Loyalty Site Will End Cash Rewards Program

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Online customer loyalty provider MyPoints.com will close its Cybergold.com rewards site by Aug. 31.

The closure is a decision by MyPoints.com to focus on its point-based reward program rather than Cybergold's cash incentive program. The move also will prevent the two operations from doubling up on their services.

"MyPoints needs to streamline its business focus," said Bernie Yu, senior vice president of marketing at MyPoints. "We have decided to concentrate on our highly developed and successful points infrastructure. We have found that the redemption of points is a much more fulfilling experience to the user, and this is the kind of loyalty we strive to maintain."

A points program also gives consumers more flexibility when choosing rewards, Yu said.

Cybergold's 7 million members were notified Aug. 19 that they would need to unload, spend or donate to one of seven charities their account balances by the end of the month. In a letter to members posted on the site, Cybergold vice president Pieter Hartsook encouraged members to sign up with MyPoints.

"Cybergold is going away, but now you can start earning free rewards like CDs, electronics, movies, vacations and more," Hartsook wrote.

MyPoints also is offering Cybergold members who sign up a chance to win a Corvette convertible.

To ensure that members know that balances will be void if not used by Aug. 31, Cybergold sent two e-mails to members who opted in for e-mail updates and plans another e-mail before the end of the month.

"Even if they have a decent amount of balances, a lot of people forget or don't have time," Yu said. "That's why we need to hit them a couple of times. We want to give them ample time to assess what they want to do with their balances and give them the chance to check out MyPoints, if they haven't already."

Customers who unload their cash balances will receive checks within the "normal time frame," he said.

Response from Cybergold customers, particularly about the charity option, has been positive so far.

"With other points programs [that shut down], they were left with balances on their account," Yu said. "A number of people have written in ... indicating how refreshing it is for an Internet company to offer a charitable option."

Cybergold assured its customers that they still will be able to make cash payments online using the same MagnaCash service used by Cybergold.

"You will receive an e-mail in the near future with information on how to access and use your MagnaCash account," Hartsook wrote.


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