Vanilla Reloads: Alive and Kicking but for How Long?


This weekend, I spent more time at Flyertalk than I did in the last month. Seriously, couldn’t unglue myself from the screen.

Popcorn in hand, I was studying this CVS Thread not only to gather useful information, but for great entertainment as well.

Although, I‘m lying already. I didn’t have popcorn. Not lying about how much I enjoyed the show.

The thread exploded in the wee hours on Saturday morning when someone posted something that looked like a memo from the CVS corporate bigwig Cary Chaney.

Although, wait! Since I’m sure future sociologists (and perhaps psychologists, too) would want to learn more about the events leading to the big doom, I’ll try and recreate the events as they were happening step by step.

That CVS thread at Flyertalk is a lively enough thread, but it took it over a year to get to 386 pages. And then, boom: it’s gained another 100 pages in less than three days. What gives?

Here is a post#5777 from babalooie21204 made on March 29th at 12:07 AM (all times are Eastern). It’s not a tsunami yet, but its the first warning of a coming storm. Still his/her post was innocent enough and didn’t cause much of uproar.

Just heard today CVS (that they will be doing cash only as of 4/1/14) can anyone else confirm this? 

No one could confirm or deny anything about it for close to 12 hours, so everyone had pretty much dismissed the warning when a hand grenade went off with this 12:18 PM post #5795 from Envoy245.

Just left the CVS that I frequent where the store manager usually reloads my Serve card. 

He showed me the email memo that corporate sent to their store. It stated that beginning 3/31, only cash will be accepted for all prepaid reload cards (VR’s, temp Serve card) & only cash will be accepted for reloading of Serve. Registers will be hardcoded to only accept cash.

Mgr was surprised as they get a lot of business.

Ouch! That was serious and made people talk, but you know how the MS crowd is. They’re hard-boiled. They’ve heard it all before. So the real panic had not set in until 3:59PM when Amalkold posted something that looked like an amazingly authentic memo from the dude who went by the name of Carey Chaney. That memo was what got everyone’s juices flowing.

And then the real work commenced.

Some folks began digging and found out that Cary dude was legit.

Some claimed it was an April Fool day joke.

Some claimed it’s the end of days (unreasonably) while adding (reasonably) that corporations don’t celebrate April Fool’s day.

Some bashed the bloggers, which has always been a healthy way for many a flyertalker to deal with their corked-up anger.

The optimists claimed it was just a regional thing, while the dreamers kept repeating their April Fool’s version over and over.

And then the most hilarious post (#6824) appeared:

First time visitor. Your forums areinteresting.

Signed by… CaryChaney

In the meantime, as people started making final dashes to load up before the Fall of the Axe, the news from the frontlines began appearing, and they were all over the place.

Cash only at one store, full service down the street.

Some clerks know everything, while other clerks know nothing.

Managers totally got the memo, yet other managers had no idea about the memo.

These inconsistencies caused more paranoia, more wild guesses and yes, even more blogger-bashing.

In the meantime, people went out on Monday after the registers were supposed to have been hardcoded for more than a few hours, and many, including me, were able to buy Vanilla with a credit card. Others were not.

The deadlines were changing along with the news pouring in from the trenches. It wasn’t the 31st anymore, but April 1st. Then, some reported April 2nd, and others reported April 4th.

Now, the Flyertalk CVS thread Wiki states this (although, you might see something different when you wake up):

New info that CVS will employ these changes as of 4/1 with a chain wide rollout complete by 4/4.…654528/photo/1

This info is based on a tweet sent to Million Miles Secrets by one CrayCity. I don’t have any reason not to trust CrayCity, but I don’t have a reason to trust anyone with one tweet to their name either. We’ll see.

Does it mean the game is on? No! Does it mean the game is over? No! It means, the game is on for now, but it will be over soon. Big corporations aren’t known for lightning speed. The changes may take more than a couple of days to roll out, and in the meantime, we might keep getting our fix.

Onto the next big thing. What is that next big thing I wonder?

Update 04.01, 8PM EST

Appears to be dead in Brooklyn. Three stores I’ve visited have plenty of Vanilla Reloads, all cash. One was working as recently as this morning. Might be the right time to move on. 

Sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss really important stuff. I’m always looking for the least troublesome way to earn miles or cashback. The best part? I don’t email for the sake of emailing when I have nothing new to say.


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