Better late than never: Couple cashes in coupon for free stay at Brandon hotel after 17 years

For the past 17 years, Kimberly Cooke has kept the same card in her wallet — one that promised a 10th stay at a Manitoba hotel would be free. And after nearly two decades, and having the card stolen, she and her husband are thrilled the hotel has honoured that promise.

The "10th night free" card originally belonged to Cooke's father, Dennis Cowan. He was a railroad worker with CN who stayed in a lot of hotels, including several stays at the Super 8 in Brandon, Man., dating back to September 2000.

After staying nine times at the hotel and having a loyalty reward card promising a free 10th stay stamped each time, Cowan gave the card to his daughter, in the event she needed a place to stay while visiting family.

Her husband, Will, says she never let go of it.

"My wife just carried it in her wallet for years. Buy a new wallet and she would put this coupon into her new wallet," said Will Cooke. "She's probably bought 10 new wallets and transferred it 10 times, never having an opportunity to use it."

The card came back

About a year and half ago, a thief stole Kimberly's purse along with a number of important documents, including the hotel card. The couple never thought they'd get it back.

"It was really too bad. We had to replace everything," says Will.

But the Cookes' fate was about to change. About 10 months later, out of the blue, Kimberly's wallet appeared in their mailbox. It had been dropped in a Canada Post mailbox and was then delivered to their home.

When they opened the wallet, they couldn't believe their eyes.

"Sure enough, she got the wallet back and the coupon was still inside. It was wedged inside and whoever took [the wallet] didn't bother taking this card," says Cooke.

'We wanted to honour it'

Last week, the Cookes, who are from Winnipeg, were on their way through Brandon and thought they'd take a chance and call the local Super 8 to see if they would honour the card — even though it was nearly two decades old.

Hotel front desk manager Landon Mellum took the call. He admits that he was skeptical at first, but asked the couple if there was an expiry date or any blackout dates written on the card. As far as Mellum could tell, there was no reason not to accept it.

"We wanted to honour it and keep them happy," said Mellum. "It's kept them coming back and we thought it was pretty funny."

It was a surprise for the Cookes.

"I thought, 'They will find a way to get out of this because it's so very old," said Will Cooke. "But we showed up, we had a good laugh about it. He was happy enough to take it. So we were able to stay at the hotel with this 17-year-old coupon."

Will Cooke says his family clips coupons occasionally, but there was something about the card that kept them from throwing it out. He said he's extremely impressed with the way the hotel handed the unique situation.  

"It was so old there had to be a statute of limitations, but fortunately they didn't see it that way," he said. " We were really thrilled. What's a hotel worth, 120 bucks? It was great."

He says he has a message for those wondering if they should keep cards hanging around. While he wants to make it clear his wife isn't a hoarder, their case proves you never know when an old card will come in handy.

"My wife thought, 'Maybe one day this will save me 100 bucks.' She couldn't bring herself to throw out," he said.

"We were meant to stay at the Super 8 and it happened last Thursday."