‘Miserly’ loyalty schemes exposed

The shrinking value of loyalty programme points has come under fire in a report on BBC One’s Watchdog show, with many of the UK’s top retailers being accused of offering ‘miserly’ rewards.
The report highlighted a number of schemes, including those operated by Morrisons, Starbucks, Nando’s, Co-op, Nectar and Shell, and many of them had overhauled their programmes to slash the value of points.
Starbucks, for instance, has replaced its scheme with the ‘Starbucks Rewards Scheme’. Under the old programme customers put £5 on a pre-paid card and got free shots and syrups, plus money off filter coffees whenever they used the card. This has now been replaced by a two-level plan.
When customers add £5 to their card they become a ‘green’ member, meaning once customers have bought enough coffee to earn 15 stars, they get a voucher for a free coffee posted to your address. This, however, expires after 60 days. To get free shots and syrups, customers need to become ‘Gold’ members. And to become a gold member they need to buy enough coffee to earn 50 stars within a year.
Nando’s changed its Loyalty Album earlier this year. Its scheme allows customers to pick up a reward stamp with every visit. Once customers have collected enough, they are entitled to free chicken. But in June the chain switched to a new collection system – and everyone who failed to cash in their stamps before then lost them.
Co-op was also blasted for the exemptions on its scheme, while Alton Towers’ use of the Nectar card also raised questions.
But it was the petrol rewards offered by both Morrisons and Shell that came in for the most criticism. For the Morrisons Fuel Saver scheme, which was slammed even before launch, customers have to buy £1,400 worth of petrol for a £10 voucher.
Meanwhile, under the Shell programme, drivers have to buy 2,000 litres of fuel to get a £10 voucher – with one point per litre equating to £2,800 worth of petrol.
Shell defended the scheme; a spokesman said: “Members of Shell Drivers Club typically earn much more than 1 point per litre. Additional rewards are regularly provided through promotions with our reward partners, bonus coupons, double points periods and prize giveaways. Last year, Shell spent over £10m rewarding Shell Drivers Club members which is a huge investment in thanking our regular customers.”

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