In Canada, Alternate Currency Keeps Traction With Fans
May 14, 2012 6:53 PM   Subscribe

"Coupons"? You're breaking my heart here.
posted by maudlin at 6:59 PM on May 14, 2012 [15 favorites]

You're American, right? Never heard them called coupons in my life.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:00 PM on May 14, 2012 [35 favorites]

Canadian tire MONEY.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:01 PM on May 14, 2012 [23 favorites]

I wouldn't even think to call them coupons, I think of them as a store credit. Coupons are for sales.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:04 PM on May 14, 2012

We've always saved it and given it to our kid's school for sports equipment. Doesn't feel like giving money to us, but it works like money for them. This is bummer.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:07 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I signed up fpr a CDN Tire Mastercard specifically to avoid being handed these bills at the register when I buy stuff from them; the reward goes on the card instead, and can then be applied towards purchases using that same card. Occasionally I get a can of WD-40 for 'free'.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:09 PM on May 14, 2012

Good. They just take up space in my wallet/car/drawers.
posted by dry white toast at 7:17 PM on May 14, 2012

The store is called Canadian Tire. The stuff is called Canadian Tire Money.

Both are crap.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:18 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

How dare they take the King of Canada off the Tire Money!
posted by Roentgen at 7:24 PM on May 14, 2012 [6 favorites]

I just call it 'money'.

I believe it is still backed by gold in the Canadian Tire Reserves, though I may be mistaken.
posted by mazola at 7:24 PM on May 14, 2012 [18 favorites]

I think it's about time that they make this change.
posted by livinglearning at 7:24 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

First they came for the penny: I said nothing because really I hate digging for them in my pocket full of loonies and toonies.

Then they came for the Canadian Tire money: It occupies 2/3 the volume in my wallet, the bona fide rocket fuel of (self) improvement dreams. A sweet token of a token economy that has put Canadian Tire at the forefront of my purchasing decisions. I said something on a web forum, but most of the members had no idea about the institution of Canadian Tire Money and didn't care. I probably should have just kept quiet.

Then they came for the public sector jobs: teachers, social workers and anyone who ever cared about anybody else ever. And no one payed any attention to the damn coupons because everyone had become illiterate, no one could do simple arithmetic and the government blew the whole budget on some sour Lockheed Martin defense deal to line the pockets of their cronies and Canada descended into chaos of the type where if you didn't have half-a-tire for a shoulderpad, you got no damn respect.

posted by isopraxis at 7:25 PM on May 14, 2012 [17 favorites]

Canadian Tire Coupons?!

I believe they can revoke your citizenship for seditious talk like that.
posted by mhoye at 7:40 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

When I was about 11 or 12, I was on a car trip in Quebec or New Brunswick with my folks. I remarked how every town seemed to have a Canadian Tire, and that the stores were much larger, more prominent and well-maintained than the tire places that I was used to seeing in New England.

My father told me with a straight face that Canadian winters were much worse than even Maine's. This in turn meant that maintaining Canadian roads was next to impossible and that the residents routinely replaced their cars' tires three or four times a year. This, he said, resulted in an economy that was based on tires, and a breakthrough in road surfacing techniques would destroy the Canadian economy.

It took me a while to realize that Dad was having fun at my expense. Like five years.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:41 PM on May 14, 2012 [46 favorites]

I bet 9 out of 10 kitchens in Canada have a junk drawer with some Canadian Tire money in it.
posted by davebush at 7:42 PM on May 14, 2012 [11 favorites]

I buy kitty litter at CT, and every time I hand them 5 cents in Canadian Tire money, then the remaining amount in legal tender, and every time they hand me 5 cents back in return. It's a vicious cycle.
posted by orange swan at 7:42 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can't believe the government has allowed Canadian Tire Coupons to exist. They seem to be breaking the law -- at least a law that should be there. In the US, coupons cannot be exchanged for money.

Their coupon appears to be promotional material to encourage company loyalty. They throw a few in your bag with every purchase. However, if you ever return something to Canadian Tire, you are required to give back the "coupons." If you don't have them, Canadian Tire will charge you the face value of the coupons they "gifted" you for that purchase. That's right, you have to pay for coupons that were slipped into your bag at the point of sale -- at that point they treat it like currency, not promotional material.
posted by goodsignal at 7:45 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, goodsignal. Duh.

That's because Canadian Tire Money is worth its value in merchandise at Canadian Tire. If they didn't have that policy in place, people would buy stuff, get the Canadian Tire Money, return the stuff, but keep the Canadian Tire Money, then redeem the Canadian Tire Money, which they effectively got for free, for merchandise.

The company would last about twenty seconds without that policy.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:55 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

There was a yarn booth at Sock Summit that was selling luxury hand-dyed yarn in exchange for Canadian Tire money. So cool.
posted by wenat at 7:57 PM on May 14, 2012

When I pull out that wad of bills that amounts to $6.45, I feel like a player, or a Yank with forty one dollar bills.
posted by furtive at 8:04 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't forget the bars that used to take CT money at par during happy hour.
posted by parki at 8:04 PM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


List kid, I don't know who you are or where you're from, but stop using that word. It's money. They issued coins. You can't call a coin a coupon.
posted by furtive at 8:06 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Both are crap.

You could not be more wrong about that. Canadian Tire in general, and Mastercraft tools in particular, get a lot of love from me, and for good reason.

And the number one reason is, even though everyone calls it Crappy Tire, the fact of the matter is that at the Canadian Tire price point, it hasn't got any competition worth a damn. Canadian Tire's house brand of tools, Mastercraft, are not the best tools in the world, sure, but at their price point - particularly if they're having one of their absurd yellow-tag-65%-off sales - nothing else even comes close to their level of quality and durability.

My workshop has a lot, and I mean a lot, of silver and navy blue in it. When I need a tool I start at CT first, not because they make great tools, but because I know that by the time I have run that first tool into the ground, I'll have got enough mileage out of it to know what I actually want from its replacement. And it doesn't matter what it is - socket set, belt sander, router table, mitre saw or drill press, anything - they last far longer than they have any right to for the price.

There is somebody in the bowels of the CT organization, some crusty old engineer, who's been quietly poking at the designs for their tools for the last thirty years saying, that little piece there, you probably want that to be made of metal instead of plastic. Put a hole there for brackets. Just add this thing here. And whoever they are, they deserve the Order of Canada, because that's what happens - somehow, that one part on that planer that you really wish was made out of metal instead of plastic is made of metal instead of plastic, and your planer lasts you two years instead of two months.

If you keep your receipts they stand by their warranties, which is astounding for tools that cost what CT tools cost.

Go ahead, fill your shed with Ryobi, and don't come crying to me when it fails halfway through the first goddamn thing you try to do with it. The reason they call it call it "Jobmate", and not "Jobsmate" is because it's unlikely to last you more than one job. Mastercraft, especially if you're just learning, especially if you don't know what you need from a particular tool yet, is far more than just good enough. They're tools that will last you long enough that you can actually learn from them.

For my not-much money, it's the only game in town.
posted by mhoye at 8:07 PM on May 14, 2012 [34 favorites]

I bet 9 10 out of 10 kitchens in Canada have a junk drawer with some Canadian Tire money in it.

It's crap. I never use it. It takes up space and the only time you need it is when you're at a Canadian tire and you realize that there's about $350 in Canadian Tire money in your junk drawer and you go DURRRRRRRRR! NOT AGAIN and yet you never carry it around in your wallet because you'd have a Costanza wallet with about $2.50 of it wedged over to one side and folded up and not quite as big as regular money so it doesn't nest well at all.

Canadian tire is uniquely Canadian - and I don't understand this but have taken some pride in it - because people like it precisely because it's crap. It's like Tim Hortons. It's total crap coffee, doughnuts etc. They only just started selling lattes. Starbucks did this over 20 years ago. I guess it's some sort of 'the Americans would never put up with this crap' kinda pride.

Canadian Tire sells crappy everything but doesn't have serious anything. If you want good tires, you go elsewhere. If you want re-treads for your 1986 Tercel, shit they got 'em. It blows. And we love it.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:07 PM on May 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

Tim Hortons doughnuts are not crap. IMO, they're pretty damn good. I'm kinda with you on the coffee though.
posted by davebush at 8:19 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I know there are craft boutiques in St. John's that still take Canadian Tire money at par.
posted by peppermind at 8:20 PM on May 14, 2012

Judging by the condition of the roads in my city, I think Mayor Curley's dad may have been on to something. I nearly lost a front wheel in a pothole the other day.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:21 PM on May 14, 2012

On my first visit to Canada, from South Africa in 1977 when I was 5, we went to a Canadian Tire in London and my dad bought an external frame backpack with a big Canadian flag on the back. Ten years later, my little family moved to Canada, minus my dad, and we ended up living a few blocks from that Canadian Tire. Back visiting my dad a couple of years ago we go for a hike down to the Kap River, and he's still using that same old Canadian Tire backpack.
Anyway, I love Canadian Tire, and Canadian Tire money and 'Jock', even if I just accumulate it in my kitchen junk drawer and never get around to spending it.
posted by Flashman at 8:43 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Many aspects of Canadian behavior may seem odd, until you realize the country was founded by Scottish misers.
posted by benzenedream at 8:46 PM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was listening to a CBC radio show about this a few months ago. Here's the article and poll (fairly split) about it, along with the remarks of a particularly, uh, avid collector (I'd only known it as Canadian Tire Money until this interview, so fair warning for "coupon"-haters: the word coupon is said and enunciated as kyoo-pawn enough times to give one a nervous twitch).
posted by ilana at 8:48 PM on May 14, 2012

When I was in high school, I got invited to a wedding. Both the bride and groom came from contracting/building families. One of the families had a tradition - on the wedding day, you would give the bride and groom all of your Canadian Tire money. Because they were builders, and because they like everybody else tended to forget about Canadian Tire money, this could often add up.

The bride and groom at this particular wedding got twenty-three thousand dollars' worth of it.
posted by mightygodking at 8:58 PM on May 14, 2012 [29 favorites]

I just hand it to the person in line behind me.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:00 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I shop at the Tire so rarely. And yet, I have fifteen cents in crisp CT money bills stuck to my fridge with a magnet because, even though my time is worth more than the seconds it would take to shove it into my pocket and then fish it out again at the cashier, it's still money dammit. And you can't recycle money.

The point is that I'd have no problem trashing a "coupon." Somewhere in my mind, I really accept this crappy loyalty program as being, in some real sense, currency.

I was actually pretty surprised to discover that CT money is only thirty or so years old. I distinctly remember my parents collecting it when I was five or six and, though it must have been brand new, it already felt like an institution.
posted by 256 at 9:08 PM on May 14, 2012

Aw man. How am I going to pay for my eBay purchases now?

(Sadly, the language no longer appears in the official policy, but eBay used to consider Canadian Tire Money to be one of the exceptionally few non-Paypal payment options that were permissible under their Terms of Service)
posted by schmod at 9:10 PM on May 14, 2012

Does Lick's still take it at par?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2012

Mastercraft ... if they're having one of their absurd yellow-tag-65%-off sales

At full price the tools are somewhat overpriced, but when they're on sale for a sufficiently high discount, nothing beats that value.

I still have a socket set and screwdriver, both purchased @ 75% off over twenty years ago, both have a lifetime warranty. I'd had the ratchets replaced twice now, for free.

For a few years they unwisely offered the same warranty on their premium "Eliminator" car batteries and I went through several of those before loosing it and the warranty in a car fire. I bet someone lost their job over that one.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:28 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

screwdriver set, that is. And of course, it has Robertsons.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:30 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

replaced by Canadian Tire Bitcoins
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:45 PM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

I can't believe the government has allowed Canadian Tire Coupons to exist. They seem to be breaking the law -- at least a law that should be there. In the US, coupons cannot be exchanged for money.
There is nothing illegal about creating alternate currencies in the U.S, provided you don't call them "dollars". Casino chips would be an obvious example.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by asnider at 10:03 PM on May 14, 2012

jimmythefish: "Canadian tire is uniquely Canadian - and I don't understand this but have taken some pride in it - because people like it precisely because it's crap."

We have Harbor Freight Tools for that, but no Harbor Freight Money as far as I'm aware.
posted by wierdo at 10:19 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hmmm, I wonder if they'll allow people to direct the CT Money to charities? A lot of them use that to help buy supplies. Just like in the wedding mentioned earlier, a little from a lot of people can add up fast.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:10 PM on May 14, 2012

"Many aspects of Canadian behavior may seem odd, until you realize the country was founded by Scottish misers."
*sigh* As a Scot living in Canada, I can tell you that thrift is certainly part of the Canadian heritage, to an extent which puts my former country to shame. I'll be glad to see the back of that stereotypical loon on the Crappy Tire bill, who looks more like an English aristocrat sporting the faux trappings of Walter-Scott Scottishness than the typical milky-white, malnourished weegee-type you're more likely to encounter when you step off the plane at Glasgow airport.
posted by aeshnid at 4:35 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I guess it's some sort of 'the Americans would never put up with this crap' kinda pride.

When my dad was a trucker, he met a lot of U.S. truckers who told him when they were doing a run into Canada they just couldn't wait to get over the border and get a cup of Tim's.

I can't speak to quality of Tim Horton's coffee because I hate coffee of any kind, but my entire family loves Tim's. They give each other bags of the coffee and gift cards for Christmas.
posted by orange swan at 5:01 AM on May 15, 2012

Tim Hortons. It's total crap coffee

Say that after you drink Dunkin' Donuts for a few days, I dare you. It's like a group of evil robber barons decided the plebes would drink slightly-brown water with a little acid and charcoal in it and call it coffee ... and it worked.

Semi-related, we were up north last year, and of course brought all the miscellaneous currency we had in the drawer to spend. My wife handed me a wad of Canadian bills to pay a check, and as I counted them, I noticed one of them was a two-dollar bill. The waitress was thrilled to have it. I have no idea if it was worth more than face value (or even if it was worth face value at all), but she was excited.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:02 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been recycling CT money with the fine paper for years.

They used to be worth something when CT was a decent store. But, seriously, Wal-Mart is a better choice for shitty Chinese crap these days.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:56 AM on May 15, 2012

I own a Canadian yarn shop, and of course I accept Canadian Tire Money. You cannot believe the joy it brings a knitter to get a box of fancy-arse yarn & spinning fibres by return mail after sending me a fat wad of CT Money - it's like Sandy McTire himself landed on the roof in his moose-drawn toboggan and showered gifts down the chimney. It beats the hell out of spending it on ant traps & weed-whacker line.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:12 AM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Canadian Tire gets my loyalty for one reason and one reason only: location. I have a small hardware store nearby, but it's weird and doesn't have half the stuff I need and they sold me a 9V battery for five bucks once. All the big hardware/home improvement stores, meanwhile, are nowhere near me because I committed the cardinal sin of living downtown. Even Walmart is somewhat distant, and I'm not sure I want to shop there anyways. So if I ever need, say, a lamp switch or a rotary cheese grater or some wall hooks or an ironing board, I've got one choice that's close by.

The biggest problem is the money's next to worthless, and I don't mean in the sense that Canadian Tire products are crap. I mean I've got a thick stack of bills on my kitchen counter that I counted up once before running to Canadian Tire yet again to get a few things, then decided I'd look like an idiot walking up with a roll of bills totaling roughly FOUR DOLLARS.
posted by chrominance at 6:22 AM on May 15, 2012

... [I] decided I'd look like an idiot walking up with a roll of bills totaling roughly FOUR DOLLARS.

When I was a kid, that was the best thing ever - having this ridiculous tennis-ball-sized high-roller wad of Canadian Tire money in your pocket that somehow made you feel like you some jet-setting international player even though it amounted to $2.37 that you could only spend in one store.

That's right, Canadian Tire counter lady - I'll pay for that gum with cash.
posted by mhoye at 6:56 AM on May 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

As an American learning about Canadian Tire Money, it's one of those things that reminds me that Canada is indeed a foreign country.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:58 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

so does canada take used tires, like beverage cans?
posted by clavdivs at 7:31 AM on May 15, 2012

Count me in as not being a fan of Tim's coffee at all--it's like coloured water! It doesn't have any caffeine in it!--but I will defend the honour of its donuts all comers.

posted by Phire at 8:06 AM on May 15, 2012

My first thought was: but what will the cadets use for funding? And elementary school sports? My chilldhood!

My dad was your typical Canadian handyman. He would repurpose just about everything (when we went through his house after he passed, we found at least 3 broken toasters (causes of death all different), all the extra hardwood from two previous home renovations, buckets of paint dating back 3 moves... it goes on) and when he did have to buy, he'd go to Canadian Tire and hunt down a sale. By the time my brother joined the air cadets, we had amassed a ridiculous amount of the stuff. My family won the "most Canadian Tire money raised" award for 3 years running because we just kept finding more hidden somewhere.
posted by buteo at 8:15 AM on May 15, 2012

What?? How are you going to 'give like Santa and save like Scrooge' now!?
posted by bquarters at 8:31 AM on May 15, 2012

Companies/Corporations only wear national identity because it buys brand loyalty. There's nothing uniquely Canadian about Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, or any of their ilk.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:21 AM on May 15, 2012

I've noticed that the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, which is always on the lookout for funding, and does a lot of mechanical/machining work, has a bin where you can donate your spare Canadian Tire money so that they can buy tools.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:42 AM on May 15, 2012

This business about only being able to spend Canadian Tire money at Canadian Tire is a dirty lie. I have never, ever, ever had a cashier refuse Canadian Tire money when I was a nickel short and offered it.

I remember one of my friends' wedding showers, we gave them a fake wire tree thing made out of coat hangers with Canadian Tire money as the leaves. It was maybe $5 worth of bills but we all had a laugh.


posted by joannemerriam at 11:26 AM on May 15, 2012

I seem to recall studying this in marketing class. CT came up with Canadian Tire money to prevent a gas war. They gave out the CT money because it encouraged loyalty and the competing stores saw it neither as a coupon nor a discount, so they did not drop their prices to match. There was some loophole where the "money" didn't qualify as a coupon but instead as scrip. There were different laws for scrip than for coupons. I can't quite remember the details. I do know that you can use the CT money to cover sales tax and that, if you make a purchase with CT money, they will give you CT money back on the purchase, just as if you'd made the purchase in cash. Maybe someone else can explain more about the scrip vs coupon thing, as I'm pretty sure it says something about being a coupon on the money itself.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 12:54 PM on May 15, 2012

I've always wanted to start a band named Canadian Tire Money....

..I'm not sure if the demise will be better or worse for that idea.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:40 PM on May 15, 2012

My childhood included many an evening trailing dad around Canadian tire, occasionally grabbing the edge of his coat, moaning "Dad, I'm boooooored, let's goooooo", and him saying "Just a minute, just a minute" while scrutinizing some selection of strange tools...and eventually I'd find my way to the the aisle with the little drawers of nuts and bolts, and open each one and peruse the brass or silver or copper bits and pieces...or maybe the aisle with the spools of chain where I'd unravel a few lengths and drape myself with these "jewels"...or maybe they aisle with the lighting switches, some of them rigged up to sample lights, and turn them on and off...
posted by stray at 8:38 PM on May 15, 2012

I have a Canadian Tire MasterCard (I used to work at the head office, and could only get my staff discount at the stores if i used one of the mastercards), and five years after i stopped working there, i still LOVE the card. The credit card version of CT money accumulates so fast that in five years i haven't spent a single cent on household cleaners, laundry detergent, toilet paper or paper towel, swiffer cloths, or small kitchen appliances - a slow cooker, a cuisinart, a blender - all for free. Canadian Tire Money is awesome!
posted by Kololo at 8:26 PM on May 17, 2012

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