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Bad Ideas: Starbucks' Free Iced Coffee Cards

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[Image via Flickr/ jolieee]

It's everywhere! Your best friend may have it, your coworkers might have gotten it weeks ago, and you might be sitting there with it right now. Yes, it's the Starbucks Free-Iced-Coffee-On-Wednesdays card, which came in an insert of the New York Post in early June. We've been sitting pretty on ours for a while now, but redeeming it at the city's various Starbucks locations is getting uglier. Why the trouble? It seems that counterfeiting of the card is running rampant.

Sure, the deal is pretty sweet: each time you present the flimsy card on Wednesdays until July 23rd you get a free tall iced coffee. The card does not need to be handed over, thus ensuring that the city is well-caffeinated every hump day. As the weeks wear on, however, baristas have been getting noticeably grabbier with the cards and one divulged that it was due to paper fakes.

Since reproducing one of these cards is a walk in the park with a good laserjet printer and a little double-stick tape, we did a little experiment. Our conclusion after many grueling Starbucks visits in Chelsea, Soho, Wall Street, Park Slope and even Jersey City: Outer borough baristas are regular gumshoes, sniffing out the fakes easily while Manhattan baristas have more important things to do. So there you have it; keep your pettiest of white collar crime confined to the city and you'd do well to remember that coffee is a diuretic.
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