Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thrift Week 2015, Day 6: Birthday freebies

Some of the birthday goodies I got this year weren't from family or friends; they were from companies I do business with. There are lots of businesses—mostly eateries—that will give you a little something extra on your birthday for no extra cost, like a free slice of birthday cake with your meal, or a special buy-one-get-one-free deal. (You can see a list of many such deals at Hey! It's Free!) But there are a few that actually offer birthday freebies that are completely free, with no strings attached, and I happen to belong to three of them:
  1. Baskin-Robbins will give you a free mini cone on your birthday, plus a discount on an ice cream cake. All you have to do is sign up for their Birthday Club. They send you an e-mail during the week before your birthday with a link to a coupon you can print out (or display on your phone, if you actually live in the 21st century and aren't a dinosaur like me). There's no age requirement to join, but I once met with resistance from the server at our local Baskin-Robbins, who turned away my coupon on the grounds that "This is for kids." So I ended up going to the one at the New Brunswick train station for my cone that year. The following year, I came prepared with a printout of the FAQ from the Baskin-Robbins site, which specifically says the Birthday Club is not just for kids but for "everyone who loves ice cream." Since then, I've never had any trouble getting them to honor the coupon. The only catch is that there's a fairly narrow window to collect your freebie. They used to give you a full week before or after your birthday, but it's now dropped to 5 days, as Brian discovered when his birthday coupon expired before he had a chance to use it. So to make it up to him, I split my free cone—vanilla with Snickers—with him on Sunday. Granted, a 2.5-ounce scoop doesn't go far split between two people, but it's practically guilt free that way.
  2. DD Perks, the rewards program at Dunkin Donuts, includes a free drink of any size as a birthday bonus. Like Baskin-Robbins, they give you your freebie by sending you an e-mail with a printable coupon. However, this one is a bit more liberal as to when you can redeem it; when I printed mine out, it said it was good until March 9. However, since I already had one other Dunkin freebie in my wallet with the same expiration date, I decided to go ahead and cash this one in on Monday. Once again, I opted for something I could split with Brian—in this case, a large mint hot chocolate, which turned out to be REALLY large. I checked the website and found that a large drink at Dunkin is 20 ounces, the same as a Starbucks Venti. It was plenty for Brian and me together, and we were agog at the idea that one person could polish it off singlehandedly before it got cold.
  3. Speaking of Starbucks, their My Starbucks Rewards program also includes a free birthday drink. It's actually less complicated than the other two; instead of sending you a coupon to print out, they just automatically credit your account for a freebie, so all you have to do is hand over your Starbucks card and request your free drink. (They still send you an e-mail the week before your birthday to remind you about it.) The redemption period is pretty loose, too; according to my e-mail, the offer is good until February 10, so I don't have to go out of my way to get to a Starbucks before my credit expires. And it means I'll still have one birthday present left to enjoy when Thrift Week is over and done with.
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