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People are jokingly selling 'antique' Tim Hortons lids online for as much as $200

Some enterprising Canadians are trying to harness a second wave of backlash against Tim Hortons' new coffee lids by selling the old ones online, calling them 'retro' and 'antique' and asking upwards of $200.

It's part of the latest wave of backlash against Tim Hortons' new-ish coffee cup lids

Tim Hortons' new lids have been met with some very vocal antipathy from a small number customers of the Canadian coffee and donut chain. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Some enterprising Canadians are trying to harness a wave of Justin Bieber-inspired antipathy toward Tim Hortons' new coffee cup lids by selling the old lids online, calling them "retro" or "antique" and asking upwards of $100 or $200 apiece.

It comes after the controversy over the old lids erupted again over a recent complaint from Bieber on social media, who told his 124 million followers he's no fan of the change while home for the holidays in Stratford, Ont. 

The social media post was widely circulated and even picked up by mainstream media.

'My God, are you high?'

"I was really moved when I read the article about Justin Bieber. He was terribly upset and I recognize that Canadians take their Timmies very seriously," said a joking Leah Laroque of London, Ont., who recently offered a bundle of vintage lids online with offers starting at $100. 

She said some people are in on the joke, while others don't seem to get the humour. 

"I've got quite a few people contacting me. Everything from 'My God, are you high?,' to 'Are you completely serious?,' to 'Are these still available?,'" she said. "It's been quite entertaining."  

While entertainment is the point of the ad, Laroque said she is serious to a point. If someone were to offer her $100, she wouldn't turn it down. 

"I definitely would take it. Just like everybody out there, I have Christmas bills to pay off." 

'One man's junk is another man's treasure'

A stack of old Tim Hortons' lids as seen on a Facebook ad offering to sell them to sentimental coffee aficionados who miss clutching a cup o' Tims while they drive or fumble for their keys. (Leah Laroque/Facebook)

Laroque isn't the only one in on the joke. Dozens of people all across Canada have posted classic Tim Hortons coffee lids for sale, including Ian Benninghaus, a nurse from Thunder Bay, Ont.

He's selling 10 old-style coffee lids for $100. 

"I posted it half as a joke but half-serious too because one man's junk is another man's treasure," he said. "Even if I can get five bucks for them it's coffee money for the rest of my shift." 

"If nothing else that's what I set out to do, is make a few people smile, eh?"

Love for 'double-dribble' lids debatable

Except not everyone is smiling about the new lids, even six months after the change. Just watch this clip of a small sample of customers outside a London, Ont. Tim Hortons. 

Some people still don't love Tim Hortons' new lids, even six months after they changed over. 0:31

The last man in that clip is Greg Sillicker. The one who said, "the only thing negative is that I can't hold the thing in my mouth when I'm grabbing my keys or something."

His answer is really important and it might help explain why the public backlash against Tim Hortons' new lids hasn't fully gone away, but first you have to understand why Tim Hortons got rid of the old lid in the first place. 

People didn't like the old lid either. 

In fact, the coffee and donut chain was so vexed by customer complaints over the 20 years it carried the old lids, it embarked on a massive campaign aimed at figuring out the best way to change them. 

"The old lids leaked. In fact, the joke was they would call them the 'double-dribble lids' because you would inevitably get some coffee on you," said Marvin Ryder a professor of marketing at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Hamilton. 

"Tim Hortons took those concerns quite seriously," he said. "I can't overemphasize the amount of effort went into this." 

In 2016, the company began a sweeping research project looking at redesigning its lids. There were a dozen studies that looked into a dozen different lid designs and they conducted hundreds of interviews based on the reviews of over a million cups of coffee equipped with the new prototypes. In the end, they came up with the lid we all use today.

"It was really just about a year ago in December of 2018 that six stores tested that lid as you see it today, the one that has the recessed maple leaf on it," Ryder said. "That's the lid you see today." 

Only 2 types of people hate the new Tim Hortons lids

Some say the new lids, seen here with an embossed maple leaf, still leak. (Olivia McKague)

Tim Hortons has said in the past that the feedback on its new lid has been "overwhelmingly positive," with nine out of 10 customers declaring they preferred the new lid to the old one. 

While that 10 per cent might be small, they are a vocal minority, especially now that they can include Justin Bieber among their ranks.

Ryder said when you break it down, there are really only two people who don't like Tim Hortons new lids: those who don't like change and those who use a Tim Horton's coffee cup in a way that its designers never imagined. 

"Engineers design products making certain assumptions," he said. "The whole purpose of the lid was just to protect the coffee, so you can go outside, go in your car and take it on the road."

"No one ever really designed the lid to be a system to work with your teeth to hold a cup of coffee while you fumble for your keys." 

'I find them handy'

Greg Sillicker says he misses the old Tim Hortons lids because he can hold the cup in his teeth. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Still, that's how Greg Sillicker uses it. He clutches his coffee in his teeth while he looks for his keys, while he drives, even while he works. 

"I find them handy," he said. "I have a bundle of six or seven of the old lids in my car. Sometimes I'll switch them so I can actually carry it around and when I'm doing something I can hold onto it." 

But while he might find them handy, would he be willing to pay $100 or even $200 dollars for one of the old lids? Sillicker doesn't think so. 

"For a lid? No," he said. "I'll get used to the new lids." 

Foolish to buy maybe, but not foolish to sell

Some people prefer the old-style cups because you can hold them in your teeth. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The business professor, Marvin Ryder, thinks Sillicker is making a wise move. 

"I think it's a very foolish person who would buy that," he said. 

While online lid sellers like Leah Laroque and Ian Benninghaus might be asking too much, the price of something all depends on what the buyer is willing to pay. 

Even if one sells a single lid, they've made money, but Ryder warns the market for the lids if it exists at all, isn't very big. 

"If there's someone who is willing to pay for it, take their money and run," he said. "I think the average person, other than being annoyed with the new design, I don't think there's going to be a big market for." 

About the Author

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca

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