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Coca-Cola phased out its My Coke Rewards loyalty program back in 2017, after which time you could no longer earn discounts and prizes by entering codes found on bottle caps or product packaging. And yet, five years later, Coke is still printing those codes on its bottle caps and packages, giving some people the impression they can still redeem them for rewards.

One New York man calls this “false and misleading” – so he’s suing.

“The Rewards Program no longer provides any things of value to customers, even though it is still described prominently as a Rewards program,” Glenn Coe of Orchard Park, New York argues in a federal lawsuit filed earlier this week.

When My Coke Rewards ended in 2017, participants were informed that any unused rewards points would be forfeited and donated to charities. From then on, any future product codes could be entered either for a chance to win an occasional sweepstakes prize, or to donate either to a local school or a Coca-Cola-chosen charity like the American Red Cross, Special Olympics or National Park Foundation.

Coe is unimpressed with his choice of “rewards.” Coca-Cola, his lawsuit states, “continues to sell Coke products with reward codes, even though the only benefit is to donate their accumulated value to one of its selected non-profit groups.”

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And Coe says he’s not the only one who feels cheated. His lawsuit quotes a number of commenters on the consumer review website Site Jabber. “You are expected to spend hours entering your codes as a donation. You’d think Coke would just make the donation themselves instead of making us waste time to donate a few cents,” one commenter wrote. “I have probably 200-300 bottle caps and at least 100 codes from 12 packs that I will probably just end up tossing away,” another offered. “I refuse to waste my time scanning them for a charity which will probably never see a cent… This is worse than having no program,” a third commenter complained.

“Soon, getting rewarded with your codes will be easier, more fun, and more convenient than ever before,” Coca-Cola pledged as it planned to phase out My Coke Rewards. But Coe disputes this, saying Coke codes became essentially worthless.

And his lawsuit relies on an interesting legal theory to make his case. Coe says Coke’s rewards program should be governed under state laws that regulated old trading stamp programs. Under those rules, stamps were assigned a nominal cash value, like 1/100th of a cent, much like paper coupons today. “This requirement was designed to prevent customers… from being left without any value in the event of their accumulation of non-redeemable reward codes,” Coe’s lawsuit argues.

Many participants in the old program relied on its “small benefits, such as a five dollar gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts, to help their families scrape by,” the lawsuit states. Instead, they’re left with an unfounded belief that “a program described with the term ‘Rewards’ would provide a thing of value, and that the Program was operated in compliance with this State’s laws, which are intended to prevent customers from ending up with significant quantities of non-redeemable reward codes with no value.”

Coe is accusing Coca-Cola of fraud, misrepresentation and unjust enrichment, and is seeking class-action status for his case. He’s asking for a judgment in excess of $5 million for himself and other potential class members.

So the next time you find a code under a Coke bottle cap, you can submit it on behalf of a charity. Or you can hang onto it, in the hopes that Coe’s lawsuit might make that code worth something to you again – hopefully, more than 1/100th of a cent.

Image source: Glenn Coe

One Comment

  1. How do I sign up for the coke cola lawsuit?

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