan’s Card, which we told you about last week, was a nifty social experiment that used a shared Starbucks card in a modern version of the “take a penny, leave a penny” tray. People could use the card to buy themselves coffee and/or contribute to the card and earn themselves a little good karma. Now, alas, it’s no more.
Last Friday night, Starbucks pulled the plug on the card — not because the chain itself was unhappy with the experiment, but because blogger Sam Odio published a blog post describing how to hijack funds from the card to net enough money to buy an iPad.
The fact that he didn’t actually buy the iPad but rather put the diverted funds onto a new Starbucks card that he’s trying to sell for charity mattered not. Starbucks, citing allegations of fraud, deactivated Jonathan’s original card.
Even though the rules do not permit the use of shared registered cards, Adam Brotman, vice president of digital ventures at Starbucks, said, “I’m sad about it, first and foremost, because we were legitimately cheering on this experiment.”
Jonathan himself updated the experiment’s website with a message that said in part:
“We believe this is the start to a bigger more glowing picture. In the last 5 days or so, we’ve received hundreds of stories of people doing small things to brighten a stranger’s day: Paying for the next car at the drive through. Sharing a pick me up with someone who has had a rough time. Charging up a phone card and sharing it with strangers at the airport … So, tonight we lose our barcode. But of course, we never needed it in the first place.”