In my last article about Jonathan’s Card, we discussed how you could grab a quick coffee fix for free, but unfortunately, the system was shut down by Starbucks when Sam Odio manipulatively gained money from it. Granted, he gave the money he raised to the charity foundation Save The Children, but he also instructed how anyone could use the card to make profit.
Odio may have killed the Jonathan’s Card, but fortunately, other currency-broadcasting fans have rushed in with their very own versions of the Starbucks-sharing system. Check out these new (safer) up-and-coming replacements for Jonathan’s Card.
In a swift move that happened directly after the unfortunate fall of Jonathan’s Card, a man by the name of Nicolas J Sheriff Jr. took a chance and developed another form of the ill-fated social sharing experiment. His version – FreeStarbucks.org – functions as a website which features a Starbucks barcode which you can use with your iPhone or Android phone. As with the case of Jonathan’s Card (and the official Starbucks app), all one must do is simply scan the barcode at the register when they are ready to pay for their coffee.
One of the advantages to FreeStarbucks.org is the fact that when you go to refill the card for others to embrace the joy of espresso, the link is already set for you with the numbers of the card hidden from view. This means that if someone is feeling like ruining the coffee fun for everyone, the task will prove to be difficult since they don’t even know what the code for the card is.
One thing that I found a little confusing (and I tried to contact Sheriff about this) was that I simply could not find a way to check the balance of the card. My advice for you right now would be to only try it out if you have some backup money in your bank account. This way, if you try to use the card and it’s entirely empty, you can avoid any minor embarrassment. Granted, you could still take a chance since you have to pay before the drink is made anyway.
Here we have another similar program sponsored by TalkAboutDesign – the Pay It Forward Card. The system utilizes an almost identical setup to FreeStarbucks.org, but it does have some minor differences that separate the two.
For instance, upon arrival to the card’s website, you will see the card’s balance right off the bat. Unfortunately, the current balance has been relatively low (likely due to its very recent start-up), but in order to remedy that, all one must do is deposit money into the card’s privately-numbered account with a few clicks of a button. Besides the website itself, TalkAboutDesign has also released an Android app that does virtually the same thing.
One of the differences between the original Jonathan’s Card and the PIF Card is that creator Maksim Petriv does not release any of the API whatsoever. He believes that this will help keep the card’s financial status safe, and furthermore, balance updates never show the exact state of the card. The TalkAboutDesign Twitter account has also used various Tweets that will simply state whether the card is full or not.
The movement began with Stark, and even on the original card’s still-existing Facebook page, there are quite a few followers still discussing ways to keep paying it forward. Users have found the coffee to merely be a symbol for what inspires them to share whatever they may have with their fellow man. That being said, it’s not so much that these people are (as Odio puts it) “yuppies buying yuppies coffee” as it is that they are average Joes who are finally taking time out of their day to think, “hey, maybe I could do something nice for this person.”
As a matter of fact, taking a cue from the original Jonathan’s Card, you can find numerous individuals who have set out with the goal of making their own community Starbucks Cards, releasing little-followed Facebook pages featuring images of the barcodes as profile pictures. Click around on Facebook, and you’ll be sure to find at least one or two.
No matter what happens, there are always people that will want to shut down even the coolest of things. It’s the general cynical nature of the Internet, and sadly, you can’t help that. However, there are still people in the world out there trying to be kind to whoever they meet doing whatever they can – and yes, that can be in the form of a cup of coffee.
Were you able to use Jonathan’s Card before Starbucks had to shut it down? Have you been able to use any of the ones mentioned? In what ways have you paid it forward recently? Also, have you ever shared your own Starbucks card?