The Washington Post company recently launched a rewards program called PostPoints. The launch included strange television ads featuring people exchanging anthropomorphized blue point chips for things like pizza. I recently signed up to see how the program worked and whether I too could get some free pizza out of it.
Since I am not a Washington Post subscriber I joined at the “silver” level, earning 500 points for joining and another 125 points for proving some basic information about myself. Members can earn 5 points per day for visiting washingtonpost.com, reading Express and entering a code, or answering a quiz requiring a copy of today’s Post. Other ways to earn points include attending community service events or getting coupons at certain businesses, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do either. Most days I read online or Express, meaning I could earn between 5 and 10 points. With over 600 points already earned, I was off and running.
A quick look at the rewards dampened my enthusiasm. A $10 CVS gift card looked like a useful prize. However, at 3,385 points it would take me 677 days of Express reading or almost one year of reading both a print publication and the website to earn enough points to earn it. If I purchased copies of the Post from newsstands for the $10 gift card, it would cost me $338.50 in newspapers. Taking 1 minute a day to enter the Express daily code would add up to 11.3 hours for the gift card. A $25 Visa gift card was even more out of reach. At 6,325 points, it would take 3.47 years of reading one publication daily to earn enough points for it.
In fact, the only prize available for less than 1,000 points was a points exchange between PostPoints and Amtrak’s frequent rider program: 500 PostPoints for 100 Amtrak points. Since a one-way coach ticket in the Eastern zone costs 3,000 Amtrak points, those 500 PostPoints cover roughly 3% of the cost of a ticket.
And the pizza? At 2,500 points, I’ll have to read both washingtonpost.com and Express for 50 weeks continuously.