Remember S&H green stamps or Top Value stamps? I'm probably dating myself but there was a time in the U.S. when grocery stores and gas stations gave out these stamps when you made a purchase. When I was little, I thought it was a lot of fun to lick the stamps and paste them in their little booklets which could then be redeemed at a special store for all kinds of gear from toys to household items to camping equipment.
Well, it's been years since I last saw one of those stamps back home; I suppose they've been replaced by frequent flier miles or those loyalty cards that give you cents off at the supermarket. The concept, however, is alive and well here in France although the points are electronic. It seems like many of the big chain stores and even the SNCF, the French railroad, are dispensing "S'miles" and they're constantly haranguing customers to earn more. My bank and France Telecom have their own points systems. I keep racking up the "S'miles" although the thought of figuring out how to consolidate those I've earned from various stores in one account or even to redeem them seems overwhelming. Just wait...I'll probably figure out how to trade in my points to get some cool 220 volt espresso maker right when it's time for us to return stateside.