New card, same old deals

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Photo by Charlie Croom.

A Yale student ID gets around: It lets students into the library after 6 p.m. and into Old Campus after dark, and it saves them money at 45 New Haven shops and restaurants.

The new Bulldog Discount Card, sold by Yale students to Yale students, costs more and actually does less. For students willing to shell out $20, the card provides discounts at 54 New Haven clothing stores, restaurants and other businesses. But nine of the card’s advertised discounts are the same ones students already get with their Yale IDs, and three are marginal modifications of existing Yale student discounts.

Bulldog Card founder Sam Silverman ’10 said he got the idea for the Bulldog Card this past spring from his sister, a student at Washington University, where discount cards were being sold to students. Silverman said he was intrigued by the idea of paying for a discount card and wondered why Yale did not have a similar card.

Silverman and co-owners Charlie Jaeger ’12 and James Zhang ’11 funded the printing of the cards and the Bulldog Card marketing campaign. They are also paying an undisclosed fee to Allegra Print & Imaging on Chapel Street and the Yale Bookstore to sell the cards, which are available at www.thebulldogcard.com. Jaeger, Silverman and Zhang receive the entire $20 cost of the card, and Silverman declined to say how many cards the company has to sell to break even.

Business owners do not have to pay to participate in the program; they only needed to sign a contract saying they would honor the card’s discount for a year.

Six business owners who offer discounts through the Bulldog Card said they are excited about the business it will attract.

Tom Maloney, owner of Ragg’s, a men’s clothing store on Chapel Street, said participating in the Bulldog Discount Card is a win-win for his store because Ragg’s already offers a 10 percent discount to students with a Yale ID, and the store is not offering an additional discount through the Bulldog Card. According to the Bulldog Card website, it is up to business owners to decide whether to allow the Yale ID and Bulldog Card discounts to be combined, Maloney said.

Darren Piquol, general manager of the restaurant Koji on Temple Street, which opened in April, said he signed up for the Bulldog Card because he wanted to market Koji to students. Meanwhile, J. Panaroni, manager of Prime 16 on Temple Street, said even though Prime 16 is already very popular with Yale students, he is always interested in attracting more Yalies, which was worth offering a discount. Students who present a Bulldog Card can buy an organic burger for $5 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Although Yale student IDs do not get students discounts at Prime 16, the restaurant already offers the Bulldog Card discount Tuesday through Friday to all of its customers.

Jaeger, co-owner of Bulldog Card, said that when founder Silverman signed up businesses last May, he was not aware what stores would sign up for discounts with the Yale College Council, which arranges for students to get discounts with their Yale IDs. Jaeger said the Bulldog Card is planning to update its advertising to show what discounts the Bulldog Card shares with the YCC and what discounts are only available to Bulldog Card holders.

The Bulldog Card program is not affiliated with the Yale College Council’s existing discount program, nor has the YCC endorsed the Bulldog Card, Yale College Council President Jeff Gordon’12 said in an e-mail.

“For many students who don’t shop at all [the Bulldog Card’s participating businesses] … YCC’s free discounts are more than enough” Gordon said.

He added that he expects the Bulldog Card to remove from its website any advertisements for discounts that are also available to all students with a Yale ID.

Out of five students interviewed, only two said they are considering buying the card. Rachel Fishkis ’13 said she is unlikely to buy the card especially after hearing that students were trying to make a profit by selling it. She said her high school sold discount cards to fund student activities.

Lucas Pratt ’12, who does not plan on buying the Bulldog Card, said the card’s promotional materials should make clear that some of the discounts are already available to students. He said he hopes the omission was a misstep rather than an attempt to rip students off.

Zhang and Jaeger said they sold 100 Bulldog cards in August, but they would not say how many additional cards they have sold.

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